Tuesday, March 19, 2013

2012 Top Ten Part 2: 5-1

Check out 10-6 here.

5. Lincoln
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Spielberg is quite a conundrum of a director.  If he chooses his script poorly, he can make pretty mediocre films (Munich, Crystal Skull, War of the Worlds, etc.).  He is at his best when he has an amazing script to work with (A.I., E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, etc.).  Luckily, Tony Kushner delivered what was probably the best dialogue-driven screenplay of 2012.  The attention to detail, from Day-Lewis' performance to the use of natural lighting, created the feeling of a true peek into one of the most interesting times in our nations history.  The cherry on the top of this masterpiece was the performance of Tommy Lee Jones and the spotlight on his character, Thaddeus Stevens.  Stevens' personal story provided the heart to a film that teetered on the edge of becoming disconnected and procedural.

4. The Sessions
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Yet another quirky romantic comedy that quite a bit like "Silver Linings Playbook" finds its quirkiness in reality rather than fantasy.  What puts this one over the top though is that it is actually based on a true story.  A jaw-dropping performance by John Hawkes (that would be Oscar-worthy in any year that didn't have Daniel Day-Lewis and Hugh Jackman turn in the best performances of the new millenium) makes this adorable story grab onto both your heart and your head as it mixes equal parts intellectualism and romantic innocence.

3. Ruby Sparks
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Hyper-nerd-sexy Zoe Kazan wrote a screenplay for her and her boyfriend (Paul Dano) about a writer who makes up a love interest who just so happens to manifest herself in reality.  That sentence gives me chills.  I love this movie.

2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
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A wonderfully personal look into a small group of teenagers discovering the beauty of the world only by simultaneously experiencing its splendor and ugliness.  This movie makes yearn for my high school days and in the same moment be proud of how I lived them.  "We accept the love we think we deserve."

1. Beasts of the Southern Wild  photo 10BEASTS1_SPAN-articleLarge_zpsb62779a1.jpg

The best movie of 2012.  Nothing else really came close for me.  If you haven't found your inner Hushpuppy already, I envy the magnificent journey you still have before you.  Read my original review here.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

2012 Top Ten Part 1: 10-6

At long last, I have finally seen enough films from 2012 that I feel comfortable making my annual top ten list.  There are a handful of films that I missed that could conceivably break into the illustrious group, but most of the biggies have been viewed.  As I am getting older, responsibilities seem to be compounding and so my time for movies certainly has contracted.  Still, I am becoming quite adept at attempting to only watch the "good" movies.  I have seen 61 movies that were released in theaters during 2012.  Of those, I only truly hated one (Piranha 3DD), and I only disliked 7 more.  I saw a whopping 29 movies that I either loved or really liked.  Only ten of those can make this list so here are my nineteen honorable mentions in no specific order:

Cabin in the Woods
Pitch Perfect
The Invisible War
Les Miserables
Magic Mike
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Avengers
Maria Abramovic: The Artist is Present
The Secret World of Arrietty
The Sound of My Voice
To Rome with Love
Wreck-It Ralph
Django Unchained
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
Hope Springs

On with the show:
10. Silver Linings Playbook
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I have a thing for quirky love stories.  What can I say?  Whereas most of my favorite movies are love stories with their quirkiness based in fantasy, Silver Linings finds its own quirkiness in a very real place, mental illness.  That may seem like a pretty strange statement, but I think that by embracing his characters struggles with their mental state, director David O. Russell actually tells a very interesting, touching, and powerful story.

9. Cloud Atlas  photo cloud-atlas-doona-bae-jim-sturgess_zpsd2d4d568.jpg

When I first heard three of my favorite directors (Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, and Lana Wachowski) were teaming up to make an epic science fiction movie that spanned six stories and hundreds of years, I was so excited I read the book.  That may not sound like much, but I have a pretty poor literary history, reading scant few books that were not Star Wars or required school reading.  This was the most challenging novel I have ever attempted.  Six stories told from different perspectives and written in six very different ways with very little to connect them on the surface certainly did not provide for an effortless read.  I finished the book just before the film left theaters and was lucky enough to catch one of the final showings.  The movie carried many of the challenging themes over from the book and had to shorten some of the stories, but the heart of the novel was intact, and I can guarantee you that it provides the viewer with an absolutely unique experience that may not be duplicated again in our lifetime.

8. Moonrise Kingdom  photo moonrise-kingdom2_zps1039f7af.jpeg

The most beautiful film of the year.  Wes Anderson has such an eye for detail it seams that he makes sure the blades of grass are lined up just so before he yells action.  Read my review here.

7. Bernie  photo BERNIE-articleLarge_zps13d4ea6e.jpg

Just saw a completely different Jack Black perform in Raleigh with Kyle Gass as Tenacious D.  I love the actor and the rocker, but most of all I love Richard Linklater, by far my favorite director of all time.  Read my review here.

6. Argo  photo ht_argo_nt_121212_wg_zps54e68d9e.jpg

Completely deserving of Best Picture (although two more nominees appear in my top 5).  This was easily the best non-quirky, old-school, just-plain-awesome film of the year.  A taught historical thriller with loads of heart.  Read my review here.

Top 5 coming soon....