THE BEST MOVIES OF 2012 by Michael Arruda

MICHAEL ARRUDA’S PICKS FOR THE BEST MOVIES OF 2012
By Michael Arruda

Here’s my list for the Top 10 Movies for 2012:

First, some honorable mentions of movies that didn’t make my Top 10 but were very good all the same.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: 

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES – The conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.  Very dark, perhaps too dark and depressing to make my Top 10 list.

CABIN IN THE WOODS – The genre film that probably generated the most buzz this year.  I loved it, but didn’t find it scary enough to make my Top 10.

THE EXPENDABLES 2 – This EXPENDABLES sequel is better than the original, and with Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, Statham, Chuck Norris, and Jean Claude Van Damme all on the screen together at the same time, you can’t help but feel explosive about this one.  A blast, literally.

JACK REACHER – Surprisingly good mystery thriller with Tom Cruise in top form as ex- military cop out to clear the name of his wrongly accused friend— er, pardon me, the guy’s not his friend.

DREDD- Most people didn’t like this one, but I thought Karl Urban was excellent as Dredd, and the film itself compelling and entertaining.

Now onto the actual Top 10 list:

MY TOP 10 MOVIES OF 2012:

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10. THE GREY – Liam Neeson just keeps getting better and better with age, and this satisfying thriller of men vs. wolves kept me glued to the screen throughout.

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9. ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER – probably the most pleasant surprise for me in 2012.  I expected a campy over-the-top mess, a la VAN HELSING (2004), but what I got was a serious, attractive horror period piece that reminded me an awful lot of the Hammer Films of old. Highly recommended.

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8. SKYFALL – Crowned “the King of all Bond movies” before it ever hit U.S. theaters, the hype became this one’s worst enemy.  Not the best Bond movie, not by a long shot, but still a highly enjoyable Bond thriller, and Daniel Craig continues to impress as James Bond.

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7. THE HUNGER GAMES – another surprise for me.   I didn’t expect to like this one, but the serious way in which it treated its subject, kids who have to fight to the death in a weird futuristic society, plus an outstanding cast, including Jennifer Lawrence, Stanley Tucci, and Woody Harrelson, make this a winner.

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6. CHRONICLE – in spite of its forgettable title, this superior science fiction thriller tells the tale of a group of teenagers who find an alien object which gives them telekinetic powers, and the dark path they follow afterwards.  A cheery superhero story, this ain’t!  Effectively uses the gimmick of being filmed entirely by cameras in the movie, some belonging to the characters while others are from the characters’ surroundings, like security cameras and pedestrians’ cell phones.

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5. DJANGO UNCHAINED – another excellent Quentin Tarantino movie.  This one features the director’s signature touches- attention to detail, stylish scenes, excellent cast, and eclectic music score- plus a fine performance by Jamie Foxx in the lead, and even better performances by Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson in supporting roles.  A must-see movie from beginning to end.

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4. ARGO – probably the best subtle film of the year.  This unusual tale of the U.S. government funding a fake movie in order to fool Iranian officials in a plot to free six American diplomats who escaped from the U.S. Embassy in Iran before the 56 American hostages were taken in 1979, is based on a true story.  Knockout script by Chris Terrio, superb direction by Ben Affleck, and two great supporting performances by John Goodman and Alan Arkin make this one a winner.  The suspense builds to an incredibly tense conclusion, probably the most suspenseful final third of a movie I’ve seen in years, all of it without bloodshed or violence.  Superior filmmaking at its best.

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3. SAVAGES – Director Oliver Stone hits a homerun with this tale of pot growers and their shared girlfriend taking on a deadly Mexican drug cartel.  This one had me hooked (no pun intended) from beginning to end, and features some terrific performances throughout, including Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, and Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the three leads, as believable a ménage a trois as you’ll find in a movie, and Salma Hayek and Benicio del Toro as nasty villains.  This one was a guilty pleasure, as I enjoyed it more than I should have.  Almost ruined by its ending, but somehow, in spite of the bizarre twist, it still works.

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2. THE AVENGERS – by far, the most fun I had at the movies this year, and probably my favorite movie of the year, even if I didn’t think it was the best.  The best Marvel superhero movie yet, and considering some of the great movies they’ve churned out over the past decade, that’s saying a lot.  Robert Downey Jr. returns to top form as Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man, and along with fellow superheroes Captain America, Thor, the Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye, combine to make for the most entertaining superhero movie to date.  They spend more time at each other’s throats than going after the villains, making them the perfect dysfunctional superhero family.  Grand nearly flawless entertainment from beginning to end, with really the only drawback being its weak villain, Loki, who now has appeared in two superhero movies and has underwhelmed in both.  Retire this supervillain wannabe already!

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1.   LINCOLN – what can I say?  2012 was the year of Lincoln, with two movies about Abraham Lincoln making my Top 10 List.  This one is the best by far.  My favorite Steven Spielberg film in years.  Spectacular, flawless direction, in which Spielberg uses light and shadow to great effect, this one was the most satisfying visual movie of 2012.  It also has the year’s best performance, Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln.  I believed I was watching the real Lincoln on screen.  Also features fine support by Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones, and a script by Tony Kushner, based in part on the book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin, that tells the compelling story of Lincoln’s extraordinary efforts to get the 13th Amendment passed to free the slaves.  Hands down the best movie of the year.  Not to be missed.  And do yourself a favor and see it on the big screen.

—END—

© Copyright 2013 by Michael Arruda

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