Well, since I haven’t been able to review a movie in a while (Thanks, bank account), I decided I should probably finish this post, which has been sitting in my drafts since January of this year. Can you tell that I completely forgot about it during the excitement of awards season? Whatever. Let’s reveal My Top 10 Movies of 2012!
(Author’s Note: Just because a movie got an A+ in my review doesn’t mean it will make my Top 10. This is a list of movies that I personally thought were great because they stuck with me after the year ended.)
10. End of Watch
Honestly, I’m surprised I included this movie in my Top 10 list, considering I’m not a fan of police movies. But when I look back at all of the movies I saw this year, End of Watch was a film I thought was seriously underrated by most of the critics, including myself.
It wasn’t your usual “buddy cop” movie with cheesy comedy and a stereotypical white cop paired with a sassy non-white cop. Okay, they did have a white cop/hispanic cop coupling. But this was a dramatic thriller about the relationship between two officers in a really shitty situation (Most people just call it “Los Angeles”).
Rather than spending the entire movie shooting bad guys, they drove around in their patrol car, talking about their lives. This is where this movie stands out in its genre. The action sequences weren’t the focus; they were opportunities for the cops’ relationship to really blossom. And let me tell you—that character development was worth the time when it came to the movie’s ending.
9. Pitch Perfect
God, where do I begin with this movie? It was refreshing, funny, and just a total blast. And it wasn’t that perky, high-school Glee shit. Yes, it was a lot of singing and dancing, but it was so much more. Basically, what I’m trying to tell you is that Pitch Perfect is not the movie you (or anyone) thought it would be.
Just to give you a taste of the hilarity, we’re talking puke, awkward Asians, rape whistles, Star Wars nerds, catchy mashups, and jokes that almost felt Bridesmaids-reminiscent (I expect nothing less from screenwriter Kay Cannon, who also wrote for 30 Rock). It was a very self-aware comedy that not only poked fun at choral groups and their culture but also at young-adult comedies by creating parallels with The Breakfast Club.
And Rebel Wilson! How can you not love Rebel Wilson? Her character, Fat Amy, was like the one obnoxious, inappropriate friend everybody has. Plus, she had the best oneliners.
8. Les Misérables
Director Tom Hooper (who directed the Academy Award-winning The King’s Speech) did some serious justice to Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel and its Broadway derivative.
Anne Hathaway swept every Best Supporting Actress award for her role as Fantine. Hugh Jackman received a Best Actor award at the Golden Globes for his role as Jean Valjean. And the movie, itself, snagged a Best Picture award at the Golden Globes, as well as several technical awards at the Academy Awards. Truly, all of the actors—including Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Aaron Tveit, Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen—put in great performances.
Les Misérables was revolutionary in its genre, what with the actors singing live on the set. It could very well become the new norm. And it must be mentioned that the costumes and sets were very illustrative of the deep political and social issues in the story.
Of course, I had to include the Academy Award-winning Best Picture in the Top Ten list, even if most of the reason it won was because of the overbearing sympathy for Ben Affleck’s director nomination snub.
Nevertheless, Argo was breathtaking (and I mean that literally because it was that tense at times). Symbolism was well-placed in accordance with the events in the movie, and Affleck and his writers did a great job establishing a looming sense of danger and a hilarious mockery of Hollywood politics.
Despite the possible anti-Middle East propaganda, Argo was certainly a story to remember. The film’s acting was magnificent from all of the roles down to the extras, carried extremely well by the powerhouse big names, as well as the relatively unknown actors playing the six refugees. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget that it gave us the best movie catchphrase ever: Argo f*** yourself!
6. Seven Psychopaths
Seven Psychopaths was the “dark horse” this year. One minute, it didn’t exist, and then there were suddenly TV spots and previews everywhere. If I had to pick the next cult classic, it would be this movie. It definitely has some similarities to Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction with its violent story, quirky comedy, and unique direction.
Also, it was one of those movies that gave away its own story within a sub-plot that paralleled the movie’s main plot. God, that shit is clever. And what’s funny is most people don’t catch on to it until you tell them about it (You’re going to go watch it now, aren’t you?). But in all honesty, the characters were what made this movie so great. Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, and Woody Harrelson’s performances were the best, but Rockwell went above and beyond with his delightfully absurd character, Billy.
Best of all, neither the rabbit nor the Shih Tzu were harmed, so everything is right in the world.
We all know that Skyfall should’ve been the film to follow Daniel Craig’s first Bond film, Casino Royale (because Quantum of Solace left an awful, Strawberry Fields taste in my mouth).
Typically with sequels, you want the sequel to either match or go above the level of its predecessor. I would say Skyfall definitely matched Casino Royale. If you really like the deeper, more character-centered Bond films, then this is the one for you because Bond and M’s relationship goes way beyond the other Bond films (and you get the excitement of budding relationships with Q and other MI6 agents).
The action sequences, as always, were thrilling. And there were tributes to the classic Bond films, like the Aston Martin DB5 making its reappearance. I would have preferred a little more Daniel Craig nudity, but hey, that’s just me. And bitch please—if Adele sang the theme song, you know the movie was awesome.
4. Wreck-It Ralph
As my friend Michael (I know you’re reading this) said, Wreck-It Ralph should’ve gotten the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It was a movie that entertained both kids and adults, as its story and jokes had a little something for everybody.
If anything, it should have won that Best Animated Feature award just for its impeccable design of each featured arcade and video game—as there were several tributes to Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros, Pac Man, Q*bert, Mario Kart, Halo, Call of Duty, etc.
The message of this movie was the best: Just because you’re not the hero everyone remembers doesn’t mean you’re not a hero to somebody. For so long, we’ve taught kids that they’re all special, and that the world should be fascinated with how special they are. But this message gives a more down-to-earth “hero” appeal by saying, “Hey, it’s okay if not everybody knows how special you are. It doesn’t mean you’re not special to the people who know you.”
3. Django Unchained
Of course, I had to put my favorite director’s movie in this list. The man is an auteur! And Django Unchained was a hilariously gory spaghetti-western with a hint of ’70s blaxploitation and buddy cop.
Tarantino, once again, created a film that handled a heavy topic delicately while still maintaining his quirky style, witty dialogue, and wonderfully diverse soundtrack. Jamie Foxx delivered a badass yet conflicted performance as the film’s main character while Christoph Waltz put in a performance that possibly topped his performance as Colonel Hans Landa in Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, winning him the Best Supporting Actor award at both the SAGs and the Academy Awards.
While Django Unchained used the n-word a lot, it didn’t seem like it was shock-value bait; it seemed synchronized with the film’s plot and setting in communicating our nation’s terrible past. Because, let’s face it, our ancestors were terrible people.
2. Silver Linings Playbook
If you’ve ever wondered what a film that has all of its elements working together in a harmonious balance of perfection looks like, it would be Silver Linings Playbook. The screenplay, the direction, the dialogue, the actors—everything here makes this movie a film you can’t miss.
Bradley Cooper eliminated the resentment I had for him left by his characters in The Hangover, Wedding Crashers, All About Steve, and Valentine’s Day to deliver a truly sincere performance as a bipolar sufferer who wants to get his life back. And Jennifer Lawrence (with whom I want to be best friends), showed that she could keep up with the likes of award-winning Robert De Niro, who also delivered his best performance in years.
I really, really wanted to make this my #1 movie in this list because it was just so damn heartfelt, but I think there’s one movie that deserves it just a hair more…
1. The Avengers
Um, duh. Marvel and Joss Whedon are unbeatable.