This year like few others in my life has seen me able to watch more films and movies as they came out or shortly afterward. It hasn't been like this for me since I was a kid. Around the age of 12 my parents did what too many do sometimes, they divorced. As an already awkward and introspective budding teenager I simply retreated further into my own world, and when the weekend would be my dad’s turn to look after me there often was little to talk about. No kid responds well to divorce or the realities life has given to him at too young of an age. So either in hopes of sparking something in our cold relationship, or in hopes of having one, my dad and I would go to the movies.
Every other weekend for a few summers my dad and I could find a movie we would want to see and go. It didn't spark some massive understanding and bridge the gap between a divorced father and his son, but it did give us something to talk about. I soon formed opinions and critique of films through those conversations. And when a hit film would come out and didn't really intrigue us, aka rom-coms, we would stay in and he would go through his budding collection of DVDs. That’s how I first watched The Rock, or Die Hard, or Star Trek. It’s something fathers and sons share and it’s something that gave some life in a tattered relationship.
This year feels almost like that again except I’ve been seeing these movies, mostly, alone. It has been nice to email him back and forth, recommending films I know he would enjoy, and even catching one or two together. But I can’t go back and recover those times when all I needed to do to see a movie was convince my dad to go. I can, however, take those times and know it’s a part of me now and one of those things parents, or really anyone, can give you that helps you grow as a person. Movies are some of those few things that really bridge our gaps and bring us together, like right here on Screened.
So without further ado these were my favorite films and movies of 2012. They are in somewhat of an order, but don’t cling to their rankings to desperately. Tell me if you agree or disagree in the comments and maybe even suggest a few I might have missed.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Best of lists from Matthew Marko (aka Litrock), Mitch Salem and myself will be postedin the coming days, in order to give a broader look at the different tastes of our contributors. For now, enjoy the first from FinalDasa.
|1. The Avengers|
We live in an age of superhero movies and films. For years now we have been treated to amazing, and not so amazing, adaptations of our favorite comic book heroes. Studios are still scouring comics, looking for the next silver screen hero they’ll dump millions in hopes of forming the next big thing. There have been plenty of bright spots since this new era started including Iron Man and Captain America and then there have been the near misses like the mess of Hulk movies. And yet everything came together to bring this team together and finally give the world a true superhero team movie. For once a hero movie was looked upon as a more serious undertaking than ever before and the product release was exactly what comic book nerds had been clamoring for. It didn’t do everything perfectly but it did do everything really well, and that deserves some recognition.
Given the path this movie took from conception to theaters did anyone have confidence in this film? From questions about Daniel Craig coming back as Bond to MGM nearly going bankrupt while this was in it’s planning stages, the outlook wasn’t good for our favorite spy. And yet through all that what came out was an interesting look at who Bond was and who he had become. For once you saw a brooding James Bond, thought to be dead and drinking his worries away and another time you glimpse his family and his past before becoming the hardcore spy Britain depends on. This Bond film felt like no other and yet didn’t sell it’s soul to be different.
|3. Jiro Dreams Of Sushi|
Somewhere in the Tokyo subway system there is a small sushi shop that only seats a few guests at a time, assuming you get reservations. The whole thing is run by Jiro, an elderly Japanese man who has spent his entire life as a sushi chef, working hard everyday to focus his skills and even with accolades, awards, and success still insists he isn’t the best he could be. By his side are his sons, attempting themselves to learn from their master of a father, and one day hope to take over the infamous business their father has built. This documentary is an interesting love letter to sushi while a deep examination of a man obsessed with making the best.
Looper was a great time travel and science fiction film with plenty of action and quality acting but what Looper did best was present familiar morality problems in new situations. How far would you be willing to go to save the woman who you love and who saved you? How far would you go to protect the world or your own future? Looper’s time travel and sci-fi only felt like they served a more interesting story rather than add ons to make the film fit a mold.
|5. The Cabin in the Woods|
It’s strange to see a movie both riddled with cliches but also breaks all the molds. I won’t say too much about this movie in hopes of preserving the experience for anyone who still needs to see it. I will say however that this film hit all the notes you need to to make a good horror film and not resort to, in my opinion, cheap jump scares or horrible violence. I still personally don’t like horror movies only because I don’t like being scared but this is one of my favorites ever.
|6. Act of Valor|
If this movie had been a documentary it might be a few spots higher, but given the pedigree of having been advised (and acted) by former Navy Seal team members if hangs on. If you didn’t know this movie was based on fact and actual battles you might write it off as a Michael Bay wannabe trying to make some quick cash. It all provides an almost real glimpse into the secret life of the elite within our military. It provides a better understanding of the sometimes overbearing gung ho attitude and why it’s almost entirely earned. These men and woman do some amazing things while putting themselves in danger all in hopes of making the world a better and safer place.
|7. The Amazing Spider-Man|
The idea of rebooting an entire superhero franchise just seems like an idea made to fail. The Spider-Man franchise had been left pretty damaged after the 3rd in Sam Raimi’s series landed flat to long time fans who felt problems seemed to pile on top of one another and the disdain drove Raimi and the series’ stars away from Spidey. Everything about this movie was further watched carefully as it developed from rumor to release. And yet the new Spider-Man had it’s own feel, own style, and nothing felt carried or left over. It didn’t take a grand leap into a new franchise and felt more like a dipping of the toe, but hopefully it means the web-slinger we all deserve.
|8. The Hunger Games|
I wasn’t a current fan of the Hunger Games book when I went into this much hyped film of the summer, so I went in not knowing what to expect. The movie captured and grander world I found almost more interesting than the characters in it. Seeing a world equally enthralled by a contest designed to keep the people “in their place” and a budding revolution all stemming from a potential new hero in Katniss. I don’t know where the Hunger Games movies will go from here but the first one has me hopeful to get a deeper ride into it’s world.
I was surprised by Flight, a movie that one the surface only looked to score some points off of action-like scenes of an airplane crashing, borderline on a disaster movie than a drama. Instead I watched a character play involving addiction and character flaws playout. No person was portrayed, I thought, incorrectly when it came to addiction showing some at their worst points and other rising up. It shows the disease as it truly is, a person destroying and changing monster that few can overcome by themselves. Where good days come but bad are sometimes right around the corner. Towards the end of the film, no spoilers I promise, I was seriously waiting for the happy ending to walk across the screen and ruin itself. But the film stayed true to form and true to message.
Argo is a late edition to this list and thus the reason it’s at the bottom, this shouldn’t reflect the quality of the movie compared to the other’s on this list but rather my attempt to hopefully stave off any last minute bias it may have for being watched so recently. With that said I thought Argo was am amazing movie capturing a time, and feeling, in America’s recent foreign relations history. it exposes a piece of our past for a long time thought to be something else and does it with mostly light handedness. While parts I thought weren’t perfect and director Ben Affleck does a great job behind the camera his character wasn’t coming off well in front of the camera like it did in The Town. The tenseness of the film, the repercussions and issues of the film, and the pitch perfect culture of the film’s time and place however reach far beyond the scope of most other’s. It avoids the easy fruit of violence and shock and goes more for men rushing around for telephones and yelling at their coworkers. A late edition it may be, but I believe Argo is one of the best of the year.