Gabriel’s Top 10 Movies of 2012

10. End of Watch

This was hands down the best buddy cop movie of the year. That being said it was also one of the only buddy cop movies of the year, but don’t let that diminish it’s accomplishments. Sure, it has some flaws, like the villain’s lacking performances, but that doesn’t stop this from being an all around hilarious, heart breaking, and magnetic film. It was just a blast to watch, and I would recommend it to anyone who loves film.

9. Lincoln

This film really surpassed all my expectations. Sure, I had heard that Daniel Day Louis was spectacular in the title role, but that didn’t stop me from prematurely judging this as the typical Spielbergian sentimental dreck. Luckily, the truly fascinating nature of the civil war era and Lincoln himself were there to help the film transcend the typical. Also, [insert obligatory Daniel Day Louis was amazing comment].

8. I Wish

Hirokazu Koreeda must be the single most underrated Japanese filmmaker of all time. Ever since his first masterpiece, Maborosi, in 1995, he’s been putting out some of the most interesting work in film, period. His most recent movie, I Wish, ranks among his best work, giving us a naturalistic look at two brothers struggle to stay together after their parents’ divorce. Koreeda was able to marvelously sums up many of the wonders of childhood and in a manner that is worthy of the many Japanese masters before him.

7. Flight

This and End of Watch where hands down my biggest surprises of 2012. Going in I expected an ok film that would probably just end up turning into more of the standard Robert Zemekes fair. I’m happy to say I was quite wrong. It turned out to be a rather stirring look at the detrimental effects of alcoholism with the added bonus of probably one of the greatest, most chilling plain crashes in all of cinema. Not to mention the incredible and quite unique performance from Denzel Washington.

6. The Cabin in the Woods

There are few films I can say just fill me with absolute joy. They reduce me to a state of unadulterated glee from which nothing can take me. Cabin in the Woods is one of these such films. It may at first seem like a generic slasher flick, but in reality, it’s one of the most imaginative, creative, and brilliant horror film I’ve seen in years. There’s little more I can say other than that I left the theater with a smile plastered to my face and in utter awe.

5. Holy Motors

This movie really through me for a loop. It’s really quite different from anything I’ve ever seen before. Unlike a conventional film narrative, it’s a more akin to a journey through life and cinema. The film admittedly presents the audience with a real challenge, but amazingly it’s always fascinating to watch, primarily for the enlightening central performance by Denis Lavant. Just in the course of this 115 minute film he takes us so many different places, while still remaining the center that holds this film together.

4. Monsieur Lazhar

Monsieur Lazhar is a film about death and the ways we cope with it. It shows us a fourth grade class dealing with the cryptic suicide of their homeroom teacher, and Bachir Lazhar, who takes it upon himself to replace that said teacher. At first glance this may seem like the typical teacher-saves-troubled-kids film, but it’s much more than that. There is an irrefutable emotional reality here that gives it a profundity found in very few films, and I just couldn’t help but be drawn into this touching and beautiful portrait of grief.

3. Moonrise Kingdom

With Wes Anderson’s most recent film, Moonrise Kingdom, he creates the sort of storybook tale we would read before bedtime as youths. He takes that whimsical and colorful time in our lives and puts it on the screen to a magnificent effect. Sure, some people might be a bit turned of by his idiosyncratic style, but I think he uses it to perfect effect here to create something I can’t wait to show to my kids someday.

PS. Check out my review here: https://simplyfilm.org/2012/07/14/moonrise-kingdom-review/

2. Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino will always have a very special place in my heart. He was in a lot of ways the first director I really got to know. In my film nerd infancy, many years ago, the first thing I ever did was marathon through Tarantino entire filmography. It was from that moment that I always knew I would love movies. He was just a master. You could see it in every frame. He just draws you into his spell of movie magic and taking you along on a euphoric ride through cinema. Sure, he’s a bit overindulgent and I don’t think he’s usually very ambitious thematically,  but he just fills me to the brim with everything I love about film, and Django is just another fantastic example of that.

1. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

I will not deny the fact that this is a difficult film. At a goliath two and a half hours, it’s hard to imagine how this movie could be worth it. But, I assure you that this will be hands down the greatest experience you will have all year. Under the guise of a conventional police procedural this is actually a remarkable exploration of truth and perception in the face of a morally gray world. Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the director, gives us a film that, on a purely visual level, may even surpass Prometheus. Sure it’s challenging, it’s slow, it’s long, it’s obtuse, but I do not doubt for a moment that the reward is worth the challenge. So if you feel up to it, you won’t be disappointed, and if you don’t, well, you’re missing something truly amazing.

Honorable Mentions

Zero Dark Thirty, Elena, The Dark Knight Rises, Safety Not Guaranteed, Silver Linings Playbook, This Is Not a Film, Oslo, August 31st, The Kid with a Bike, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Bernie, Looper, Prometheus, Borne Legacy, Sleepwalk With Me, Raid: The Redemption, The Impostor, 21 Jump Street, and Chronicle.

Andrew’s Top 10 Movies of 2012

10. Safety Not Guaranteed

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The sweetest movie about time travel you will ever see, Safety Not Guaranteed is quirky comedy full of cynicism and sharp wit. While not necessarily a deep film, Safety Not Guaranteed might be this year’s perfect date movie, right next to Moonrise Kingdom.

9. Cloud Atlas

I’ll admit it this movie has a lot of problems.  However it is hard to not praise this movie for its ambition and epic scope.  Spanning hundreds of years and telling six different stories of six different genres, all three directors do an admirable job of trying to connect these stories through a theme of repetition and change.  While it does not always come together perfectly, and although some of the segments of this movie are just not very good, as a whole this movie really works for it, and its strengths overcome its faults.

8. Looper

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This movie is just cool, and without a doubt my favorite action movie this year. It is exactly the kind of slick and stylish action I wanted from director Rian Johnson’s sci-fi time travel flick.  This movie also featured what was likely my favorite scene of the year, and without spoiling the film for those who haven’t seen it, it was the scene involving Paul Dano’s character that was absolutely terrifying to watch. It is a great movie for Rian Johnson’s entry into mainstream film making, and I look forward to seeing what he will go onto do with big budget movies.

7. Cabin in the Woods

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Both a love letter to and criticism of horror as a genre, Cabin in the Woods is a film made for horror fans. While paying homage to the great horror films like Evil Dead, this movie is a smart and very funny way to poke fun at some of the worse troupes of the horror genre.  However, it is the sheer carnage of the third act that really makes this movie great for me, as it offers so much for both the die-hard horror fan and casual movie goer to love.

6. Silver Linings Playbook

JENNIFER LAWRENCE and BRADLEY COOPER star in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

This is just a movie that makes me happy to watch.  Full of wonderful awkward humor and plenty of lovably dysfunctional characters, Silver Linings Playbook would be a hard movie to hate. While this movie by no means reinvents the wheel as far as the romantic comedy is concerned, it is an exceptional example of how good writing is what really makes the movie.  In addition, this is a movie full of excellent acting by the entire ensemble, although I was particularly impressed with Bradley Cooper in this film.

5. End of Watch

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Both a buddy cop movie and a solid action movie in its own right, End of Watch is very personal look at what it is like to be a police officer in one of the most dangerous parts of the country.  What makes this movie special, and one of my favorites this year, is the relationship between the two lead actors that they were able to build in this film.  It is one of the most believable and realistic partnerships I have ever seen in this kind of movie, and it’s because of this fact that film is so effective.

4. Seven Psychopaths

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This is my kind of movie, combining genre deconstruction with Martin McDonagh’s trademark dark humor, making this one of my favorite movies of the year.  Wickedly funny even after multiple viewings (as I have seen this movie quite a few times in theaters), this movie brings great comedic performances out of both Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell, who is amazing in this movie. This movie has a truly all-star cast and plenty of the violence you would expect from the director of In Bruges, and yet it still manages to have something to say, about both this genre of film and the way filmmakers tend to approach it.

3. Django Unchained

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Though it is a little too long for its own good, Django Unchained was likely my best movie going experience of the year. Tarantino delivers yet another wonderful pulpy movie, full of hugely satisfying bloodshed, as well as some really fantastic moments of humor, due in large part to world’s greatest German, Christoph Waltz.  While it is hard to say I wholeheartedly enjoyed this movie, due to a few extremely brutal depictions of slavery related horrors, it is still a very fun movie and one I will surely watch again.

2. The Master

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Perhaps the most perplexing movie of the year, I left the theater completely baffled after my first viewing of this film.  I am a huge P.T. Anderson fan, and while I will not pretend to understand everything going on in this movie, Anderson does succeed at crafting a visually dynamic and engrossing movie. It is a hard movie to explain, or even recommend, but worth seeing at the very least for the Oscar worthy performances from both Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

1. Oslo August 31st

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The story of a recovering drug addict as he wanders through the city of Oslo, Oslo August 31st is a personal and unique account of what it is like to deal with the lasting effects of addiction.  I’ve always been interested in addiction as a subject for film, and for me, this movie is an exceptionally example of how well film as a medium can deal with this subject material.  Overall a wonderful foreign film, however it would by no means be considered an uplifting movie.  It is now available on Netflix and I would highly encourage you to watch it if you are at all intrigued.

Honorable Mentions

I would like to use this space to give credit to a few movies that didn’t quite make the cut, but are worth mentioning.  While I personally didn’t add the movie to my list, Life of Pi is certainly one of the most memorable and captivating movies I saw all year and definitely deserves praise for its visual style, as this may be the most visually appealing movie this year.  I would also like to mention the film Klown, for being one of the most humorous and profoundly inappropriate films of the year.  Other honorable mentions include Bernie, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Dredd 3D, Monsieur Lazhar, Chronicle and Sleepwalk with Me.

Gabriel’s Favorite Films of 2012 (So Far)

As the third illustrious member of our merry crew, I’m expected to give you lovely people my three favorite movies of the year, and being the responsible man that I am I’m going to do exactly that. So prepare your minds for some genuine cinematic excellence, and remember to leave all of your comments below.

3. The Cabin in the Woods

There are few films I can say just fill me with pure joy. They reduce me to a state of unadulterated glee from which nothing can take me. Cabin in the Woods is one of these films. It may at first seem like a generic slasher flick, but in reality, it’s one of the most imaginative, creative, and brilliant horror film I’ve seen in years. There’s little more I can say other than that I left the theatre with a smile plastered to my face and in utter awe.

2. Monsieur Lazhar

Monsieur Lazhar is a film about death and the ways we deal with it. It shows us a fourth grade class dealing with the cryptic suicide of their homeroom teacher, and Bachir Lazhar, who takes it upon himself to replace that said teacher. At first glance this may seem like the typical teacher-saves-troubled-kids movie, but it’s much more than that. There is an irrefutable emotional reality here that gives it a profundity found in very few films. I just couldn’t help but be drawn into this touching and beautiful portrait of grief.

1. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

I will not deny the fact that this is a difficult film. At a goliath two and a half hours, it’s hard to imagine how this movie could be worth it. But, I assure you that this will be hands down the greatest experience you will have all year. Under the guise of a conventional police procedural this is actually a remarkable exploration of truth and perception in the face of a morally gray world. Nuri Bilge Ceylan, the director, gives us a film that, on a purely visual level, may even surpass Prometheus. Sure it’s challenging, it’s slow, it’s long, it’s obtuse, but I do not doubt for a moment that the reward is worth the challenge. So if you feel up to it you won’t be disappointed, and if you don’t, well, you’re missing something truly amazing.

Most Anticipated: The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson ranks among my favorite directors of all time. For a reason look no further than his incredible filmography. He’s responsible for masterpieces such as There Will Be Blood, Punch-Drunk Love, and Boogie Nights, and now he wants to make a film about Scientology. Not to mention that he’s casting Philip Seymour Hoffman as a pseudo-L. Ron Hubbard. So, in summation, P. T. Anderson: please take my money now.

Andrew’s Favorite Films of 2012 (So Far)

2012 is almost halfway over, and it seems timely to put up a short list of my favorite movies from the first half out the year. It is important to mention that I am not saying these are the best movies to come out so far, they are just the three films I have enjoyed the most. Feel free to leave your opinions in the comments.

3. Bernie

The most recent film by director Richard Linklater, Bernie tells the true story of small town funeral Bernie Tiede and his relationship with a rich widow, Marjorie Nugent. Funny, smart, and simple, this movie perfectly captures the small town feel of Carthage, Texas while raising some interesting moral questions about justice.  In addition, Jack Black’s portrayal of Bernie Tiede is probably the best role he has had in his entire career.

2. Cabin in the Woods

This is just my kind of movie. In Joss Whedon’s mock horror movie, five oblivious teens take a vacation to a cabin in the woods that goes horribly wrong. A wonderful twist on the classic horror story, this movie offers plenty of laughs, great dialogue and does a perfect job of paying homage to the horror genre while having a few laughs at its expense.

1. Oslo, August 31st

Maybe a controversial pick for my number one, but Oslo, August 31st is just a fantastic film. This Norwegian movie shows a day in the life of a recovering drug addict as he leaves his rehab center to meet with old friends and acquaintances in Olso. A visually impressive and personal film, Oslo, August 31st is a well thought out look at addiction and the effect it really has on an individual and those around him.

Most Anticipated Film of 2012: Looper

The third film from writer and director Rian Johnson, Looper, is my most anticipated movie of the year. After multiple viewings of Brick and The Brothers Bloom, I have grown to love Rian Johnson’s unique directorial style, and I am confident that he will do great things with Looper. The strong cast and kick-ass trailer have further added to my excitement for this film, and I have high hopes that this film will turn out to be spectacular.