Monday, February 4, 2013

Top Ten & Best of 2012

2012 was an interesting and great year in film. A lot better than last year, that's for sure. There were so many challenging and provocative films, as well as a tremendous amount of wonderful performances. Here I am going to list my Top Ten Films and Best Of... for 2012. Enjoy.

  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Looper
  • End of Watch
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild

10.   Lincoln

     A well-made, highly political film with some stellar performances, especially from one James Spader. Even though the films cinematography can, well, it is too white-washed, the film stands up with its ability to tell a story of the political mind of Lincoln and the routes and loopholes he went through to get slavery abolished. Daniel Day-Lewis is great, as always, and Spielberg has made a very good, soft political film, with a script that flows gracefully.

9.   Skyfall

     Bond is back, and thankfully so with director Sam Mendes. The film accepts the new and appreciates the old, and I love that balance that is shown throughout the film. It is easily Craig's best film as the iconic spy and Javier Bardem is lights out with his creepy, old fashioned portrayal of the world dominating villain Silva. I really hope Mendes is back for the next Bond film. Oh yeah... Roger Deakins shot the film!

8.   Argo

     I have never really had an opinion on Ben Affleck the actor. My indifference is not there when speaking of him as a director. Argo, being his third directorial effort, is without a doubt his best. A stylish, tense thriller with the exact comedic elements to balance the story out perfectly. Probably the best editing job this year, along with Zero Dark Thirty. Affleck has proven he is for real and this film has an edge-of-your-seat ending that is amazing.

7.   Django Unchained

     Aw, Quentin Tarantino. You genre loving maniac. I was very unhappy with Inglourious Basterds, but Django Unchained was a highly satisfying romp of a film. Yes it is super violent and not slight on the racist tones and language, but it is about a man wanting to rescue and get back to his wife. It contains a vengeful duo of heroes and the bad guys get what they deserve. Tarantino is enamored with his brilliant, cocksure ability to write dialogue and once again shows a deep appreciation of that and for spaghetti westerns and revenge flicks with his most recent cinematic effort. Christoph Waltz steals the show and Jackson delivers his best performance in years.

6.   Amour

     There is no film this past year that is a more enjoyable, difficult sit then Michael Haneke's devastatingly beautiful Amour. Grounded with unbelievably amazing performances from legendary actors Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva, and the assured direction of Haneke, the film tells of the love, patience, grief and trouble that goes into seeing someone you love dying before you eyes. Death is unbearably hard and we must cherish our fondest memories of love and happiness.

5.   The Master

     I still do not know what to make of this film other than I knew after I saw it, I had seen something great. It is confounding, unsettling and absolutely brilliant. Anderson is a true auteur of the highest order and is one of our best filmmakers because he does not sugar coat or give direct answers to what is happening. You, the audience, need to come up with your own conclusions and questions. Another film with absolutely fantastic performances, especially Phoenix. Beautifully shot and see it in 70mm. Great stuff and cannot wait to see it again.

4.   Holy Motors

     My biggest surprise of the year and a true definition of the creativity and imagination of cinema. There is no singular definition for this film and, like with The Master, a film that leaves one with many questions and few answers. Leos Carax's mind-bending journey through one man's different appearances and characters is both fascinating and vile. Denis Lavant gives the best acting performance of 2012 and the film has no boundaries. The mind is limitless and the visionary Holy Motors is an absolute pleasure.

3.   Silver Linings Playbook

     I know the ending is cliched, but please, this film is so exceptionally well-made and acted that it is one of the few times where it was OK for that ending to be that way. We see human beings facing their fears, problems and insecurities and not backing down from them. The help received from friends, family and new found romances is profound and David O. Russell's sensitive, beautiful direction and writing leads us through a troubling, humorous journey. I loved this film so much and the acting is about as good as it gets. Shit, I even used a little cliche right there and I really despise cliches. DeNiro is awesome again! Finally.

2.   Moonrise Kingdom

     I have been a Wes Anderson fan since Bottle Rocket. I am a true admirer and really enjoy all of his work. Moonrise Kingdom is an absolutely great film about young love and the complications that go along with it. Filmed with a soft, golden hue that lends to the time period and dreamy, magical touch, this film encompasses that childhood passion and confusion that comes with love. Anderson has made a film that can bring anybody back to their first romance and, as usual, has a brilliant cast to aid in telling this sweet story. Alexandre Desplat's score is brilliant, but when is his music not.

1.   Zero Dark Thirty

     In my humble opinion, 2012 was a fantastic year in film, but Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal's Zero Dark Thirty is far and away the best film of the year. This film is suspenseful from start to finish and never lets up. It is a film about determination and will. Chastain is so strong and forceful in her portrayal of CIA Agent Maya and Bigelow's direction is swift and meaningful. It is a detective and procedural thriller. It is controversial and does not shy away from the torture aspect in the manhunt for Osama bin Laden, but it is hard and in your face. It does not hide away from what it wants to say and a true film of the moment. Zero Dark Thirty has exceptional craftsmanship and speaks to the strengths and hardships of achieving what you set out to achieve. 


Best Film:  Zero Dark Thirty
Best Director:  Michael Haneke (Amour)
Best Actor:  Denis Lavant (Holy Motors)
Best Actress:  Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Best Supporting Actor:  Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty)
Best Supporting Actress:  Amy Adams (The Master)
Best Original Screenplay:  Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom)
Best Adapted Screenplay:  David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook)
Best Cinematography:  Mihai Malaimare, Jr. (The Master)
Best Editing:  tie Argo & Zero Dark Thirty
Best Score:  Alexandre Desplat (Moonrise Kingdom)
Most Overlooked Performances:  Jack Black (Bernie), Matthew McConaughey, & Michael Pena (End of Watch)
Most Disappointing (but have to see it again) Film:  Killing Them Softly 
Most Over-hyped Film:  The Avengers

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