My Four Favorite Movies of 2012
So with 2012 finally in the past, I thought I’d look back at my four favorite films of the year. I’d say overall it was an average year for movies. I go to the theatre pretty regularly, and more often than not this year I left saying “Eh, that was alright.” These four films aren’t necessarily the “best” films, they were just my personal favorites. Some minor spoilers ahead, so read at your own risk.
4) The Dark Knight Rises.
I don’t think anyone would argue that TDKR was better than The Dark Knight, but taken on its own merits this is still a highly entertaining film that does a fine job closing out the greatest series of superhero films ever put on camera. The highlight of the film for me was the performance of Tom Hardy as Bane. I know a lot of people had a problem with his garbled, Sean Connery meets auto-tune accent, but I thought the character himself was a great follow-up villain to Heath Ledger’s Joker. Both Bane and The Joker are essentially terrorists, but where The Joker was all about chaos and anarchy, Bane represents order. Interesting way to end the series.
Certainly this movie had a lot of problems. It takes forever to get into motion, for one thing. Also, while I thought Ann Hathway did an admirable job as Catwoman (who’s really a ridiculous character, if you think about) the whole love story between her and Bruce Wayne just didn’t work for me.
At any rate, in terms of summer blockbuster this had everything you could want. An established character being pushed to his limits by a worthy adversary, solid acting, an impressive cast, and a ton of explosions and fist-fights to satisfy the bread-and-circuses crowds.
Time travel has always been one of my favorite film-subjects. If there’s any type of time-traveling element in a movie, I’m there. Primer, 12 Monkeys, and Donnie Darko are my favorite films that deal with the subject, but hell, I even kind-of liked The Butterfly Effect, a movie that starred Ashton Kutcher.
ANYWAY, I guess this affinity for people moving around in time meant that I was predisposed to like Looper, but I think most people who have seen the film can agree that this is an awesome movie. If you haven’t seen it, it is set in a future where time travel has been invented but is illegal. As such, the only group of people regularly using it are criminals, who use characters called loopers to assassinate enemies in the past and then dispose of the bodies.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays one of these loopers who is generally satisfied with his life until his future self (Bruce Willis) gets sent back as one of this targets. The plot gets complicated from there, and in lieu of blabbering away further I’ll just post this clip:
The thing I liked most about Looper was its originality. I don’t really feel like counting, but I’d hazard a guess that at least 60% of the mainstream movies shown in theatres over the past year were either a sequel, remake, or adaptation of something else (book, video game, board game, whatever). Looper, quite simply, is unique. It also draws great performances out of the two leads and makes an interesting point about the pointlessness of violence. If you haven’t already, go see this movie!
2) Moonrise Kingdom
I was probably even more inclined to like Moonrise Kingdom than I was Looper because of my long-standing appreciation and admiration of Wes Anderson’s work. Anderson is a pretty polarizing guy, it seems, and while this film doesn’t stray far enough from his typical oeuvre to attract many new converts, it’s an outstanding example of his strengths as a filmmaker.
The movie is set in the 1960’s on a fictional island off the coast of New England. A young boy scout named Same and his girlfriend Suzy send the community into a frenzy by running away together. They are pursued by the Boy Scout Master (in a great, low-key performance by Edward Norton), a police captain (Bruce Willis) and the girl’s parents (Anderson regular Bill Murray and Frances McDormand).
This movie walks a fine line between drama and comedy, as most of Anderson’s films do. It is occasionally hilarious, but also touching. Sam and Suzy are outcasts, but are able to find comfort in each other, while the rest of their world searches desperately for them. T
1) The Cabin in the Woods
The Cabin in the Woods is a unique undertaking, to the point where I’m frankly surprised that it managed to do as well as it did at the box office. Directed by Joss Whedon, the film is initially structured as a typical horror movie. A group of young people go to a cabin the spend a weekend, where they find themselves under attack by zombies.
However, there is much more going on than meets the eye. At the risk of completely giving away the movie, I’ll just say that the second half of the movie is in essence a deconstruction of the entire horror genre. It is basically asking the audience why we watch horror movies in the first place. All this leads to a brilliant final sequence where the heroes of the movie face off with just about every horror-film cliché imaginable.
Some critics have griped that the movie is too clever for its own good, but I think that this movie and its creators should be praised for taking such a huge risk. They accomplished the difficult task of both putting out quality, entertaining film while simultaneously poking fun at the genre.