I must apologize that I am posting my "Best of 2012 list" when we are already well into the first week of 2013. However, I figure it's never too late to have movies to catch up on. I found that it took me longer to see many of the "big" year end movies than I had hoped. I blame much of that on the fact that I have been desperately trying to finish three seasons of Justified in time to write recaps. However, since I recorded my portion of the Pupcast yesterday, I had to get it all done and put my list together. I'll post the the link to that when it's up so you can hear my extended thoughts.
I also had an interesting experience with "movies of the year". I heard time and time again what an incredible year it was for film. Yet, I had trouble putting ten on this list. I think one of my biggest problems is the fact that while I really liked and thought a lot of movies where good, I didn't connect to many of them in my heart, soul or emotions. While I appreciated Zero Dark Thirty, I don't think I could say that I necessarily liked it. The same thing goes for Lincoln. It felt more like an incredibly well done and well-acted movie that I would watch in school, as opposed to one that I enjoyed for entertainment's sake. There is a lot of value in Lincoln, and I am not putting it down, but it certainly was not one of my favorites of the year.
Don't get me wrong, there were some major highlights of the year. I love Silver Linings Playbook with all of my heart. The Queen of Versailles, a documentary I stumbled upon, is incredible. While I know The Dark Knight Rises is nowhere near a perfect film, I love The Dark Knight series so much that it felt like a fitting end to the journey.
|1. Silver Linings Playbook|
I'm not sure where to begin, but it is, hands down, my favorite movie of the year. The acting is brilliant and more than anything, it just makes me smile; especially the ending. I also believe the movie, acting and story, more accurately captures the experiences of high functioning bi-polar disorder than any other film I have seen. It is a difficult subject to portray and the fact that it does so in a charming and entertaining way makes me love it even more. It also is just that…charming. It is original, unexpected and the final scene had me laughing out loud. It felt like this year's Little Miss Sunshine, and I hope that as many people as possible see it.
|2. Moonrise Kingdom|
Another comedy that captured my heart was Wes Anderson's latest movie, Moonrise Kingdom. It is arguably one of his best movies to date. This quirky film follows the unusual story of young love between an orphaned Boy Scout and the precious/awkward love of his life. The look and production design set a very specific dreamy tone that feels as if you have been transported to a faraway land that you see through the eyes of a child. There are many well-known actors in this movie (Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand) but it is the young couple that steals the show. The film was made in a very meticulous manner that comes across on screen. Luckily in a good way, not with the pretentiousness that Anderson's films can sometimes employ.
|3. Django Unchained|
Pulp Fiction will always be my favorite Tarantino movie, but Django Unchained has now become a close second. The spaghetti western, blaxploitation film had me doing something that I never thought I would be - laughing at slavery. For that reason, it can be controversial. Instead, I believe that the way in which it is executed is brilliant and actually shows the ridiculousness of this dark time. It is also one of the funniest movies of the year. It was an odd experience to be laughing out loud at such a depressing occurrence in American history. Also, I feel like a broken record, but the acting is spectacular. Jamie Foxx is great, but it is Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson who steal the show.
I thought the statement was possible with Gone Baby Gone, and was pretty convinced with The Town, but I found it to be truly solidified with Argo; Ben Affleck is a great film director. Argo is a historical fiction based on the events of the 1979, CIA agent led, rescue of six US diplomats during the Iran Hostage crisis. The dialogue is funny and my biggest and most emphatic endorsement for Argo is the fact that although you know how the film is going to end, it is still incredibly suspenseful. I literally found myself screaming out loud (I watched a screener. Don’t worry, I didn't yell in a movie theater) telling them to "get out!" That is a big accomplishment and I am fully impressed with every aspect of the film, not to mention the fact that it is just fun to watch.
|5. The Queen of Versailles|
I stumbled upon this documentary on Netflix and boy am I happy I did. It is one of the most fascinating glimpses into the over-indulgent wealthy American culture that I have seen. The documentary follows the lives of billionaires Jackie and David Siegel as they embark on the construction of the largest and most expensive single family home in the United States, called Versailles. While the beginning is interesting, the best part of the film occurs when they are filming during the economic crisis of 2008. They go from being billionaires to having to "cut back" and stay in a house with only 12 or so rooms…the horror! However, it is incredibly compelling to watch the struggles of the family and couple and actually tells a pretty great tale about marriage, wealth and family (as well as class) in America.
|6. The Dark Knight Rises|
The Dark Knight Rises was not the best film in the series, but it was still a good film. When I reflected upon it, it felt more like an extension of The Dark Knight. Now, it had its problems. I am not a fan of Anne Hathaway and while Tom Hardy is great, I had difficulty understanding anything that Bane said. However, I still like the movie; A lot. Whereas The Dark Knight would have been number one of my list in 2008, this one just falls farther down. However, controversial as it might be, it was one of my favorite movies of the year.
Another choice that might be un-popular, but I stand by it. Yes, some of the humor might be called "low brow" but in this day and age, where there isn't a lot of actual humor in many comedic films, I was pleased with all of the laughs. Ted is the first feature film of Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. It follows the story of John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) and his real live, stuffed best friend, Ted. They drink together, they do drugs together and pretty much just do everything together. Oh! This is the song I learned, "Fuck you thunder, you can suck my dick".
I am not just putting this on here just because I am annoyed that Skyfall was snubbed in the Academy Award nominations, but because I thought it was a goddamned good movie! First of all, it's extremely impressive to make one of the best films in a 50 year old action franchise's history. Also, the story was great. Javier Bardem's performance is creepy (but in all the right ways) and the cinematography is insane - like, incredibly good insane.
|9. Beasts of the Southern Wild|
I don't want to say too much about this one, because it is better watched without any background or knowledge of what it's about. It's a beautiful and heartwarming (yet oftentimes depressing movie) that features the best performance by a nine year old that I have ever seen. The vision of the director and storytellers is incredible and worth watching just for that.
The Avengers, End of Watch and Safety Not Guaranteed, all get honorable mentions but not necessarily enough to actually make it on the list. You will have to tune into the Pupcast if you want to find out why.
Find the lists of the other contributors here: