I hope you’re ready for another heaping of films that I loved in 2012. Before I expose the next five, lets take a quick photographic look at the films I absolutely despised or that disappointed me this year. You know, I have to hate from time to time. Here we go:
May I Have My Money Back Please?:
10. Looper (Original Review)
If you’ve read my film awards article, then you already know I love Rian Johnson’s Looper. Featuring a deftly written screenplay, Looper is the kind of film that proudly places characters over concept. Set in a distant future, Looper finds an assassin (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) seeking the death of his future self (Bruce Willis). By way of makeup and exhaustive mimicry, Gordon-Levitt perfectly emulates the physical nuances of Bruce Willis. Outside the film’s technical prowess, the stakes established between Gordon-Levitt’s and Willis’ iterations of one man give Looper an unbelievable amount of emotional weight. Once the film slowly burns to its minimal action set pieces, we’re undeniably caught between the present and the future. Most importantly, Looper empowers us to question the ramifications of erasing the future and maintaining the past.
9. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Original Review)
Written and directed by Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild is a ferocious debut by a singular talent. The film’s dilapidated and forlorn setting, which resurrects images of New Orleans post Katrina, houses a deep-fried fairy tale told through the fractured prism of a little girl. Zeitlin’s imagery and writing perfectly represent the mindset of a precocious girl starting to understand her place in the world. The crux of the film’s strength, outside of Zeitlin’s tremendous sense of space and time, is the lead performance from acting newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis. Wallis, who has never acted before, sets the screen ablaze with a thunderous performance. Her performance, like the film, is unlike anything you’ll see this year.
8. Silver Linings Playbook (Original Review)
By the time Silver Linings Playbook ends, it appears as if everyone in David O. Russell’s film possesses a level of madness to a degree. But then again, I guess it’s a truth that invariably finds itself in our own lives. Featuring fractured characters, Silver Linings Playbook walks the line between melodramatic and hilariously unhinged. Framed within O. Russell’s in tune direction are two charismatic performances from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. Both actors give their characters vicious bites and forgiving hearts, finding both the sadness and humor in their character’s deeply forged dispositions. Together, along with an extremely talented cast and O. Russell’s swift direction, Cooper and Lawrence make Silver Linings Playbook one of the year’s most oddly endearing love stories.
7. Oslo, August 31st (Original Review)
Oslo, August 31st is a challenging film that some will find tedious, or at least my domestic friends will grow weary of. This Austrian film, written and directed by Joachim Trier, follows a rehabilitating drug addict as he wanders the streets of Oslo, contemplating the value of his existence. Dialog heavy and a bit downbeat, Trier’s film possesses a deliberate pace that’s dignified by authentic scenes between vanishing friends and lost lovers. The film’s subject, Anders, is wonderfully brought to life by Anders Danielson Lie. His performance delivers an emotional wallop, as he gives life to a man that’s frightened, but desperately seeking an ounce of optimism. Once the film’s final quiet moments sink in, we gain an appreciation for the small, seemingly insignificant minutes Anders shares with his past.
6. Seven Psychopaths (Original Review)
Four years ago, Martin McDonagh burst onto the scene with his directorial effort, In Bruges, a potent mixture of black comedy, philosophical musings, and brazen moments of violence. McDonagh’s second film, Seven Psychopaths, finds him concocting yet another blend of dizzying elements to form one of the year’s most frenetic films. At the forefront of McDonagh’s blood soaked, laugh filled film is an effervescent motley crew of actors playing demented characters that are practically frothing at the mouth. Leading McDonagh’s troupe of morally stunted people is the wholly enjoyable Sam Rockwell, whose controlled chaos is just as charming as it is vicious. Rockwell’s performance encapsulates the film as a whole, where brilliantly layered dialog supplement moments of insanity. Delirious, bold, and enchanting, Seven Psychopaths is robust entertainment.