I must first apologize for it taking so long to create this list. The holidays are always busy, and after viewing a couple more films, it got a little complicated finalizing my top ten films 0f 2012. Like I said, it’s been amazing year for films, and it has definitely been extremely difficult to create a list like this. But it must be done, and enough of this banter. Here are my top ten films of 2012!
10. 21 Jump Street
21 Jump Street is the best comedy of the year. And though that doesn’t guarantee a spot in the top ten every year, 21 Jump Street is a perfect example of a well-written hilarious comedy where the characters, stories and the lines all work together. Being up there as one of the more quotable films like Anchorman and Zoolander, the duo of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum worked liked mint, proving their chemistry and ability to improv in certain situations. It’s not an Oscar film, but we need films like this, especially when it has become even more difficult to create great comedies. 21 Jump Street is that and much more, proving it self to be remembered for a long time. Let’s hope the sequel works just as well.
9. Ruby Sparks
Another example of an Indie film that made its mark in the year 2012, Ruby Sparks, from the creators of indie sensation Little Miss Sunshine, is a great American novelist film, focusing on the magical ride of a writer looking for inspiration, but finding it through his implausible situation of creating the love of his life through his typewriter. Though it sounds ridiculous, it’s a beautiful film, discussing the idea of true love, and how a relationship is based on two individuals fighting and working for each other, rather than one fitting the bill for the other. It’s done so well, and the work Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan (writer) is marvelous to watch. Its literature is profound, and the movie is an inspiration to all writers out there.
8. The Master
Paul Thomas Anderson is one of my favorite directors working today, and his latest work, The Master, highlights his ability to capture characters in a unique setting. Just like his award-worthy work in There Will Be Blood, The Master is focused on friendship between Freddie Quell and Lancaster Dodd, who is a religious pseudo-intellectual whose ideas and beliefs enlighten Quell. The film, which has been criticized for a lack of story or structure, is mesmerizing to watch, mainly because of its lack of cliche mechanism and story-telling. It most likely won’t get as much Oscar attention as it deserves, but hopefully the cast will, specifically Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. It’s a very diverse film experience, asking questions about humanity, religion, the search for soul and the experiences that we all suffer from. Not everyone will enjoy this film, and some may actually hate it, but for me, it was an experience to behold, unraveling in its beauty and wonders.
7. Beasts of The Southern Wild (tie)
If you haven’t noticed, I love indie films. And like I said before, the reason for it is because it takes chances. Stories that you would never see come to life from studio green-lit films, Beasts of The Southern Wild is one of those films that would only be produced through an independent financier. And how thankful we all should be for this opportunity. Based on the premise regarding a father-daughter household living in run-down, poverty-stricken area called The Bathtub, is a stunning film, focused on the growth and maturity of a girl taking control of her own world. It’s a coming of age story that you’ve never really seen before, through the eyes of a young girl, that is physically and emotionally tough. It’s somewhat difficult to explain, but it must be experienced. One of those films that deserves all the attention it’s been getting, I hope to see it get even more publicity through the Oscar circuit.
7. The Impossible (tie)
This was a difficult to put on this list just because it wasn’t originally on my list. I didn’t get to watch The Impossible until this past Thursday, but what a powerful film it was. I put this with Beasts of The Southern Wild mainly because it has a similar theme in the power of family through tragedy, but The Impossible is a very different film. Though it’s far from perfect and somewhat manipulative in the kind of emotions it’s trying to bring out from the audience, I still couldn’t ignore it’s power and scale. Based on the remarkable true story of the Nolan’s and their separation in the Indian Ocean tsunami, it embraces the power in love and how life, no matter how difficult or distressing, family will always empower the will of any individual. Sometimes these characters make stupid decisions, and it blew my mind the situations they would encounter, but I forgave, mainly because no film of 2012 made me as emotional as The Impossible. It’s nearly impossible (…) to go through this movie without tearing up, and if you watch, you’ll understand why.
Look out for Rian Johnson, one of the up and coming filmmakers of this generation. He makes conceptual films without strong character development, and Looper is no exception. One of the more creative and inventive films I’ve seen in a while, it takes a beaten tool (time traveling) and switches it on its head, not centralizing it, but applying it to a story that utilizes it to its full potential. Looper, centered on Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is an original science fiction film, applying the basic structures of story telling, but also adding an exquisite narrative never seen. Looper is a great film from a great writer/director, and hopefully Looper gives Johnson the full open doorway to future projects.
5. Zero Dark Thirty
The most controversial film of 2012, Zero Dark Thirty is getting hit from both the left and right, and unfortunately so. This is a great film. Regardless of its political context or it’s potential support for torture (which it is definitely not), Zero Dark Thirty, written by Mark Boal and directed by Kathyrn Bigelow, is an exceptional film marked by incredible acting and writing. It’s a true journalistic experience, just like All The President’s Men, and deserves to have the same merits as the American classic. Fueled by Jessica Chastain’s performance as Maya, we really see a powerful film on the fight against terrorism and the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the practices of torture, but the overall change in American strategy and motivation. Why people can’t see the truth of this film is beyond me, but ignoring all this controversy, it’s a great film worthy of being in the top five.
4. Moonrise Kingdom
First love. So simple. So innocent. And yet so difficult to get right. But Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom is a classic, completely engulfed in the nature of love at a young age. I raved about Moonrise Kingdom when I first saw it this summer, and though the fall season has released some excellent candidates, this film has stuck with me through the end of the year. Anderson has a knack of trending with his artistic value and storytelling, and though it has become more tiresome than trendy in his last few outings, it works incredibly here. Mainly because the quirkiness and essence of Wes Anderson is now the nature of the film, but the nature of the film works with his quirkiness and essence. The characters and the story are all part of this world, and it all comes together better than any of his other films. I loved Moonrise Kingdom, and I hope Anderson continues to make films like this.
3. Life of Pi
This was as difficult of a choice as ever. The top three films of the year were interchangeable, and I went all political on this list, meaning that the film that I most likely will love the most in 2012 was placed in the three spot. I know, this is stupid. But let’s discuss the achievement Life of Pi is. Ang Lee is definitely a director that deserves to be regarded as one of the best, and adding this film to his resume only suggests this notion. Life of Pi is a beautiful film, both visually and spiritually, allowing the two to be unified through a grand vision. Only a few directors can accomplish such work, and considering Life of Pi was considered an impossible film to transition into the screen, it’s adds more to Lee’s abilities and work. The film works in many different ways, and one can interpret it through multiple levels, and that’s when you know you have a great film. Life of Pi is all of this and more, becoming one of the greats of 2012.
2. Django Unchained
Easily the most entertaining film of 2012, and what else do you expect from Quentin Tarantino? Django Unchained is just great fun, bringing on this journey through an extremely difficult time, and flipping it on its head and becoming one of the most enjoyable films Tarantino has ever made. Everything works beautifully here, especially the cast, delivering knock out performance after performance from numerous actors. Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson put in worthy performances, and easily will see nominations, at least for Waltz and DiCaprio. Though it may be difficult to watch at times, it provides a unique narrative rarely touched by Hollywood. Only Tarantino can use historical eras like slavery and Nazi Germany and provide such engaging and exciting movies. Here’s to a great filmmaker and a great film.
Like I said before, this was definitely the hardest decision to make, considering there were so many worthy choices, but bringing it down to the number one film of the year, there was no other film that was as important and worthy of the number one spot than Lincoln. Obviously it’s a film that effects people differently, but being from a historically-intrigued background, it worked for me on so many levels. From the importance of the 13th Amendment to the all around cast, Lincoln is Spielberg’s best work since Saving Private Ryan, realizing the need to take a step back from his overpowering hand, and relying on his actors to take charge of the film. And when you’re in the hands of such amazing veterans like Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones, there’s nothing else he can do but watch the marvel of these actors. What came down to Lincoln being the number one film of 2012 mainly came from it’s importance. Life of Pi effects me in such personal ways through my spiritual and religious interests. Django is just great entertainment. But Lincoln is more than just entertainment. It’s a film focused on its material and the issue at hand, not trying to grab our sympathy or attention through tricks, but attaching the audience through the necessary component of unity and determination of something we needed at the time. Lincoln is a masterpiece, trusting in all its elements and combining it into a force of nature politically, morally and ethically. Spielberg is back to his masterful ways and Lincoln is the best film of 2012.