Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dactyl's 2012 Movie Roundup

Okay, I know we agreed to just do a Top 10 list, but I couldn’t resist a more thorough write-up. Here are my takes on all of the films I’ve seen this year, with a countdown of the Top 10 at the end. If you’re feeling brave, read on :]

Disclaimer: I’m kind of a movie nut, so I have lots of opinions. However, I’m also kind of an idiot, so keep in mind that these are just personal preferences.

Potentially great movies that I haven’t gotten the chance to see yet:

  • The Hobbit (I really wanted to love this movie as much as I love the Lord of the Rings, but it just wasn’t even close. Okay, the last hour was pretty enjoyable, but not enough to make up for all the tedium leading up to it.)
  • Les Miserables (Yikes. I’m not sure how Tom Hooper managed to de-beautify this music, but it happened, and the movie really suffered. Acting-wise, the performances were quite good, but live singing by non-professionals just doesn’t work.)
  • The Avengers (Meh)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man (Amazingly meh)
  • Prometheus (Has easily the most disgusting birth scene ever; also kind of boring)
  • Snow White and the Huntsman (Terrible)
  • Brave (Omg, that little girl was such a bitch)
  • The Vow (Liking A Walk to Remember is shameful enough, thank you very much)
  • This Means War (Okay, I admit I cracked up a few times when I watched this on the plane. But I blame that on the altitude, because this movie was pretty bad.)
  • The Five-Year Engagement (STAY AWAY)
Pleasant surprises:
Honorable mentions:
Beasts of the Southern Wild
I’ve seen a lot of movies, but this one is something completely unique. It’s not the easiest to watch though – I would describe it as the film equivalent of a free verse poem. Also features some of the coolest original music I’ve ever heard in a movie.
Django Unchained
Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve watched a Tarantino movie all the way through, and it was actually pretty good. Sure, there was some distasteful gore, and the movie could have been about half an hour shorter. But there were also some really funny moments, and I thought the overall story was pretty cool.

Top 10 Favorites

I’m going to be totally honest: When I first saw the poster for this movie, I thought it was about Driver’s Ed. But then Saurus assured me that it’s actually really good, and, of course, she was right. Even though the reporters-stalk-time-traveller premise seems strange at the beginning, all of the plot points cleverly tie together by the end. More importantly, though, the movie is populated by interesting characters who quietly evoke a sense of empathy, and it’s through these people that the story manages to stay grounded in all its quirkiness.

Funny and fun and The Breakfast Club and SINGING! It’s so easy to go wrong with a premise that’s basically “Glee: The College Years”, but Pitch Perfect manages to exceed expectations with its endlessly quippy lines and confident attitude. Sure, it’s not quite as sharp as the classics in this genre (i.e. Clueless, Mean Girls), but it definitely hits the spot like a warm cookie from Foco.

8. Looper
At first, this movie seems like it’s just going to mess with your mind like Inception; however, the basic theme – violence and urban poverty create an endlessly vicious cycle – is actually quite simple. Looper weaves its time travel element into an intelligent, well-written action film, cleverly touching upon reality-based social issues along the way.

7. Argo
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what makes Argo so good; it’s just a solid, solid movie. Thrilling and smart and even funny at times, the movie is incredibly enjoyable to watch. Ben Affleck, who knew? And if you didn’t like it, well, then, “Argo f**k yourself”.

Moonrise Kingdom is an indie gem that really stands out, even in a year filled with great studio films. The movie has a light touch, but it doesn’t feel insubstantial, and its deadpan humor is absolutely hilarious. The two 12 year-old leads are incredible; you’re rooting for them the entire time. Plus, even though the movie was clearly made on an indie budget, it looks really good, like some kind of HD video Instagram.

Like watching a brilliantly executed play, with the added bonus of film’s detail and immersion. Everything is really classy and excellent, with Daniel Day-Lewis once again demonstrating his skills as an acting savant. Right now, this would be my prediction for Best Picture at the Oscars in February.

Epic, dude, epic. TDKR is a great ending to a great trilogy, closing the book on Christian Bale’s Batman and cementing his legend in Gotham and in cinematic history. Somehow, despite my sky-high expectations, I was impressed yet again.

I’m still in awe of this novel’s creative, compelling plot. But even moving beyond Suzanne Collins’ original story, The Hunger Games film adaptation nails it, producing a thrilling blockbuster that’s also wonderfully subtle and nuanced. Jennifer Lawrence grounds the film with depth and emotional honesty (sidebar: she is a goddess and I might be in love with her), and it’s telling that I’ve seen this movie 3 times and cried twice each time (reaping scene and Rue’s death, natch).

Subtly funny, heartbreakingly sad, and tremendously poignant, this is the kind of story that feels like it’s changing your life as you watch it unfold. In particular, Logan Lerman’s performance as Charlie really makes this film. (He reminded me of Joseph Gordon-Levitt in 50/50, actually, and I mean that as the highest compliment.) I’m not sure how different the experience would have been if I had read the book first; regardless, this movie is absolutely extraordinary.

There are few things I love more than a fresh, meaningful, sweet, genuinely funny romantic comedy, and this is a great one. The story is so compelling and the dialogue feels so natural that it’s not until the end credits that you realize “oh yeah, this boils down to a classic boy-meets-girl plot”. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence make a true power couple – we all know that J-Law is the best actress of her generation, but Cooper really delivers as main character Pat. The movie centers on his mental illness and how it affects various relationships, tracing his heartwarming journey to find the silver linings in life. Go see it!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome post! I have a few movies to add to my must-see list now. I still don't understand how you managed to watch that many new movies in one year though. (26?!)