Our Top Ten Movies of 2012
1. Seven Psychopaths- This is the year that movies mocked movies in order to point out things about our media culture (see also: Cabin in the Woods). Seven Psychopaths tackled the Tarantino-esque, fast-talking, brainy, gritty action flicks that we all love. It pointed out the staples (you can't kill dogs, just women), while telling a violent, funny story of its own. The cast was solid, the laughs were steady and rollicking, and the script was devilishly clever. We had high hopes for this movie because its writer also created another of our faves (In Bruges). This movie exceeded those expectations.
2. Looper- We reviewed this movie on this blog and we stand by everything we said. Good acting, story that went to an unexpected place, great messages, and intense action sequences. It was smart enough to get your brain rolling, but not needlessly heady like, say, Primer. We like smart movies. We just need them to still be fun/entertaining. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an actor to follow, not just because he's good at his craft, but because he makes intelligent script choices. He rarely has anything to do with a dud.
3. Django Unchained- One of Tarantino's most entertaining films. Yeah, there were gaping flaws, but it was the best time we'd had at the theater in a long time. Anything with that much bad ass Christoph Waltz is welcome. It's a shame Will Smith turned it down. We think he would have been better. Samuel L. Jackson was insanely awesome.
4. The Hobbit- Uneven, long first half saved by a great second half. Bilbo and Thorin were perfect. It was great to get back to middle earth. We've seen in twice now.
5. Les Miserables- It's hard to make Ern sob. This movie did it several times. One of our favorite musicals was done right with a revolutionary technique that actually had them singing live, keeping all the emotion. Almost every actor did a phenomenal job. If Anne Hathaway doesn't get the Oscar (and she will), we will scream.
6. Lincoln- Powerful, historically accurate, interesting, and touching. Tommy Lee Jones stole the show, but we think Daniel Day Lewis literally channeled Lincoln.
7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower- We heard this called "one of the few high school movies that gets it right." It's a good movie for outcasts who remember the first time they found a group of friends they could let their hair down with. It had a perfect, talented cast. We found out that Emma Watson is charismatic enough to exist without Harry Potter in a way that her costars aren't (sorry Daniel. We love you, and you try). Mae Whitman was in this. We were introduced to the wonderful Ezra Miller. We saw that Nina Dobrev can look even prettier than she does on the CW (ugh, we hate and love that girl). This movie got all the heartache and darkness of the novel, but didn't feel long or bulky.
8. Chronicle- Dane DeHaan would never have trouble getting girls, but that was the most unbelievable thing about this smart superhero movie that was grounded enough in humanity to be almost completely believable. It was probably TOO smart for the masses. It's set in high school, so it seems like young people would love it. But no. The cast and characters entertained, making this found footage film stand out. It's amazing that it's number four because we normally hate found footage films and think the gimmick is worn out. Not here.
9. Silver Linings Playbook- We both finally saw this. While some parts dragged and it took too much from Garden State, it was good overall. One of us thought DeNiro's early scenes were almost painful to watch. He only fit the movie when he shared scenes with Jennifer Lawrence, who lit up every moment she was in. We want her black jacket from this movie! Silver Linings Playbook is electric, adorable, and hilarious whenever Jennifer is in it. Fortunately, she's in it a lot. While her costar, Bradley Cooper, didn't command as much attention, we have to give him credit for a solid performance that carried the movie through its tough spots. He was the steady undercurrent of quality. We didn't know he could act that well.
10. The Dark Knight Rises- The final part of Chris Nolan's Batman trilogy was dark, serious, and overlong. Bane was hard to understand, and no one was going to top the Joker. This movie just had such a high bar since The Dark Knight was one of this decade's best and most addictive action movies. But we loved it. Ern saw it days before she took the bar exam and the movie made her forget about the bar exam. That's impressive. One of the best things about it was that it showed all the Hathaway Haters what she's worth. Catwoman brought much-needed fun, provided fodder for the grace/redemption theme, and managed to be sexy without going overboard or alienating female viewers. We cried at the end. Batman WOULD have sacrificed himself for Gotham and almost did. He ended up not having to, and good for Alfred. Sure, this movie has holes and flaws, but no movie is flawless, and this satisfied us. Seen as a whole, this is one of history's best trilogies.
Honorable mentions: The Hunger Games (book was much better, but the movie was a casting success), The Amazing Spiderman (too much like the first one, but with the kinks worked out and better actors), Skyfall (we're not James Bond fans, but this was one of the best from that franchise), Magic Mike (a surprisingly moral, thoughtful movie about falling in with the wrong crowd), Moonrise Kingdom (original, clean and funny), Zero Dark Thirty (a draining, long experience, but excellent), The Avengers (pure popcorn fun with nonstop action and redemption for the Hulk), Cabin in the Woods (smart satire of the horror genre with one of the best bloodbath scenes ever), 21 Jump Street (packed with laughs), Premium Rush (not boring at all), and Pitch Perfect (fun soundtrack and a perfect encapsulation of female college-age humor today; it will be watched and re-watched at slumber parties for years to come, not to be forgotten quickly).
2012 movies we haven't seen yet, but want to see/don't look like a waste of time: The Master, Argo, Flight, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Ted, Compliance, Cosmopolis.
Movies that sucked or disappointed us (that we saw; we try not to see bad stuff): Prometheus (great first half, stellar cast, second half was a letdown, overall movie was just strange and unsatisfying), Lawless (again, not that this sucked, but it should have been a lot better with the talent and ambitions involved), Savages (it had a cartoonish, clunky script, stupid/shallow characters, and was only saved by villain Salma Hayek, who is smarter than she gets credit for), Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (started off good and got worse as it went along; featured one of the worst love stories and least believable couples we've ever seen), The Odd Life of Timothy Green (good intentions and good casting choices couldn't save this dull, hole-filled script), Hope Springs (uncomfortable), The Campaign (unfunny and sexist), This Means War (okay, we knew this was gonna suck, but Tom Hardy was in it and he's hot. We guess we got what we paid for), The Dictator (after Borat and Bruno had us quoting and shrieking with disgusted laughter, The Dictator couldn't meet that bar, even if you like that humor), Wanderlust (did Paul Rudd even read that script?), Here Comes the Boom (a sucky Warrior rip-off), Act of Valor (you after admire courage and sacrifice, but the bad acting and script ruined this. We didn't want them to talk. We just wanted them to keep blowing things up), Mirror Mirror (ugh), and The Woman in Black (good movie, bad ending).
Agree? Disagree? Did we miss anything? Your top ten?