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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Chris's 2012 Year in Film Review

More often than not, Dan and I typically disagree about the films we see. And this year has been no different. Though we agree on universally beloved films like Moonrise Kingdom, we have passionately argued over the merits of films like Looper, Killer Joe, and Oscar Best Picture-winner Argo. 
Here is my 2012 Film Year in Review:


My Top 25 List:

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Silver Linings Playbook
Moonrise Kingdom
Killer Joe
Zero Dark Thirty
Django Unchained
Take This Waltz
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Anna Karenina
The Master
The Avengers
Life of Pi
Safety Not Guaranteed
End of Watch
The Cabin in the Woods
The Sessions
The Five-Year Engagement
21 Jump Street
The Dark Knight Rises

Movies I Didn’t See But Should Have/Need to:

Cloud Atlas
I really wanted to see this film, just never got around to it. Plus, it wasn’t in theaters for very long, but I am looking forward to it when it hits DVD/Blu-Ray
Les Miserables
I don’t hate musicals, but then again, I wouldn’t say I cared for them either. Hopefully I will be pleasantly surprised when I finally catch it.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Again, something I meant to see. Not because I am huge fan of the original trilogy or books, but of its status as an “event movie.” Seems at least enjoyable.
Every year there is at least one movie, that no matter how good people say it is, I just cannot bring myself to sitting down and watching it for one reason or another. I had this DVD for four days from Redbox and just couldn't force myself to hit play.


Films I Absolutely Hated:

The Campaign
Who knew Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis could be so unfunny. Both doing watered down versions of previous characters, I should have known better.
I kept hearing this was the funniest movie year over and over again. Needless to say, it wasn’t.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
I wanted to like this movie, I really did. At least, I was expecting mindless entertainment, but it was almost excruciating to watch.
Dan and I both thought this could potentially be director Oliver Stone’s big comeback film (we both hold his JFK in the highest esteem). Unfortunately it was not. Let’s just say Blake Lively, as gorgeous as she is, should not act (or try, rather). At all.
I read the DeLillo book and liked it for the most part and was expecting a great deal from the film, especially given it was directed by David Cronenberg. Though a fairly faithful adaptation, the film lacked the subtext and urgency of the book and was largely boring (something that surprisingly was not completely the wooden Robert Pattison’s fault)


Most Disappointing Films:

(By no means are any of these films bad, just a disappointment from my lofty expectations I had going into them. Having said that, I just wish they had been better).
The Master
Paul Thomas Anderson (along with Scorsese and the Coen Brothers) is probably my favorite director consistently working today. And after one of my favorite movies of all-time (Boogie Nights) and the modern day masterpiece (There Will Be Blood), the expectations are always very high for his new films. And while I liked The Master, its performances, and the overall technical beauty of the film, it was still a frustrating, baffling, and at times, boring film. (Though it still makes an appearance on my Top 25)
The Dark Knight Rises
How were Christopher Nolan and company going to top The Dark Knight? Answer: They weren’t. We should have known they couldn’t do it, yet we help out hope, and were ultimately disappointed by too few and badly choreographed action sequences, a preponderance of plot holes, and an overall lackluster ending.
One of the most hotly contested movies of the year, Prometheus was filled with stunning visuals, intense action sequences, and commanding performances, but it either collapsed under its lofty aspirations or failed deliver to any tangible answers to the “big” questions it posed.
Seven Psychopaths
Writer-director Martin McDonagh’s previous film In Bruges is all-time favorite – hilarious, highly quotable, and instantly re-watchable. And while his follow-up did produce some laughs and great performances (from the always fantastic Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell), the movie itself came off as a quasi-Charlie Kauffman rip off and slightly pretentious. Again like In Bruges, the dialogue and action are great, but the overall story fell flat and predictable.
Again, a decent movie that fell victim to its filmmaker’s (or in this case, production company’s) back catalog. When Pixar’s name is on the film, you expect greatness, and          while Brave might have been “great” for Disney, it just wasn’t up to Pixar’s standards            with an uninspired story.

I love seeing both documentary and foreign films. But generally, they are something I like to catch up on over the years rather than trying to see them all at once the same year they are released. But if I hear really great things about a film, I am going to try and check it out regardless. So I did manage to see a few docs/foreign films this year that are worth mentioning.

Best Documentaries:

This is Not a Film
Searching for Sugar Man
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
How to Survive a Plague

Best Foreign Films:

Holy Motors (France)
Amour (Austria)
Oslo August 31st (Norway)
A Separation (Iran) – technically from 2011, but I just saw it this year and it is fantastic

Best Older Films (not made in 2012) I Saw This Year for the First Time*

(*special thanks to Netflix):

La Haine (1995)
Persona (1967)
Raise the Red Lantern (1991)
The Cook, Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989)
The Killing of Chinese Bookie (1976)
Shotgun Stories (2007)

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