Top 20 Movies of 2012 Part 1
We decided to do this a little differently. We probably would have each of the writers say their favorite movie of the year. Instead, we polled as many of the writers as we could so that we could come up with a cumulative list.
20. The Grey by Gfunk
The marketing for this unusual take on an established genre didn’t give much away: a title that was as vague as they come and Liam Neeson being grizzled at the camera. Likewise the synopsis only talked about some guys having to run from wolves. There’s much more happening than just that though. Neeson plays a hunter who is on the verge of suicide, who survives a plane crash along with some colleagues. A pack of wolves toy with them as the battle against the harsh environment they’ve become trapped in.
It’s a terse story of man vs nature, both the unforgiving landscape and vicious predators work to destroy the will of the survivors. It’s a fantastically shot movie that weaves questions about life and death in between nail biting suspense. It doesn’t fit neatly into any specific genre but it’s well worth the time.
19. Goon by Slam Adams
If you were to tell me that a hockey comedy filled to the brim with blue humor starring Seann William Scott and written by Jay Baruchel was going to be one of the best movies of the year, I would say you were high as a kite. Yet here it is sitting on the our Top 20, and I can’t think of a good reason not to include it. Scott breaks his asshole Stifler typecasting playing one of the nicest, most genuine characters to hit the big screen in years. I always liked him. Stifler in the American Pie movies always makes me laugh, and Role Models was one of the best comedies in recent memories. I just wish Scott could find some staying power in the public eye.
He is surrounded by roguishly charming teammates all with their own eccentricities, and has a mustachioed rival looking for a predecessor to take his throne. It tries to give a good name to the “goon” role on the ice. He is a sacred protector of hot-shots who wears his scars like red badges of courage. As sacrilegious as many might think it, this definitely challenges Slap Shot as the best hockey movie ever.
18. 21 Jump Street by Gfunk
Cards on the table, I was not expecting to enjoy this even a little bit. To my pretentious mind it was yet another crummy knock-off to sell some quick tickets and pay the rent for some actors. Neither Jonah Hill nor Channing Tatum had endeared themselves to me as comedians, and the modern trends in comedy as a whole didn’t work for me. I’m not even sure why I rented it…possibly because it was cheaper to make up a package deal.
It caught me off guard. Not every joke hit the mark but the ones that did hit hard. Wacky drug trips are a dime a dozen but there’s something oddly memorable about that talking ice-cream cone. The ‘science’ scene just about had me wetting my pants such was the perfect comedic timing. Brie Larson, picking up the role after Scott Pilgrim vs the World, is downright adorable, and the movie ends with one of the most mind-blowingly brilliant twists in cinematic history. You’ll skip back through the chapters to see just how well it was waved just under your nose the whole movie. Surprising good fun.
17. Beasts of the Southern Wild by Slam Adams
This film tells the story of Hushpuppy, a young girl living in a shantytown on the outskirts of the Louisiana bayou. This shantytown was just flooded by a big storm, and her father doesn’t trust the people from the dryland to help them. When her father becomes sick, she finds herself facing a strange world all by herself. Her limited understanding twists a world of hardship and tragedy into a world of wonder and fantasy. It is a controversial movie. Many people seemed to think it was too accepting of child abuse keeping this kid in poverty, but I think there is more to it than that. All over the world, people are living like this. This is daily life for them, and it takes a level of strength to keep going. That strength is taken for granted by those who already have what they need.
The filmmaking alone is worth a look-see. Film critic Stephen Rea says the film is “patched together with found materials, conjured up by untrained artists (the actors), and evocative of a truly American attitude of eccentricity, boldness, [and] transcendence.” It would be a great companion piece to the American New Wave cinema of the ‘70s. That movement didn’t look to clean up its act or shoot around the blemishes. It was oddly proud of the grime and refuses to ignore the faults, especially when the American spirit seemed to persevere under the harshest conditions.
16. Perks of Being a Wallflower by Bryan
The Perks of Being a Wallflower is directed by Stephen Chbosky and based on his own novel. I’ll start off by stating it is one of my favourite novels, because it made such an impact on me, and the movie doesn’t lose any of the impact. The themes of loneliness and friendship run throughout, and it shows one of the most realistic high school settings I’ve ever seen. The characters are well drawn out and beautifully played by the entire cast, but Logan Lerman was just mind-blowing as Charlie, the young man with Depression. Watching him was akin to going on a roller coaster with all the ups and downs of life. You see him at different emotional points, and each one hits you where it matters.
On a personal note, the novel changed my life. It was the first novel that truly opened up my eyes and spoke to me because of how relatable it was. In my own life I was Charlie, and still am. I suffer from the same illness he does, and that is why I connected so much with the novel. I’m happy to say the movie doesn’t pull any punches and is not just one of the best high school movies ever made, but in my opinion is one of the best and most powerful films out there, hence why it was my number one film of 2012
15. Moonrise Kingdom by Gfunk
Wes Anderson is certainly a popular and unique voice in modern cinema. Some of his recent offerings, such as The Life Aquatic With Steve Zissou and The Darjeerling Limited saw the big box office numbers filter away as his work became more entrenched in his unorthodox style. Although Moonrise Kingdom seems to have taken things further than ever before it found itself a strange rhythm that has resonated with viewers everywhere.
Two youngsters, feeling unloved and broken, escape from their lives to build their own life together. While their families and scout troop scour the small island looking for them in the face on an oncoming storm their first romance continues to blossom as they learn about each other. Under any other director this would have been an awkward mess, but with Anderson’s guiding hand it’s the sweetest romance you’ll see this year.
14. Brave – Appa the Gypsy
Pixar has been criticized for quite some time now for not providing female protagonists for girls to identify with in their films. Brave was their answer to that. Merida is headstrong, courageous, and able to take care of herself. But she’s far from perfect, and she learns so much about herself and her family and her responsibilities to her kingdom. This story isn’t just about her, though. It’s about the relationship between a mother and daughter. Both Merida and her mother grow and learn to listen to each other throughout the film, and you can see that no matter what happens to them, they still have that unconditional connection. Despite her mother being unable to speak for part of the film, Merida can always tell when her mother is lecturing her, when she’s proud or sad, and even when she’s not herself. Brave has done a fantastic job representing the dynamic and complex relationship that can exist between a parent and child, and that made for a fantastic film.
Brave was also beautiful. The film was colourful, and it used the Scottish setting to its advantage. Maybe one too many jokes about Scottish accents and culture, but the use of music and sweeping landscapes and folklore create a majestic world for Merida to traverse. A lot of critics have commented that Brave is a very ‘Disney’ sort of film, and while the similarities are there, Merida is still such a unique character. She doesn’t have to fall in love or get married to be happy at the end of the film, and that’s so refreshing for audiences to see. And that hair. They said it was one of the big animation challenges for the film, and it was amazing, but I have to say, you rarely see a Disney princess with hair that stays wet for a logical period of time, so that’s also a pretty massive achievement.
13. Prometheus by Hedge
Prometheus was a film that truly polarized audiences. It was sleek and stylish, but not everybody found it all that smart. Without substance, the film was too symptomatic of the problems with modern day cinema: all flash and no meaning.
Personally though, I thought Prometheus was a fitting entry to the lore of the Alien universe. While some were confused by where it sat within the in-universe history of the franchise or found the plot lacking, I felt quite the opposite. While the film never once held your hand, or sat you down to explain itself, it provided more than enough for the audience to draw their own conclusions; something I feel contemporary movies don’t do enough of.
If you haven’t seen Prometheus, I recommend giving it a shot. Regardless of what side of the fence you ultimately sit on, it’s a decision you have to make for yourself.
12. Seven Psychopaths by Slam Adams
It was pretty much a guarantee that I was going to see this movie. Sam Rockwell! Christopher Walken! Tom Waits! And the reteaming of Colin Farrell and Martin McDonough after the unbelievably awesome In Bruges. What could possibly be so bad about this movie. Colin Farrell plays Martin, an alkie screenwriter with writer’s block. He is working on a new screenplay (Seven Psychopaths) except he doesn’t want it to be just another crazy violent action movie. He wants it to be about something, namely “peace.” His 2 crazy buddies (Rockwell and Walken) keep getting him into trouble when they kidnap the dog of an equally crazy gangster (played by Woody Harrelson).
Martin the screenwriter? Trying to write a movie about hitmen that is also about peace? Sounds really familiar to me. McDonough can say it was by mistake all he wants. It sounds like Colin Farrell is playing him trying to write In Bruges. But Colin Farrell is just the eyes (OUR eyes). Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson are pretty much stealing every scene they are in while Christopher Walken quietly works in the background giving one of his absolute best performances EVER! Listening to Walken’s version of the Viet Cong priest is worth the seeing alone (I know that sounds weird, but you have to see it to really get “Viet Cong Priest”)
11. Paranorman by Slam Adams
In the digital age, certain old school film techniques have gone by the wayside. For instance, stop-motion animation. It was once the go to way to make 3-dimensional cartoons before Pixar and other computer generated cartoons reared their ugly head. They are actually quite pretty, but that is beside the point. There are still people fighting the good fight. Community’s Starburns is one of those people, and so are the nice people at Laika studios, who gave us Coraline and Paranorman.
Paranorman is a story about a young shy kid, Norman. He lives in a city very reminiscent of Salem, MA, fit with their own witch tales. A long time ago, the town elite sentenced a witch to death, and she cursed the town. Now Norman has the responsibility of protecting the town passed to him from his loony uncle. Norman already has the ability to talk to ghosts, and this ability will help him silence the witch. He teams up with his own version of the Breakfast Club to out maneuver the zombies, get to the witches grave, and save the day. Despite being made for kids, this movie remains entertaining and thrilling for all ages.