Until I started putting my list together, I never realized how good of a year in movies 2012 was. All the genres were well represented with dramas, comedies, action, sci-fi, animation, and even westerns. At the beginning of the year I remember my most anticipated list of movies some of which met expectations others did not. But undoubtedly you got to love when a movie you were not expecting to like blows you away and there were plenty of those this year as well.
Here are my top 10 movies of the year along with some notable mentions at the end.
10. Robot & Frank
One of the best kept secrets of the year. Next to no one I talk to about movies has seen it and that is a shame! This was easily one of the more touching and relatable movies of the year for me. If you read my review for this then you know I love how Frank develops this relationship with the robot much like my grandmother grew to love her satellite TV after refusing to get one for years. The way the robot does what he needs to do to help Franks ailing memory even if it means breaking the law was fantastic. Please if you get an opportunity to check out Robot & Frank, do it.
This was an enriching movie experience all around for me. It is one of the few movies from India I have seen that does not fit under the Bollywood label. It is a very intriguing and well done story with very developed characters that come to life due to phenomenal performances from Aamir Khan and Rani Mukerji (Mukherjee). It’s mystery has many twists and turns so when the movie ends I did not see the final twist coming. Great thriller that I would recommend to anyone especially if after seeing great foreign films like Oldboy, I Saw The Devil, and Trollhunter you are looking for something new (like I was). Click here for my full review of Talaash.
What a comeback for the franchise… again. Casino Royale give the franchise a fresh take after (in my opinion) the worst James Bond movie ever, Die Another Day. Then Quantum of Solace came and took the wind out of the sail of the franchise again. Knowing this Daniel Craig flexed some of Hollywood muscle to recruit Sam Mendes to helm this most recent installment and it was great. Mendes gave unimaginable depth to a character that we had already seen in 22 other movies along with fun Bond action with a villain played devilishly by Javier Bardem. It features the best cinematography of all the Bonds making it one of the top of the year. Click here for my full review.
Many die hard fanboys of the original Alien found this movie to be a sin but I could not disagree more. Visually it is one of Ridley Scott’s best movies and it does a great job about raising questions about our existence without proposing answers like some filmmakers may be tempted to do. Also I think people despised the fact that it was not the direct prequel they were hoping for even thought there was a hint of “xenomorph DNA” (as Scott puts it) in the final moments of the movie. A lot of people put blame on Damon Lindelof but I cannot help but wonder if they had dismissed that this was in anyway a prequel would people still ridicule Prometheus? I will never know. Even though I did not like Prometheus as much as Alien or Aliens it was still one of the best sci-fi, action films of the year. Click here for my full review.
6. The Perks of Being a Wildflower
It has long been a question of mine my more authors do not write/direct movies that are made based on their novels/stories. After author Stephen Chbosky did just that with The Perks of Being a Wildflower I am convinced that movies that were based off books that sucked could have been better had to author be more in control. It was masterfully put together for a great story with characters you really cared about. Logan Lerman proved his ability to play a leading role, Emma Watson showed her acting range beyond her part in the Harry Potter films, and Ezra Miller shows once again that he is destine for big things in the future. Click here for my full review.
I have no clue why this movie bombed in the box office. Granted to trailer seems cheesy but what superhero movie trailer doesn’t? Dredd is hands down the most underappreciated movie of the year instead of underrated. It is the best movie no one went to see which is sad because everyone I know who saw it really liked it. The action and effects in Dredd was sensational considering I am not usually a fan of 3D but it was well utilized in this movie. Karl Urban was the perfect choice to play Judge Dredd, Olivia Thirlby was great as Anderson, and Lena Headey removes any doubt about having a female villain in a comic book based movie – Headey was chilling as times as Ma-Ma. Hopefully Dredd gets the follow it deserves once it his shelves on DVD and Blu-Ray in order to earn a sequel.
4. Les Miserables
The main advantage this movie has over the play is that it shows a more coherent story. During the play there is not much about the set that aids in telling the story while Hooper’s film features some incredible sets that piece the songs together better than the play does. Even though the songs are not sang with the precision as the stage actors, they are sung with powerful emotion that it is hard not to get teary eyed as parts. All actors involved were phenomenal including Russell Crowe who a lot of critics are giving a hard time. As a fan of the play I see no reason why other fans of the play would not enjoy this movie. Click here for my full review.
3. The Dark Knight Rises
I know I am in the minority here but I thought The Dark Knight Rises was the best of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy. Plot wholes aside (because every blockbuster has them) the story was just an epic conclusion. For a near three hour long movie it crams a lot into it and never feels dragged out or slow. Tom Hardy as Bane was the ideal villain with superior strength and brains to match which is why I liked him more than the joker. Plus something that seems to be getting swept aside is that it is emotional. Nolan managed to make you emotionally connected to the idea of Batman and what he meant to Gotham as a symbol not just someone going where the law could not. I legitimately got choked up when Alfred had to tell Bruce that he had to leave and could not watch Wayne destroy himself. Even the finally moments of the city realizing how important Batman was to Gotham as he took the bomb to the horizon was just fantastic. And the Bane chant just ruled. Click here for my full review.
2. Safety Not Guaranteed
Safety Not Guaranteed may be one of the best independent movies of the decade in my opinion. I normally am not a fan of romantic comedies but this one has heart without reaching point where you roll your eyes because of the ooey gooey-ness. That is the result of quality writing. Just the idea of the movie alone is great. Journalists responding to a personal ad for someone to time travel with. How could that not be funny? The source of a lot of the humor is from great and natural dialogue that makes you think this is what people in that situation would. The banter is the exact kind of banter I have with my friends which is why the characters in this movie work so well. Click here for my full review.
Let me just say I know my number 1 & 2 movies this year were time travel film but I really am not that into time travel movies these two were just that good to me. Rian Johnson has crafted the most original time travel movies of all time with action, comedy and drama. The best thing about it is that on two separate occasions in Looper two different characters say not to dwell on the laws of time travel because it’ll “fry your brain.” That is possibly one of the cleverest ways to cover your tracks if there are any holes in the story. Are there holes? Sure, but who really cares. Now I generally like most movies with Bruce Willis but I loved this film because it really highlights what he brings to the table as an actor. Willis brings intensity to the action and story while adding drama and emotion when necessary as an older Joe trying to ensure his realty happens. Joseph Gordon-Levitt nails all the mannerisms of a younger Willis but also portrays this younger version of Joe as a desperate, violent junkie which goes on to mature into Willis’ Joe. There is a lot to Looper that it tough to get in to without spoiling anything. Click here for my full review.
Notable mentions: Safe, Life of Pi, Lawless, The Avengers, Cabin in the Woods, ParaNorman, Chronicle, The Grey, Killer Joe
Movies I did not see but I wanted to that could make the list: Deadfall, The Raid: Redemption, Silver Linings Playbook, and The Hobbit