This has been one extraordinary year for film. Similar to the 2010 season but definitely superior, there have been plenty of offerings that send a strong consideration for the end of the year Top Ten list. Considering there were so many good films, I decided to extend my list from 10 to 15, and then from 15 to 20. I know, it’s a complete wussy move, but honestly, you all would’ve done the same in my position. So screw you. Anyways, let’s get to the best films of 2012 starting from #20 to #11.
I know, I know, I know. Prometheus is a film that is truly flawed, filled with plot hole after plot hole, and really a film that asks a ton of questions but answers none of them. And not completely being certain what state my mind was in when I saw Prometheus, it’s a good enough excuse for me to state my appreciation for Prometheus. It’s a beautiful film to look at, especially in IMAX 3D. The questions they do ask in the film are genuinely important, and though the execution of its purpose and the involvement of all the characters are questionable at best, I appreciated a director’s big epic push to revive a dying genre. It’s obviously not a perfect film, but it’s one of the most entertaining films of the year, and I’ll stick to my opinion, though this blog may not continue after the backlash.
19. Bully (Documentary)
As is almost every year, this was a great season for documentaries. There are some that I haven’t seen including Central Park Five and West of Memphis, but the documentaries I’ve seen are all incredibly powerful, but also devastating. Bully (also known as The Bully Project), is a film that I think we all can relate to as the title should be quite self-explanatory. Following certain students in high school and their difficulties making friends and being accepted, it’s a dark and cruel experience watching these young kids suffer from a place that should be safe and protected. Some of these stories are truly heartbreaking, and the effects of bullying has an unfortunately strong impact on kids, forcing them to make unfortunate decisions affecting not only themselves and their future, but everyone else around them. It’s an emotional watch, creating an urgency in our systems to protect students, especially those constantly being violated and psychologically tortured. Bully is an exceptional film.
Another film that is relatable to bullying, Chronicle is one of those early in the year surprises that just stick with you. It’s a small budget super hero, high school, troubled kid…type of movie, that is done well and executed to its strongest potential. There have been plenty of films trying to do more and outspends exponentially, but like any teacher of film will explain to you, you must create characters that we care about. In Chronicle, we have a story of three friends given an extraordinary gift, and we witness what happens when these powers can be misused and taken advantage of. It’s one of the found-footage type films, and though I’m getting extremely tired of this beaten “creativity” that’s constantly being used in Hollywood, this is one of those rare exceptions. Chronicle is fun and exciting, and it grabs your attention and refuses to let go until the credits roll.
17. The Invisible War (Documentary)
The Invisible War, another powerful documentary, is surrounded on the issue of rape in the U.S. Army, uncovering a major issue that has been around ever since the inclusion of women in our country’s fighting regime. I’m not going to lie, just like Bully, it’s a difficult film to watch. Though much more hidden and secluded than bullying, this is as disturbing but necessary, understanding that these individuals who fall victim to sexual violence need as much support and help it can get in revealing a cruel problem. The thing about documentaries is that these are (well most of the time) real people and real situations. You can feel their pain and sorrow, and the stories and experiences these victims have are one to be known all across this country. The Invisible War is very important. And just like Bully, it can instill support for a movement that needs awareness and progress.
16. Safety Not Guaranteed
I love indie films, mainly because we get stories that most studios will deem too risky and ambitious, staying with the safe and usual crap they send our way each year. But that’s why we all love indie films, because they are adventurous, willing to take us on a journey that we’ve never seen before. Safety Not Guaranteed is one of those films, as it’s based of a premise somewhat ridiculous, but reaching an achievement that somewhat cannot be explained. The story of an intern finding a potential story about man who can travel back in time but is in of assistance..yes I know, sounds crazy indeed. But there’s so much more heart and soul to this film than you would’ve originally thought. It’s borderline heart breaking, extending its invitation longer and longer. The films cuts off at a moment where you wish it would continue, but that’s what all good films do: it makes you want more. Safety Not Guaranteed is a great indie film, and also one of the better films of 2012.
Compliance, another strong indie film, is one of those real-life situational horror films that’s slowly excruciating to watch as these characters are put into worse and worse predicaments. Based on real events, it follows a fast food restaurant and some of the workers, as an individual who calls the manager as a police officer, pushing her to keep one of their workers in isolation as she is being accused of stealing money from a customer. This whole problematic situation goes from haunting to flat out terrifying, struggling with the idea that this actually did happen. Ann Dowd, who plays the manager and is in consideration for an Oscar nomination, is the heartbeat of this film, playing the difficult role of pursuer but with innocence. There needs to a balance in her performance, giving the audience belief and understanding of her actions without giving away the identity of a sell-out. Compliance works, and just like Safety Not Guaranteed, is a film someone wanted to take a chance on.
Robert Zemeckis’ Flight, starring Denzel Washington, is an extraordinary film solely based on a man’s life hinging on substance abuse. He has no family, barely any friends and his inner demons control almost everything about him. Through an unforeseeable situation that provides him heroic status, those demons come out in ways no man wishes their inner secrets would, and it’s the struggle between letting our worst define our individuality and character that dominates Flight. It’s not necessarily the film we might’ve expected, but it’s definitely the best product, using the strength of your star and the script as the main components. Washington has never been better, and his performance really moves us, as he’s manipulated our feelings with remorse and pity. Flight takes off an unreal sequence, but it never fades away, soaring higher and higher and feeling completely safe that this film is going to reach its final destination.
13. The Raid: Redemption
Simply put, The Raid: Redemption is the best action film of 2012. Though I am a complete amateur in the genre, I can easily say that this is the best martial arts film I’ve ever seen. Working with a very simple plot (extremely similar to Dredd 3D), it’s a nonstop thrill of a movie, never slowing down. The fight scenes are truly mesmerizing to see, and it has got some of the most brutal choreography I’ve ever witnessed. It’s a film that constantly gives and gives, pleasing the audience to a degree no martial arts film of recent knowledge has provided. The final fight between three characters is one for the ages, and is the final touch to a film placing its legacy on notice. Thank you The Raid: Redemption.
12. The Perks of Being A Wallflower
The Perks of Being A Wallflower is as honest of a film as it gets. Especially in dealing with the life of a high schooler, it’s complete devotion to its material is refreshing and original. Adapted by the author of the book with the same title, it makes a seamless transition, focusing on the three friends and their struggles, relying on their needed relationships to get them through the year. Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller are all great in their title roles, having us believe in their chemistry and personalities. It’s a warm film at times and it’s also a heartbreaking film at times, but it all works together, relating the themes and ideas it provides in a working equation. The Perks of Being A Wallflower is an underrated film, and hopefully it will get its recognition years down the road.
Argo is just pure filmmaking at its best. It doesn’t do anything out of the blue, or does it try to be something it’s not. Based of the true story of five Americans trapped in Iran, it’s a movie that can only be based off a true story. It’s ridiculous and unreal, but the direction of Ben Affleck and its wonderful cast take us on this extraordinary journey. Everything in this movie works well, and it delivers a great and entertaining punch right from the get-go. I appreciate its honesty and its neutral position in the political matter, only focusing on the plot and the characters at hand. It’s also a tribute to classic films and movie making, truly relying on its writing and direction and nothing more. It’s one of the most intense films of the year, really making you sit on the edge of your seat, though you know what’s going to happen in the end. One of the best films of the year and definitely going to make its mark during the Awards season, Argo deserves all the recognition it receives.
Come back tomorrow to see my top ten films of 2012.