I didn’t get to see all the films I wanted to this year and as 2013 crawls along, I’m sure another film or two will creep onto this list knocking a few of them off. But for now, as I sit here and write this as 2012 comes to a close, here are my top ten films of this past year.
10 The Dark Knight Rises
I really expected this film to be close to number one on my list. This was easily my most anticipated film of the year. Which could be part of why I enjoyed it and really liked it, but didn’t psychotically love it. But Christopher Nolan really set the bar pretty high for himself. Not only with the two phenomenal Batman films that preceded this one, but his non Caped Crusader ventures like The Prestige and Inception as well. However, it was still a pretty great film and I look forward to watching it again. I just need to accept Bane’s voice for what it is.
A lot of people really disliked this film and I don’t understand why. I guess maybe they were expecting more xenomorph action and less atmospheric build up, who knows? But I loved this film from frame one to credits close. Did some characters make some obviously stupid choices throughout? Sure, but it’s all part of the fun of the film. And Michael Fassbender was superb as the android. His role in the film easily elevates it above being just another sci fi movie.
8 The Cabin In The Woods
The perfect love letter to all things horror. Joss Whedon might as well have directed it as well as write it, because the whole film screams his name all the way through. It’s a shame it took the success of The Avengers to release this film from limbo, but at least it was released and now it is finally out there for all to enjoy.
7 The Master
Now, I haven’t seen Flight or Lincoln yet, but for me this film holds the two greatest performances of the year. In fact, it is Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix that carry this film. Amy Adams was amazing in it as well. Like P.T. Anderson’s last film, this is an actors movie. It’s all about the performances and the relationships of the characters. The story, while interesting in its own right, is secondary to what is going on between these two men on screen.
6 Wreck-It Ralph
I was pretty sure I was going to love this film from the moment I first saw the trailer, but I did not expect to love it as much as I did. You don’t need to be a fan of video games to enjoy the wonderful story of this film, but it helps. Disney has delivered their greatest animated feature in years. It’s equal parts funny and heartwarming and easily lends itself to multiple viewings. Great writing and great performances from John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman.
5 The Avengers
What is left to be said about this film that hasn’t already been said. Was it a perfect film? No, but the fact that the film exists and that it continues the story built over several films by Marvel is impressive in of itself. Marvel’s idea of creating a Cinematic Universe the way they do in the comics was so ambitious it was almost sure to fail. And yet it didn’t. Some films have been better than others, but they’ve yet to make a bad film and The Avengers ranks up among the best so far. The interactions between these great heroes is what really sells this film and again we have the wonderful writing (and directing this time) of Joss Whedon to thank. I’m sure which ever studio passed on his Wonder Woman idea is kicking themselves now.
4 Jeff, Who Lives At Home
I’m sure a lot of people missed this little indie film when it was in theaters, but it’s not too late to rent it and see it for yourself now. This was one of the first films I saw this year and it has managed to hold a very high place on my list amongst so many great films. Ed Helms and Jason Segel play brothers who are at first at odds with one another but soon learn the importance of family. Susan Sarandon is also wonderful as their mother. I think the line that best sums this film up is the dude who was sitting next to me in the theater who turned to his buddy and said, “Dude, that totally made me cry!” to which is friend responded, “Me too!”
3 Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson has proved to be one of the few directors that has never made a movie I didn’t like. Even Chris Nolan did Insomnia, which I wasn’t a big fan of. But not only did Anderson deliver yet another great film, but easily one of his best so far. This is a wonderful little love story about two kids who runaway together and the classic quirky troubled Anderson adults who set out to find them. Again it’s the performances that really sell this film, but it’s not Bill Murray, Bruce Willis or Edward Norton (who were all great in their own right), but rather first timers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. I see great things in both these kids futures.
2 Django Unchained
There are only two films that I’ve given a prefect 10 to this year. The first is Tarantino’s homage to the spaghetti western. Django also locks Tarantino in as the other director that has never made a film I didn’t like. This film blew me away with it’s humor and it’s shockingly brutal depiction of a much more savage time in our history. Again, all the performances were amazing. I never thought I could hate Sam Jackson in a way that his character made me hate him in this film. And I never thought I’d say this, but the KKK scene was hands down one of the funniest scenes I saw in a film this year. It felt like it should have been in Blazzing Saddles more than this film. But I guess that’s just one more reason why Tarantino is so geat.
And here we go, the best film of 2012. Way back in 1996 I decided I was going to be a huge Ben Affleck fan. His biggest roles at that point were Dazed and Confused and Mallrats. I don’t know why, but he was the guy for me. So I was really sad when his career turned towards films like Bounce and Gigli. But he took a few years off to reinvent himself and came back as a director. I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t seen his first two films yet, but I plan on watching them soon. However, Argo blew me away. This was easily the most tense movie going experience I’ve had in a long time. And the film still managed to provide some good laughs too, just to balance things out. This is an amazing, almost unbelievable story, save for the fact that it actually happened. I like this new director Ben Affleck and I can’t wait to see what he does next.