Bill’s Bizarre Bijou
Top 20 Movies of 2012
I hate admitting it, but 2012 turned out to be an exceptional year for film entertainment. When I made out my list of favorites for the year, I was astounded to find twenty six movies listed, and these were the ones I really, REALLY liked. So, in all fairness to the year that was, I am making a list of twenty best this year. Please keep in mind, I have not been able to view everything released. I still haven’t seen THE MASTER, ZERO DARK THIRTY, PROMISED LAND, and others, but I have seen the films listed below, and they were all terrific in their own way.
And now, counting backwards:
20. THE AVENGERS – A comic book movie done right! Exciting, funny, if a bit too long; it was always entertaining.
19. SAVAGES – Oliver Stone brings us a wickedly twisted take on Don Winslow’s great novel and gives Salma Hayek her best role ever as a Mexican drug kingpin.
18. CABIN IN THE WOODS – A hoot and a half for horror lovers, this clever film turned the viewer into an active participant.
17. MAGIC MIKE – Filmed in beautiful pastel hues, this is more than a stripper movie; it’s a rom-com with just the right bit of silliness to combat the sweet. I hate admitting how good this is or how good Channing Tatum is in the lead.
16. THE RAID: REDEMPTION – Asian action to the tenth degree, this movie was more exciting than a hundred Hollywood blockbusters at a hundredth of the budget.
15. JOHN CARTER – Maligned by critics who never read Edgar Rice Burroughs, this is a faithful, old-fashioned and FUN film that brought out the twelve year old boy in me.
14.THE BAY – I thought I hated found footage films by now, but Barry Levinson made it fresh again with a truly horrifying take on a parasitic outbreak. It brought immediacy to the drama without making me scream “Put down the damn camera and run!” at the screen. Best horror film of the year.
13. PITCH PERFECT – Aca-hilarious! This does for acappella choirs what BRING IT ON (2000) did for cheerleading. A funny, wise-assed script, terrific music, and the best use ever for a John Hughes ending. I loved this even though I knew I shouldn’t.
12. THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS and WRECK IT RALPH– Who expects wit in a cartoon? These are both full of wit and wonder, beautifully animated, funny, and better than anything Pixar has done in years.
11. THE IMPOSTER– Riveting documentary about a boy who disappeared and the young man who claimed, four years later, to be that missing kid. Why didn’t the family report him to the police when it is so obvious he wasn’t their son?
10. LIFE OF PI – Easily the most beautiful and transcendent of the top twenty, Ang Lee’s terrifying story of a boy trapped on a life raft with a Bengal Tiger is scary and moving, opening up questions about truth and story-telling. Every writer should watch this one.
9. LINCOLN – Absorbing historical film with a riveting performance by Daniel Day Lewis. Some say it is slow moving, but the scenes of Congress battling over the future of slavery are gripping and beautifully written and directed. Spielberg’s best film since 2005’s MUNICH.
8. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD – Nobody I know saw this lyrical, gorgeous, fascinating story of a childhood in poverty and the beauty a little girl creates within her fantasy world to block out reality. Rectify this and watch it now.
7. LOOPER – The best science fiction movie in years. Thoughtful, well-acted, and intense in ways most thrillers aren’t. Welcome back to the fold, Bruce Willis. We missed you.
6. MOONRISE KINGDOM – Wes Anderson’s lovely film about childhood and how we want to protect our children from themselves. It’s also a perfect blend of whimsy and Anderson’s perfect visual compositions.
5. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED – A wonderful comedy that sneaks up on you and remains with you forever. Snarkiness is rampant, but the heart of this movie is worn on its sleeve, and the ending will make you believe in love and the impossible.
4. DJANGO UNCHAINED – Quentin Tarantino’s homage to Italian Westerns is an incredible piece of work with numerous great performances, terrific music and songs, the best shoot-out since THE WILD BUNCH (1969), and the funniest scene ever involving the KKK.
3. ARGO – Possibly the most entertaining movie of the year with a great script, tight direction, lots of suspense, humor, and John Goodman and Alan Arkin in career bests. This is crackerjack Hollywood filmmaking, the kind you rarely see anymore, and everything in it works. Ben Afleck has become one of our best directors. How the hell did that happen?
2. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK – This is how you make a crowd pleaser without resorting to mawkishness and pandering. Two fragile, emotionally disturbed people meet, become friends, and help each other win a dance contest. Sounds hokey, right? It isn’t. This movie is so well acted and directed that I can’t imagine anyone not being moved by it.
1. LES MISERABLES – With all the faults of the stage play, this is still a wondrous experience in a theater. The actors sang their songs live – something unheard of in movie musicals – with varying results, but the immediacy and emotion this brought out of the score make this the closest we’ll ever get to a live Broadway Show on film. Plus, someone just engrave Anne Hathaway’s name on the Oscar now. I was reduced to an emotional puddle by the end, as was the entire audience.
WORST FILM OF THE YEAR – No competition! BATTLESHIP was everything an action movie shouldn’t be…overblown, overlong, dull, unfunny, badly acted, with the dumbest script I have ever heard. My mouth hung ajar over this fiasco. And not in a good, “let’s make fun of it” manner! This snoozefest blew up everything in its path and still nearly put me to sleep.
Honestly, what a great year!
© Copyright 2013 by William D. Carl