2012 in Review


Nominees that didn’t make it:
9. Lincoln-history gets hammy with plotlines like “Lincoln’s son looks at pictures of slaves”
8. Silver Linings Playbook-goes from amusing if flawed early on, to cliche-filled LOUD awfulness
7. Argo-starts strong but fades into nothing particularly interesting
6-1. See below

For Twitter length reviews click here

78. Flight
Love the flight stuff, but Denzel’s fellow drug addict is a nothing.
Favorite Moment: The flight.
77. Paradise: Faith
Not so much a portrayal of faith as it is a depiction of cartoon characters who happen to be religious and their interactions with the world, but it’s a worthy entry to the Paradise trilogy even if it doesn’t seem to take place in the same world sometimes, with Anna’s isolation from almost everyone else and her husband breaking her bubble causing a world of meltdowns.
Favorite Moment: The waddling around the apartment.
76. The Unspeakable Act
Subtly hilarious, and despite the whole film being built upon incest, it’s not a very sexual film, with even the attraction from the sister to her brother feeling like something she wants to do because she can’t rather than a genuine attraction.
Favorite Moment: The reveal to the therapist about the incestous feelings.
75. Ginger and Rosa
Has a very reserved sort of intelligence that I found relatable, with the kitchen sink realism being a perfect fit the Cold War bomb paranoia that pervades most of the scenes.
Favorite Moment: Ginger’s lie about her name.
74. Simon Killer
A very uncertain sort of film, with Simon’s sociopathy being obvious from minute one but both the depths he’ll sink to and his moments of salvation are unexpected and fresh.
Favorite Moment: The finger.
73. Prometheus
Inexcusable script yet absolutely fascinating, both in terms of visuals and some of the ideas it touches upon, most effectively utilized via Fassbender and the misogyny baked into…whichever culture you want to focus on I suppose?
Favorite Moment: The abortion. Horrifying and not subtle.
72. In the House
One of the strangest takes on meta ever, with most of the intriguing material coming in the first half but the mystery’s twists ans turns are a great genre deconstruction.
Favorite Moment: The original complaints about the students’ shitty writing.
71. In Another Country
The goofiest thing Hong ever made.
Favorite Moment: The song.
70. Brave
Minor Pixar, but funny and charming, with a mother-daughter relationship that badly needed more representation in film and some really stupidly clever bear jokes.
Favorite Moment: The witch’s hilarious “leave a message” potions.
69. Killing Them Softly
Not at all subtle, but satire that bangs the gong loudly in favor of whatever it’s trying to say is always welcomed and needed. Methodically paced and written to make the laughs curdle.
Favorite Moment: The car explosion with a punchline that I won’t spoil.
68. Our Children
A relatively easy take on Jeanne Dielman (purely in terms of length), with a women’s routines and the men in her life slowly driving her insane. Watching a capable, beautifully romantic woman slowly become totally broken thanks to her adoptive father makes the coffin scene early on all the more chilling.
Favorite Moment: The song in the car.
67. Not Fade Away
Fully embraces the uncertainty of figuring out life, and all that experience from The Sopranos (complete with that ending) serves director well here.
Favorite Moment: The final dance in the street.
66. Arbitrage
Like Prisoners but with financial stuff rather than missing children. Sarandon and Marling grab every minute of airtime but it’s Gere who goes from a lion of Wall Street to a frantic, scattering mess.
Favorite Moment: Robert and Brooke’s confrontation.
65. The Hunger Games
Shouldn’t be as fun to watch as it is, with even the knowledge of the books leaving us unprepared for some of what occurs in terms of death. Genuine blockbuster fun even with warped premise.
Favorite Moment: Tracker jackers. Even more nightmarish than the book.
64. Compliance
Has structural issues but it’s too intelligent to get bogged down by that, with the actors playing it for keeps and the screenplay forcing us to take a good hard look at ourselves.
Favorite Moment: The initial reactions to the phone call.
63. ParaNorman
Even at 90 minutes it feels a little long but it’s filled with charm and whimsy and some of the best stop motion animation ever. The witch ghost really does haunt.
Favorite Moment: The school play rehearsal.
62. The Raid: Redemption
Just an excuse for some truly well done action setpieces, because pretty much everything else about this movie isn’t even trying to go for a passing grade. Bless it for that.
Favorite Moment: The drug lab raid.
61. Seven Psychopaths
While I appreciate the strange spiral that is the structure of this film, some of the copouts for things like “you can’t write women!” really don’t work, although the dialogue is so damn good that all complaints are limited.
Favorite Moment: The Quaker Killer sequence.
60. Byzantium
Very Anne Rice. This is a compliment, and the use of color and a mythology that feels like something ingrained rather than invented are also to my liking.
Favorite Moment: The vortex of crows above the red water.
59. The Avengers
Marvel will destroy all of cinema via this movie’s success. I’m shockingly at peace with that anyway because this really is pure fun.
Favorite Moment: Hulk pounding Thor.
58. Django Unchained
It is NOT Tarantino’s best and shame on anyone who says that (too long) but when it’s on, it’s really on. The sound work on this film is truly something to behold anyway.
Favorite Moment: Biddle Brothers get taken down.
57. Paradise: Hope
Odd look at Lolita mythos, with the push and pull dynamic of doctor/patient + total lack of any real sexual moments imbibing this movie with a new, strange flavor.
Favorite Moment: The embrace at the lake.
56. Maniac
A remake that actually feels necessary, Maniac is superbly unpleasant but that sound mix is undeniably great stuff, full of eeriness and trapping us right there in the life of the mind.
Favorite Moment: Goodbye Horses.
55. The Master
Overrated to the point of hideousness but there’s still much to admire, namely the two leads basically trying to stab each other in the psyche and some weirdly beautiful shots.
Favorite Moment: The jail cell fight. At that point, they’re no better than the other.
54. You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
Should’ve been Resnais’ final film, as awkward as that is to say. Incredibly strange ending makes the actors’ Norma Desmondesque attempts at recapturing their glory days seem even more unusual and desperate.
Favorite Moment: The final curtain call reveal.
53. The Paperboy
Yes, this is marginally higher than The Master, sue me. I refuse to penalize a movie that features Nicole Kidman having an orgasm over a convict and dares to find it funny over a movie that does something just as campy with Joaquin Phoenix fucking a sand mermaid just because of the director or whatever.
Favorite Moment: Charlotte and Van Wetter’s prison meeting.
52. A Hijacking
Why couldn’t Captain Phillips have taken a cue from this movie? They’re totally different in their goals but A Hijacking has all of the thriller elements of the American version mixed with suspense and a look at the social dynamics of the group, rather than some vague humanizing of Barkhad Abdi.
Favorite Moment: The fishing scene.
51. The Loved Ones
Horror comedy done very well, with the screams and laughs feeling a bit more low-key and intermingled, like Brent’s voice after the bleach scene.
Favorite Moment: The crowning.
50. Neighboring Sounds
White people problems do in fact exist in Brazil. Neighboring Sounds is like a thriller where nothing happens, which is both a boon for the exploration of Brazil’s social ills in a way that even the most uneducated could understand and a con in terms of momentum.
Favorite Moment: Bia’s inability to handle the dog repellent being destroyed.
49. Frankenweenie
Third act is a hot mess but it’s one where you can play “spot the horror movie reference” even more frequently and that makes this whimsical little charmer even better.
Favorite Moment: Mr. Whiskers’ psychic poop.
48. Cosmopolis
Masterpiece or failure of adaptation or both? I have no idea but I was definitely fascinated even in my bored moments while watching this. About as enjoyable as a film that does not want to be enjoyed can get.
Favorite Moment: The diner meeting with Elise. Such perfect line readings.
47. Dark Horse
Super slight, super funny, subjectivity is broached in a played out way that still works very well here.
Favorite Moment: The hospital bed scene.
46. I Wish
Study in contrasts between childlike optimism and adultlike practicality, and they both intersect like the trains crossing each other.
Favorite Moment: The trains arrive and the wishes are made.
45. Alps
Not quite as good as Dogtooth but this is definitely a film not afraid to say something absolutely offputting yet fascinating about the nature of escapism.
Favorite Moment: The cunnilingus.
44. Snowtown
Lean, mean, genuine horror machine. Feels like what Hostel should’ve been in some ways. Humanity of cast makes morph into murder even more haunting.
Favorite Moment: Kangaroo couch. Revolting.
43. All the Light in the Sky
Very slight even for mumblecore but the characters are so lived-in and casual that they feel like people we’d love to know and hang out with, with their hangups being nicely minor yet interesting.
Favorite Moment: That shot of Jane in the blanket staring at the sky.
42. Killer Joe
Incredibly bigoted condescension, Friedkin’s sexual terror shines through, cast is pure ham and cheese on fluffy, preservative loaded white bread. Also compulsively watchable for it.
Favorite Moment: Chicken leg.
41. Chronicle
No way will I ever watch this movie’s sequel, as killing off the only truly well-drawn character in a film that had a small cast anyway makes everything afterwards feel like an aftereffect.
Favorite Moment: The magic show.
40. Excision
Campy as all out get but when you view Marlee Matlin in the same vein as John Waters/Traci Lords (with the latter actually giving a great performance!?) and give us a protagonist this delightfully gross yet relatable, I refuse to say bad things.
Favorite Moment: The cold sore kiss at cotillion.
39. Safety Not Guaranteed
Has so much potential in that script-could’ve totally justified a longer runtime to look at the time travel trip itself. And if you end it like that, why not make it ambiguous? Still enough good stuff here to hope for the success of the crew.
Favorite Moment: The opening interview.
38. The Comedy
The joke, or lack thereof, is a pretty great one that can get a little muddled in how it’s approached. Superb lead, though.
Favorite Moment: Bike ride.
37. Beyond the Hills
Bit too long but most of it is justified by the two fantastic leads and the increasingly claustrophobic setting of the convent and the slow reveals of just how horrible everyone in the film is.
Favorite Moment: The sin list. Hello, Catholic guilt.
36. The Cabin in the Woods
A film where it pays off to be ahead of the script? A risky venture but one made worth it by how it works so well, both on its own and a modern response to Scream.
Favorite Moment: The reveal of the Director.
35. The Kid With a Bike
A realist fairy tale, with the charms of the two leads doing most of the work even with the Dardennes turning in strong work.
Favorite Moment: The picnic.
34. Anna Karenina
Loved the concept more than the execution even if both were great. Not nearly theatrical enough though. More theater gimmickery!
Favorite Moment: The dance through the frozen bodies.
33. Girl Walk//All Day
A pure joybomb of plotlessness and musical plagiarism. Just watch it and enjoy the dancing.
Favorite Moment: Chapter 6: The Creep Takes New York.
32. Les Miserables
For all of Tom Hooper’s messy direction, the movie is just ultimately too satisfying an adaptation, the one we all needed, to be as irritating as Hooper’s other work.
Favorite Moment: I Dreamed a Dream. Instantly iconic.
31. Pitch Perfect
Cliched but who cares? Rewatchability is way more fun and I could watch this all the time.
Favorite Moment: “I’ve just been shot!”
30. On the Road
Rises and falls on the back of Hedlund’s Dean, a magnet for the eyes who can do nothing to throw it away via the brilliance of his youth, even with the rapid burnout.
Favorite Moment: The Mexican dance.
29. Keep the Lights On
Some of the most irritating humans on Earth become fully deserving of audience love, with unusual erotic energy propelling us forward.
Favorite Moment: The drug breakdown.
28. Life of Pi
Damn that framing device, for the lifeboat portions of Life of Pi are entrancing both as story and visual spectacular.
Favorite Moment: The hallucinatory ocean sequence.
27. Paradise: Love
The most deeply layered and coherent of the Paradise trilogy. A fascinating look at age, physical appearance, race, love/sex dichotomy, and above all a woman.
Favorite Moment: Teresa’s love lesson with Munga.
26. Middle of Nowhere
Terrific performances and very good script, lousy compositions.
Favorite Moment: Lorraine Toussaint at the table.

For my Top 25 of 2012 click here.

BEST ACTING (Finalists in bold)
Nominees that didn’t make it (Actor):
5. Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook-yeah right @ Pat being mentally ill
4. Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln-biopic nomination for sure

Nominees that didn’t make it (Actress):
5. Naomi Watts, The Impossible-spends most of the movie looking sick
4. Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook-I AM LOUD!!!

Nominees that didn’t make it (S. Actor):
5. Alan Arkin, Argo-Argofuckyourself isn’t that funny and why does he get the credit
4. Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln-gives into Spielbergian schmaltz.
3. Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook-about as crazy as his son

Nominees that didn’t make it (S. Actress):
5. Amy Adams, The Master-doesn’t get her part at all
4. Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook-deserved a better part
3. Helen Hunt, The Sessions-warm, but in a very adequate way


Pilou Asbaek, A Hijacking
Gael Garcia Bernal, Loneliest Planet
Brady Corbet, Simon Killer
Anders Danielson, Oslo August 31st
Dane DeHaan, Chronicle
Richard Gere, Arbitrage
Jake Gyllenhaal, End of Watch
Tim Heidecker, The Comedy
Daniel Henshall, Snowtown
Garrett Hedlund, On the Road
James Howson, Wuthering Heights
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables-pure movie star charisma
Denis Lavant, Holy Motors
Logan Lerman, Perks of Being a Wallflower
Thure Lindhardt, Keep the Lights On
Michael Pena, End of Watch
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master-like a crab who aspires to be greater
Lucas Pittaway, Snowtown
Matthias Schoenaerts, Rust and Bone
Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour
Denzel Washington, Flight-clearly a competent man corrupted

Jane Adams, All the Light in the Sky
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty-not a woman, a cyborg…yet still a woman?
Emayatzy Corinealdi, Middle of Nowhere
Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
Emilie Dequenne, Our Children
Elle Fanning, Ginger and Rosa
Cristina Flutur, Beyond the Hills
Hani Furstenberg, Loneliest Planet
Greta Gerwig, Damsels in Distress
Nina Hoss, Barbara
Keira Knightley, Anna Karenina
Nadezhda Markina, Elena
Brit Marling, Sound of My Voice
AnnaLynne McCord, Excision
Robin McLeavy, The Loved Ones
Tallie Medel, The Unspeakable Act
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour-unbearably harsh to watch but always real
Kaya Scodelario, Wuthering Heights
Lea Seydoux, Farewell My Queen
Cosmina Stratan, Beyond the Hills
Margarete Tiesel, Paradise: Love
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild-charming but not an automaton
Rachel Weisz, Deep Blue Sea

Javier Barden, Skyfall
Simon Russell Beale, Deep Blue Sea
Jason Clarke, Zero Dark Thirty
Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained
Michael Fassbender, Prometheus
Dwight Henry, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Tom Hiddleston, Deep Blue Sea
Phillip Seymour Hoffman, The Master-most fascinating when what’s beneath is revealed
Samuel L Jackson, Django Unchained
Yu Jun-Sang, In Another Country
Jude Law, Anna Karenina
Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike
Aaron Tveit, Les Miserables
Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained-chews on dialogue and spits it out
Ben Whishaw, Cloud Atlas

Doona Bae, Cloud Atlas
Ann Dowd, Compliance
Jennifer Ehle, Zero Dark Thirty
Sally Field, Lincoln-want to watch her movie, full of past resentments and desperation
Sarah Gadon, Cosmopolis
Gina Gershon, Killer Joe
Macy Gray, The Paperboy
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables-she dreamed a dream, and it got killed brutally
Isabelle Huppert, Amour
Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy
Diane Kruger, Farewell My Queen
Elena Lyadova, Elena
Traci Lords, Excision
Edith Scob, Holy Motors
Lorraine Toussaint, Middle of Nowhere
Rebel Wilson, Pitch Perfect


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