And now for my Top 10 BEST FILMS OF 2012 list. YAAAAAAAAY!! Now please keep in mind – I was unable to see all the great movies of 2012. I haven’t seen “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” as yet (Shame on me, I know) and unfortunately “Django Unchained” isn’t coming out in Trinidad until early next year (THOSE INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS!). Now I am both a Peter Jackson and Quentin Tarantino fan, and I would’ve loved to place both films in my list. And throughout the following years, I may not fully appreciate one or two of the films currently on my list as much as I do right now. But for this moment, as it stands, these are my 10 favourite films of 2012.
BEST FILMS OF 2012
10. WRECK-IT RALPH –
We start things off with arguably the best animated film of 2012. Disney’s (and not Pixar, mind you) “Wreck-it-Ralph” centers on the title character (a video-game villain) and his quest to become a hero.The film is a visual and emotional joyride, with extraordinary video-game worlds, large doses of humour and heart, and lots of memorable characters (and I do mean, LOTS). And it pays homage to the video games of the 80s and 90s, so if you’re a gamer, you’ll LOVE this movie. But even if you don’t know half of the characters in this film (if you don’t know who Sonic the Hedgehog is, something is clearly wrong with you! I’m just saying), there’s lots to enjoy in this film. Call it the new “Toy Story” or call it the best film about video games. I call it a great movie!
9. THE RAID: REDEMPTION –
Like last year, I just had to add a foreign-language film to my Best of 2012 list. And no, it’s not an arthouse film, or a sweeping romantic drama that’ll win a bunch of awards next year. It is, however, one of the greatest examples of BADASSERY (that’s a real word….Google it) ever put to celluloid! The story is fairly basic: a 20-man Indonesian police squad is sent to an apartment block in Jakarta to take down a ruthless crime lord named Tama Riyada. But to get to the top floor where Tama resides, the police squad must get past the first 29 blocks, occupied by both residents and Tama’s henchmen. Once the plot is established, the rest of the film is a heart-pounding, gun-toting, ass-kicking, head-busting cinematic experience like no other. It can be argued that the Hollywood sci-fi action film “Dredd” (which was a really decent movie, by the way) “blatantly” stole the plot of “The Raid: Redemption”. But believe me, by the time you start watching this film, you won’t even care. The musical score composed by Linkin Park’s own Mike Shinoda is absolutely BAD-ASS, the action sequences are thrilling, well-paced and superbly directed and the martial-arts sequences are impressively-choreographed, jaw-droppingly brutal and downright fucking awesome! Like most martial-arts films, you won’t get a profound, thoughtful story with “The Raid: Redemption”. There are good guys, there are bad guys, and the good guys have to beat the SHIT out of the bad guys to win and vice versa. That’s all that matters. “The Raid: Redemption” is, by far, one of the best action/martial arts films I’ve seen this year, and it is a definite must-see for the action junkie in most, if not all, of us.
8. FLIGHT –
Denzel Washington delivers one of his most compelling performances in “Flight”, a film that you WILL be hearing about during the upcoming Oscar season. Here, he plays “Whip” Whitaker, a veteran commercial airlines pilot who miraculously prevents a malfunctioning airplane from nose-diving by flying it upside down. All but a few passengers survived the ordeal, and Whip ends up in the center of media attention. However, it’s revealed that he drank alcohol and snorted cocaine before embarking on the flight. And from there, the film becomes less about the incredible landing of the plane and more about the pilot himself. Denzel’s performance in this film is superb, to say the least. It’s amazing to see him getting fucked up over alcohol and cocaine (even though he tries repeatedly to quit the habits), yet justify his actions by stating that he was able to land the plane regardless of what he ingested. But Denzel plays Whip so sympathetically that you can’t help but feel sorry for him at times, and hope that he will eventually let go of his addictions before it’s too late. With excellent direction from Robert Zemeckis (who hasn’t directed a live-action film in 12 years, by the way) and a strong supporting acting roles from Don Cheadle, Bruce Greenwood and a scene-stealing John Goodman, “Flight” is a brilliant character study of one man’s road to a new life after cheating death in the air.
7. LINCOLN –
If Denzel Washington is on his way to getting an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, Daniel-Day Lewis will be his main competitor. The veteran British actor delivers a PHENOMENAL performance as the American president who abolished slavery in 1865. And the film itself, directed by Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg, is just as phenomenal. It doesn’t cover his entire life, but instead focuses on the last few months of his life leading to the abolishing of slavery and his tragic murder. You won’t find an abundance of Civil War battle scenes in this film and more importantly, you won’t find any slave-owning vampires in it either (*COUGH*‘Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter’ which ironically came out before ‘Lincoln’*COUGH). Instead, you’ll get great acting from a strong cast including Sally Field (who plays Mrs. Lincoln), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (who plays Abe’s son) and Tommy Lee Jones who steals EVERY scene he’s in and delivers some of the film’s most memorable lines of dialogue. If you’re looking for an axe-wielding President who kills vampires for the good of America, then you can waste your time with “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”. However, if you’re looking for a great historical film, with great acting, great directing and a great script, then “Lincoln” is indeed a must-see!
6. ARGO –
Ben Affleck’s third directorial effort is every bit as gripping and powerful as it is well-made. Also providing acting duties in this film, Ben re-creates the true story of a CIA operation to “exfiltrate” six Americans trapped in circa-1979 which involved posing as the production crew of a fake science-fiction film entitled “Argo”. Ben shines as Tony Mendez, the mission leader, and his directorial skills never cease to amaze. The supporting cast, from Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Alan Arkin (who also deserves an Academy Award nomination) bring their individual A-game to this film. In the vein of the classic Hollywood thrillers of the 1970s, “Argo” is an engaging, entertaining and emotional film, and arguably one of the year’s best.
5. LIFE OF PI –
A cinematic version of a best-selling novel rumoured to be “un-adaptable”, Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” is a visual spectacle unlike anything I’ve ever seen in my life. This film tells the story of an Indian boy (“Pi”) and his almost-yearlong ordeal on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean after a devastating storm sinks the ship that he and his family were in. Keeping him company on his adventure is a vicious, and beautifully-designed (of course it’s computer-generated) Bengal tiger. “Life of Pi” is chock-full of phenomenal, awe-inspiring imagery, and it boasts great performances, impressive computer animation and the BEST use of 3D since James Cameron’s “Avatar”. Definitely worth your time and money!
4. SKYFALL –
2012 marked the 50th anniversary of the James Bond films, and director Sam Mendes paid tribute to the greatest secret agent of all time in fine style with the AWESOME “Skyfall”. After the fucking disappointment that was “Quantum of Solace”, expectations were high for the third film starring the first blonde James Bond actor, Daniel Craig. And boy, did this film deliver the goods! The cinematography is brilliant, the acting is terrific, the story and dialogue are well-written, the villain (played by Javier Bardem) is arguably one of of the greatest in Bond movie history, and Daniel Craig reminded me once again why he is one of the best individuals to play Bond. Whether you’re a fan of the old Bond movies or the new, make sure to see “Skyfall”.
3. LOOPER –
Time travel movies are obviously hard to make. While the concept of traveling forward and back in time is easy to write on paper, the execution of it on film is rather difficult. “Looper” is one of the few science fiction films that presents a thought-provoking (and sometimes, mind-fucking) look at time travel. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays Joe Simmons, an assassin known as a “looper”, whose job is to kill targets sent to the past by a criminal organization who utilize time travel. Without giving too much away, Joe’s next target turns out to be an OLDER version of himself (played by the always bad-ass Bruce Willis). The film profoundly focuses on the consequences of one’s actions, and how the mistakes of the past can ultimately affect the future – and quite possibly, vice versa. The performances are great (especially from Gordon-Levitt and Willis), the story is compelling and surprisingly emotional, and the stylish direction and clever writing by Rian Johnson are enough to keep the viewer enthralled throughout the entire film. So if you’re looking for a sci-fi action film that entertains and makes you think, then don’t hesitate to check out “Looper”.
2. THE AVENGERS –
The first of two EXCELLENT superhero films released in 2012, “The Avengers” pulls off a risky tightrope act in which six comic-book characters (Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye) join forces to save the world from the villainous Loki (Thor’s adoptive brother), and succeeds on nearly every level. After the groundwork was laid with the earlier Avengers films (“Iron Man”, “The Incredible Hulk”, “Iron Man 2”, “Thor” and “Captain America: The First Avenger”), director/writer Joss Whedon (of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fame and acclaim) weaves a terrifically entertaining film that honestly deserves multiple viewing. ALL the characters get their moment to shine – from Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury to Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk who literally STEALS the fucking film! The story is thoroughly engaging, with great performances by its talented cast (including Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man and Tom Hiddleston as Loki, among others), spectacular visual effects and an overall fun comic-book vibe that’s sure to entertain the most ignorant of viewers. But as much as I loved “The Avengers” – and believe me, I did – it was the following film that won me over. This was the film that made a greater impact on me this year than anything else.
COME ON! You know I was just bullshittin’!
1. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES –
And here we have my number one favourite film of 2012: Christopher Nolan’s conclusion to his critically-acclaimed and commercially-successful Dark Knight trilogy. Eight years after the events of “The Dark Knight” (one of my all-time favourite movies), Gotham City is seemingly at peace and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), assuming that Gotham no longer needs the help of his alter ego Batman, goes into hiding. But when a militant megalomaniac named Bane (Tom Hardy) rears his masked face over the citizens of Gotham City, Bruce is forced to don the cape and cowl and defend the very same city that once scorned him. From opening scene to closing, “The Dark Knight Rises” is a cinematic tour de force. The music by Hans Zimmer is nothing short of EPIC, the action sequences are top-notch, the direction by Christopher Nolan is impressive as always, and the acting is outstanding. Christian Bale is convincing as both Bruce Wayne and Batman, and so is Michael Caine as the proverbial voice of reason embodied in his character, Alfred Pennyworth. The supporting cast, like Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake and Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox, also offer great performances. But the standout character of the film is (GASP!) Tom Hardy as Bane. Even though it’s hard at times to understand a single fucking word he says due to the mask on his face, his fearsome presence, physical prowess and grandiose speeches (he does deliver some of the film’s best lines) makes him a formidable foe for the Dark Knight. Clocking in at almost 3 hours, “The Dark Knight Rises” is far from boring, with a level of emotion and intensity that will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire film. Though it’s not the most perfect superhero film ever made, and it falls a bit short from “The Dark Knight”, “The Dark Knight Rises” as a whole is a fulfilling and worthy end to arguably the greatest superhero film trilogy ever made. It’s undoubtedly the best film I’ve seen in 2012, and it comes highly recommended by yours truly.
FUN FACT: “The Dark Knight Rises” is the third “film of the year” in a row that stars British actor Tom Hardy, the first two being the 2010 sci-fi thriller “Inception” and the 2011 mixed-martial arts drama “Warrior”. According to Wikipedia, he’s set to play the lead in 2013’s “Mad Max: Fury Road”, a reboot of the post-apocalyptic action series that made Mel Gibson an international superstar. Who knows? That movie may wind up being my top film of 2013. Ah well. Time shall soon tell.