Avengers assemble! Err- Best Films of 2012 assemble! I’ve brought you a list of my favorites from 2012, and no The Avengers is not sitting pretty in the top spot, but it does kick off the list at number 10.
10. The Avengers. Joss Whedon manages to create the ultimate superhero flick with The Avengers, pulling together all the pieces that were set up throughout Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor, Iron Man, Iron Man 2, and The Incredible Hulk. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is important when dealing with any film based off of comic books. From action to humor to fantastic CGI, The Avengers packs quite a punch, and that’s all before mentioning the fact that it is the third highest grossing film of all time.
9. Savages. Oliver Stone comes back with a gory, twisted, drug-filled thriller that is filled with rich color, deep emotion, and at the heart of it a Shakespearean love story. Despite Blake Lively’s best efforts to harm the film’s success, it can’t all be blamed on her. The narration she is given tries too hard to be poetic, but falls flat upon audiences. That being said, Taylor Kitsch and Aaron Johnson play the brilliant duo of Ben and Chon as they fight a Mexican drug cartel to get back their beloved Ophelia (Lively). The fun that Savages brings to the table is well worth earning it a spot on the list.
8. This Is 40. Judd Apatow delivers his best yet with This Is 40. Taking a page out of Tim Burton’s playbook by continually casting his wife and friends in his films, it finally pays off for Apatow and company. His latest is the funniest and smartest he’s delivered, and hits close to home for anyone who has ever been in a real family setting. Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Maude Apatow, and Iris Apatow come together to form a family who is all learning how to grow with one another. It can’t hurt that three out of the four memebers of the family are really related, the only addition being Paul Rudd in place of the real life father Apatow. This Is 40 dances the line of sweet and heartwarming while not being afraid to be crass and outrageous (See scene where Rudd asks Mann to help him check for hemorrhoids).
7. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Much has been said regarding Peter Jackson’s latest venture to Middle Earth, most of it relating to his choice to shoot the film not only in 3D but also in 48 frames per second, which is different from the standard 24fps. While the High Frame Rate does take away the traditional movie glow that we are accustomed to, it does make the sweeping landscape shots of New Zealand look truly spectacular. Cinematically, The Hobbit can do no better and Jackson knew exactly what kind of feel he was going for as he had already shot the original Lord of the Rings trilogy. The only thing holding this film back from making it further down the list is that sometimes it feels a bit too length, and it’s hard not to be confused that a short book is being turned into three films well over 2 hours long each. We’ll have to wait until next December to see how Jackson and Wignut films builds on the momentum that An Unexpected Journey creates and where it goes from here.
6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Every now and then we will get a film that builds a strong reputation through word of mouth. In 2012 that film was The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Stephen Chbosky, who also wrote the book the film is based on, directs a story that leaves audiences not quite sure on how to feel once it is over. Serving as a true rite-of-passage story, Perks follows Charlie as he navigates the cruel waters of high school and all the tortures that come with being a teenager. The relationships that Charlie builds are what make the film as great as it is. Charlie’s new best friends Sam (Emma Watson) and Patrick (Ezra Miller) deliver performances that leave you wanting them as your own best friends, and to do nothing more than reach out and lend a calming hand to the trio. A beautifully written book comes to life in such a manner that one can’t help but feel touched upon its completion.
5. The Dark Knight Rises. This could be the year that Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy gets the true recognition it deserves (aside from Heath Ledger’s posthumous Oscar win)…that’s what people would be saying if it weren’t for films like Lincoln paving the way to those golden statues. Nolan’s Gotham city is one that will never again be re-created and his iconic Dark Knight in the form of Christian Bale and super villain Bane are meant to be idolized for years to come. With such a dark and gritty setting, The Dark Knight Rises epitomizes everything that comic book movies should strive for. Nolan’s film shows the perils a hero must undergo in order to truly protect the city they love. While a Best Picture is not in its future, a nomination is almost guaranteed.
4. End of Watch. This may surprise people to see it so close to the coveted number one spot, but David Ayer’s film had such chemistry and heart that it was impossible for it to not make the list. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña create such a team that End of Watch is far more than a traditional buddy cop film. The streets of Los Angeles don’t ever appear safe as these two partners are able to get a price on their heads after disrupting the LA drug business. Through simple dialogue scenes in the police cruiser, we are able to see the chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Peña which is what drives the entire film. Shot all through handheld cameras as if it’s a documentary, most of the film is shot from Gyllenhaal’s own hands making it all the more impressive.
3. Flight. Denzel Washington dazzles as pilot Whip Whitaker who battles alcoholism at the same time as crash landing a plane and saving numerous lives. The entire time, Robert Zemeckis makes Whitaker be the antihero despite his saving so many lives (while intoxicated) in the crash. The audience doesn’t know whether to cheer for Captain Whitaker who keeps letting them down, or to wish for his demise like his own son and ex-wife. A Best Actor nomination is certainly in line for Washington as well as a Best Picture nod as well. John Goodman’s moments in the film, almost reminiscent as his role in The Big Lebowski, are well worth the watch if nothing else is, even though that’s far from the case.
2. Django Unchained. Wow. This is the first time I’ve said this all year, and boy do I mean it. In fact, I’ll say it again. Wow. Quentin Tarantino delivers such a classic western that dances a fine line of awkward with all the harsh language used, but is truly spectacular both from a visual sense and from that of the work the actor’s provide. Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jamie Foxx, and Samuel L. Jackson bring about some of the best scenes to be put to screen this past year. The humor that Tarantino brings to such a touchy subject is his way of dealing with an awful subject like slavery, just as he did with the Nazi regime in Inglorious Basterds. It will be a shock if DiCaprio doesn’t win Best Supporting Actor, let alone be nominated. It would be sad in a way to see DiCaprio win a golden man now when he lost out for Blood Diamond and The Departed, but his work in Django cannot go unnoticed. Look for Tarantino to be in the running for Best Director as well.
1. Lincoln. Here it is, big shocker I know. Spielberg. Day-Lewis. Jones. Fields. Gordon-Levitt. All these names are pieces of a machine that make up one of the greatest, if not the greatest bio-pics to ever be brought to the majestic screens of the cinema. While it’s no secret that Daniel Day-Lewis is a method actor, no one can surely criticize his methods now after seeing his portrayal of our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln. Calm, smooth, collected, smart, and daring, Day-Lewis brings to life an icon that we will never see the likes of again. Lincoln is entirely dialogue-driven with the exception of a single battle scene that is not long lasting, but it doesn’t always feel that way. It can get dry at times, but then one remembers the message of what these men on-screen are trying to deliver to their people and the heavy weight that fell on these historical figures years ago. It’s almost a shame that any other film has to go up against Spielberg’s in this year’s Oscar race, because it just isn’t a fair one. Never has acting been seen as such a form of art as it is in Lincoln. Not since the days of Henry Fonda donning the top hat was there such a fantastic representation of Honest Abe, and that’s saying something. Watch Lincoln blow away the competition. Also keep an eye out for Tommy Lee Jones to do battle with Leonardo DiCaprio for Best Supporting Actor. 2012 was good to us movie lovers, that’s for sure.