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The Lucky 13: Best Films of 2012

December 29, 2012

Screen shot 2012-12-29 at 6.52.51 PMSo, 2012 is coming to a close and of course it’s time to reflect on the best of the best this year has offered. Before you lose your shit, let me explain myself regarding the disappearence of of “The Dark Knight Rises” & “Marvel’s The Avengers” from this list.

I LOVE both films, they were some of the most entertaining piece of comic book pulp cinema has given us. “Marvel’s The Avengers” did something no superhero genre dared to do; unite our favorite superheroes under one movie, without Joss Whedon’s help in the writing and directing who knows what could’ve happened. Christopher Nolan has respectfully concluded a generational trilogy for the ages in his final Batman epic, “The Dark Knight Rises”, and I’m honored to be apart of that generation, to see it from the ground up, now I know how 40/50 year olds feel when they experienced the original “Star Wars” trilogy.

So, why are they not on my list? When it comes down to it, these are epic movies, BIG epic movies, and they’re simply made for pure entertainment value, which is not a bad thing, in some cases, that’s what movies are all about. “The Dark Knight Rises” doesn’t match up to it’s predecssor for major Oscar bait, and “The Avengers”, c’mon it’s a flippin’ Marvel movie, the point of Marvel is to make entertaining, fun loving, enthusiastic, fan absorbing movies, and it did just that.

My list features films that I feel do everything right in telling a good story; great character development, interesting stories, captivating direction, beautiful photographic visuals, surprising elements, the list could go on. So, without further ado, here’s my top 13 favorite films of 2012.

13. “The Master” – P.T. Anderson is one of the greats…in an odd and shrewd way. Not a single movie of his have I missed, and not a single one have I disliked. Each is more fascinating than the next. The movies oddness, not to mention sheer madness, makes it a watch to not miss out on. You can be for or against scientology and still come out appreciating what the movie is offering, because in the end, it’s not about the basis of the religion, it’s about the people, and how it changes them. The development between Freddie & Dodd is 10x more captivating than the religion itself.

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12. “Killer Joe” – “Killer Joe” has the classic elements that make a great cult dark crime drama hit. It has the captivating/memorable performance by a well-respected lead (McConaughey), it makes the best of the location the film is set in, the side characters are deemed quotable for years to come, and has an ending that’ll rile up so many film lovers out there. I love that ending; the ending really makes the movie satisfying as a viewing experience, you could hate everything about the movie, but there is no denying that those last 15 minutes do not grab your attention. It’s just good old fashion a totally twisted deep-fried Texas southern redneck kind of experience, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Besides, you gotta respect McConaughey going outside his typical leading man comfort zone.

11. “Argo” – “Argo” is a science-fiction/fantasy epic, about an intergalactic race that overthrows the tyranny in the universe, by a ‘dark shadow’, the heroic fierce leader of the story urges the people to take a stand and take back their home. Interesting allegory to the 1980 Iranian hostage crisis. While the real-life unproduced screenplay of “Argo”  was never produced, it was the blue print for something bigger and important during a time where two countries we’re on the brink of madness and fear. Ben Affleck returns for a third time in the director’s chair, telling the unbelievable true story about a C.I.A. operation that many officials found embarrassing and suicidal.

10. “Flight” – 12 years since Robert Zemeckis directed a live-action drama, “Cast Away” was that very film. “Flight” is a return to full form for Zemeckis, returning to the dramatic territory that matches up the calibar of “Cast Away” or “Forrest Gump”. This film teams Zemeckis up for the first time with two time Oscar winner Denzel Washington. “Flight” is complicated tale of morals, honesty, self-integrity, and self-reflection on ones faults. What starts as a scene that will go down in history as one of the scariest plane crash sequences ever to be put on film, becomes an in-depth character study of a man and his struggles with the bottle.

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9. “Skyfall” – We’ve entered a golden year for Agent 007, the 50th anniversary of the characters on screen existence. Without any hesitation “Skyfall” is my #2 pick as my favorite Bond film. It would be #1, but that is still “Goldfinger”, you can’t beat Sean Connery no matter how good of a Bond you get, Connery will ALWAYS come first. Out of the Daniel Craig films, this is the BEST film, without question. Not to mention it features the greatest written and played Bond villain ever, one could only say it may be Oscar worthy, we’re talking Joker/Anton Chigurh territory.

8. “Moonrise Kingdom” – Wes Anderson’s films are weird and wonderful; they mix characters that act in very different shades of colors. From the egotistical doofus that is Steve Zissou to the mass dysfunctional Tenenbaums, Anderson’s movies are goofier than the next, but still maintain a likeable charm. His latest feature, “Moonrise Kingdom”, takes all those classic approaches he’s done before and sets it to warp drive. It’s honest portrayal of young puppy love between two pre-teen kids.

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7. “The Cabin in the Woods” – Joss Whedon, you are a GOD! Drew Goddard, you are a GOD! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I wish I could talk about the last fifteen minutes of the film, because if you think the movie was going in a certain direction, it takes you to a whole new place right out of nowhere. Not to mention, the movie does a brilliant job giving you reasons why horror movies make those typical/stereotypical choices. The final act of the film will go down in history as one of the biggest mind fucks ever in a horror film. It was amazing, and I cannot be anymore clearer than that. Just see the damn movie, you’re not going to get anything this good for a long long time. My FAVORITE horror film of the last decade too.

6. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” – 27 years ago, John Hughes captured audiences about the trials, tribulations, drama, love, fear, and surprises about the high school life in “The Breakfast Club”. Yet, today, a popular book by the name of The Perks of Being A Wallflower has surfaced, touching the soul of every high schooler, new and old, really getting to the core about how a freshman really sees the world of high school. Stephen Chbosky’s character, Charlie, says that high school is scarier than middle school (it is). Perhaps the most realistic high school drama I’ve seen since “The Breakfast Club”, what the typical high school genre lacks that these two movies gain is honesty, without it, you cannot relate to the characters on screen.

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5. “Killing them Softly” – Andrew Dominik makes his second debut in the director’s chair, reuniting  again with Brad Pitt, from a dark, brooding, western (“The Assassination to Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”), the duo returns with a dark, brooding, and somewhat witty gangster film that is unlike any of the genre from the past few years; well you can argue that it shares a similar tone and aesthetic feel to 2011’s “Drive”. Be that as it may, “Killing Them Softly” is a visual delight for the eyes & ears, an interesting allegory pretaining to America’s economic downturn, not to mention led by a powerhouse of talented character actors; all this helpfully overshadows the simplistic storyline.

4. “Silver Linings Playbook” – One of the best movies of 2012 is about a man suffering from bipolar, living with an OCD/bipolar father, hanging out with a mentally unstable chick, and dickhead brother returning into his life, the only sane person in this film is the mother. That’s a lot to digest, but “Silver Linings Playbook” is untraditional in it’s structure from it’s dysfuntional family to romantic comedy formula, only director David O. Russell (“The Fighter”) could bring this to us. Bradley Cooper is one step away from having this title appear in a trailer for a future movie of his: ‘Academy Award Nominee Bradley Cooper’.

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3. “Seven Psychopaths” – Martin McDonough makes his second debut as writer/director, who in by no means falls into the pitfall of the sophomore slump as a filmmaker.“Seven Psychopaths” will be a tough act for him as a writer and director to follow. It’s not only darker than his Oscar winning hit “In Bruges”, it’s smarter, and quite the Meta film. “Seven Psychopaths” fools us all by giving you a somewhat false movie trailer to a different film altogether in the long run.

2. “Looper” – If only Hollywood would allow to make more original films, much like Rian Johnson’s “Looper”. In a world filled with remakes, reboots, and useless sequels, it’s the original material that gets neglected the most, the original pieces of work turn out to be superior film. Making this his third directing feature, Rian Johnson has crafted a science fiction film so rare and so intriguing it pretty much matches up to the early sci-fi likes of Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”& James Cameron’s original “Terminator”.

1. “Django Unchained” – Quentin Tarantino is the FREAKIN’ MAN! There’s just no way around that, he is the MAN. QT’s best has always been pegged to be “Pulp Fiction”, and this recent bloody southern spaghetti western “Django Unchained” is without question THE FILM in his filmography that may go toe-to-toe with “Pulp Fiction”. A wise friend said to me, ‘Django bends all the other films and rapes them hard…then burns the sheet.’

HONORABLE MENTIONS: “The Dark Knight Rises”, “Marvel’s The Avengers”, “The Grey”, “Les Miserable”, “Cloud Atlas”, “Chronicle”, “Wreck-It Ralph”, “Dredd 3D”, “Lincoln”, “Bernie”, “Prometheus”, “Safety Not Guaranteed”, “ParaNorman”, “The Raid: Redemption”, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, “Haywire”, “Jeff Who Lives at Home”, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”, “Jack Reacher”, “Life of Pi”, “Rise of the Guardians”, “Madagascar 3”, “Ted”, “The Amazing Spider-Man”, “The Sessions”, “Sinister”, “Searching for Sugarman”, “Detropia”, “Celeste & Jesse Forever”, “Ruby Sparks”, “Premium Rush”, “Your Sister’s Sister”, “Brave”, “Frankenweenie”, “The Intouchables”, “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”, “For A Good Time, Call…”, “Searching for Sonny”, “The Hunger Games”, “Magic Mike”, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”, “God Bless America”, “Goon”, and “21 Jump Street”

(I’ve yet to see “Zero Dark Thirty”, I’m attending a screener this week, there’s your reason why THAT movie isn’t present here)

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