When it comes to movies last year things generally sucked. For every Drive there seemed to be five Green Lanterns and Transformers laying in wait. For the most part things felt stagnant in the movie theater. Maybe the studios saw this. Maybe the studio heads bought into the Mayan Doomsday and decided to go out with a bang. Heck maybe it was just dumb luck. No matter what the reason theaters seemed to always have something great in store for movie goers this year. Still there can only be a few that can be considered the best and that’s why I’m here. So lets have a quick look at the best that 2012 had to offer.
Horror has had a rough go of things the past few years. While we have gotten the occasional gem (Hatchet and Stake Land come to mind) these are far out numbered by useless sequels (Saw 3D), even more useless remakes (A Nightmare on Elm Street) and poor found footage movies (The Devil Inside). Along comes V/H/S to remind us that not only found footage but horror as a whole is still a viable and creative genre. An anthology film V/H/S uses the video camera motif to its advantage and delivers several scary and satisfying tales of terror. V/H/S is an absolute must see for anybody disenfranchised with the current state of horror.
#4- The Dark Knight Rises
A lot of people disliked The Dark Knight Rises which honestly I totally understand. Whether the complaints are based around logic or the classic “THAT ISN’T BATMAN!” argument I get it. That doesn’t change the fact that I loved the movie. To me it was as perfect as you could get when it comes to completing the overall arc of the Dark Knight trilogy. Not only that but any logic missteps can easily be glossed over in one word; Bane. Barring one contender later on the list he is far and away the best villain of the past year. Strong yet intelligent, cunning and brutal, he was the perfect foil for the Caped Crusader. This as well as Christopher Nolan’s always entertaining visual style make for a great movie. Now can I say it is as good as The Dark Knight? No. But I feel that despite the flaws there are more than enough reasons to return to Gotham.
#3- The Raid: Redemption
Earlier this year I wrote a review for The Raid: Redemption in which I stated that it not only had some of the best action scenes of not only the year but some of the best I have ever seen. I stand by that claim. In a year dominated by superheroes, the stars of old the action and hardly-visible-quick-cuts The Raid is able to steal the show with its beautiful mix of martial arts and weapons. Well worth a view for any fan of Asian cinema, martial arts or ass-kickery in general.
#2- The Avengers
There are a lot of reasons to love The Avengers. It is, without hyperbole, what a summer blockbuster should be. But personally there is one main reason why The Avengers is great; it shouldn’t have happened. Over the years we have seen some amazing superhero movies (Iron Man, Captain America, Batman Begins, Blade). Heck we have seen sequels that surpass the first (X2: X-Men United, The Dark Knight, Blade 2). But inevitably things fall off a cliff. Whether it is a director leaving (X-Men: The Last Stand), studio meddling (Spider-Man 3) or just plain sucking (Blade: Trinity) build up just doesn’t work out. Then comes Marvel with a grandiose idea of not only creating a movie universe but lead up to a cinematic team up of all of their big names. A cameo here, a post-credit scene there, the whole thing was set up beautifully. Hopes were high for The Avengers and defying all odds it more than delivered. Geek-favorite Joss Whedon “got” the characters and more than delivered a satisfying movie for both comic and non-comic readers. Add some jaw dropping special effects, compelling performances and a version of The Hulk you can care about and you have what every summer blockbuster should be.
#1- Django Unchained
I know this sounds like nothing more than a corny sound bite but this is probably the best of Tarantino. Let me rephrase that; this is everything Tarantino is known for (witty dialogue, over-the-top violence, captivating characters) distilled into one perfect package. Honestly this is the hardest for me to write about. The action isn’t revolutionary nor are there childhood heroes come to life. It is just an amazing movie. All I can really say is just see it. If for no other reason than the fact that you can see a movie with Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio set to a mash up of James Brown and Tupac. That alone is well worth admission.
Now I know I have missed some movies. In particular those those with greater critical acclaim such as Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall. To be honest those probably should be on the list. Here’s the thing, you know they’re good movies. You’ll see tons lists declaring why Life of Pi is a visual splendor or some smarmy critic making a Gigli joke while talking about Argo. Do you really want that again?