Nathan’s Top 15 Movies Of 2012

 Of all the lists we make at this site, or just any lists we make in general, the end of the year list is always my favorite. I like to look at it as a year long journey where you get to go to wonderful new places, meet extraordinary people, and experience things that you've been anticipating for months, or sometimes years. Like every long trip, there are inevitably going to be some rough moments (“Les Mis”, “Amour”, I’m looking at you!). Still keeping with this trip analogy, when I look back on 2012 I can say it was a great ride. There were almost no movies that I absolutely hated.

This year gave us the culmination of Marvel’s superhero juggernaut “The Avengers”, and while you won’t find the film in my Top 15, please don’t take that as I didn't enjoy the film (I know I’m cheating with this, but it was #16). We witnessed the epic ending to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. We also witnessed the end of the not-so-epic Twilight trilogy (if I were to make a trip analogy out of this one, I would compare it to a long car ride with terrible weather the whole way that ended with us arriving at the world’s crappiest hotel). But like all years, there was also a handful of films that came out of nowhere and blew me away.

But enough with the overview, hit the jump to get my favorite films of 2012!

     15. End Of Watch
I’m usually a fan of cop dramas, and this is one of the best ones I've seen in a long time. Everyone in the movie is really good, but Jake Gyllenhaal steals the show. It’s time for him to get some recognition as one of the better young actors working right now. I don’t know that he’s ever had a truly bad role.
     14. Prometheus
For everyone at this site except myself, this was one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year. I never really knew what to expect with it. I knew it had an epic trailer but I’m experienced enough now to know that definitely doesn't mean the movie will be good. Well it was good, dare I say great. The performances well great all around (minus an inexcusably bad make-up job on Guy Pierce), and the effects were phenomenal. I loved all the big questions it asked and can’t wait to see if they get answered in the next film.
     13. Lawless
Is there anyone on more of a role right now than Tom Hardy? I thought Michael Fassbender was bound to be the next mega-star, but I think it’s safe to say that Hardy has jumped ahead of him. This was one of the better ensemble casts of the year, again without there being a weak link. Some people were quick to jump on Shia LaBeouf's character but I actually thought he did a good job playing a person who was trying to figure out who he was. Still, this was Tom Hardy’s show.
     12. 21 Jump Street
What a year for Channing Tatum. The guy finally broke through and became a real actor and not just a body to throw on the screen. The pairing of Tatum and Jonah Hill was perfect, and made for what was pretty easily the best comedy of the year.
     11. Get The Gringo
File this under the category of films that came out of nowhere. I went to watch this without even knowing what it was about, and within 5 minutes I knew I was loving it. Within about 30 minutes I knew it was one of my favorite films of the year. I've always been a supporter of Mel Gibson since I don’t care about celebrities' personal lives, and had been waiting for him to get back into top form. Now, this didn't get near the publicity it deserved, but I can assure you that Mel is definitely in top form in this one. Heck, take Mel Gibson out of this movie and it’s still one of the most fascinating prison movies I've ever seen.
     10. Skyfall
Considering that I’m a huge fan of the James Bond series, and considering this is my favorite James Bond film, this seems low at number 10. For people who are fans of James Bond, this has everything you want: great action, great humor, a GREAT villain, and something you almost never get in Bond films, emotion. Oh, don’t forget that theme song!
     9. The Grey
This is one of those films where I thought about it for days after I got done watching. It’s intense, tragic, and beautiful all at the same time. This is the best work Liam Neeson has done, and I think he really deserved an Oscar nomination for this. Don’t be fooled by the trailers, there is way more to this movie than Neeson killing wolves.
     8. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Contrary to popular opinion, I thought the high frame rate made this movie better, and it wasn't until I saw the film in its high frame rate that the movie climbed this high. Yes, it’s different and takes some getting used to, but if you go into it with an open mind it's actually really cool. Plus for anyone who knows me, anything Middle Earth related is getting bonus points. This is a film that will need the sequels before people can form an ultimate opinion about the movie.
     7. Looper
Looking back on it, I can’t remember what my expectations for this film were. I would think they weren't that high. I certainly didn't think this film would turn out to be as amazing as it was. There are so many great elements coming together so perfectly with this film, and every single one of them is necessary to make the film what it is. I give the film even more props for what it didn't reveal in the trailers.
     6. Zero Dark Thirty
This film did for me what “Argo” did for Derek and Alex, which was keep my butt on the edge of my seat for the last 30 or so minutes of the film. I was thoroughly engaged in what was going on the entire time. This was a powerhouse performance from Chastain and she deserves that damn Oscar for Best Actress. If she goes two years in a row where she had multiple amazing performances and doesn't win an Oscar, I think I will loose complete faith in the show. Plus, I think it’s safe to say that Kathryn Bigelow is the greatest modern warfare filmmaker ever.
     5. Django Unchained
In a year where there were so many great ensemble cast performances, I think this is definitely the best from top to bottom. This is far and away my favorite Tarantino film and it’s not even close. I think this film does a very good job of showing the brutality of slavery. All the serious aspects aside, this is one of the most fun times I had at the movies this year. Everyone in this film nailed there roles, and frankly I think they should've just given Waltz, DiCaprio, and Sam Jackson their own Oscars for Best Supporting Actor. They all deserve it.
     4. Cloud Atlas
I have trouble coming up with words to describe how I felt watching this film. To put it simply, I was overwhelmed (in a good way). The film is an absolute masterpiece, and I was in awe the entire time. I think I can say with a good deal of certainty that this might be my favorite film ever that I don’t consider to have a high watchability. It is one of the greatest stories of life that I have ever seen. Nothing I say will do this movie justice.
     3. Beasts of the Southern Wild
Why is “Cloud Atlas” only at #4 then? Simple, the watchability is too low, and that is my main factor in judging movies. A lot of the same things I felt with “Cloud Atlas” I felt while watching this, just on a smaller scale. What pushes it ahead is that it achieves a very high watchability rate for me. Quvenzhané Wallis gives a monster performance. Is it my favorite performance ever by a child? No. Is it the best performance ever by a child? I think so. I will also echo what everyone else has said - it’s the best score of the year. This is also who I’m routing for to win Best Picture, even though I don’t think it will.
     2. The Silver Linings Playbook
This is my favorite dramedy ever. It takes the standard aspects you see with movies like this but throws in much deeper and more serious aspects, and manages to blend them perfectly. This is the best performance of Bradley Cooper's career. I never once thought this is the guy who was in “The Hangover”. He was a completely different person than what you’re used to seeing and I think that is one of the best compliments you can give an actor.
     1. The Dark Knight Rises
For the second year in a row, barring a huge letdown, I already knew what my favorite film of the year was. You could say I’m biased, and you would be right. I just say I know myself and what I like. Outside of The Lord of the Rings, Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight films were my favorite series, and to me he ended it on a perfect note. TDKR solidified this trilogy as the greatest TRUE trilogy of all-time. It was epic, it was emotional (especially when you accept the fact that Batman/Bruce Wayne is dead), and to me it was pretty much perfect. Some people find the watchability for this film to be low, and I can understand not everyone loving this movie. For me, this gives me everything I want in a movie, and Nolan has made the greatest superhero film of all-time, no ifs, ands, or buts. So I would just like to say thank you Mr. Nolan, you are the master!

Well that will do it for 2012. This year's list was similar to 2010's in that it had a lot more smaller titles on it than big blockbusters. I almost prefer that in a way. It just means there were more surprises, and that tends to make the films a little more special. Don’t get me wrong though, I still love those blockbusters. Now it’s time to dig in and gear up for what is looking like another great year in film. Who am I kidding, I and everyone at this site loves movies too much to ever say it was or will be a bad year for movies.

Feel free to let me know what you though of my picks. Did you agree/disagree, and if so what did you think should've been on there? The last thing I want to say is, take chances with movies. I think people get into too much of a comfort zone with what they watch, and in doing so you can miss out on a lot of great films.

Also, be sure to check back tomorrow for all of Andy's picks!