TOP 10 FILMS OF 2012.
There were so many movies that I wanted to see this year that I didn’t get a chance to such as DREDD 3D, THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE, THE HOUSE I LIVE IN, DJANGO UNCHAINED, THE RAID: REDEMPTION, SEARCHING FOR SUGARMAN, HARA-KIRI: DEATH OF A SAMURAI, CONSUMING SPIRITS, and a ton more. I will have to do better in 2013. In the meantime these are the 10 films that impacted me the most.
10. SKYFALL. Mendes is the best Bond director ever. Bardem is probably the best Bond villain ever. Craig is the best Bond ever (yeah, I said it.) Great set pieces and a more coherent plot made this a shoe in.
9. THE AVENGERS. The last film that can be made out of the things I loved as a child (and still do love) is also one of the best. A movie that separates itself from my childlike expectations, the amazing comic stories that came before it, but still manages to be a worthy Avengers movie. Better than the sum of it’s already impressive parts.
8. THIS AIN’T CALIFORNIA. A small story of a troubled youth set in the framework of the huge story of the rise of skateboarding in 1980’s East Germany. All documentaries should be studying how THIS AIN’T CALIFORNIA WORKS.
7. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. Nolan’s final Batman movie works because it finally gets the story. It’s not Bruce Wayne, it’s not Batman, it’s Gotham City and everyone in it. And when Batman realizes that it is cathartic in a way that few films ever are, let alone the final chapter in trilogies.
6. STOLEN SEAS. This breathtaking documentary about the roots and effects of Somali piracy tells a story that that no one else is bothering to tell. This film is a brilliant as it is important.
5. LOOPER. Rian Johnson makes sci-fi that doesn’t get bogged down by the “sci”, makes action films that are smarter than you would expect them to be, and does it all with style to spare. He crams more plot and character into a 2 minute, dialogue-less, slow motions sequence than most filmmakers get out of 20 minutes of exposition. He is the new Christopher Nolan and this is his Memento.
4. MOONRISE KINGDOM. You can recognize a Wes Anderson movie from hearing one line of dialogue, hearing one minute of the score, or even just looking at the set design. He is truly a unique director and has the chops to back it up. He gets laughs where other filmmakers wouldn’t know there were jokes, all while telling some of the best stories of alienation and coming of age in movies today. If you don’t like a Wes Anderson film it isn’t his fault, you just didn’t get it.
3. TINKER TAILOR SOLDIER SPY. One of the best arguments for not dumbing down for your audience I have ever seen. TTSS drops you in the middle of an espionage whodunnit, goes full speed from there, and never bothers to check if you can keep up. In the end the movie is more immersive because you are trying to figure it out along with the cast. Career making performances, brilliant writing, and some of the best set and costume design I have ever seen make this one of the best spy films ever made.
2. HOLY MOTORS. There is good confusion and there is bad confusion. I didn’t know this until I watched HOLY MOTORS. Any attempt to figure out what this movie is seems feeble and somewhat pointless. How the 7-9 characters all played by the same actor are related, what they are trying to tell us, or why they do the things they do are secondary to getting lost in the film. All I know is the best sex scene of the year did not have any sex in it, one of the saddest death scenes did not have anyone die, and 2 of the most grizzly murders were some of the funniest things I have seen in years. Add to that a troll who assaults women and the blind and made me laugh harder than anything else all year and you end up with a movie as confounding as it is brilliant. I never knew what was going to happen from one minute to the next, and that isn’t a sensation I have experienced in 15 years. Amazing.
1. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD. This is how storytelling should be done. The duality of this film, the amazing beauty and the overwhelming hideousness, the brutal reality and the whimsical fantasy, the sheer joy and oppressive melancholy of this film make it like no other film this year. It was relevant, socially conscious, and ethereal, fun and heartbreaking, and more human than any other movie I have seen in a long time. Add to that tremendous performances, brilliant writing, and some of the best realized fantasy worlds I have ever experienced and BOTSW is like no other movie. I am actually sad I can’t see it again for the first time, experience the wonder of it all. I have a strong feeling that I will be writing something like this about it for my top 10 films of the decade and I doubt my amazement at this film will have diminished at all. I don’t know how to say this without sounding like an asshole but this film felt magical to me. I want to experience more things like this film in my life.