(Dir. Sam Mendes)
Skyfall is simply an amazing Bond film. It doesn't reinvent the wheel or anything, but it's superbly acted, amazingly shot by Roger Deakins, and well written. There hasn't been a more beautiful looking action film this year, and Judi Dench gives a smashing performance in what will sadly be her final Bond picture. It also features possibly the biggest explosion of 2012. It's a ridiculously large explosion.
(Dir. Mikkel Nørgaard)
I guarantee that this film will eventually be remade by someone like Judd Apatow or Todd Phillips in the future. This Danish movie is about two friends on a debaucherous trip in the countryside: the sex-crazed Casper and his buddy Frank, who in an effort to prove his fatherhood potential to his girlfriend "kidnaps" his 12-year old nephew and brings him along on this over-the-top journey. Klown has the raunchiness of The Hangover, the style of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and the outright disgusting factor of Jackass. Please don't show this one to grandma, unless she is unusually progressive (or is it degressive?). Either way, I thought it was the funniest movie of the year in the most awkward ways possible.
(Dir. Chris Butler, Sam Fell)
Strangely enough, this film is one of two on my list that are supernatural stop-motion animated films aimed towards older children featuring a young male character trying to save a small town. Even stranger is how radically different those two films are. But looking at Paranorman, it is not only amazing to look at, it's actually really funny and has great characters. The film has a real sense of sorrow as we follow Norman dealing with his "power" in the first portion of the film, and becomes a really fun zombie action film in the other half, complete with Pixar-ian jokes only mom and pop will "get." Paranorman deals with hefty topics like morality and ignorance at the cost of human life, all while wrapping it up in a package an entire family can enjoy.
(Dir. Tim Burton)
Really you guys? Tim Burton's cash-ins like Alice in Wonderland make billions, but when he finally goes back to his roots and makes one of his most personal films in years nobody goes to see it. Perhaps buried underneath the other, more family-friendly animated film this October, Hotel Transylvania, Frankenweenie is an unfortunate under-performer. The film is absolutely beautfiul to look at with its stark black and white photography, and has a really strong (and timely) pro-science message behind it. It proves that Burton still has it in him to produce more Ed Woods during this latter portion of his career. So if you've been late to the Frankenweenie train, please be sure to check out this awesome little ode to monster movies.
6. The Dark Knight Rises
(Dir. Christopher Nolan)
It may not have reached the heights of The Dark Knight, but TDKR really did hold its own and featured some of the most memorable scenes and lines this year. What person left the theater without doing the Bane voice? We're all guilty of it - it's just so damn cool. Sure there are plot holes, sure there are really strange character choices (um, why does it seem like everybody knows Batman is Bruce Wayne all of a sudden), but I have to give it the benefit of the doubt even during its most ludicrous moments. TDKR is a nearly perfect end-cap to the Nolan trilogy and my head was spinning (in a good way) by the end of it.
(Dir. Rian Johnson)
This is Brick director Rian Johnson's first "big" action movie, and I think this guarantees it won't be his last. Looper has some of best action and time travel I've seen in a long time, implementing them in unique and iconic ways, and uses them to serve the story in what turns out to be a pretty interesting character-driven narrative. The plot deals with time travel-ed up themes of selfishness and nature vs. nurture, all while delivering some of the coolest visuals in a sci-fi movie this past decade. And JGL knocks it out of the park (as always).
(Dir. Quentin Tarantino)
Yup. I'm always up for anything Tarantino. Pretty much knew this film would end up on the list before the year even started; Django Unchained is yet another insane creation from one of film's best working directors. All at once it's a meditation on slavery, a quest driven by love, a violent spaghetti western, a blaxploitation flick, AND the best "buddy comedy" this year.
3. The Imposter
(Dir. Bart Layton)
From what I've seen this year (which isn't really that many), The Imposter is my favorite documentary. The way the story unfolds is so captivating, so it's hard to know how to exactly recommend it. Really - don't watch the trailers, don't read the synopsis, just go out and rent or download or buy this movie! All I can assure you is that the story of this "imposter" is incredible and a little troubling (kind of a theme among my top movies this year).
(Dir. Richard Linklater)
Jack Black has never been better in his first role that gives him "street cred" among the end-year awards season. He plays this pleasant, church-going funeral director that everyone loves and regularly takes care of the sweet little old ladies around town. One of these ladies, played by Shirley McClaine, is kind of a bitch, but Bernie becomes close friends with her anyway. I don't want to ruin the twist that comes towards the middle of the movie, but it does take a dark turn, showing that Bernie isn't exactly perfect all the time. I loved the small-town humor, I loved the dark subject matter, I loved Jack Black, and I loved how the line of morality is blurred in this quirky little movie. To see Jack Black go from rocking his "fucking socks off" in Tenacious D to singing "Blessed Assurance" with a church choir in Bernie is kind of insane.
(Dir. Craig Zobel)
Compliance is the most affecting movie I've seen this year. It's an intense thriller set all in one location, a fast food restaurant, and with a simple phone call things get progressively more and more...well you'll just have to see for yourselves. I would imagine a lot of people might react negatively to where this film eventually goes, but I thought it was fucking brilliant. If it weren't for the fact that this was based on a true story I would be right there with the haters, but supposedly this very closely resembles what actually happened. It goes to very dark places, so it's not for everyone, but I think Compliance is a great (but depressing) look at human nature and how we're compelled to follow orders.
Honorable Mentions: Prometheus, Les Misérables, The Raid: Redemption, 21 Jump Street, End of Watch, Chronicle, Robot and Frank
Well there you have it - another year down! In my opinion 2012 was a bloody great year for movies and choosing which films didn't make the cut was an uphill battle of mind and courage; I was this close to including Les Mis, which certainly deserves a spot on the list. In case you're interested, for the record as of now I've seen roughly 85 movies that came out this year, and reviewed 76 of them. Again, I'm not a professional critic (though I wish I was), so I don't see every movie that comes out (which hopefully doesn't rob my little blog of all its credibility). Anyway, thanks for reading you bitches...see you next year! xoxo
And some "top" films I missed this year: Holy Motors, Cosmopolis, Brooklyn Castle, Amour, The Impossible, This is Not a Film, Your Sister's Sister, The Lonliest Planet, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Keep the Lights On, Battleship, Red Dawn, The Twilight Saga Episode V: Vampires on Ice, That's My Boy, Man on a Ledge, Piranha 3DD, Rock of Ages, and Madea's Witness Protection.