As a year of cinema rounds itself off the yearning need to push my opinions into people’s collective faces beckons and the list of my favourite films of 2012 are its fruits, so here I present it, though purely in the order of viewing and accompanied with a commentary to my selection.
The year started with big expectations, a veritable slew of highly anticipated blockbusters awaiting release. Some lived up to the promise, some defied expectation and some stunk the place up, but be that as it may there wasn’t a month went by that didn’t hold a least two HUGE releases, which is kind of cool until you realise that truly independent films were unceremoniously elbowed out of the multiplexes in their near entirety, an issue I fear will not be resolved in 2013.
Indeed, even big films that under-performed initially weren’t given much of a chance, regardless of their quality. Sad times but that’s just the way of things.
So without further ado, I present my picks of the year.
The Cabin In the Woods
Jeff Who Lives At Home
God Bless America
The Dark Knight Rises
Silver Linings Playbook
Seeking A Friend For the End of the World
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Okay, so lets break these choices down, and where better to begin than the big obvious, blockbuster entrees. I guess what really stuck out there was Prometheus (read full review)… “But that’s full of glaring plot holes and idiotic characters!” I hear you cry, and you’re right, but damn if it isn’t the best looking film of the year, truly awesome design work on every level, and viewed on an IMAX screen just epic, epic science fiction. The most agreed upon choice of the entire list, of course, is The Avengers (read full review), which despite my high hopes managed to blow me away nonetheless. Not only is it potentially the best superhero film made to date but an almost perfect example of a crowd pleasing popcorn movie, with real laughs, real intrigue and white knuckle action. Many were disappointed with The Dark Knight Rises after the total success of its predecessor, and though I can understand why, I found myself very much satisfied with the concluding instalment of my favourite filmmaker’s grand saga… Also, Tom Hardy’s back is insane. Skyfall (read full review), just a REALLY good Bond film, and I likes me a Bond film.
Weak year for family films this year I think. Usually I have at least one or two animated films on my list, but this year nothing really impressed me to a huge degree. I had a great time watching The Muppets, Jason Segel bringing the franchise up to date with a slightly ironic, though not cynical, twang to the writing without loosing any of the innocence. I guess The Hobbit (read full review)could be considered a family film, though it would probably be more at home with the blockbusters, but whatever the case it proved an enjoyable and pacey adventure yarn.
Things were a little hot and cold for those genre flicks that fall just short of blockbuster budgets. In the case of Looper (read the full review) and The Cabin In The Woods we were treated to new twists on oft used genres that seemed to come from nowhere but pleased crowds and critics alike, doing better than anyone would’ve expected. Dredd (read full review) however went quite the other way; anticipation was high amongst geekdom and the film more than lived up to it with bone shattering glory, but there was just no getting the audiences in there, which is a big damn shame because not only does it put the stopper on a sequel, but the very idea of aiming genre films squarely at grown ups… Lets hope it finds its audience on the home market.
Speaking of ‘grown up’ films, we had a couple of doozies in the latter half of the year. First Lawless, which was quite the best crime film there’s been for some time, and then Ben Affleck knocked it out the park again with Argo… Seriously, we all though Matt Damon did most of the writing on Good Will Hunting, right? But every single one of Affleck’s films so far has pushed that assumption further up our a-holes.
In the out and out action stakes, things were a little lean and wholly misrepresented by that enjoyable pile of poo that was The Expendables 2, but if you’d have gone a little further down the actiony rabbit hole you’d have found a far superior Statham film called Safe, a real hard edge actioner of the old school, that was highly entertaining and had a climax that genuinely came from left field. The only martial arts film with any teeth at all this year was The Raid (read full review), which, barring the unfortunate coincidence that it had practically the same storyline as Dredd, provided high-octane, wince inducing fight sequences guaranteed to please the most seasoned fans of the genre.
Not quite indie films but quirky comedy-dramas with that distinct indie feel, Jeff Who Lives At Home, Silver Linings Playbook and Seeking A Friend For the End of the World all made the list for exactly the same reasons, they had intriguing storylines and characters, they made me laugh, they delivered solid emotional blows and they stuck with me long after the fact. Jeff Who Lives At Home gets extra credit for starring my two favourite comedy actors of the minute, Jason Segel and Ed Helms.
And so we move onto the films that you may never have heard of. Moonrise Kingdom saw Wes Anderson back on top form, it really made me laugh and went above and beyond the quirky call of duty, if you’re a fan of Rushmore or The Royal Tenenbaums then you’ll love this. God Bless America (read full review) and Killer Joe were both so pitch black of content that when the bizarre twists of humour sporadically broke the tension you were left reeling at just how strange the film you’d just experienced actually was, the difference between the two, however, was that God Bless America had soapbox observations to relay about the current state of American entertainment culture and its affects while Killer Joe just revelled in the weirdness of its morally retarded characters. Finally, The Impostor, a documentary that has you on the edge of your seat from the very beginning, with its unbelievable tale of a grown man claiming to be a long-ago kidnapped youth, fooling all the family as he went, only to throw suspicions of his own into the mix, making for an irresistible real life mystery.
As is traditional, I like to hand out a few dishonourable mentions, though to be honest, there was nothing out this year that really sent me off into a rage. Taken 2 (read full review) was a massive letdown simply because it didn’t need to do much to live up to the original, just deliver some badass, graphic violence. It didn’t so was just rubbish. Jason Rietman and Diablo Cody’s post-Juno collaboration, Young Adult, seemed self indulgent, pointless and was actually ugly to look at, and lastly but not leastly, people probably never even caught wind of Woody Harrelson’s dirty cop flick, Rampart, but as it was written in part by ace crime write, James Ellroy, I was quite looking forward to it… I needn’t have, it was achingly slow, directionless and didn’t end.
If you want a few more recommendations that fell just short of the list, then look no further: V/H/S is a fantastic, independent horror anthology, Hit And Run was a road movie/comedy that sank with the critics but pleased me no end, The Hunter (read full review) saw Willem Dafoe at his best in a quiet, introspective thriller, and I guess most of you probably already saw The Hunger Games.
So, there you go, take that for what you think it’s worth and tell me how right or wrong you think I am. I Can’t say I’m looking forward to 2013 as much as I was 2012, but with two Marvel films, a Superman reboot, giant monsters Vs giant robots, and a new instalment of Star Trek on the horizon it’s not all doom and gloom.