Top 20 Movies of 2012 Part 2
10. Looper by Gfunk
The concept itself is enough to draw people into this sci-fi minder. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis play the same character at different point of their life. JGL is the brash and drug addled hitman who kills people sent from the future by a criminal organisation, while Willis is the jaded future self target for execution. They find themselves clashing over both their future and the future of the world at large.
Following on the neo-noir cult hit Brick and the kooky grifter caper The Brother’s Bloom director Rian Johnson stretched our philosophy nodes to breaking point. Science and logic take a backseat to character, action and some serious mind-bending to deliver a solid package. With fantastic design, and original narrative and some fantastic performances (especially man-of-the-now JGL) this is something special.
9. Silver Linings Playbook by Slam Adams
You may have heard of Silver Linings Playbook around this Oscar season. It was nominated in each of the 4 acting categories, one of which they won. It stars Bradley Cooper as a man fresh out of a mental care facility. He moves back in with his parents, played by Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver, and tries to stay out of trouble. He meets the widow of an old friend, played by Jennifer Lawrence (the lucky winner of the four). The two of them end up leaning on each other and learn to cope together instead of individually.
Silver Linings Playbook is a very interesting take on mental illness. Hollywood usually goes for broke making them as outlandish and over the top as possible. Sometimes they don’t even end up very accurate. SLP decides to look at the silent majority of people who are diagnosed with more minor psych issues in comparison but are usually treated like they should be in a straight jacket 24/7.
8. The Cabin in the Woods by Gfunk
Horror movies aren’t really that much different from each other these days. As soon as something unique makes a splash the market gets flooded with sequels and imitators. Most of the best are the ones that take on the tried and true formulas and do them damn well. Cabin in the Woods not only spins a classic horror tale but does something so wonderfully unique you can’t help but love it.
Five stereotypical college kids head out to – you guessed it – a cabin in the woods, passing by the requisite creepy redneck. Upon arriving they find a source of creepy knick-knacks in the basement. A bit of exploration leads to a bunch of undead redneck torture zombies coming after them. At least that’s what it looks like. Beneath the surface of the Earth is a high-tech organisation intent on putting their victims through this torment. But to what end? This is the best, most original horror movie in a decade and it never stops surprising.
7. Argo by Jes
Sure, it won the Oscar for Best Picture. Sure, all the critics hail it as being fantastic, it is an ode to Hollywood after all, so what would you expect? But why would a normal moviephile love this film about a group of people trapped in Iran in the 70’s? What makes it stand out from the pack of flashy blockbusters in 2012? The answer is simple: artistry. There is so much I could say about this film, gush about in fact, from the writing to the acting there is very little to dislike, but for me it is the visual artistry Ben Affleck and his editors were able to accomplish that makes this film stand out. It is easy for films based on historical events to be drawn out and, well let’s be honest, boring, but there is never a moment in this film where the audience is left unengaged and unentertaine. The art of visual stimulation is always present. The opening montage is one great example as it is a mixture of animation, historical facts and human drama, making a new and inventive way of giving what could be tedious, albeit crucial, background information.
Throughout the film Affleck does a superb job of blending real news footage with newly shot images, never breaking the realism and tension, never making us question the world we are placed into. Although he does a great job on screen as well, Affleck really has found his home behind the camera, his ability to run a scene of Iranian news footage into the reading of the Argo script is so seamless, it is almost poetic. There is a brilliance in how scenes are contrasted, the juxtaposition of one area then leading into another, for example when the film crew is walking through the bazaar they are met with deafening conflict, at the same time the housekeeper is in a quiet safe environment but met with an almost more terrifying encounter. Gives me chills just thinking about it. Then there is the final major scene at the airport, which I will not spoil for anyone, but it is one of the most intense and yet quiet pieces of film making I have ever seen, the use of sound especially drives home the anxiety we as an audience feel as the group move closer to the gates. This film proves that you don’t have to make history boring, you don’t have to make it two hours long, if shot by the right man and edited by the right group, any historical event can be entertaining and educational, it is all about artistry.
6. Zero Dark Thirty by Hedge
I went into Zero Dark Thirty thinking I knew what it was about, and expecting a certain kind of film; action, intrigue, torture, shouty men with American accents. What I got was all this, wrapped in a blanket of almost searing honesty. Set around the career of CIA officer, ‘Maya’ as she dedicates her fledgling career with the agency to bringing down the man behind it all: Osama bin Laden.
Jessica Chastain is remarkable in the role. She portrays Maya as timid, flinching in the face of what interrogation meant in the Pakistan of a post-9/11 world. Soon enough though her fears are suppressed by a real need to avenge the deaths of so many innocents, and she becomes ever more single minded in her task. The cast that surround her are brilliant, including Australian Joel Edgerton who plays a member of the Navy SEAL team who eventually infiltrates and kills America’s number one most wanted.
Filmed partly on location in India, and Poland, the film shied away from the usual military involvement, as Chastain noted in one interview it allowed them to make it far more accurate than some would have liked.
It’s confronting, and brutal and grim and superb. I recommend it highly to anyone interested in the effects of war on the people who live it, and anyone wanting to see behind the scenes of one of the worlds most controversial wars. It won’t always be pretty, but it’s certainly worth seeing.
5. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey by Paul
It’s no secret that The Lord of the Rings trilogy are my favorite movies of all-time so when The Hobbit crashed it’s way into theaters and delivered in every aspect I was waiting for, it immediately became my favorite movie of 2012. It might fail to reach the astronomical heights of the original trilogy but in reality what actually can? This is an adventure full of conflicted characters, an engaging backstory, thunderously beautiful landscapes and adrenaline fueled action sequences. A few key members of the original cast were back for The Hobbit as they seamlessly slipped back into their characters from 10 years ago but none more than the great Ian McKellen who was born to read Tolkien’s lines. He plays Gandalf with such a calming sense of grandeur while he always has that twinkle of life in his eyes that lets you know he’s constantly planning ahead. Of the new additions Martin Freeman slips into the world of Middle-Earth so seamlessly that I could’ve sworn I was watching someone who was a part of the original movies. His subtle pausing and brilliant mannerisms added so much life to a moment of screen-time that could’ve easily been there to move a scene along to the next one. Out of the 13 dwarves the star of the show is the leader Thorin Oakensheild who’s played magnificently by the underrated Richard Armitage. He grabs his “breakout” role here and knocks it out of the park with a tough and brooding leader with a tragic side that can be seen in his eyes through subtle moments of sadness.
Once the band hits the road the adventure picks up and we’re hit by a non-stop barrage of epic fight scenes, chases, sweeping images of the New Zealand landscape and my absolute favorite sequence in the film, “Riddles in the Dark”. Andy Serkis reprises his role as Gollum here and absolutely steals the show with pitch perfect energy and a twisted sense of belonging. In the world of The Lord of the Rings where there are so many black and white characters that fit into the “Good and Evil” categories that someone like Gollum who’s clearly in the gray area is just so captivating. The chemistry in this scene between Serkis and Freeman is delightfully entertaining and it really helps make it one of the signature moments in the franchise. Even though the movie had some very minor nitpicks or faults they are few and far between and never once take away from the core of the movie as the performances and centralized story keep you glued to your seat. Peter Jackson didn’t just bring me back to Middle-Earth for the sake of going back, he brought me back to tell a story and create a new franchise that stands on its own two feet, away from the original trilogy and finding its own magical place of belonging that was sorely missed in the 10 years since The Return of the King.
4. The Dark Knight Rises by Gfunk
Christopher Nolan did more than create a blockbuster movie with The Dark Knight, he reshaped people’s perception of the superhero genre. Frank Miller and Alan Moore changed the way people read comics in the 1980s, but the rest of the population was still behind the curve, with many reviewers calling Fantastic Four a ‘real’ comic book movie. The stark realism of Nolan’s trilogy took many the average punter by surprise, depicting Batman as a realistic and troubled individual and his villains, most notably the Joker, as dangerous and scary characters.
After the record breaking success of The Dark Knight everyone was clamoring for the final part of the trilogy. The name Bane may not have meant much to many but fans of the comics could not wait for this titan to give the caped crusader the opponent he deserved. Although the movie tried to jam an almost uncomfortable amount of story into this final chapter the smack down between Bane and Batman, the banter between Batman and Catwoman and the new gadgets on show made it all worthwhile.
3. Django Unchained by Matt
Brutal, unflinching, violent, hilarious. All these words describe Django Unchained and more, only the warped mind of Tarantino could bring you a Spaghetti Western about slavery and make it one of the most entertaining flicks of the year. The story of slave Django being freed by bounty hunter Dr Schultz to save his wife Broomhilda from psychotic slaver Calvin Candie is one that’s easy to get behind and takes us on a humorous yet uncompromising journey through America’s darkest period.
With Tarantino’s legendary dialogue at the helm and with fantastic acting all around, Foxx embodies the quiet anger bubbling under Django’s skin, Di Caprio has arguably never been better playing the insane brat of a villain, but it’s Waltz and Jackson who really shine here. Waltz as the German dentist turned bounty hunter, disgusted by the American ways of slavery and Jackson as House Slave Steven, the true villain of the story. These are some of the best character Jackson has ever created.
Adding in a kick-ass soundtrack – only Tarantino could fit a rap song into a Western shoot-out and make it work – and some of the most bloody and bloody brilliant shoot-outs this side of The Wild Bunch and you have, not only one of Tarantino’s best films, but one of the year’s best films.
2. Skyfall by Jonathan
A few years ago the Bond franchise was thought to be dead in the water. Pierce Brosnan left the franchise during the execrable ‘x-treme’ action movie phase of the early 2000s. (remember xxx, stealth etc – I’m glad we left all that behind…) When the Bourne series broke it seemed that Bond was just…out of date, old fashioned and washed up. The gadgets, the girls and the cars seemed like a throwback to a less enlightened age but all that changed with Casino Royale and the brand new Bond, Daniel Craig. Whilst the first Craig film was damn near perfect, the follow up Quantum of Solace really struggled. Thankfully this year saw the Bond series hit it’s 50th anniversary and produce on the strongest films in it’s history – Skyfall.
Artfully directed by Sam Mendes the film takes the best of Bond’s history and blends it with modern action to show off the timeless quality of the character. The movie has all the elements that we expect from a Bond movie – kick ass action sequences (the opening sequence is one of the best ever – up there with Goldeneye’s famous opening), a terrifying villain in Javier Bardem and Dame Judi Dench fulfilling the role of the perfect Bond ‘girl.’ The film is masterful, finishing the moulding of Daniel Craig into the perfect British action hero setting up Bond for the next 50 years. The film (and Bond himself) provides a good insight into the Brits view of ourselves – aware of our history, our place in the world and still able to hold our own. Bond goes through hell here but he manages to prove that there are still things – duty, honour and the protection of the nation – that still have a place in this modern world. Watch it, you’ll be on the edge of your seat, entertained and maybe have a little patriotic glow at the end of it all. Best Bond in decades and one of the best films of 2012.
1. Avengers- Jamie
The Avengers is hands down my favorite movie of 2012. It’s a concept that few thought would ever come to fruition; six of Marvel’s biggest superheroes in one well-done movie. But thanks to Marvel’s careful setup, Joss Whedon’s amazing writing and directing skills, and the talents of some fabulous actors we got one of the best superhero movies of all time. I can think of no flaws in this movie. First we have some well-established superheroes played by actors that have created unique and memorable characters, all of which use Joss Whedon’s dialogue and their own natural chemistry to create the perfect atmosphere for the superhero team. Not to mention Black Widow, perhaps the best female superhero on film yet; a three-dimensional character that holds her own in a fight but does so in a realistic manner, which sacrificing her feminism or individuality.
The Avengers offers something for everyone: an attractive and talented cast, the perfect dialogue that’s a mix of serious and witty, fabulous direction by living legend Joss Whedon, a classicly comic-book villain, and some of the best action scenes you will ever see. The final battle in New York is my favorite on-screen moment of the year. It allows for some awesome destruction intercut by our beloved heroes finally working together as a team but each showing off their individual abilities. The Avengers is a film that everyone can (and has) enjoyed and will forever be known as the epitome of summer blockbusters.