With the new year kicking off, it’s time to look back at 2012; a year that brought a close to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy and the Twilight franchise as well as kicking off a new trilogy in the form of The Hobbit. Marvel’s multi-movie continuity experiment payed off with The Avengers taking over $1 billion at the box office, and studios continued to push 3D – re-releasing everything from Titanic to The Phantom Menace in a bid to rake in some extra revenue.
There were a lot of great films this year, but if I was to write about all of them my hands would probably fall off. So I’ve narrowed down the field to a few standouts. Without further ado, let me present my awards for 2012; like the Oscars, but without any of that pesky credibility.
Surprise of the Year
End of Watch was a movie that I never had any intention of seeing. I’d heard snippets about it here and there but everything just seemed to indicate it would be another generic cop movie. The recommendation “it’s actually pretty good” that was given to me along with the tickets didn’t do anything to raise my hopes. The first few minutes didn’t do much for me either, but before too long the credits rolled and all I could say was “Wow.”
This is an incredibly powerful movie that will stay with you long after you’ve left the theatre. William Friedkin (director of the amazing French Connection) opined that End of Watch “may be the best cop movie ever” and it’s hard to argue with him. End of Watch never lets you feel truly comfortable, but it will keep you riveted to the screen throughout. Easily one of the best movies of the year.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower – The trailer nearly put me off this movie completely, seeming to be nothing more than another teen angst movie. But this heartwarming/breaking tale of high-school drama is both darker and more beautiful than I could have expected.
Disappointment of the Year
Others far more eloquent than I have spoken at length about the many problems with Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien universe; but suffice it to say that Prometheus was a mess from beginning to end. Every time the film started to gather steam and become interesting, a bizarre character or story beat would come along and stop it dead.
While beautiful to look at, the plodding story, nonsensical characters and confused themes make this a movie that I am unlikely to watch again any time soon. Hopefully this isn’t a sign of things to come with the planned Blade Runner film.
The Dark Knight Rises – While this isn’t a bad film by any stretch of the imagination, it is one that makes me frustrated every time I think about it. The film essentially tells the same story twice and feels like it should have either been two movies or massively reworked. It was still enjoyable, just a lot less than I was expecting.
Worst Movie of the Year
Even going into The Expendables 2 with the lowest of expectations didn’t prepare me for how awful this movie could be. Jet Li at least had the sense to bail out of this one (literally) early in the film, but the rest of the stars give half-hearted performances; spouting terrible dialogue filled with one liners that are supposed to hearken back to the golden days of 80’s action, but instead only serve to remind us how long ago that really was. When you have Chuck Norris telling Chuck Norris jokes, you know you’ve hit rock bottom.
Worst of all, the action in this movie is dull and tame compared to the many great action films we’ve seen over the past few years. Nobody expected this movie to be Citizen Kane, but it couldn’t even get the one element everybody was expecting right. Avoid at all costs.
Honestly, nothing even comes close.
Movie of the Year
This was a tough call. There were a lot of great movies this year but Rian Johnson’s sci-fi gangster movie hit all the right buttons. Time travel is hard to pull off at the best of times, but Looper manages to avoid getting bogged down in the paradoxes and sticks fairly well to a solid internal logic. The film is visually striking (the rainmaker scene comes to mind), full of interesting characters, and is one of the best sci-fi films made in a number of years.
In an age where every studio is focused on the next big franchise, it’s wonderful to see that great stand-alone genre films can still hold their own. Here’s hoping that we see a lot more of them in future.
Argo – Even after several viewings, Argo remains one of the most tense films that I’ve seen in a long time and only narrowly missed out on being my Movie of the Year. The casting is impeccable and the amount of research done to get the feel of the time period right shows in every frame. A must see.
Best Movie you might have missed
Iron Sky is one of those movies that you’ll either love or hate. If you find the idea of Moon Nazi’s invading earth with giant space zeppelins funny, this movie is for you. Iron Sky knows exactly how ridiculous its premise is and runs with it. The actors are obviously having a great time chewing the scenery, and Julia Dietze in particular turns in a fantastic performance as the Nazi hausfrau with a heart of gold (there’s a sentence I never thought I’d write).
Made on a small budget over 6 or so years, Iron Sky is a little outdated at points (e.g. a lot of Sarah Palin jokes), but remains a fun romp that is well worth watching.
Beasts of the Southern Wild – While the often used shaky camera can be rather off-putting at first, Beasts of the Southern Wild is well worth sticking with. This simple tale of a six-year-old’s world slowly unravelling is both heartbreaking and full of hope.
Most Anticipated of 2013
J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek in 2009 was exactly the kick in the pants the franchise needed. While far from perfect, the film managed to reawaken my love of the series. Speculation still runs wild over whether the villain of the next movie is Khan or Gary Mitchell, but one thing is certain: Benedict Cumberbatch makes anything better. May can’t come soon enough.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug – The first Hobbit movie was a lot of fun, and the 48fps technology really brought it to life. Even if The Desolation of Smaug is only just as good as the previous film, this is sure to be one of the more enjoyable films of 2013.