Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ben's Top 15 Movies of 2012

I think most of us can agree that 2012 was a great year for film productions of all sizes and genres. While it is my duty as a film blogger to check out as many films as possible, I can honestly say that no one had to twist an arm to get my butt to the theater for most of the films on this list - that is a testament to the quality of the releases this year coming from someone who hates to leave the ol' man cave to watch movies that will probably get interrupted by obnoxious talkers and texters (we'll save that rant for another day). For better or worse, the 15 ranked films inside represent the cinematic works that stood out above the rest, leaving a lasting impression that invites multiple viewings for years to come.

Hit the jump for my top 15 or 2012!


     15. Kill List

I admit this pick is sort of cheating considering the first release for this film was in 2011. However, it didn't get released in the United States until 2012, so technically it was new in my neck of the woods. If you appreciate slow-burn thrillers that mix genres and aren't afraid to punch the audience right in the family jewels, then this one is for you. Also, don't read any reviews for this because irresponsible reviewers (you know who you are) compare it to certain films which completely ruin the final act if you have even a marginal understanding of the reference.

     14. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Perks is an engaging indie drama with confident performances from the lead thespians. Plus, if you are a fellow introvert, it's hard not to find something to relate to in this fine piece of film-making. For those of you who've read the source material, please feel free to make comparisons, and inform me of the differences in the comment section.

     13. Silver Linings Playbook

I'm not the worlds biggest fan of romantic comedies, but the characters were just so gosh darn intriguing and the performances were top notch. What sets this film above the general quality of other rom-coms is that the script is smart, the characters have actual problems that create real drama besides the standard will they or won't they dilemma, and the director wanted to tell a compelling story rather than make something safe.

     12. The Words

There are quite a few things that bother me about this film: pretentious tone, odd choice of music in spots, uneven pacing, and an unsatisfying final act. However, it really is a beautiful film about love, loss, regret, self-doubt, and trying to find your place in the world while realizing your desired potential.

     11. The Grey

Liam Neeson and crew vs. hungry wolves - it's a win-win scenario. But honestly, this surprised me with the philosophical/poetic lining that accentuates the beautiful yet unforgiving relationship between man and nature. Also, who doesn't love a good survival film?

     10. Skyfall

Like many of my generation, action films were a big part of my cinematic diet. While I've never been a huge Bond fan, there has always been room to try out the latest installment. For those of you who like a little more grit in your Brit, this is a must see. Judging by the box office data, you probably already have.

     9. Your Sister's Sister

This little indie gem surprised me. The production value isn't the best, and it does fall prey to some popular indie tropes, but the natural, honest performances never felt forced or insincere, and the characters actually helped each other develop into happier, more focused human beings. Equal parts funny and dramatic, it never falters in tonal stability - something big budget studio films are notoriously guilty of. My review of the film here.

     8. Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson is one of the more unique filmmakers out there, and his latest effort is equally impressive and as visually intriguing as his previous efforts. The young actors seemed to understand the style and humor, while bringing the youthful innocence and determination needed for such an otherwise risky concept. Yeah, his films are fairly pretentious, but they certainly have charm.

     7. Looper

One of the best science fiction films in quite some time. What keeps it from turning into what could have been a more action centered affair, is that the drama surrounding the characters makes you forget that a science fiction film is even happening. I don't know how this will hold up with future viewings, but it commanded my attention from start to finish.

     6. Flight

This is a downward-spiraling character piece that challenges your acceptance of the protagonist. But really, aren't flawed characters the most interesting? What a great way for Zemeckis to return to live-action cinema. Plus, that plane crash was one of the most suspenseful scenes of the year.

     5. Cloud Atlas

I can see why this has generated so many mixed reviews, but it really is an important film that needs to viewed. It's not a casual film, and will make you piece together the timeline and the fairly obvious symbolic and metaphorical statements (if you're looking for them).

     4. Beasts of the Southern Wild

The best child performance I've ever seen. Was it really even a performance, cause I'm not really sure. It might actually be life happening on film. Beautifully shot and expertly crafted, this is a powerful, heart-warming film that needs to be seen.

     3. The Cabin in the Woods

This just gets better with every viewing. Smart, funny, gory, and doesn't pull any punches on the laughably formulaic Horror structure. This is not supposed to be scary, so please, if you don't like it, don't turn others away be saying it wasn't scary like The Exorcist - I saw you on the news, you don't know what you're talking about, and your misinformation is hurting the performance of an awesome and clever movie. If we don't give films like this a chance and listen to what they are trying to say, then movie theaters are forever doomed to show horror films that take no steps toward breaking the confines of the genre. My review here.

     2. Django Unchained

Inspired cast, stylized so as not to be too graphically realistic, memorable characters and performances that linger long after the credits roll. This is what we leave the house for. One of Tarantino's best? I think so. Here's my review.

     1. The Avengers

How lame, Ben, having a box office breaker top your list for the year. Well, you know what? I'm a geek, and I grew up with superheroes in my life. This movie was serviceable to it's fan base while appealing to the masses - you can't ask for anything more. I seriously felt like a kid when I saw this on opening day. Thank you Joss Whedon, for two films that rocked my world in 2012!


I'm not sure if there were any films that would have made it onto this list had I'd seen them, but either way, I'm happy with how it turned out. As with all lists, it's completely subjective, so feel free to share some of your favorites from the year in the comments section below. Or, if you don't like sharing your picks, just criticize mine!