So a year of 2012 films comes to an end. I feel I must confess that with travels and all there was a bit of a lack of 2012 vintage films for me to choose from to make up these lists. Now that I’ve put them together it also seems that it was mostly mainstream Hollywood films I watched this year, or perhaps it was just that 2012 was a great year for Hollywood. Below are my picks for the best and worst films of the year. I hope you enjoyed (or derided) them as much as I did.
The Best (in no particular order)
An original screenplay is like an endangered species these days in a world of adaptations and sequels. A film that is not only original but also intelligent is such a rare beast it would be a crime not to make my best of list. The film doesn’t get bogged down in the specifics of time travel but instead simply uses it as a plot tool. Joseph Gordon Levitt (a man who can do no wrong IMO) does a fabulous job of being Bruce Willis. Bruce Willis does a pretty good job of being Bruce Willis too.
Like his previous outing The Town Ben Affleck shows us how great he can be behind the camera. In fact, he’s probably better behind it than in front of it. Argo does a remarkable job of keeping the audience on the edge of our seats and gripping the armrests in suspense when we already know exactly how the film ends. A solid supporting cast including Bryan Cranston, John Goodman and Alan Arkin provide enough star power without detracting from the story. My only complaint is that with all the big lapels, moustaches, glasses and hair I got a couple of the characters confused at times.
Firstly let’s be honest, it’s no Alien. Ellie is no Ripley and the team as a whole don’t play off each other as well as in the earlier film. But the film is gorgeously shot right from the opening scenes (filmed in my favourite country, Iceland) with a plot that nods enough to Alien while still doing enough to be a great film on its own terms. Ellie’s caesarean scene holds its place in my mind as the most horrifying and squirm-inducing depiction of childbirth since the early work of David Cronenberg. Loved it.
Bond is back and Skyfall is Craig’s best. I was never as much a fan of Casino Royale as others (no-one really seems to be a fan of Quantum of Solace); it all just seemed a bit like Bond was trying to be Jason Bourne. I don’t want endless brooding, shaky camera and shadowy organisations as villains. I want insane, deformed baddies and double entendres galore. Skyfall was the best of both worlds. While still staying true to the style of the earlier Craig films, this was a more traditional Bond. Bardem is one of the best Bond bad guys in years and the homoerotic undertones between Silva and Bond are entrancing. Also great is the debate throughout the film on the relevance of MI6 and spies like Bond in the modern era.
Cabin in the Woods
A film that divided audiences it seems, but one that I loved. Like Wes Craven’s Scream (one of my favourite films), it delved into why it is we like horror and what we want from it. It turned a lot of people off who felt cheated that this wasn’t a horror movie, but I feel that this mis-marketing was intentional. The ending of the film itself is a reflection of audience response at being denied what they paid to see. The film anticipated its own reception. That’s so Joss Whedon.
The Worst (from bad to worst)
Let’s be honest, I pretty much only watched this film because I knew it would either make my best or worst for the year. Wow. This film is completely unexpected boring. There were far too many scenes in which there was no stripping. It also probably doesn’t help that neither Channing Tatum nor Matthew McConaughey are my type. Only one of the plot points is resolved – the one where Channing Tatum has a crush on the grumpiest woman alive – everything else is just forgotten about.
Way too long with leads that are uncharismatic at best (the two guys) and rage-inducing at worst (Blake Lively). Probably the worst use of voice-over I’ve ever heard. Blake Lively plays a woman who’s received a tertiary education but needs to look up the dictionary definition of “savage”. Also she compares her sex life with one of her boyfriends to his experiences in Afghanistan thusly “I had orgasms, he had wargasms”. I think my IQ just dropped 10 points typing that.
Perhaps some will see this and wonder why I bothered, but I was a genuine fan of Piranha 3D. Sure, it was no Citizen Kane, but it perfectly blended senseless gore, lots of boobies and just enough story to keep you caring about the characters. The sequel however did not. Its sole redeeming feature was 2 original songs by David Hasselhoff. There was no story, or at least none that even made sense in its own universe. The characters were so forgettable I’m not entirely sure why they bothered naming them. Also, the trailer promised me double the Ds, and if anything there were less Ds….but possibly more vagina.
Here’s looking forward to a great year of film for 2013. I eagerly anticipate bests that are better and worsts that are more ludicrous.