The Best Movies of 2012
|Quvenzhané Wallis as Hush Puppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild|
10. Flight (Directed by Robert Zemeckis; Starring Denzel Washington, Kelly Reilly, Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood and John Goodman)
Flight is a good movie. That's all I can really say. I went in expecting something else and got what I got. Robert Zemeckis has never made a movie quite like this, which is interesting. He has been on that motion-capture animation kick for awhile, and I can't say what drew him to this picture. Denzel Washington does great work here and certainly deserves his Oscar nomination. He plays a really bad alcoholic and addict, who at the start of the film, rolls out of a hotel bed, lights up a Winston, swigs a warm High Life, toots two major gaggers of coke, dresses up and flies a commercial jet from Miami to Atlanta. To add to the already fueled up tone, Mr. Zemeckis then directs one of the most suspenseful 20 minutes of movie you could ask for as CaptainWhip Whitaker (Washington) maneuvers this machine out of imminent disaster and into a safe-ish landing. What ensues is the investigation of the crash. After the glorious, tense opening, though, this movies slows down greatly and becomes a study of alcoholism and addiction. It has its moments, and John Goodman is great as the comic relief.
9. Argo (Directed by Ben Affleck; Starring Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, and John Goodman)
At this point, I'd say this is the movie poised to win the big prize at the Oscars in a couple weeks. It just won the BAFTA, and Ben Affleck is winning awards left and right. As a director, he got no love from the Academy, and I'm not sure why. This is, above all, a very well-directed movie. Argo is essentially a movie about two things: the movie business and international terrorism. In 1979, a group of American Embassy employees stationed at the embassy in Iran escape the uprising by seeking refuge in the home of the Canadian Ambassador. Affleck play CIA man, Tony Mendez. His mission: sneak the Americans out of Iran. His method: pretend to make a Hollywood sci-fi movie and smuggle the Americans out as players in a Canadian film crew. This movie is suspenseful and tense and often funny, thanks to Alan Arkin and John Goodman as the Hollywood guys, who help Mendez find a script and a front company to make it seem legit. A side note: my fiance is in love with Ben Affleck.
8. Lincoln (Directed by Steven Spielberg; Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt)
Steven Spielberg's Lincoln opens with a beautiful scene. President Lincoln (the man, the myth, the legend, Daniel Day-Lewis) engages several Union soldiers in an Army camp in conversation. They end up trying to recite "The Gettysburg Address," poorly. Then, a black soldier joins the conversation, speaks to the President beautifully and eloquently and perfectly finishes the brilliant ending of the famous speech. It is a beautiful opening. Then, as the film shifts to political discussions with Secretary of State William Seward (Davis Strathairn), I became incredibly confused. I felt like I should've been so lucky as to have had a decent American History teacher in my life, for I was lost. I have to say, though, that eventually I caught on and caught up and this became an incredibly enthralling and beautiful movie once again. It is those things while simply being the story of the President trying to wheel and deal to pass the 13th Amendment, ending slavery and the Civil War.
7. Django Unchained (Directed by Quentin Tarantino; Starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson)
The poster to your right is really cool. However, I'm confused. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is NOT in this movie. I just checked. That's not the point, though, and I'm going to use the poster anyway. I feel like Tarantino would appreciate a fan-made poster of that caliber. Anyway, this movie is unbelievably violent. That's all I could think after I left. Most of Tarantino's movies have violence. Kill Bill is actually bloodier. But the violence in this movie seems real. I think that has to do with the subject matter involved...slavery. Django (Jamie Foxx) is a recently freed slave in the years just before the Civil War. Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) is the bounty hunter who frees him. They embark together on a Western journey of revenge that is entertaining and funny and everything you would expect from a Tarantino movie. This is not one of the Q man's best, though. It's great, just as they all are, but it's just too long and too much. There were times when I could barely watch the brutality no matter how well-done it was. I wish he'd been a little more precise in the editing room, but I will own this on Blu-Ray as soon as I'm able.
6. Looper (Directed by Rian Johnson; Starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt)
The trailer for this movie is great. It gives you nothing. I went into Rian Johnson's Looper thinking I knew what it was all about. I was dead wrong. This is an unstoppable entertainment involving two of my favorite things: Bruce Willis and time-travel. In this movie, as the trailer suggests, we are invited into a future where mob guys hire "Loopers" to stand in a field and wait for a time-traveling target to appear, and then blow him away with a shotgun. Eventually, it becomes clear that one day your "loop will be completed," and you will be faced with killing your future self. That pretty much sums up the first 20 minutes of the movie. I won't even begin to get into it any further. It is brilliant and mind-blowing and must be seen.
Note: You should also see Rian Johnson's first film Brick, a neo-noir set amidst the lives of high school students.
Still to come: beasts, tigers with human names, pre-teen love, football fans, and hippies.