The Oscars were the other night and, while I typically find them to be a giant snore fest, I do have interest in who takes home the golden god. I managed to see about 10 minutes of it, which was more than enough especially considering that 10 minutes included the hard-working constant and over-looked Ben Affleck and the hawtest dress of the night.
I agreed with some of the choices and thought others were slights or abominations. Out of the nine films duking it out for best picture this year, I saw only two. They were both good, solid movies but neither would top any of my lists. Here are the films that did in 2012.
The Avengers - This movie was a long time in the making. They had to roll out the individual characters movies before this could work and they had to take four big name heroes with big time personalities and make them mesh together in an organic and seamless way. And they pulled it off. In spades. The Avengers wins the comic book movie showdown of 2012 in my book for making it fly in such a badass and satisfying way. 2015 cannot get here soon enough.
The Dark Knight Rises - There is no way a comic book nerd like me is not gonna have this movie on their list. Although I will always prefer Batman Begins because it was the first movie that I felt really showed how superheroes and villains fit into the real world, I found all three movies in the trilogy to be phenomenal and I will miss seeing old Bats through Nolan’s eyes in the movies to come.
The Amazing Spiderman - I am an old school weirdo that has difficulty with change, like every other fat boy comic guy out there. So clearly I was concerned about yet another reboot of a well loved character. Especially because I thoroughly enjoyed Sam Raimi’s version. Well, the first two movies anyway. I was surprised by how much I liked this movie, despite the few niggling character discrepancies that only comic geeks like me like to snivel about.
The thing that makes Spidey great is his relatability, his humanity and his cheeky nature. He’s got the whole great responsibilty/great power thing going on, but that doesn’t bog him down as it does with someone like Superman or even Batman because the seriousness and the could-be-treacly goodness is tempered with the steady stream of one-liners and an almost joie de vivre during combat. This new Spiderman has an edge, a darkness born of loss. It’s something that has been missing in the past. His comments in this movie have a little more sarcastic bite, a little more weight to the tone, a defiance of sorts. And it works. Because underneath it all, he’s still good old Peter Parker who will take it on the chin for any one of us and come back for more. And there is always more to be found.
Hunger Games - I am not a bandwagon jumper when it comes to books. I typically stay away from series that burn like wildfire across the internet for fear of suffering through poorly written tripe such as Twilight. But when I read my sister was on board, I decided to give The Hunger Games a read. And I was hooked. The characters were compelling(more so in the books, as it usually the case), the story raced at a thrillingly rapid pace and each chapter, and book, left you teetering on some edge and desperate to get the 411.
The movie was not quite as captivating as the book in large part because much of Katniss’ personality comes through her internal dialogue in the book which isn’t easily translated to film. Despite that, and the typical discordance of the images of the mind of the reader and those of the film maker, I enjoyed it and look forward to Catching Fire.
Madagascar 3 - This movie demonstrates what it feels like to be on the best acid trip in the history of ever. Brightly colored, frantic and frenetic, unexpected and remarkable acts happening without rhyme or reason and all to a staccato techno beat. Plus…
Chronicle - This was a cool little movie that, in my opinion, didn’t get enough burn. Clearing I’m partial to the superhero dealio, to anything really with a supernatural bent. This movie used the found footage trick to great advantage, again showing us how a regular person could be transformed into something highly irregular. It also showed how what we are and what we’ve been through makes a difference on what we take from wins and losses. I’m hoping for a sequel.
Cabin in the Woods - Remember when horror movies were scary rather than sex and gore fests? My husband still wants to watch these movies, despite every one deemed after viewing as lame, stupid and definitely not scary. This crazy little film fits perfectly into what I look for in a movie – funny, scary, makes you think. It also doesn’t hurt that it was written by Joss Whedon, the Geek King. The scary is always better with the funny and that man does it better than anyone.
Looper - I found this movie, despite the distracting makeover on Joseph Gordon-Levitt, to be wholly engaging and thought provoking. I enjoyed the slip to the morality inside this world and this character. Obviously the science fiction aspect is attractive to a person like me, but I think it was also of interest to those with preferences outside the genre. The creativity and willingness to set art on its head that Gordon-Levitt possesses in all the projects he participates in was evident in this film. Emily Blunt surprised me with a role outside her typical fare. The two things that pulled me out of it were the changes to Gordon-Levitt’s face and the kid having been on One Tree Hill. As much as I love OTH, and I really, really do, that character doesn’t have any right to share a screen with the kind of talent showcased in this film. Those things aside, I highly recommend this to anyone(other than my mother) who likes a side of rumination with their thrillers.
Safety Not Guaranteed - A movie rife with indie comedians, awkward and grumpy Aubrey Plaza who rules Parks and Rec with her zany hubby, Jake M. Johnson who does the same on New Girl and Mark Duplass who is pretty much ubiquitous in indie film and television these days. Throw in an offbeat character or two, lo-fi sci-fi and time travel and I am sold. This film could have easily gone for the cheap and easy laughs at the expense of the eccentric, but instead it honored the wonderfulness of human connection and celebrated the imagination. Hello, win column.
Ruby Sparks - Paul Dano is the awkward poster boy for Independent Spirit and his glowy little sprite girlfriend Zoe Kazan makes them the perfect indie couple. Kazan wrote and stars in the movie, which should feel odd or pretentious as she’s cast herself as Dano’s ideal woman. But instead it comes across as authentic and engaging. It’s smart, gently funny and wants to make you think. It manages to do so without beating you over the head with message or an excess of depth. It’s the ultimate in indie romcom.
Moonrise Kingdom - This is my movie of the year. There was not one misstep in this film. Perfect from beginning to end. Yes, I am partial to Wes Anderson films, Rushmore is still in my top ten. And yes, I am partial to the whimsy. And the quirk. But neither, although present throughout, overwhelm the sweetness and wonder of young love. The cinematography is lush and redolent of simpler days gone by and the glorification of individuality and intellect. Even my horror/ridiculous comedy loving husband loved it and, independent of my selection, claimed it as his favorite movie of 2012. If that doesn’t sell you, nothing will.