Monday, January 7, 2013
Best and Worst Films of 2012
Of course, 2012 was not all great, so I'm just going to take out the trash right now and name all the worst movies to come out real fast:
The Worst Movie of 2012 is, of course, "Abraham Stupid: Vampire Stupid", for being STUPID. It was ugly to look at, badly acted, had no pacing, had an incredibly stupid concept, had idiotic awful action scenes, and had no sense of humor about its ridiculous premise. This is what happens you try to be clever with a joke that isn't very funny to start with and go on way way way beyond the point of anybody's interest. I truly hate this movie, and it takes a lot to make me still angry at a B-movie six months after I saw it.
The Most Disappointing Movie of 2012 is "Beyond the Black Rainbow" for having absolutely gorgeous visuals and perfectly recreating the mood of early 80s psychological horror films, but forgot to have its characters talk or even be characters and ultimately ended up a huge utterly boring mess.
The Most Forgettable Movie of 2012 is "That Bicycle Movie Starring That Guy From 'Batman 3'" for being so utterly uninteresting in every way that I walked out three quarters of the way through, and thus was actually impossible to review.
The Most Pointless Remake of 2012 is "Total Recall" for being a rip-off of every SciFi movie ever made, along with being a meaningless dull remake of a damn good action movie that only came out twenty years ago.
The Worst Franchise That Needs to Die of 2012 is "Paranormal Activity" for being a movies series that started out horribly boring and somehow has managed to become even more embarrassingly lazy, to the point that even the fans of this crap are tired of it. And remember, "Paranormal Activity 4" this year was competing against a "Resident Evil 5", a "Underworld 4", and a "Step Up 4". Truly an awful movie.
The Worst Trailer I Had to See Six Trillion Times of 2012 is the trailer for "Dark Shadows" because I saw it six trillion times and it never stopped being annoying.
And finally we have a special award this year, with a Lifetime Achievement in Shitsucking going to "The Twilight Saga" for providing endless entertaining with its terribleness for so many years. Hopefully the next teenybopper franchise will be able to fill that void in my heart that the Sparkling Vampire Movies are leaving behind.
And now, with that out of the way, let the real countdown begin:
As always, I did not actually see every movie in 2012. I'm sure "The Master" is on lots of critics' Best Of list, but I'm sorry, it didn't look interesting. I might have to edit in "Zero Dark Thirty" when I see it next week, but I have a feeling I won't like that one. These are my opinions, if you disagree, please call me a retard and a faggot on the comments. Also, there more than just fifteen good movies that came out in 2012, I merely picked the ones that I felt were truly deserving of love. In the future, I might add movies to this list, because my editing powers on this blog are unlimited.
Chronicle" - Found footage movies almost always suck, and 2012 had its share of stinking awful found-footage movies, such as "Paranormal Activity 4" and the infamous "The Devil Inside" (which I haven't seen and will not see). Yet "Chronicle" did it right. It never allowed for its camera style to get in the way of the story, which was an incredible Americanized version of "Akira" with a brilliant truly tragic performance from its lead hero. Beyond being a great character story its also has excellent scenes of psychic battles in the middle of cities, without becoming a stupid over-the-top silly action movie. "Chronicle" is like a great short story, keeping up solid tone and ending in exactly the right way. This was truly a shock, since great movies almost never come out so early in the year, and found footage movies are never half this good. "Chronicle" is a bench mark, not merely for found footage, but movies in general. This is what they all should inspire to.
The Sad Disney Accountant Award for Best Flop: "John Carter of Mars" - This fantasy adventure film was sadly overlooked by most filmgoers this year, and most viewers simply thought of it as being "okay". I however, am a huge fan of all space opera, in any form, I can even find enjoyment out of pure exploitation crap like "Star Crash". So "John Carter of Mars" was very far form being a truly perfect movie, or even a great movie, but still I loved the heck out of it. Taylor Kitsch began and ended his leading man career in 2012, starring in three flops in a row, each one somehow worse than the last, "John Carter", "Battleship", and "Savages". He isn't great in this movie, but he looks the part of an Edgar Rice Burrows hero, and even when the movie has weird aliens battling on a weird planet, it all remained compelling to me. This was a movie made by people who actually cared and put a lot of heart into their creation, and sadly the public did not respond with nearly as much warmth. Its a shame, since this is a colorful and exciting adventure.
The Boot to the Head Award for Best Martial Arts Movie: "The Raid: Redemption" - There are no words for how awesome "The Raid" is. Indonesian martial artists climb up a building and punch their way up and punch their way down. Its a feature-length spectacle of endless horrible violence, which might sound terrible if not for the fact of just how much fun this movie is. This is one of the best martial arts movies of all time, easily the best action movie this year - and 2012 was no slouch when it came to action movies, and features one of the best martial arts battles of all time. The final fight scene is ten straight minutes of incredible combat between three massively talented masters, making up what is probably the best fight scene in a movie since the final fight of Jackie Chan's "Legend of the Drunken Master". If you want delicious soul crushing violence, the kind of stuff to make you grab your head to make sure its still attached, "The Raid" is your movie. If you skip out on this one, you are an automatic pussy.
The Cabin in the Woods" - Its easy to make a horror satire. Its hard to make one quite so funny and interest as "The Cabin in the Woods". The movie starts out as a simple parody of the "idiot teenagers go to a log cabin and get eaten by Deadites" movie that we've seen a million times before, but then somehow evolves into a full circus of every horror movie monster eating hundreds of people. And along with that, it stars well-written likable characters who you honestly would prefer survived their ordeal, instead of just unbelievably stupid bags of meat for Jason Vorhees to slaughter. Its a compelling mystery, as you're unsure of exactly where this movie is going to go, and then when it gets to its point, its a glorious finale that ranks up among the silliest and most fun conclusions to any horror movie ever. Joss Whedon also made this years' very successful superhero adventure, "The Avengers", but that was Whedon on cool. "The Cabin in the Woods" is Whedon at full genius, making the both the best comedy of the year, and the best horror film. Excellent in every respect.
The Brian Blessed Award for Best Stop-Motion Movie: "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" - This is a pretty obscure pick. "The Pirates!" appeared out of nowhere in the spring, lasted in theaters for barely a second, then disappeared without a further word. The later kids' movies like "ParaNorman" and "Brave" might have been higher profile and made more of an impact, but none of them were quite as funny and endearing as "The Pirates!" I can't even really explain what makes this movie so great, it just made me happy. Its a silly stop-motion adventure from beginning to end, with six hundred jokes every minute. "The Pirates!" is something like a child's version of "Airplane!" I really hope we see more movies with these characters, because this was far too clever and hilarious to be limited to just one movie.
The Paranoid Crazy Dude in the Woods Award for Best Romance: "Safety Not Guaranteed" - This is probably the most obscure pick I have on this list. Personally I hate it when I start reading through a critic's list of Best Movies of the Year and run into ten movies that not only have I not seen, but I've never even heard of. Still "Safety Not Guarenteed" was a great movie, creating a more clever use for the concept of time travel than just about every other film I've experienced. The characters never actually get to go back in time during the movie, time travel is simply a thematic storyline detailing the heroes' difficulty growing up and maturing and their yearning to return to a simpler time in their lives. Last years' terrible dreary "Another Earth" wasted the concept of parallel worlds as a poetic metaphor for the characters' own unending misery. But "Safety Not Guaranteed" features far more likable characters, with a stellar lead performance by Aubrey Plaza, who actually seem human since they can experience joy and are able to find love.
Beasts of the Southern Wild" - I like the rest of the world was completely floored by the intensity and power of little Quvenzhané Wallis as Hushpuppy in this movie. Quvenzhané was only five years old when she gave her role in this movie, but somehow managed to bring a lightning storm of acting power into this film, a talent I hope she does not lose as she grows older. If the Academy Awards does not give this girl Best Actress (or even just a nomination), it would be among their most awful crimes. But Wallis is not alone with the great performances, her in-movie father, Dwight Henry as Wink is just as impressive. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" is like a documentary of extreme poverty on the frontiers of America, detailing a slice of the Third World sitting just miles from the First. And even as these people live in inexcusable squalor on land that is slipping away from them power their feet, the movie never judges them, instead placing the civilized world as the villains. "Beasts of the Southern Wild" was all you could ever want from a movie.
The Adorable Robot Award for Best SciFi Movie: "Robot & Frank" - Right here is without a doubt the best SciFi movie of the year, even though it takes place in the dull regular world of New England. It stars Frank Langella as an elderly thief suffering from dementia as his favorite library is devoured by awful hipsters, including the reincarnation of the main bad guy from "Scott Pilgrim". His children, who are far too busy with their own lives to actually care for him, give him a robotic housekeeper to take care of him. Along the way, Frank finds a way to manipulate the robot's programming to join him on a final adventure of heists. "Robot & Frank" is a great movie if you love watching old people be disgusted by awful hipsters, but beyond that, it also features some deeply emotional and powerful twists. Its perhaps the most finely-crafted movie of the year. And I would have listed it as even being the best movie of the year... if 2012 hadn't had so many other riches. I know this is an obscure Indie flick, but seriously, watch this movie.
The LAWWWWWWWW!! Award for Best Movie Where a Dude's Head Explodes: "Dredd" - I know I liked the original Stallone film better. And of the movies in 2012 that featured police men fighting up and down skycrapers against an entire gang of evil drug dealers, "The Raid" blows "Dredd" out of the water. But still, "Dredd" was a wonderful simple action treat. Karl Urban's lead character of Judge Dredd has no face, sounds like Clint Eastwood, and has no depth of any kind, and yet he still manages to be an impressive and badass character for exactly those reasons. It was another bloody fun action gore fest featuring half a dozen ways of blowing a dude's head off. But it also featured some of the best 3D work I've ever seen, making "Dredd" one of the very few arguments for why 3D should stay around in modern films - "Tangled" and "Drive Angry" being the other two. "Dredd" was also a surprisingly pretty movie, having a great color pallet where most stupid B-movies simply revert to the tired old color scheme of blue and orange. Again, "Dredd" was ignored by most audiences, but don't listen to them.
The Starcrash Award for Best Movie Where Hollywood Saves America: "Argo" - The CIA saves US hostages hiding during the Iranian hostage crisis using a crappy B-movie space opera similar to "Star Crash" or "Battle Beyond the Stars". How could I not love this movie? Ben Affleck is coming back in a huge way as a great director, even if his leading role in "Argo" was a little too subdued for my tastes. But the rest of the movie is part historical drama, part Hollywood comedy, and all around excellent. "Argo" plays out like a great heist movie with the tension never ending even though the ending is never in doubt. You got the serious tension of international conflict and the silly fun of B-movie antics. And I still want to see somebody actually make the pretend "Argo" movie they were making, because that looked incredible.
Cloud Atlas" - This is something of a controversial call even for me. On the one hand "Cloud Atlas" was probably the most interesting movie to come along in 2012, and was actually watchable despite being six completely different movies all edited together. On the other hand, its six completely different movies all edited together, connected only by a cycle of reincarnation across 1000 years and some thematic rhyming. By all rights, "Cloud Atlas" should have been, at best, an interesting idea, but a gigantic mess. But yet it worked thanks to what has to be the best editing any movie has ever had, managing to keep the energy up throughout the massive running time. On their own, each of the "Cloud Atlas" movies would have been good, but together they add up to something that no movie has ever attempted before, and probably never will again. There are clunky bits, and some make-up effects so bad that I'm still chuckling about them even now. But "Cloud Atlas" was still an achievement, an event. I'm not the type to go ahead and recommend a movie simply because its interesting and unlike anything I've ever seen before - I've never seen anything like "The Tree of Life" and its a piece of shit - this is legitimately a new kind of moviemaking art. "Cloud Atlas" is an impressive triumph that should be experienced at least once.
The Shaken Not Stirred Award for Best Spy Movie: "Skyfall" - I knew there was a great movie in Daniel Craig's intense self-loathing James Bond, and "Skyfall" was that movie. Its somewhat slow to actually get going, but when "Skyfall" revs up to the spy adventure, you will find yourself in film glee. And then it manages to bring the 007 franchise to an emotional maturity that I do not think has ever been attempted before. It has a great villain, gorgeous women, a catchy theme song, and incredible action sequences. Its also the best shot movie of the entire year, with mesmerizing camera choices that enhance the already impressive performances. And still, even after all that, the last third of the movie manages to top anything I've seen from a James Bond film. "Skyfall" is a rock concert of kickass glory. And yes, they can put that quote on the DVD box cover.
The Super Mario Bros Award for Best Video Game Movie: "Wreck-It Ralph" - In all honestly, this award should go to "Paperman" the gorgeous short film that opened "Wreck-It Ralph" which remains some of the best few moments of movie watching I've ever seen, if not one of the best experiences of my life. However, I don't give awards to short films, so "Wreck-It Ralph" will have to be the movie I recognize. Even then, "Wreck-It Ralph" was the movie Pixar should have made in 2012, but luckily Disney managed to make just as well, if not better. For years video game movies have been notorious for sucking, but "Wreck-It Ralph" shows the world how it should be done. We don't have to adapt game logic to the real world, simply set a movie in a game world with lovable game characters having a game adventure. I could not ask for more from "Wreck-It Ralph", it gave me all the love a movie could give.
The Four Score and Seven Years Ago Award for Best Political Drama: "Lincoln" - Who knew Abraham Lincoln was such a magnetic and funny personality? Well, I did, but I'm a history major. But I never really knew until I saw Stephen Spielberg's masterful tale of how Lincoln was able to pull every underhanded trick in the book to pass the most benevolent legislation in our nation's history, the Thirteenth Amendment. "Lincoln" was a movie with great performances and a great script, but it also had a mature, if not even cynical message that few even today in politics would dare admit. Corruption is not always bad, sometimes you have to grease the wheels to get real good done. This wasn't a massive clunky biopic like many expected, but it was something even better, reminding us how great Presidents achieve great works. Its not always pretty, we can't get everything we want, but still, the system works. Out of all the movies that our current Congress needs to watch, this is it.
Now, that leads us to our final and greatest movie of 2012. I know I'm probably going to be the only person on Earth making this call, and I might even lose a great deal of Internet credibility for daring to say that this particular movie is the Best of 2012. Perhaps in a year I might change my mind. I already somewhat regret not naming "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" as the Best Movie of 2011, maybe I'll come to regret this too. But I've looked deep inside my heart, and ultimately, there wasn't any real competition. When I asked myself what the Best Movie I Saw in 2012 Was, I came up with only one answer:
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES" - This movie has already begun to no longer be a movie in my mind, and has already passed into pure mythology. As you might have guessed during my Batman Movie Batdown this summer, I'm a huge Batman fan. I've come to enjoy, on some level, every single Batman movie I've ever seen, even the one I'm supposed to hate, "Batman and Robin". "The Dark Knight Rises" was just the perfect conclusion to that long build-up. There was no movie in 2012 that I was more excited to see, there was no movie in 2012 that I had more joy to see, and there was no movie in 2012 that I consider superior. "The Dark Knight Rises" simply is a masterpiece. Yes, its huge, its even clunky, perhaps there's a plot hole or two. Christopher Nolan went to make the biggest and most entertaining movie ever, and he created the biggest and most entertaining movie ever.
I already spent what felt like hours gushing over "Batman 3" in my review. I can't even bring myself to read that review, I was in such a strange manic state writing it. I don't remember what I said, I might have proposed to Master Nolan. Its was a fanboy ejaculating pure love into a computer screen, and Blogger somehow translating that rambling nonsense into English. If the review is as bad as I suspect it is, I apologize.
I know a lot of people were disappointed by "The Dark Knight Rises" since their expectations were beyond stellar. Mine were just as high, and "The Dark Knight Rises" exceeded them. This was a trial beyond anything any superhero has ever been given, Batman is tasked with saving Gotham from a minuscule World War III. And along the way he is crushed by his own demons, the most powerful villain he's ever faced, and ultimately must overcome the psychic harm that Batman represents in order to grow into a full person. "Batman 3" does something that no other superhero has ever dared do: conclude the story. Its the most exciting development for these kinds of movies I've ever seen, and I truly hope that Warner Bros expands upon the mythology they created here, rather than resetting everything back to the swollen status quo. Its that desperate need to stick to the status quo that ruins superhero comics for me. It may not have been the best Batman movie ("Batman Returns" is still my Batman film) but it was an exciting ride offering a more intense thrill and G-forces than any other movie this year. "The Dark Knight Rises" fucking rules, end of story. The best movie of 2012.