BEST ACTOR - Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
I don't think there was a more spellbinding performance this year other than Joaquin Phoenix playing Freddie Quell in The Master: a broken down, lost man whose violent drunk outrages make him a true outsider of society - that is until a charismatic cult leader played by Phillip Seymour Hoffman accepts him. Phoenix's face is contorted, along with his body, in a way I've never seen an actor do before. Your eyes are glued to him, never knowing when he's gonna snap. It's just a crazy-good performance (I mean that figuratively AND literally).
Runner-Up: Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Instead of making Lincoln into some sort of bigger-than-life Bill Pullman-at-the-end-of-Independence Day inspirational speaker, Day-Lewis, in his infinite acting genius, gave him the humble, soft-spoken nature he likely had in real life. Of course it takes a British guy to fully bring to life this American icon. Slavery: it's done.
BEST ACTRESS - Brit Marling, Sound of My Voice
This movie kind of fell under the radar this year (and unrightfully so). Following up her powerful performance in Another Earth, Marling plays a woman claiming to be from the future. She has gained a small cult following, and watching her manipulate the members who challenge her is intense, while also walking that thin line where even as an audience member, you're not quite sure if she's "real" or not. Seriously, Brit Marling will work her way to the Academy Awards sooner or later.
Runner-Up: Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
I think Ms. Hathaway's rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" is one of the best scenes of 2012. Shot all in one close-up take, you feel the raw emotion of every word coming out of her mouth. A beautiful scene deserving of the Oscar alone.
BEST MUSIC SCORE - Hans Zimmer, The Dark Knight Rises
You can never go wrong with Hans Zimmer. I've been listening to this soundtrack since it has been released and I think it's a masterwork as far as movie scores go. Seriously, just go about the interwebs, find it, and listen to it beginning to end. From Bane's haunting introduction music, to Selina Kyle's sleek piano theme, to the huge "Batman" stuff towards the end, it's everything a great score should be. One of my favorite tracks is "Imagine the Fire" (taking place during the big finale), which will hopefully play below (may be loud).
Runner-Up: Howard Shore, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
How can you not like this? Listening to this score makes me want to slay a dragon.
BEST SONG** - Adele, "Skyfall" from Skyfall
Adele's opening song to the latest 007 flick was one of the best of recent Bond memory. Enough said, it's a song as smooth as Bond himself.
Runner-Up: John Legend, "Who Did That to You" from Django Unchained
Django Unchained is yet another great soundtrack in the Tarantino universe. While QT doesn't usually employ original music, John Legend took it upon himself to send him a track out of the kindness of his heart and it was just groovy enough to land in the film. Since Quentin notoriously hates technology, Legend mailed him the track on a cassette tape in an envelope.
BEST TRAILER* - The Dark Knight Rises
Movie trailers really are an underrated art form. If you think about it they may as well be one of the most important aspects of marketing a film; a solid trailer will put asses in seats, and no amount of bad reviews will be able to stop it. Usually the best trailers come from big-budget action films with loads of "money shots" and get you with big, loud, giant spectacle. While the TDKR trailer does boast all of those things, unlike most action movie trailers it starts off with a quiet piano, and slowly crescendos towards the "Batman" action we all want. In effect the trailer almost feels like a mini-movie, and when it premiered I got chills down my balls (especially at the line, "Not everything...not yet").
Runner-Up (TIE): Zero Dark Thirty and Les Misérables
BEST POSTER* - The Amazing Spider-Man (Teaser Poster)
(click to enlarge)
You take a look around a movie theater and you start to see the same cookie-cutter posters over and over again (just do a quick Google search and you'll find all the copy cats out there). But when this poster was released for the new Spider-Man flick, I was pretty, I want to say...amazed? First off, it's a poster for a superhero movie where the hero doesn't even have his suit on, and the dark shadows that make the Spider symbol looks so iconic and badass. A good poster is one that catches your eye as you walk by it, and this one really stands out - especially in an era where it seems so little artistic value is placed into these framed sheets.
Runner-Up: John Carter
John Carter was shitty in almost every way, but it had a terrific poster.
(Click to enlarge: in case you didn't figure it out from the first poster)
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT - God Bless America
I absolutely loved Bobcat Goldthwait's previous film World's Greatest Dad (off the top of my head, I'd say it's in my top twenty or thirty films of all time), so I was very excited for his next film as you might have imagined. The concept seemed really different and cool: a guy goes on a killing spree, offing the annoying, priveleged people of the world (pop stars, Jersey Shore types). But it ended up overly preachy and didn't have much of a story. And it had an extremely awkward relationship between an older guy and a young girl.
I wanted it to be really good to make up for Cars 2. Why, Pixar?! Change yer feehhhht.
MOST OVERRATED - The Avengers
The fact that there's a sect of people out there saying that The Avengers is a superior film to The Dark Knight Rises baffles me. I mean, it was OK as far as these types of movies go (it was certainly better than Thor and Captain America), but come on. The entire movie revolves around a magic glowing cube.
Runner-Up: The Cabin in the Woods
Yeah, I guess I'm not that big of a Whedon fan (except for Firefly). Even though not as many people saw it as The Avengers, Cabin in the Woods has a nearly unanimous seal of approval from "nerd culture" that I don't understand. Sure the finale of this movie is amazing, and Richard Jenkins is great, but the meat of the film following the "young adults" (and a pre-Thor Chris Hemsworth) is as badly acted and scripted as any of the shitty horror movies that came before it.
BEST PLEASANT SURPRISE - 21 Jump Street
A modernized remake of a hardly relevant 80's TV show starring Channing Tatum and skinny Jonah Hill: how the hell did this turn out so good? This is by far one of the best mainstream comedies in a long time, and was able to single-handedly change my mind about Channing Tatum.
I still hate the "Thunder Song," but Ted came as another pleasant comedy surprise this summer. And remember - there's nothing as powerful as a young boy's wish...except an Apache helicopter. An Apache helicopter has machine guns and missiles; it is an unbelievably impressive compliment of weaponry: an absolute death machine.
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Hope you enjoyed this - kind of a new idea on my part, tell me if I should do this again next year or if I should take this blog and shove it up my ass. And remember, I haven't seen every movie that came out! I'm not perfect! I'm sorry! I tried my best! I'm never good enough for you (weeps uncontrollably)
* These categories only include films officially released in 2012; so if there is a trailer from 2012 for a movie coming next year (2013) it doesn't count, but if it premiered in 2011 for a 2012 release it does count.
** I would have given this to Les Misérables, but because it was not original music I didn't think it qualified