Good Movies of 2012

Another year, come and gone. I love starting a blog with a cliché, explaining to you want time tends to do. And over the last 12 months, there have been some highs, lots of lows and a few re-releases (a lot actually, and all to get more money in new formats for old favourites: Raiders of the Lost Ark in IMAX, Beauty and the Beast 3D, etc.). I try to make this site about finding good movies rather than bashing the less than enjoyable ones. The reason is, lots of people think Twilight is a good movie. I can’t fault them for that as who am I to tell someone whether they can enjoy something or not?  I can only recommend movies that I have seen and I found worth your money, whether in the theatre or at home. In keeping with that tradition, here’s a rundown of the movies I enjoyed the most this year:

Sci-Fi/Fantasy

Chronicle – with great power comes great responsibility…unless the person that gets that power tends to have emotional and psychological issues. Heroism not guaranteed.

Looper – What if you were a hit-man whose job was to kill people sent back from the future? It’s a lot to take in. Now add the fact that your  latest target is you. A fun conundrum told by Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt and Joseph Gordon Levitt (you get used to his make-up job)

Safety Not Guaranteed – This was a welcome “out of left field” sci-fi comedy romance. You don’t get that genre often. Is a guy claiming to be able to travel into the past crazy or crazy brilliant?

Robot and Frank – what’s a retired cat burgler with dementia to do? Get a robo-BFF to help him steal stuff. This would have been a great Twilight Zone episode but instead is a recent original film with a lot of heart.

Comedy

21 Jump Street – take an 80s teen cop drama, update it for today, take some really funny people and add a really great script. This movie was a really nice, welcome surprise in a sea of not so good remakes.

TED – Your teddy bear is grown up and has the mouth of a Boston sailor (I don’t know what that means but it seems to fit) and the voice of Family Guy’s Seth McFarlane. Laugh.

Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson is the poster boy for well-told, quirky films. He may have a few missteps from time to time but when he’s good, he’s good. This is good. A movie where kids get to embrace what it’s like to be kids and adults are just trying to catch up.

Bernie – I didn’t think I’d ever type this: A phenomenal performance from Jack Black. I said it. He plays an assistant funeral director suspected of murdering his lover Shirley MacLaine. But he seems like such a nice boy.

Action

The Raid: Redemption – if you see only one Indonesian martial arts movie this year, please let it be this. Keep in mind, to love this film, you must love non-stop crazy kicking, punching, stabbing, and shooting…but in a good way. Definitely not for everyone, but for you action fans…use your manners. Say thank you.

The Avengers – probably one of the best comic book movies ever made. But that’s not what makes it good, it’s the understanding, interaction and dialogue of the characters from writer/director Joss Whedon. Plus the Hulk is freaking cool.

Dark Knight Rises – Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale complete their Batman trilogy with as much darkness, pathos and action as you can expect. It ends well and enjoyably.

Django Unchained – Tarantino goes to the West. A former slave gets to kill a whole bunch of white folk in pursuit of his wife, who’s been sold to a rich plantation owner. Add Tarantino words, violence and humour.

Skyfall – How do you make a kickass 50th anniversary edition of James Bond? Keep Daniel Craig, give Judi Dench one of her best stories as M, hire Javier Bardem as the bad guy and stick in a bunch of nods to the history of the franchise. Me likey. (Plus I saw this IN London. Unfreakingbelievable)

Dramatic

Argo – How do you get a bunch of Americans out of a revolutionary Iran? Send Ben Affleck. Or in reality you make a movie about the real story of a Canadian-CIA operation to rescue hostages by making a fake movie. Confusing in description but awesome as a flick.

Life of Pi – one of the best uses of 3D, not as a gimmick but as a way to be more immersive in the world. Does God exist? How can a boy survive at sea with only a vicious Bengal tiger to keep him company? Fun answers.

Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – take some of the best actors of England, even if they’re old, and put them all in India. Are you reinventing cinema? No but it is good fun spending a few hours with them in one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Perks of Being a Wallflower – Based on Stephen Chbosky’s book, who also wrote the screenplay, this is much better than the usual teen angst movie. Emma Watson is all grown up and she’s supported by some pretty great young actors trying to deal with brain pain (ie psychological pressures and emotions).

Flight – Sure this pilot can save lives by flying a plane upside down, but he’s got this pesky alcoholism problem that may tip him more towards criminal than hero. Denzel Washington raises the bar in this stunning performance.

Silver Linings Playbook – Two pretty people, with serious social interaction problems, try to help each other out while struggling to overcome the one thing that seems to get in their way of happiness. Themselves.

Historical

Lincoln – You want to end slavery but the Civil War is raging, the Senate is divided, you’ve got a few months until you’re assassinated and you look like Daniel Day-Lewis…what’s a president to do? A look at the last four months of the president’s life.

Sports

Goon – Slapshot is the greatest hockey movie (some would say sports movie) of all time. This would rank right up there. Violent, funny and so full of heart. I already want to watch it again.

Animation

Wreck-It-Ralph – It’s tough being a video game bad guy. Same work, day in, day out. With some fun references to gamer history, watch as our villain…I mean hero…fights to get a bit of respect. John C. Reilly is fantastic as the lead character.

Horror

The Cabin in the Woods – Another Joss Whedon flick, this time he’s writing a story of kids going to a…wait for it…wait for it…cabin in the woods. Take this cliché, through in a heavy dose of humour and meta-dialogue/wink to the camera, and you’ve got a hell of an unexpectedly original horror movie.

Still need to see but have heard good things:
Beasts of the Southern Wild
We Need to Talk about Kevin
Take this Waltz
Killer Joe
The Master
The Sessions
The Pirates! Band of Misfits

I knew I was getting into trouble the minute I decided to start putting these in categories. Yes, many can fit in more than one genre, but give me a break. You try fitting “Robot and Frank” in a neat little box.

So did I miss any? What was your favourite of the year?

 Good Movies of 2012
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