Monday, December 17, 2012

The Best of 2012

So my mid-year expostulation becomes amended from "where are all the good movies?" to "why can't they be dispersed evenly throughout the year (and still why have there been so few)?" I did, ultimately, see many fine films this year and have not yet seen a few (i.e. "Zero Dark Thirty", "Amour", etc.) which are predominating end of the year lists but have yet to reach my area. This year, I've decided to present my picks in the same fashion of the National Board of Review, offering a Best Film of the Year in addition to ten more entries listed alphabetically. So without further adieu, here you have my favorite movies of 2012:

Best Film
Moonrise Kingdom
For his ode to first love, Wes Anderson accented what he does best and modulated the whimsical elements for which he is often assailed, resulting in a highly cinematic and completely disarming picture, which features an inimitable adult cast and an equally fine, unknown adolescent ensemble.

Top Films
The Central Park Five/The Dust Bowl
Ken Burns released two films this year, the latter in his usual style, and the former which he made with his daughter Sarah and her husband David McMahon and that bears little resemblance to any of his work. Both tell harrowing, consummately researched stories and focus largely on their human elements.

Cloud Atlas
Bizarre, incredibly ambitious, heartfelt, and entertaining The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer's adaptation of David Mitchell's sprawling novel went inexplicably through theaters without much fanfare.

Django Unchained
Tarantino returns with another exploitative, revisionist tale about a freed slave exacting vengeance on the Antebellum South. It's a wild and raucous ode to the spaghetti western, demonstrating again QT's vast knowledge of the cinema and features no less than four Oscar caliber performances from Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson.

The Do-Deca Pentahlon/The Five-Year Engagement/Jeff, Who Lives at Home
I've decided to mesh together three films into this one entry, two made by the Duplass brothers, two starring Jason Segel, and one featuring them all. These are sweet and very funny films that rose above what is usually served as comedy by Hollywood.

The Life of Pi
Ang Lee, one of the most sensitive of all directors, offers this simple, thought to have been unfilmable adaptation of Yann Martel's book, which results in one of the best uses of the 3D format and one of the most moving films of recent memory.

Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis outdo themselves again, crafting a work that stands amongst their finest, and becomes something even more. On top of a superbly-acted, historically faithful film, etc. etc., it is also an unexpectedly humorous retelling of the passing of the 13th Amendment.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Where "The Hobbit" has many viewers squirming in their seats and lighting up their cellphones to check the time, this protracted crime thriller held my gaze, almost inexplicably, for its lengthy, hypnotic duration.

At 74, Ridley Scott revisited "Alien" territory and offered one of his finest films in a longevous career, which was also among the year's most divisive. It's clear what side I'm on.

Promised Land 
Gus Van Sant's tale of small town fracking is aware of the traps most eco-movies fall into, and crafts an informative, fair, and entertaining drama featuring fine performances from Matt Damon and John Krasinski (who both coauthored the screenplay) and the great Frances McDormand.

Silver Linings Playbook
David O Russell's followup to "The Fighter" tells of another dysfunctional family, this one about a manic depressive, not realizing the love of his life is right in front of his eyes, and his father who becomes aware that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.