Top 10 of 2012
Here it is, folks. My top ten movies of 2012. As always, there are films missing from this list based on the fact that I simply couldn’t get to every film I wanted to see this year (and some potential award-winning films haven’t been released here yet!). But, overall, it has been a pretty strong year for film.
10. West of Memphis
This documentary has not been released yet here in Winnipeg, but I had the pleasure of seeing the documentary at the Toronto International Film Festival. It’s an extraordinarily important film about the West Memphis Three: Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jesse Misskelley, Jr., who were wrongfully imprisoned for years for the murders of three young boys. While all three men are free today, they have not been exonerated: they were released as the result of an Alford plea, which means that the convictions remain on their records. It’s a film that will make you angry, and it will make you cry, but the strength of these three men and the passion of their supporters will move you.
I was shocked by this film. The humour was dark (it had to be, since it was about the end of the world!), but somehow I was not expecting it to be nearly as moving as it was. Steve Carell and Keira Knightley have amazing chemistry and make a beautiful odd couple. It’s a strange little road trip film, but it is also immensely moving and lovely. The more I thought about the film, the more I loved it.
Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the best actors working today, without question. He becomes Lincoln and gives a commanding performance. While advertised as a biopic, it is more of a political thriller about the passing of the 13th amendment. Steven Spielberg did a fantastic job directing the film, and the strong supporting cast helps to make the film tense and moving.
The Dark Knight Rises was a fitting end to my favourite film trilogy. Christopher Nolan created three fantastic Batman films. Anne Hathaway was a surprisingly good Catwoman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was brilliant in his supporting role. I did have some problems with Tom Hardy as Bane: he was physically imposing and intimidating, but his voice was absolutely terrible.
While it does lack the re-watchability of The Avengers, we were still spoiled with two fantastic superhero films in 2012.
Seven Psychopaths was the funniest film I saw this year. The humour is unbelievably dark, and I think I’ll need to watch it a few more times to catch all of the jokes – which is truly the mark of a great comedy. The ensemble cast was great and I’d love to see Christopher Walken receive a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, which I doubt will happen, unfortunately.
5. The Avengers
The Avengers was, without a doubt, the most fun I’ve had at the theatre in years. It was so fun, in fact, that I saw it four times in theatres and caught new things every time I watched it. The ensemble cast is excellent and Joss Whedon directed it perfectly. I watched it yet again on Christmas and many sequences still wow me, even after seeing it so many times. Marvel has shown the world how to create an ensemble superhero film.
Argo confirmed a belief that I’ve held for awhile: Ben Affleck is a far better director than actor. That being said, he holds his own as an actor within the film. It’s the true story of how the CIA and Canadian diplomats (and the Canadian government) work together to save six Americans trapped in Tehran in 1979. It’s an odd story, but one that uses humour to good effect. The final sequence is unbelievably tense and very well done.
Looper was a brilliant science fiction film, and director and writer Rian Johnson really makes the concept of time travel work. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis were excellent and the moral issues presented within the film will leave you thinking long after the film ends. There is one sequence in the film that is so shocking that I still think of it now – months after seeing it.
This is where my love for animation comes in. I adore animated films, and Wreck-It Ralph is the best one Disney has done in years. John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman have beautiful chemistry, and allowed me to get really emotionally invested in the characters. They made me laugh – and cry. Fans of video games will get even more out of the film because catching cameos and the sly references to video games was so much fun.
Django Unchained is richly thought-provoking, but Quentin Tarantino manages to do the seemingly impossible yet again: make us laugh during a film about slavery. He knows when to use humour and when to make the audience uncomfortable. The performances by Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio were outstanding and their talent truly allow this film to shine. It was absolutely magnificent and I can’t wait to see it again.
Going through my list of films I’ve seen this year has made me realize that there have been many great films released in 2012. There are several other films that would have made this list in weaker years. Life of Pi and Robot & Frank would be 11 and 12, respectively. I’m eager to see the rest of the films I’ve missed from 2012, as well.
Happy New Year, everyone!