I have seen around 30 films this year, which hardly qualifies to make a Best of list and since most of the bigger awards don’t get announced for a couple of months, I will wait until then before doing some 2012 Film Awards posts involving best films, performances, etc… This will give me time to catch up on the numerous films I have yet to see. Until then, this serves as a placeholder for my favorites I have seen this year.
In alphabetical order:
Beasts of the Southern Wild-A hopeful, imaginative film featuring one of the best performances of the year. It shows the child’s perspective of life while entering one of the most unique worlds in all of film this year.
Cabin in the Woods-A meta-commentary of sorts on the horror genre provides scares, twists, and some of the most creative moments in all of the movies this year. It simultaneously meets and flip your expectations on their head.
Damsels in Distress-A strange quirk infested film with no real discernible message, but the characters are charming in their own special ways creating an intriguing sort of humor that draws the audience in (or out).
Declaration of War-When faced with life’s toughest moments, we can either face them head on or give in and give up. The characters in Declaration choose to fight back, which results in a life affirming tale that occasionally goes into magical realism while beautifully portraying a couple’s desire to survive. It’s refreshing.
I Wish-I Wish shows 2 brothers who rely on a myth to bring their family back together, but it also expands beyond this, showing how each of us hopes on things outside of ourselves, and how these dreams can come true.
Looper-A perfect genre film that not only nails the time-travel plot line, but shows a sliver of hope in a dystopian world where selfishness abounds. It satisfies on every level and is an instant classic.
The Master-Yeah, I don’t get it, but within The Master exists the most sticking images, scenes, and performances of the year. More viewings and time will show just what this movie is, but for now it cannot be ignored.
Monsieur Lazhar-An inspirational school film done in a really thoughtful way, in between the hopelessness and frustration of The Class while not becoming emotionally manipulative like Mr. Holland’s Opus or Dead Poet’s Society.
Moonrise Kingdom-The costumes, setting, and editing are brilliant as always and the characters are more rich than ever. While it seems like a quirky indie comedy (and it certainly is on some level), it is also utterly heartbreaking, as 2 children, let down by the “adults” that surround them, leave to make their own world, to figure out what life means all on their own. One of the best ensemble casts leads the way in this wonderful film.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia-A group of men search for where a dead body has been buried, but really this description doesn’t matter, as the film is not focused on if they will find the body or not. Long, beautiful shots show the landscape of Anatolia as slowly we begin to piece together the story, getting to know this people and culture little by little. There is no real clear meaning to what is happening, but there is no film more beautiful this year either.
Oslo, August 31-A man is given leave from drug rehab in order to go for a job interview in the city he grew up in. He experiences the love he once had for this place, while also exploring the places that caused him to head down a darker path. It is about how we deal with people with addictions, the memory of our hometowns, and get captured by the darkness.
Sound of Noise-Musical terrorists invade Sweden as a police officer who hates music tries to catch them in the act. Yes that is the plot of this interesting comedy and it is worth watching just for this alone. The musical “attack” sequences are fantastic and edited together brilliantly.
Undefeated-This documentary about a high school football team looking for its first ever playoff victory is as good a sports movie as there is. Following several high school players and the head coach around for the football year as they struggle through life’s ups and downs, learning what it is to grow up and to be successful. It’s interesting in all that it features about football, but like any good film it is about much more than just that. Emotionally wrenching, Undefeated is certainly worth a watch, if you like football or not.
Wreck-it Ralph-Essentially Toy Story but with video games, Wreck-it Ralph not only does an excellent job of world building, but it has wonderful characters to match its great storytelling. It tells of being the weirdo, the outcast and in a truly touching way empowers those characters without the easiness that typically exists in kid’s movies.
Your Sister’s Sister-About 2 sisters and a guy who all meet in a cabin and basically just talk, though some may not be interested in this premise, the acting is so well done that it carries the film throughout its emotional highs and lows. It deals with heartbreak, love, and family in the most real ways possible.