Top 10 Favorite Films of 2012

Hello Everybody,

Wow!  2012 was a GREAT year for movies.  It was hard to cut my favorites down to just 10.  Also, I haven't seen everything I wanted yet.  Like Zero Dark 30, The Impossible, This is 40, Flight and Les Miserables.  Looks like those will have to wait for DVD and will not make the list.  But honestly, while I'm sure they are all good, they are not the type to make my list anyway.

If you haven't seen these movies, for some reason, you can use this as a guide for renting films in 2013!  This year I'm ranking them in order of how much I loved them.  Enjoy the list!

Disclaimer:  I say this all the time but I just want to make sure everybody understands, this is my list of FAVORITE movies for the year.  It in no way represents what I believe were the best films released in 2012.  


Year End Update:  I have now seen this movie about 10 times.  It is far and away my favorite film in years.  At least since 2009's Watchmen.  Even though the "found footage" medium has been done a lot, I still enjoy it. And this, to me, is maybe the most pure superhero movie I've ever seen.  The most "realistic" if such a thing can be said about a superhero movie.  Anyway, if you know me, I've probably already forced you to watch it, so you know how fanatic I am about it.

I had to get this review out quickly in case any of you are planning to go to the movies anytime soon. You gotta go see Chronicle! It was AMAZING! 

Now to step back, this film is not for everybody. This is a movie about teenage kids who get superpowers so if that's not your thing, disregard the rest.

If you're still with me, then you are wasting time reading this review. Drop everything and go see this movie before it's gone from theaters! I would go see it again if anyone wants to drive/fly down here to see it with me. It was so good I actually had dreams about it last night!

It's shot in a Cloverfield style by one of the kids who, before he gets powers, decides to film his horrible life as an abused and harassed outcast. Later footage is captured by all kinds of media and surveillance cameras. It's not "too shaky" like Blair Witch, so don't freak out and cry that it will make you nauseous. 

The special effects are incredible. What I mean by this is that they look really real. Because the whole film is "videotaped" the realness of the effects is enhanced. Plus seeing the development of their powers helps you believe it more. They don't just get powers like Green Lantern and immediately start being heroes. They just play with them at first and pull pranks just like real teen boys probably would.

The first hour of the movie is light and fun as they get the hang of their new talents. The last 1/2 hour goes really dark as one of them "turns villain." So I wouldn't take really little kids to see it.   

The actors are all great yet unknown so you're not distracted by stars. The main kid looks like Leo DiCaprio in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape."

The best thing about this movie is that I had no idea it was coming. I saw a commercial for it and thought it looked OK. I read a couple reviews from critics who loved it, and became more interested. Then I went to see it with no real expectations and WAS BLOWN AWAY! This will, no doubt, be way up at the top of my best of 2012 list. Go see it! Go! NOW!

The Avengers


Year End Update:  I have also seen this about 5 or 6 times this year.  I sometimes just pop it in to watch the last 45 minute battle with the Chitauri.  I can't describe the happiness I feel every time I see Hulk smash Loki and say "Puny God."  Or just seeing all the Avengers working together to fight.  I expected this or Dark Knight Rises would have been my number 1 this year, but I keep coming back to Chronicle.

Sorry for the late review.  I've seen this movie twice in the theater already.  Went opening weekend night with Sasha, then a few days later with Holly.  Obviously I knew I was going to love this movie, but I REALLY REALLY loved it.  The second time was even more fun.  No that's not true.  The first time was better.  I was expecting it to be awesome but I was blown away.  You know how exciting it is when a super hero makes a cameo in another superhero movie.  Like Wolverine in the X-Men reboot last year, or Tony Stark in the bar at the end of the Incredible Hulk?  If you're like me, that kinda thing is like a slice of fried gold.  So imagine how awesome it is when it's happening every few minutes throughout The Avengers.  Seeing them all fight together, with each other, or just standing around chatting is like some kind of crazy dream.  

The action in the film is amazing.  The last 40 minutes is one huge battle that I could have watched for days.  All the actors do an awesome job.  Especially Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson.  Also the film is the funniest movie I've seen since Tucker & Dale vs Evil.

Spoiler:  Don't read any further is you don't want the end ruined.

There is one thing I'd like to mention about the big ending.  I've been teased since 1996 about how "stupid" and "unrealistic" and "ridiculous" the end of my favorite movie of all time, Independence Day, is.  I'd just like to mention to all you people who love The Avengers that the way Tony Stark (Ironman) destroyed the Alien Invasion was exactly the same way Jeff and Will did it in 1996.  Exactly.  It even had the same effect.  (Also baby Anakin did kind of the same thing at the end of the Phantom Menace.)  So suck-it haters!  If your planet is being invaded by aliens, the sure-proof way to end that attack immediately is to send a nuke to destroy the mothership.  It works every time.  Guaranteed!  It's called "The Independence Day Maneuver."  God Bless Jeff Goldblum.

The Dark Knight Rises

Year End Update:  The thing I enjoy the most about this movie is Bane.  But I also very much enjoyed the way it brought together elements from the first 2 films and neatly packaged them up into a nice tight trilogy.  That is rare and refreshing.  

After all the excitement with the crazy shooter, I forgot to write my review of this new Batman film.  Well, obviously I loved it.  It's Batman!  It was awesome!  Not "Dark Knight" awesome, but better than "Batman Begins" awesome.  And I suppose it put a nice bookend on the series by tying it back to the first movie.  Mission accomplished.  I loved the villain Bane.  His voice, which I have read lots of complaints about, was music to me.  In the same way I was super happy every time The Joker came on the screen in the last movie, I was super happy every time Bane came on and spouted his soliloquies in this one. I thought his voice was cool.  So there...  Good end to the trilogy, cool voice, hurray for Batman.

The Cabin in the Woods


Year End Update:  Here's one that crept up on me.  At first I got it mixed up with the 2013 remake of The Evil Dead.  So it wasn't on my radar.  That's one of the things that made it so awesome.  It was a surprise.  Also it had a GREAT cast.  I especially love Fran Kranz who was my favorite character on Joss' short lived but awesome TV show Dollhouse.

I LOVED this movie.  But I kinda love everything Joss Whedon is associated with (hopefully Avengers will continue his streak of perfection).  I'm not going to talk about it too much because there's some important twists that hopefully you won't know before you see it.  From the previews you probably think you know what's going to happen, and as you watch the movie you will figure it out before the reveal, but once it starts you will enjoy the ride.  The movie gets more crazy and more fun right up to the end.  The stoner character is really funny and I like that actor from his role on the Joss Whedon show Dollhouse (which was also AWESOME if you never saw it.)  Anyway, I don't know what else to say since I can't discuss the story or characters without blowing the surprise.  Go see it.  There's nothing else really out right now that's more important.


Year End Update:  The reason this movie made such an impact on me was it had a very very cool new story.  Sure it has elements of lots of other sci-fi and perhaps the time travel stuff doesn't hold up if you really think about it, but just don't think about it!  I don't.  

I saw this movie had pretty good reviews and I had high expectations going into it but WOW!  I was unbelievably blown away by this movie.  It is a secret gem in this years already crowded field of awesome movies.  This thing I liked best about it is it's a wholly original story.  Not a sequel or a mash up (although I'm sure will extract elements of other stories and films.)  I was on the edge of my seat and had no idea what was going to happen next.  The time travel raises all sorts of questions as you watch, but you are too distracted by how cool the movie is to really care.  We are about to get hit by the wave of year end Oscar contenders, so before that happens go see Looper.  It's worth it, and probably the last big action fun film of 2012.

Moonrise Kingdom

Year End Update:  I've seen this one about 4 times now.  It is sweet and beautiful and funny and it makes me happy.

Wow!  I knew I was gonna love this movie because I LOVE all Wes Anderson movies.  Moonrise was no exception.  The best part of it, is it takes elements from all his previous films ( Royal Tennenbaums, Rushmore, The Life Aquatic, etc.) and blends them, perfectly, into another amazing and intricately told fable.  Everyone in the film is perfectly cast, including some surprises - like Bruce Willis!  I can't wait to see it again.  The best part about repeated viewings of Anderson movies is looking at all the little tiny details in the background...and this movie is jam packed with them!

The Life of Pi

Year End Update:  This movie was AMAZING.  The other day I was filling out an Oscar content survey and I found myself selecting this movie in every category it is nominated in.  I hope it wins Best Picture.  I've actually seen 5 of the 9 Best Picture nominees this year but this is the only one I really loved.

This movie was stunning!  STUNNING!  It is an amazing story that was perfectly executed on film by Ang Lee.  The 3D is incredible but honestly, all it does is enhance a masterwork.  It doesn't distract.  This is certainly my front runner for Best Picture Oscar.  It probably won't win, but it deserves to.  The entire time I was just mesmerized.  I LOVED this movie.  The older Pi is an actor that I have come to really love and the younger Pi was outstanding as well.  And Richard Parker is probably the best realized digital character since Gollum in The Lord of the Rings.

Django Unchained

Year End Update:  Django was a really fun movie.  I can't wait to see it again on DVD.  Quentin is on my list of "can do no wrong" directors, so his movies will always be on my years end best list.

I am very much enjoying Quentin's historical revisionism.  Baseball batting nazis (Inglourious Basterds) had a bit more "crack" to it, but Django is no Roots.  It's a great story and really really fun to watch.  Its also super funny.  Christoph Waltz, Jamie Fox and Leo DiCaprio are all outstandingly over the top.  I guess the only reason I liked Basterds better is because the violence dished out to the nazis was more severe.  I wanted to see the slavers and slave owners in Django get more of what they deserved.  While everyone dies, they don't die hard enough.  I'm excited to see what historical atrocity Quentin will avenge next.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Year End Update:  I really need to see this again.  There was so much to take in the first time I feel like I didn't really get to enjoy the film for the film.  I was distracted by the frame rate, comparing it to Lord of the Rings and getting over my prejudice against dwarves.  But even with all that, I still LOVED this movie as much as I expected I would and will, I'm sure, come to cherish it in years to come as much as the first trilogy.

The Hobbit was as awesome and maybe more so than I expected.  Obviously my expectations were crazy high.  I tend to think of the Lord of the Rings as the greatest film trilogy ever made, so since it's all the same people making this series how could it be any less?  The dwarves are, however, my least favorite group of people in Middle Earth, so that was a slight handicap that I had to overcome.  

But I'll tell you what helped me get over the dwarf-centric story, 48 FPS 3D.  Because of all the buzz, mostly critical, I was very excited to see the movie in the new 48 frames per second 3D format.  This Hyper-Real 3D was AMAZING!  Here's how it went for me.  At first I couldn't adjust to it, then for a while I hated it, then I started to like it and finally I LOVED it!  

Here's a quick break down of those stages.  At first it's a shock to the senses.  It essentially removes the thin layer of graininess that allows viewers to distinguish between images projected on a theater screen (something artificial) and their surroundings in the real world.  This is, at first, disturbing.  

Then I hated it.  In one article I read it said, "When you reduce artificiality and instill a heightened sense of realism, it dwindles the sensation of peering into a dreamworld; worse, it leaves some people with the same (bad) impression as a low-budget recording of a stage performance."  This is exactly how Holly described it.  "It actually looks more fake" she said, "like actors playing a part, instead of characters you could believe in."  

After a while though my eyes became more acclimated to it, and I started to really enjoy it.  Scenes where human and CGI players interact seem more believable because both now look equally “real.”  Same with sets and background.  When everybody interacts with the Goblin King you don't see the effects anymore.   And Gollum has never been more of a real character.

By the end of the film I had fully embraced 48 FPS.  I was thrilled by it!  I can't wait to see the rest of the trilogy and actually haven't stopped thinking about it for days.  I'm considering seeing it again, because with so much more to look at, I feel there is much I may have missed.

The Amazing Spiderman

Year End Update:  I have an affinity for director Sam Raimi, so I felt disloyal being excited to see a new version of Spiderman.  But after a few minutes I got over it.  And everybody else should too.  Movies get better every year, and this is a good example.  If you read my review of the Star Wars: Phantom Menace 3-D, you will remember that I suggested that the first 3 Star Wars movies be remade, so they match the effects and visual theme of Episodes 1-3.  So if I have the audacity to suggest that Star Wars, Empire and Jedi be remade, then how could I say it wasn't time to give Spiderman a fresh spin?

A big budget Spiderman reboot?  Of course I loved it.  It's Spiderman!  Took the whole family to see it on The 4th of July.  You could say it's too soon for a reboot, but why would you say that?  Are you still watching the old version?  Grappling with the nuances?  Most comics including Spideman have multiple story lines in multiple realities in multiple universes being printed simultaneously.  What's wrong with doing that with the movies?  Nothing.  That's what.  The only thing that was a bit distracting in this movie is that Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone are a little too old.  We've already seen them play adults in other movies, so the move back to High School was kind of a stretch and will be even less believable in subsequent sequels, but the movie was awesome, so in the end...who cares?