Saturday, August 4, 2012


Author's Note: Full exposure. I have not seen a lot of 2012 films thus far. And yes, before you ask the obvious go-to question, I have seen more than ten... I will not waste your time making excuses as to why this unfortunate truth is so but it is a necessary disclaimer before I start rattling off what I consider to be the best nonetheless. As with most years I will not even consider my viewing of 2012 to even be adequate until a few years down the line. It takes a good while to catch up with everything, especially the offerings from overseas. As a non-professional blogger and critic (but first and foremost a lover of cinema) I work with what I got. Also, it is because of my obsession with film that I make lists like this to begin with, no matter how qualified I may be to make them. Still, the wise say it is best to strike while the iron is hot and pick while the fruit is ripe. So, without further banter, let's strike this year and pick some movies!

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10. Beasts of the Southern Wild

This celebration of life and individual achievement has a heart that beats loud as a drum. Young star Quvenzhane Wallis gives one of the performances of the year. Even though I really did not respond to the pace of the narrative (or lack thereof) it is a melodious occasion that I recommend to all.

9. Moonrise Kingdom

If it weren't for the nonsense on display in the last half hour of "Moonrise Kingdom" this would be higher on my list. That said, this wonderfully book-ended storybook is a feast for the eyes and a treat for followers of Wes Anderson, even if he has clearly become a product of his own manufacturing.

8. L

Easily the most obscure film on my list, I doubt any of you will ever see "L." So why even question or explain it? I walked into this at Sundance knowing very little and left possibly knowing less. "L" is the kind of movie you watch leaned forward with your clasped hands under your chin striving to dicipher the meaning of it all or you'll just fall asleep like my girlfriend did.

7. The Avengers

If you told me on the onset of 2012 that "The Avengers" would be my favorite superhero movie of the year I would not have believed you. This roundup of characters was even cooler than I could have imagined and the gratifying script by Joss Whedon doesn't miss a beat.

6. The Cabin in the Woods

Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon turn the American horror genre upside down and shake it for loose change. This meta mockery is crazy, savage, but most importantly, imaginative. I cannot look at horror movies the same way again and for that "The Cabin in the Woods" deserves to be revered. Also, this claims one of the best moments in movies this year.

5. Prometheus

Despite all my anguish (read my poem/review here) "Prometheus" is one hell of a ride. Some terrific performances (Fassbender!) amidst the stellar mise en scene and an endless amount of things to talk about on the car ride home. I still approve of the latest from Ridley Scott even after Damon Lindelof complicated it.

4. Haywire

Steven Soderberg snuck this film in at the beginning of the year, but I have not forgotten it. If "Kill Bill" were injected into the real world we would have something along these lines. Newcomer Gina Carano works with a knockout cast on this slick thriller that has as much style as you'd expect from the iconic filmmaker.

3. The Secret World of Arrietty

Hayao Miyazaki and the dreamers from Studio Ghibli churn out classics on a regular basis. It almost isn't real. Their latest gift is "The Secret World of Arrietty," an adaptation of "The Borrowers" that is a deep character drama (no matter how small they are) and rich in atmosphere. The hand-drawn animation they're known for continues to take my breath away.

2. The Raid: Redemption

"The Raid" takes action movies to the next level... and then the next level. This Indonesian explosion may seem like just one big excuse to stage a 90-minute brutal battle, but- Okay, that is exactly what this is! The choreographed assault, the ballet of camerawork, and the heart-slamming techno-infused score make this one of the most intense films I have seen in my life.

1. The Imposter

Even though I saw this extraordinary documentary just this week (and thus have not given it a significant opportunity to prove itself over time) I am confident in its place on this list. The less you know about "The Imposter" the better, but trust me, the story woven here is so wacky and thrilling that watching it is bliss. Through pristine reenactments and adept deliver of details Bart Layton channels the best of James Marsh ("Man on Wire") and Errol Morris ("The Thin Blue Line") and gives us an instant wonder of a movie.

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There you have it: My top ten of 2012 (thus far). Sigh. Lists are so tough because they force us to make cuts. "The Dark Knight Rises," "The Amazing Spider-Man," and "Chronicle" just missed the line for me. As if leaving those off were hard enough there are plenty of heavy-hitters awaiting us in the coming months ("The Master," "Skyfall," "The Hobbit," and "Les Miserables" to name a few) that will surely prove to be competition for the ten above. As always, I would love to hear any of yours and would be happy to discuss any of mine. Thanks for reading and enjoy the show!

1 comment:

Galyn said...

I have actually seen one of these! If I had to put together a list of the ones I've seen this year, I would be hard pressed. I saw "The Help" even though it was from last year.