As Subjectively Ordained by Blake R. Goble
Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to be able to share with you the Top Ten Films of 2012. I must admit this feels late given most critics bang these things out mid-December. Oh, what I’d give to have a press pass and more time. But, that’s just whining. I have to say, I had a wonderful time with the movies in 2012. I got out to the theaters a little more. Netflix Instant was a delightful access point on my TV. OnDemand made second chances possible for recent flicks. People were generous in gifts and recommendations. It’s not just that 2012 was an unusually good year for movies, but I’m happy to say I had a wealth of screening opportunities.
And now, here comes my favorite. I’d like to discuss some of these movies with you.
This year’s format is ordered. I’ll say a little about each. Then, if you’re curious, I’ve categorized every other new movie I saw in 2012. Some almost made the top ten. A lot were just good. And then, you get to throw tomatoes at the duds! It’ll be fun. I promise.
To re-phrase that nasty Calvin Candie, I think I had your attention, now I hope I have your curiosity.
Also, ignore the top banner. I did in fact see “Zero Dark Thirty.”
10. What begins as a cutesy conceptual star piece quickly turns in to a thoughtful examination on the possible end of humanity. Both light on its feet and heavy as an asteroid, this must be a new kind of romantic comedy. The jokes are wicked, and the romance is well-earned and true. Steve Carell and Keira Knightley are somehow perfectly paired as the friends looking for solace. You believe in them, and even hope for them. “Seeking a Friend” makes you hope that only you can be so lucky to be with someone when it all goes bad.
9. Here’s something unusually satisfying. This is a thriller built on insecurity. Roger, the little headhunter and art thief, must provide for and impress his statuesque blonde wife. So, he puts on a façade. Pricey gifts, and fancy suits abound. It works. Up to a point. Thing is, he’s an art thief to supplement that. But through circumstances beyond his control, Roger gets thrown into one of the best cat-and-mouse chases of recent movies, fueled by ingenuity, shocks, and good old-fashioned tension. You’ll never be able to go near an outhouse again.
8. It occurred to me recently that this may be Mark Boal’s movie. Oh, yes, the hunt for Bin Laden is excitingly and exhaustingly chronicled by Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal, and a team of skilled technical filmmakers and honest actors. But what separates this from the masterful war poem “The Hurt Locker” is the discourse. War here is observed and expressed through taught, tense journalistic fiction. That is what leads me to believe that this is writer and former newsman Boal’s awesome, breathless account.
7. Oh yes, Daniel Day-Lewis is just that good. No. He’s great as the 16th American president. I love that he’s not an every-man, made reachable for audiences. No, he’s a legend you feel in awe of being around, the way Abraham Lincoln should make you feel. But it’s Tommy Lee Jones’s Thaddeus Stevens that is the powerful, emotional core of this breathtaking political film. This film, like him, when broken down through its harsh, cynical, tricky exterior is about morals and real, meaningful accomplishments. “Lincoln’s” a political masterwork.
6. I mean, do I re-hash how excellent the opening scene was? You know? The one that was teased at extensively, where a bad boy Denzel Washington lands a plane through what could only be described as a miracle? Or I do I talk about his shocking performance? How about the film’s intense perspective on substance abuse, and contemplative look at guilt? Nah, you heard that already too. How about this? “Flight” is a really, really, great thrill ride, captivatingly directed, about a tragically flawed man.
5. The whole blue collar working-man angle in high-praise reviews for this film are nice. And true. Mike is a man just trying to get by in this economy. But, here’s a far simpler, more honest thumbs up for “Magic Mike”: It’s fun! It’s smutty, memorable, big kid, no-shame fun! I had the guilty pleasure of taking my Nana to see this and to quote her, this thing “sure has some fancy dancing.” I totally agree. Yes, mistakes are made. Mike evolves and you hope for his dreams. It’s all handled better than you’d think from a so-called “stripper movie.” Soderbergh’s Tony Manero for 2012 features sensational dancing, a surprising story, and a lead actor who despite the “himbo” thing, has become an nuanced, charming lead actor.
4. How hard must it be to atone for drug-addled sins of the past? What if you truly felt like you weren’t going to recover from addiction, or were never going to be forgiven for things you’d done. Such is the constant burden of Anders, and it comes to a dramatic boiling point on a day Norway when he should be doing a job interview. The emotions of this one lingered. “Oslo, August 31st” is a thoughtful and intimate looks at a man who may not recover, physically, or even spiritually. Joachim Trier’s Norwegian drama is a terrifically human observation that captures a sense of place and the feelings it brings that seldom seems allowed to be in movies nowadays. It’s terrifically sympathetic.
3. Oh, yes, slavery should be treated with utmost seriousness in film, and “Django” damn near brutalizes you with it. But perhaps there’s more fun to be had in playing fast and loose with history. There’s raw emotion to be found in an initially exploitative concept – a freed slave gets ruthless revenge, and gets to save what he loves the most. This is a truly potent western that is funny, romantic, postmodern and violently cathartic. Also, Christoph Waltz elevates this film with what may have been the most entertaining performance of 2012 as a dentist turned bounty hunter that it’s charmingly heroic and wise and violent.
2. It’s so exciting to see younger, newer talent be given a chance to perform and excel so well. Jennifer Lawrence is arresting and daring as a recently widowed woman trying to help an affably awkward Bradley Cooper, an ex-teacher/husband recently released from a mental institution. It’s a great story – benfitting from a killer script - about people, their problems, and the support systems that can see us through however unusual the process may seem. Perfectly heartfelt, while being tremendously hysterical, this is David O. Russell’s most accessible and enjoyable film. This may become a screwball dramedy for the ages.
1. What a wonderful, delightful oddity this was. Wes Anderson has made a quality career out of earnest quirk, but what makes “Moonrise Kingdom” his most accomplished film to date is its complete confidence in a unique and special vision. Sure, “Kingdom” is about Sam and Suzy’s 1960’s relationship, but it’s within a wholly imagined universe. It’s this vision of young romance that is sweet, strange, silly, sensational and ever so sly that is just so magical, that it seems like a film that only Wes Anderson and his team of filmmakers could achieve. “Moonrise Kingdom” leaves you over the moon. A meticulously perfect, emotional resonant, and quickly memorable production, “Moonrise Kingdom” was the best film of 2012.
Thanks for reading. And now, the rest, if you're still curious.
Maybes. They don’t feel they’re necessarily Top Tens, but they had certainly had something…
The 2012 Summer Olympic Opening Ceremony
I was told I’m bending the rules, but tough. Danny Boyle’s hodge-podge vision of a post Industrial, pop cultural London provided brilliant sights. Consider it like an abstract film? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QL_uG2GSZo&feature=share&list=FLwTeqCV9UKagIhh4Vecq6WA
The Amazing Spider-Man
An unusually fun comic book movie with both the grandeur of its genre and the intimacy of a great youth movie. The best comic book movie of 2012. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MrK61S_axCE
“Argo’s” such an amazing, unique story, that it could only be told at the movies. Ben Affleck’s a director capable of having fun and bringing you along for a ride.
The Deep Blue Sea
A historical drama about one woman’s tragedies and emotions that acts like a dreamy Gaussian blur of the past. This is high art melodrama. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sDJnui8jKKQ
A black comedy akin to Alec Guiness films of the 1950s with a Texas flavor all its own. Such a strange hybrid of comedy and documentary. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktEftbW7YwA
David Bordwell is right. Steven Soderbergh really spares no time in making the trimmest, least wasteful films possible.
The Three Stooges
“The Three Stooges” gets special consideration on the grounds that NOTHING made me laugh harder at the movies this year. Perhaps that speaks to my poor taste in some areas… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kukDE-sFsAU
Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie
This gets mega points for sheer irregularity. No more efforts towards justifying this. WATCH CLIP.
They were interesting and probably fun, but not without flaws. So you know, pretty good.
- Killer Joe
- Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Hope Springs
- The Loneliest Planet
- The Dark Knight Rises
- The Avengers
- Marina Abromavic: The Artist is Present
- The Vow
- Jiro Dreams of Sushi
- The Five-Year Engagement
- The Hunger Games
- Game Change
Eh, to meh, to bleh.
- The Master
- The Salt of Life
- The Cabin in the Woods
- 21 Jump Street
- Dark Shadows
Still to SEEEEEEEEEE!!
- The Queen of Versailles
- The Sessions
- Holy Motors
- Rust & Bone
- End of Watch
- Life of Pi
- That stupid Les Miserables movie.