Dan Keohane’s Picks for THE BEST FILMS OF 2012

DAN KEOHANE’S TOP 10 FILMS OF 2012
By Dan Keohane

Ok, so, though you haven’t seen much of me in these webbie, wobbly… thingies we call Cinema Knife Fight, that doesn’t mean I haven’t seen my share of movies this year. In fact, I was pretty amazed how many 2012 releases I’d seen (still nowhere near enough, however).  There are a number of movies I did not, or have not yet been able to see (DJANGO UNCHAINED, CLOUD ATLAS, LIFE OF PI and HITCHCOCK to name only a few), but of the films I did manage to see, here are my FAVORITE FILMS OF 2012:

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1. THE AVENGERS—I was left a little wanting with CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER (2011) especially in its latter half, and IRON MAN 2 (2010) was a pretty weak sequel in my opinion, so I was worried about how THE AVENGERS would work out. Oh, Me of Little Faith. Joss Whedon hit this out of the park, as did every cast member. It says a lot when an entire cast’s performance makes Samuel L. Jackson’s seem almost boring. Great fun, especially for a lifetime comic fan like myself.

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2. LES MISERABLES—I know, this isn’t a genre film, but I had to include it. My wife cried pretty much all the way through this, and she’d seen the play 3 times before this. I didn’t cry, but was blown away by the vocals, the acting, the choreography—you name it. The movie was brilliant. It should tell you something that I had to pee for the last 45 minutes but didn’t get up until the credits rolled.

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3. FLIGHT—A sleeper that I don’t think many people saw, unfortunately. This intense, heroic and sad story of a pilot who saves a crashing airliner only to face his own demons (alcoholism and drug abuse) gives star Denzel Washington a chance to command the screen every moment he’s up there. Powerful movie.

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4. SKYFALL—In my opinion, this is the best James Bond movie ever. I hear that some people fell victim to raised expectations going in and I don’t want to give you the wrong idea. If you thought Roger Moore was the best James Bond, with all the gimmicks and jokes, you might not like this back-to-basics, serious spy flick. But I did—a lot. In my mind, Daniel Craig is the best Bond, hands down.

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5. THE HUNGER GAMES—An extremely good adaptation of the masterful YA novel, with a cast pulled right from the pages. The editing during battle scenes was choppy and scattered—but this was deliberate both to show the chaos and to keep the film from getting an R rating (thus excluding 90% of its audience). But that was the only negative aspect in my opinion. Besides, if I didn’t include it here, my daughter will never forgive me.

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6. THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY—This was exactly what I had hoped from Peter Jackson & Co., and more so. I actually left the theater wishing we’d seen the 3D version, which is unlike me, because it was so visually stunning. Very well cast, the film pays loving homage to the first third of the relatively short Hobbit novel, while adding enough extras (from other Tolkien sources) to keep you interested for 2.5+ hours. The Gollum vs. Bilbo scene itself is worth the price.

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7. LOOPER—A smart, fast-paced science fiction film which does not try to explain every little detail but appreciates the intelligence of 80% of its audience. This time travel story of a man from the future trying to keep his past self from killing him in the past is fast-paced and exciting and not as confusing as I make it sound—besides, this is only half the story.

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8. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN—I was not sure how this reboot / reimagining of the Spidey mythos would work (though I knew it needed something after 2007’s repetitious SPIDERMAN 3). I was pleasantly surprised. It was fun, funny, clever and exciting, as it should be.

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9. WRECK-IT RALPH—Came into this one with my 21-year old son not knowing much about it, but left warm and fuzzy having seen a clever, funny and sweet film which gives many nods to the video games that were around when I was 21.

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10. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD—This odd, almost experimental film is not for everyone. My wife Linda did not like it. I was spellbound from the beginning to the end. What exactly is going on it not always clear, except that these are some poor, poor people living off an unforgiving land which is about to get even more unforgiving. The relationship between the little girl and her semi-abusive, semi-loving father is equally warm and heart-wrenching.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

THE LORAX (was sweet and clever and did my favorite Dr. Seuss book justice)

THE WOMAN IN BLACK (a great and spooky gothic horror, with minimal music blasts to scare you, just creepy settings and scary scenes)

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (very good finale to the series, but not my favorite of 2012, and not *quite* as good as the first two films).

Finally, even though they’re on TV and not the big screen, want to at least give a nod to THE WALKING DEAD and DOCTOR WHO as very enjoyable, unique and captivating viewing as always.

(If you noticed PROMETHEUS is missing from these lists, yes, I still have a couple of healing wounds, but I blame my own expectations for the film, not Mister Scott. He made the film he wanted to and it was vey good in its own right. )

There were many more that did not make the Top 10 but which were extremely good films in my option (CHRONICLE, THE GREY, MOONRISE KINGDOM, among others) and some not so good, but I’m out of room. I wish everyone a wonderful 2013 and hopefully we’ll see each other here more often in the months to come.

© Copyright 2013 by Daniel G. Keohane

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