My Top 25 Movies of 2012

This year has been a great year for film. I hope many of my favorites to be deservedly nominated for the coveted Oscar. It’s timely that I should share my favorites from 2012. My whacky, fun, and film-obsessed gal-pals Aurora of Once Upon A Screen ( @citizenscreen) and Paula of Paula’s Cinema Club ( @Paula_guthat) and I are about to launch an enormous Blogathon of epic proportions. More details coming out VERY soon!

Let’s look back at some of the highlights from the last 12 months in cinema. My taste in film spans in genres from the silly comedies to mega-blockbusters to indies and pretty much everything in between. You’ll notice my favorites reflect my diverse and eclectic range. In no particular order I offer up:

ARGO
– I’m confident this film will be nominated for several Oscars and may very well win Best Picture category. It’s my pick too and a real triumph for Ben Affleck’s directing skills. It’s my opinion that he directed THE TOWN (2010) very skillfully as well with his best work being behind the camera. Even though we already know the outcome, based on history; the climatic tension points are serious nail-biters. I was on the edge of my seat as the story unfolded.
LOOPER
– I really enjoyed this sci-fi thriller. It’s a more unique plot and it’s another example that Bruce Willis chooses his sci-fi vehicles well. Joseph Gordon-Levitt shows us again that he’s one of the very best young actors working today.
MOONRISE KINGDOM
– What an enjoyable coming-of-age mini journey. It is signature Wes Anderson film making; both in style and with it’s ecsquistate cast… Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, Jason Schwartz, Tilda Swinton and more. The wit is sublimely delicious.
MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS
– I won’t deny that I thoroughly enjoy the superhero flicks. Of the latest Marvel characters and blockbusters… IronMan, Thor, Hulk and Captain America- all of these and a couple more are represented in this. However, due to the mastery of Joss Whedon and his artistic story-telling ability to bring the best in character development and humor, we get SO much more than a reunion of superheroes. This movie was absolutely marvel-ous and a top-grosser with good reason.
BERNIE
-More and more, Jack Black reminds us that there’s more to him than the overt physical comedian. This film is an intriguing story about a uniquely charming yet odd character in a small town whose stand-out qualities brings compassionate support from his fellow citizens, even in the face of lies and murder. Black plays this role so superbly and with tremendous sympathy, you find yourself rooting for this exceptional character even when you know you shouldn’t. Shirley MacLaine is divine as always.
SKYFALL
– I’m a Bond girl. No, not that kind. I’ve always been a James Bond film fan. Bond films are predictable for a certain formula that’s repeated in every Bond flick. Based on Ian Fleming’s books of this strong spy character, the films may change the actors over the years but we’ve grown to expect the same evil villians, the gorgeous Bond girls, beautiful and exototic locales, fast cars, spy gadgets, and supporting cast of Q, M and Money Penny. But Skyfall stood apart from the others for me. It seemed less formula-driven and more focused on a quality action movie. All the Bond traits were present but instead of feeling like a forced formula or campy, it was simply well-done. Daniel Craig is incredibly talented and brings the raw physicality the role demands. I won’t reveal too much for those who havent seen it, but there are some wonderful nostalgia nods for us classic Bond fans, too.
YOUR SISTER’S SISTER
– This is a sweetly witty Indie film that explores the intimate play-out of the layered relationships of an aimless man, his friend and her sister. This film takes it’s time to explore the natural minutia of a love triangle and it’s well-acted with a cast that includes Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass and Rosemarie DeWitt.
LINCOLN
– Here’s another Oscar prediction for me. I believe Lincoln will be nominated for Best Picture amongst other noms and may indeed win. I wasn’t certain before seeing Lincoln if they were going to cover part or his entire life in a broad scope of specific timelines, including his assasination. SPOILER ALERT: Turns out, the plot mainly covers the behind the scenes politics regarding the 13th Admendment and his 2nd term as President. I’ve always been an ardent fan of President Lincoln and there have been many films to cover this popular President. My favorite was always Henry Fonda’s charming and funny portrayal of YOUNG MR. LINCOLN (1939). But I’m so blown away by Daniel Day-Lewis’s portrayal here that I predict that he will not only be nominated for Best Actor but will assuredly win that golden statuate, too.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
-This film is getting a great deal of Oscar buzz too- and it’s not surprising why. It’s a close look at some very real characters with some very real problems. Bradley Cooper adeptly plays a troubled soul, just released from rehab with acutely obsessive traits that centers on his cheating wife and the trauma triggered by that jarring discovery. He gets help and support from family (his father played by Robert DeNiro shows the fruit doesn’t fall very far from the tree) and friends- including a new friend played by the very talented Jennifer Lawrence. But we see that in real-life, our friends and family have their own troubles and flaws, too. On a side note, I was also pleased to see Chris Tucker included in this great cast in such a wonderful vehicle.
FRANKENWEENIE
-I was practically dragged to this film. I had low expectations going into this as I anticipated it to be some campy animated kids’ rehash of any Tim Burton production. I was actually pleasantly surprised. Yes, it’s undoubtedly trademark Tim Burton style but not in a tired and over-done way. Instead, it was a surprisingly fresh twist to the classic Burton style. It almost felt like the 1st time watching EDWARD SCISSORHANDS (1990). Despite a generally predictable plot, there are some very funny scenes and without giving away too much, I urge you to look out for a litle girl and her kitty. Hilarious and magnificent animation.
LIFE OF PI
-Unlike so many folks, I have not read this popular book so I went in with an open-mind- only assuming from trailers it has something to do with a young man curiously stuck in a boat with a tiger. I won’t give away the plot here but it was an interesting and absolutely beautiful adventure. I recommend seeing it in 3-D, as it’s worth the higher ticket price.
PARANORMAN
– This was another movie I grudgingly attended yet exited with serendipity. The animation style was unique with a nice departure from the typical Pixar/Disney fare. This story was surprisingly sweet and heart-felt for a Halloween theme with character development. It’s a great family film for most ages.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
-It’s rare when a third film in a series/franchise of mega-budget blockbuster is both financially successful and as critically acclaimed as this one. This Batman film does not dissapoint but rather delivers a roller coaster of constant action, a steady stream of plot twists and turns, dark stylings from director Chris Nolan with a solid cast of perfectly suited actors. It even has some emotionally charged moments. For a fun thrill ride, skip the pricey amusement park pass make an insignificant investment in this film.
SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS
– For me, this was the most hilarious film of 2012. I give full warning that one must possess a dark and kinda twisted sense of humor to fully appreciate the comedic genius of this. Sam Rockwell, Colin Firth and Christopher Walken are spot-on. Although the storyline can be rather fiendish, if you’re as sick-humored as myself I think you will find yourself in stiches. I honestly think this was one of the best films I’ve seen all year (in a year of many greats.)
FLIGHT
– This film takes on the gritty and uncomfortable subject of addiction, a great deal more than aviation (the opposite of what I expected from the trailers). Denzel Washington gives a stellar performance and should be nominated for Best Actor for this role. The core plot and ending was fairly predictable but Washington’s contribution makes it more than worthwhile.
HOPE SPRINGS
– I really enjoyed this movie. It was delightfully different to see such an honest and close look at intimacy of married couples in their mature years. It was less cliche than it could have been but instead took on a more respectful view of the realities and challenges of marriage deep into the hum-drum routine of decades together. Both Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are terrific. And in reference to his supporting role, I always enjoy seeing Steve Carell take on less humor-based roles as he brings a certain sensitivity with authenticity.
TED
– Raunchy yes, but damn funny. I’m a Seth McFarlane and “Family Guy” fan so I’m clearly the right audience for this level of humor. If you enjoy toilet humor with a bit of FLASH GORDON, you’ll appreciate this one.
PREMIUM RUSH
– I’ll admit this one follows a pretty predictable formula but I enjoyed the ride anyway. The pace is fast, as it should be, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivers supremely as usual. I think by now it’s obvious I am biased towards Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
LAWLESS
– I heard many critics pan LAWLESS when it was released, but I thought it was great. It takes on the story of brothers trying to deal with economic hardship and gangsters during Prohibition, on their own terms…via moonshine. Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Guy Pierce bring the stand-out performances here.
MEN IN BLACK III
-Another surprising solid third in a series. It’s definitely no Oscar contender but special effects are strong and the storyline keeps you engaged enough. Josh Brolin plays the perfect younger version of Tommy Lee Jones’ Agent K.
BRAVE
-You gotta LOVE a sassy, independently-minded, strong-willed Celtic lass with a mind of her own. Perhaps I can relate to this young lady just a bit. But I also found myself relating to the mother… in the struggle that every Mom and daughter relationship goes through as the daughter approaches the age of adulthood. There are some very funny and believable scenes of animation skill when the mother turns into a bear. A sweet family film.
THE HUNGER GAMES
– My kids read the books so we went into this film with high anticipation. Although slightly different from the book (as every film usually is), the translation still resulted in a fabulous film. The story is compelling and Jennifer Lawrence gives an especially outstanding performance.
THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL
– This witty film with a mostly British and strong ensemble cast, shares multiple characters as they each seek a better life in a renovated hotel in India. The plot is mostly light but the superior acting brings a healthy dose of heart. I found it to be delightful.
THE HOBBIT
– I just saw this last weekend and I’ll admit I’m not a big LORD OF THE RINGS fan nor did I read THE HOBBIT book. (Although I believe it was one of my Mom’s favorite books.) But I enjoyed this movie very much. It has the right balance of an adventuresome storyline, beguiling characters and a lot of action to keep the quest moving along. If you don’t want the HFR effect in 3D, there’s always the just as entertaining 2D version.
HITCHCOCK
– We went to see this just last night. I was especially anxious to see this one because I have been a hard-core fan of Hitch since childhood. I was curious to see how they would portray my beloved and obsessively quirky director. Instead of depicting the entire and prolific career of Alfred Hitchcock, most of the film focuses solely on the time he worked on one particular film… a film that made him the most famous (I’ll let you figure out that one or simply go see for yourself). But it also explores Hitch’s relationship with his wife Alma, in a more intimate and meaningful way. I loved this film and found it to be intriguing. The entire cast is wonderful. Helen Mirren gives integrity to Alma and sympathetic insight to their complex relationship. Anthony Hopkins does an uncanny Hitch portrayal- certain profile and full length shots were chilling in physical similarity. And James D’Arcy is eerily unmistakable as Tony Perkins.

In a ‘special mention’ for my top 2012 films, I’d like to note that I look forward to seeing Quentin Tarantino’s DJANGO UNCHAINED that comes out on Christmas Day. I’ll let you know if it should be worthy to add to the list. Also, It’s likely I unintentially omitted quality movies that I failed to include. This would be the result of my middle-aged brain forgetting many of the films from earlier in the year or perhaps I simply haven’t seen them yet. I’ve seen all of the films I listed above and an overwhelming majority I watched opening weekend, as I prefer with all the films that pique my interest. Hope you enjoyed my list! What are some of your 2012 film favorites ?

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Comments

  1. Great summaries, nice blog! Agree with your comments, sans our viewing of Zero Dark Thirty. On WIllis, he IS great at choosing sci-fi flicks. 12 Monkeys, The Fifth Element, Loopers. Plus I'll throw in two more that are sister genres to sci-fi…Unbreakable and 6th Sense.

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  2. True that, Gary. Yup- haven't seen Zero Dark Thirty yet so not sure how it'll rank. No doubt Bruce Willis has done WELL with sci-fi!!

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  3. I'm replying here, Kellee because I can't find the link to comment directly. Drives me crazy!HOLY SMOKES – I have seen almost nothing new this year!! Great list and recaps. I'm hoping to find a bit of time to watch a few during the break. BUT, I will say I saw TED and hated it. I don't mind raunch but I think I snickered once. Luckily, the electricity went out as the movie was about to end and I got my money back.Aurora

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  4. I just realized how many movies I've missed this year! But the ones I did see, I very much enjoyed: ARGO, LOOPER, SKYFALL and the only film I saw twice: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. LAWLESS, AVENGERS, and HUNGER GAMES are in there somewhere too. I saw THE HOBBIT at midnight and was very tired but I suspect it will end up in my Best of 2012, just like I haven't seen ZERO DARK THIRTY, but I cannot wait —Paula

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  5. TED is def not for everyone. Gotta be in a toilet humor mood & I think my humor is often not unlike a 13yr old boy's- gross & perverted. Ha Ha! Thanks for reading my list & commenting, Aurora! Maybe you'll prefer my Christmas Movie better? 😉

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  6. Paula- at least you narrowed your movie list down to the good ones! I think most of this Year's Oscars will come from Lincoln, Argo & Silver Linings Playbook. All marvelous!!

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  7. WOW! You've had a busy 2012! I haven't seen very many of these films, but I have seen some of them. Here's my takes on the ones that I've also seen:- BERNIEA co-worker of mine knew the real-life DA character when he lived in east Texas. He suggested I watch the film. I'm typically not a big Jack Black fan, but he is *so* stinkin' good in this. I've been recommending this to friends left and right lately. And it's on Netflix streaming…easy to watch in the comfort of your home.- SKYFALLI'm not a huge James Bond fan…but this was fun. I went with a group of guys (a guy's night out..we had Five Guys before the movie) to see it and we had a great time. I think Craig is the best of the 'modern' Bonds. I *loved* the opening credit sequence with Adel's song…very well done.- LINCOLNI saw this last weekend. I'm personally rooting for it to win best picture. Day-Lewis *becomes* Lincoln. I loved all the little stories he told, loved how accessible and open the White House was, love that the film showed his struggles with his wife and son. Very well done and an interesting look at the inner-workings of passing laws…it seems that not much has changed in that respect!Wow…that's it…I've only seen three that you have…yikes! I *am* going to see THE HOBBIT next weekend with the church young adults group, so maybe I can count it as four :)Regarding some of your other pics…here are some comments:- ARGOWant to see it…heard good things about it.- LIFE OF PISaw the trailer for this last weekend before Lincoln. Oh my word. this film looks so amazing…and then when the screen said that Ang Lee directed it, I was all over that. I love (almost…Hulk, really?!) everything Ang Lee touches…for YEARS…must see this! If you have the chance and haven't seen it…try Eat Drink Man Woman. It's Taiwanese with subtitles..but a very nice story.- BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTELWhen I saw the preview for this, I thought 'I have to see that'…it takes place in India right? After my trip to India it seems that I want to experience all things Indian.Sorry that was so long-winded! Enjoy the holiday time off with your family.

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  8. Your list is great. Just saw Hitchcock on New Year's Eve and LOOOVED it! Was surprised especially by Scarlett Johansen — an actress I usually can't stand –and Jessica Biel. And didn't Bruce Willis have a great year with Looper and Moonrise Kingdom?

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  9. Kellee, as you said MOONRISE KINGDOM was "signature Wes Anderson" and possibly my favorite of his films since RUSHMORE. I also loved the ensemble cast and the interlocking stories in BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL. However, SKYFALL was a disappointment for me. The plot seemed thin and the climax kept reminding me of the farm scene in THE BOURNE IDENTITY. Very enjoyable post!

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