2012 yielded a bumper crop of stellar flicks.
Thursday, January 3, 2013
What a great year for movies. This list of the Top Ten movies of 2012 could easily have 20 entries and there’d still be room to spare. Yes, we had our disappointments – Prometheus and The Master were confounding, and Lincoln was brilliantly acted but long and dry – but by and large, movies with grand hype notably delivered.
10. The Avengers
Marvel had been building to this since the first Iron Man was released in 2008, and imagine the billions – yes billions of dollars – that would’ve been lost if the series failed. Thankfully for audiences it didn’t, and the result culminated in a grand adventure that perfectly balanced its characters and told a story worthy of their unique abilities.
9. The Sessions
The sweetest and most poignant film of the year. In the capable hands of John Hawkes and Helen Hunt, this tender story about a severely disabled 38-year-old man who longs to lose his virginity and the sex surrogate who helps him do it resonated with an earnest warmth that many films attempt and few achieve. Expect Oscar noms for both actors.
8. Django Unchained
A superb validation of writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s unique style combined with a great story. Throw in splendid performances from Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio and you have something truly special.
7. Les Misérables
Watch it and understand what millions have felt for years after seeing the hit musical on stage. Hugh Jackman gives the performance of his career as Jean Valjean, and Anne Hathaway will likely win an Oscar for singing so beautifully as the troubled Fantine. This is a sweeping, grand epic that, in the hands of The King’s Speech director Tom Hooper is a powerful experience.
6. Life Of Pi
No movie this year looked better – or told a more gut-wrenching, harrowing story of survival – than this. After the opening half hour establishes needed context and themes, watching the teenage Pi, wonderfully played by newcomer Suraj Sharma, negotiate both the elements and a tiger while trapped on a lifeboat in the Pacific is endlessly captivating. Even better are the 3-D visuals that look like beautiful works of art.
Some critics have dismissed this as a typical story of alcoholism, but not all stories of alcoholism involve a hero dealing with heavy survivor’s guilt and a possible life sentence in prison. They also don’t touch on how the hero, played by Denzel Washington, so often helps others in part because he’s a good soul who cannot help himself. Washington gives his best performance in years and Robert Zemeckis’ film is the epitome of what a solid drama can and should be.
The most exhilarating ride of 2012. The premise follows an assassin in 2044 who murders people sent back in time from 30 years in the future. All is well until someone arrives whom he can’t kill: The older version of himself. What comes next showcases Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as different versions of the same character, and the best original screenplay of the year from writer/director Rian Johnson.
3. The Dark Knight Rises
A fittingly stellar end to what should be called the greatest trilogy of all time. Throw in Anne Hathaway as a sultry Catwoman, Tom Hardy as the imposing Bane, and Michael Caine nearly making us cry as Alfred, and you have a top-notch action movie that’s dark but, ultimately, inspiring. I did not anticipate any movie this year more than this one, and I was not let down in the least.
In a year full of heartbreaking plotlines this is the only film that made me cry, and I’m not a crier. The tender, sweet story of an elderly couple struggling to maintain their dignity after one of them becomes ill feels strikingly, alarmingly real, to the point that you hope it doesn’t happen to you but at the same time you should only be so lucky to have a partner who will love and care for you as much.
I’ll never forget the lump in my throat that I felt during the last half hour of the best film of 2012. Going in I knew about the Iran hostages but did not know about the six who escaped and took refuge at the Canadian Embassy, and I was glad I didn’t, as the drama is even more palpable when you don’t know how it ends. John Goodman and Alan Arkin are superb in comic relief roles as Hollywood types who help director/star Ben Affleck’s CIA agent stage a fake movie in an effort to extract the hostages. This is great, great filmmaking, and as a result a relatively easy choice for the best film of the year.