Over the last few weeks, I aggressively searched for the films I’ve missed in 2012. As is the case with every year, I hopelessly resign any chance of seeing all releases. Nonetheless, I feel that I’ve watched enough to submit my formal “Top Ten” for the year. As I looked back on the year, I couldn’t help but feel that 2012 was kind to cinemas. In my mind, 2012 is the best film year since 2007, which I will always champion as one of the finest calendar years for film. Being that the year was so strong, I simply couldn’t limit my list to ten films. I felt like I was sacrificing a lot of terrific films by treating the list like a ceiling. So, this year finds me delivering a list of 15 films that wowed me. Before I dictate films 15-11, listed below are a list of films that were close to making the list, but were left on the cutting room floor. As always, harass me if you think I’m dead wrong.
15. Cabin in the Woods (Original Review)
Prior to watching Cabin in the Woods, you should know absolutely nothing about it. The only thing you should know is that it’s a terrific horror film that blends spot on humor with grisly gore. Written in part by nerd god Joss Whedon, and directed by Drew Goddard, Cabin in the Woods deconstructs the horror genre while paying homage to horror classics like Evil Dead. The film’s ending is a bit underwhelming, but the level of thrills and laughs that come before it make it a bona fide blast.
14. Take This Waltz (Original Review)
Infidelity has never been as charming as it is in Sarah Polley’s excellent Take This Waltz. Set in Toronto amidst a sultry summer, Take This Waltz is a colorful examination on the evolution of love, dissipating passion, and the challenges of growing old. One of the film’s most impressive features is its incessant need to treat its characters like flawed individuals versus oblivious romantic pariahs. Striking this kind of balance forces us to earnestly judge the two relationships set before us, as well as their longstanding effects. When you combine the well-written script with the terrific acting and lush visuals, Take This Waltz is one of the year’s most effective case studies on love.
13. Holy Motors (Original Review)
I wish I could dictate the true intentions behind Holy Motors, but I still have no idea what it’s really about. Regardless of my stupefying ignorance, Holy Motors is a wholly engaging film that is constantly manipulating viewer expectations. Playing more like a collection of vignettes strung together by Denis Lavant’s shape shifting performance, Holy Motors hypnotically bounces around between varying genres and bizarre characters. Convention is nonexistent, as we are left to decipher writer/director Leos Carax’s intentions. No matter how we define it, Holy Motors appeals to our imagination simply because it’s otherworldly.
12. Life of Pi (Original Review)
Visually speaking, Life of Pi is worth the price of admission. The sheer technical wizardry behind the film is awe-inspiring. Thankfully the film’s visuals add even more power to Ang Lee’s iteration of a story about a young teen that’s lost at sea with a Bengal tiger. Tethered to a lone life boat, the film’s protagonist battles the elements, and finds a level of peace with the philosophical and religious turmoil bellowing within. Anchored by another terrific score by Mychael Danna, Life of Pi is a wondrous life affirming tale of survival.
11. Argo (Original Review)
Historical accuracy aside, Ben Affleck’s Argo is one of the more intense films of the year. Based on a true story, Argo recounts the recon mission set forth to rescue six Americans caught behind Iranian lines during the Iranian revolution. The situation is dramatic unto itself, but Affleck’s terse pacing leads to a handful of explosive moments. Yet, the film’s greatest asset is its use of humor. Considering the real recon mission revolved around the creation of a false Hollywood production, much of the film’s laughs come at the expense of Hollywood and Washington’s vapid behavior. From beginning to end, Argo is a humorous, crowd pleasing thriller worthy of your attention.