As has been the case the last couple of years, I didn't get to see anywhere near as many new movies as I wanted to. I'm sure there are a ton of great flicks that came and went this year without my having seen or even noticing them. This is one reason why I thought about not doing this this year. I feel that my top 10 is woefully lacking. I've seen exactly TWO of the films up for Best Picture at the Academy Awards this year and even though I have good reason for it, it's still slightly embarrassing to me. In addition to that, there is not a single film on my list that didn't get a wide theatrical release in the U.S., which is even more embarrassing. On the slip side of that, though, I'm pretty sure I watched way more pre-1970 films in 2012 than I have ever in my lifetime, thanks to the Turner Classic Movies channel finally being available in HD through my satellite provider. I love that channel to death.
Ever since 2005, I've been keeping a list of every movie I watch every year. It makes this sort of thing a lot easier and it's interesting to me to look at the numbers afterward. This year's stats:
Total # of movies to date: 198
Total # of movies seen in a theater: 36
Total # of movies seen elsewhere: 164
Total # of different movies, cutting out repeat viewings: 192
Total # of movies seen for the first time: 157
Every single one of these categories dropped from last year. Oh well.
I'm going with 4 honorable mentions this year, as well. Just because I want to.
#14 - Honorable Mention
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
We could talk all day about whether or not the decision to make this book into three movies was a good idea or not, and we could talk about the issues this flick had with pacing (there were many), but despite its flaws, I enjoyed the first installment of The Hobbit immensely. It was a lot of fun, and even though I noticed the pacing was wacky, I was not bored at any moment. Special mention for the Bilbo and Smeagol scene, which was just fantastic. I'm not sure how much my love of the book is coloring my opinion and I don't care. I liked it a lot and am eager for the next chapter.
#13 - Honorable Mention
No, you are not seeing things. I enjoyed the fuck out of John Carter. I expected it to be as terrible as most critics thought it was, but when I actually went and saw it for myself, I was pretty astonished at how much fun it was. Yes, a lot of the dialogue is poorly written and the story is cliche (although the original book was written well before that was the case), but this movie has some serious heart to it. Lynn Collins, who plays Dejah Thoris (the female lead) was surprisingly fantastic and after seeing this movie, she gets my vote to play Wonder Woman whenever they get around to making a Wonder Woman movie. She was badass.
#12 - Honorable Mention
Speaking of badass ladies that could play Wonder Woman, up until the day I saw John Carter, my vote was for Gina Carano. I still think she'd be a good choice, especially after seeing this movie. The fight scenes in this movie were excellent, and the cast was fantastic. The fight scene between her and Michael Fassbender was especially cool. I'm a sucker for movies about women who just go around beating the crap out of people, so as long as the fight scenes were well done, this was a pretty safe bet for me and it did not disappoint in any way.
#11 - Honorable Mention
Seth McFarlane may not be the most creative or surprising person in the world, but he can be funny as hell when he wants to be. I didn't see very many straight up comedies in 2012, but of the ones I did see, this was definitely my favorite. I like Mark Wahlberg as a comedic actor much, much more than I do as a dramatic one. Between this and The Other Guys, I think he'd be better of sticking with comedy forever.
It's going to be a regular theme for the films on this list this year. Flaws in the story, sometimes big enough to drive a subway car through, not being enough to diminish my enjoyment of a movie. Nowhere on this list is that better illustrated than in Skyfall. The second half of this movie is full of holes, but I honestly, genuinely loved the movie. I've been a big fan of all of the Daniel Craig Bond movies, even Quantum Of Solace which everyone else seems to dislike, but this one tops both it and Casino Royale for me easily. The biggest reason for that is Roger Deakins, the cinematographer. Holy god, did this movie look pretty. There was so much beautiful silhouetting of figures against colored backgrounds that it almost felt like they were cheating. It's not cheating, though, it's Damn Fine Shooting.
Director Josh Trank burst out of fucking nowhere with this super-hero movie that didn't seem to have any actual super-heroes. It was surprising, bold and inventive as hell all on top of being a damn good movie. I'm not entirely sure what would happen if some kids in high school today got super-powers, but it wouldn't surprise me if it wasn't too far off from what happens in this movie. Trank's been given the reigns of the Fantastic Four reboot now and I'm actually really looking forward to seeing what he does with it.
The Raid: Redemption
Straight up fight porn. Bare minimum of story and characterization needed. Just take 5 minutes to get everything set up and then let everyone punch and kick each other in the spleen for 80 minutes. Yes. I LOVED this movie. Especially since Tony Jaa's last couple were terrible. I keep hoping that movie studios will ditch the found horror genre and start making a bunch of fight porn movies like this (and not like whatever Sylvester Stallone is doing), but it hasn't really caught on yet. They're working on a sequel, though, so maybe that'll help.
What if you wanted to take the basic story idea of The Raid and try to make a movie of it, but with some actual character arcs, futuristic costumes and gun violence instead of hand-to-hand violence? Well, if you did it really, really well you'd make Dredd. Fucking badass. Violent as hell, pitch perfect performances from Karl Urban and Olivia Thirlby and SO SO SO SO nice to see the character done right after the Stallone version managed to do everything wrong. Sadly, the chances of a sequel are apparently fairly low due to the poor box office showing, but... man, I hope they get to make it someday. I want more.
This movie was everything anyone loves about Quentin Tarantino movies all bunched up together. It's funny, it's violent, it's got a great soundtrack and it's full of references to older movies Tarantino loves. Christoph Waltz was amazing again and if people still can't take Leonardo DiCaprio seriously as an actor after this, then the problem is most certainly with them. Even The Lady liked this one and she hates Tarantino.
Zero Dark Thirty
I love a well done investigative procedural film. I love the way Kathryn Bigelow has reinvented herself as a director. Can you believe the person who made Point Break and Near Dark is the same person who made this and The Hurt Locker? All great movies, but for very different reasons. Supposedly there's one in development, but I think this is probably the closest we're ever going to get to a Queen & Country movie, even though Jessica Chastain's character doesn't do the kind of field work that involves shooting people in the head like Tara Chace does. Chastain, by the way, is the real fucking deal and after seeing this movie I count myself officially as a member of her fan club. It sits up there with Elite Squad: The Enemy Within as my favorite military procedural of the last few years.
Cabin In The Woods
This movie joins Fight Club for having the worst, most misleading trailer and ad campaign for a flick ever. The commercials made this seem like it was just another slasher horror movie, but this was so, so much more. It's one of the smartest horror movies you'll ever see and, a lot like 2006's Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon it twists the genre like nothing you've seen before. It's also funny as hell. It's a good thing that Joss Whedon ended up getting the Avengers gig and hitting that out of the park so well, otherwise we might still not have had a chance to see this (it was filmed in 2009 and shelved for some ridiculous reason).
Speaking of Joss Whedon... plot-wise this movie was no great thing, but in pretty much every other aspect I can think of, it was as big a success as was humanly possible to make. I don't need to tell you. You saw it. Everyone saw it. And almost everyone loved it. Good on you, Joss. You deserve it. outside of the post-credits sequences, which tickled my nerd bone like nothing ever has before, Tom Hiddleston was still my favorite thing about this movie. I can't believe how perfect he is at being Loki.
I'd have to think about it some more, but I think this might be my favorite science fiction movie since Moon a few years ago. you can pick at some of the time travel stuff if you want to, but of all the movies I saw in 2012, this one blew me away the most. A great concept executed greatly. Jospeh Gordon-Levitt continues to be one of the best actors working today and hopefully director Rian Johnson's earned some name recognition for this. It's not flawless, but it makes up for it's flaws by being smart, unique and exciting as hell.
The Dark Knight Rises
Another one that has plenty of holes and problems, but, man... I just do not care. I didn't like this one as much as The Dark Knight, but there was still so much in this movie that was so good. Do I even need to say what? No. I'll say that Anne Hathaway was my favorite thing about it and that I loved the shit out of it. That's all you need to know.
There you go. Next up, the best movies I saw in 2012 that were released before 2012. Hopefully, it won't take me a month to get to.
Tags: top 10 list