Thursday, January 3, 2013

My Top Ten Films of 2012

Oliver Stone is back and he still has the same in-your-face intensity that has been present throughout his career.  The stakes are high in this film, and there is never a dull moment.  The unique and well-rounded cast includes Blake Lively, Taylor Kitsch, Benicio Del Toro, John Travolta, Demián Bichir, and Salma Hayek.  Savages is a film that deals with life and death matters in a way that is dramatic, humorous, and never boring.  The music and the cinematography are top notch and really set the mood for this one.  Oliver Stone hasn’t lost his touch, and this was one of the most overlooked and unappreciated films of 2012.  If you like action, suspense, great acting, Savages is a film that you should seek out. You might have missed it during its summer run, but it is out on DVD right now and it will surprise you.
Smart movies for adults are few and far between these days.  Most mainstream films are aimed at the ever important 18-34 demographic. They are the ones that are coming out to the movies, buying popcorn, and spending their weekends inside a theater.  Adults have been dying to go to the movies, but there aren’t enough movies that are for them.  That all changed when The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel came out, which I felt was an OK movie, but the better adult movie is Hope Springs.  The cast includes Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell and focuses on a marriage that is going through the motions.  At times, it can be painful and heartbreaking to see these two (Streep and Jones) trying to get their mojo back, but it’s done in a way that is insightful, thought provoking and funny without being condescending. 
It’s no secret that Denzel Washington is one of the best actors working in Hollywood and has been for quite some time.  However, he might just give the best performance of his career in Flight.  This is not an easy character to like, root for, and care about thanks to his actions, but Denzel makes it to where we can’t keep our eyes off of him.  We follow his every move and are drawn to him, even as we see him making one poor decision after another.  The last thirty minutes of the film hit me like a hurricane.  This is Denzel at the top of his game in a film that deals with a tough subject matter in an intelligent matter.
Robert DeNiro, yes, he’s one of the best actors of all time, although he hasn’t shown it in a long time.  This is one of the best performances he’s given in at least a decade as an obsessed Philadelphia Eagles fan trying to save his son, played by Bradley Cooper, who suffers from bipolar disorder.  There’s also Jennifer Lawrence as the troubled girl that is in his life, even though all he can think about is his ex-wife.  There is football for the men, which I related to as a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan.  There is dancing for the women, which my girlfriend enjoyed.  There is something for everybody in Silver Linings Playbook.  It’s one of the year’s most pleasant surprises.
Jason Segal can do no wrong in my book, as I think he’s one of the most likable, charming, and funny actors working today. He shows off that considerable charm in Jeff, Who Lives At Home, which also stars Judy Greer and Ed Helms.  It’s a short little film, but it has something to say and Segal and Helms have a lot of fun bouncing off each other with their considerable comedic talents. The third act of the film goes in a unique direction, which put a huge smile on my face. Jeff might live at home, but for now, he lives at number five on my top ten of 2012. This film came and went when it was in theaters, but it’s worth seeing on DVD, without question.
I had never seen Les Miserables in any format and to be honest, I had no idea what it was about or how the story unfolded.  Needless to say, I was blown away within minutes of watching this film version.  It’s raw, powerful, and incredibly beautiful.  Hugh Jackman is the heart of the film, and he is perfect for a film like this, considering his history.  Russell Crowe surprised me, and he’s the strong and silent type in the film.  The revolution of the film, however, is Anne Hathaway, in a performance that rocked me to my core and hit me in a way I did not expect.   The film shook me and it took a few minutes after it was over to recover.  Wow.  This is a powerful motion picture.
No other film in 2012 affected me as much as Bully. I was in tears from the start of the film and I didn’t stop crying.  It is not an easy film to sit through or stomach, but it’s reality.  I’m glad this film was made and it needs to be seen.  This shows the harm and lifelong damage that is done by bullying.  It’s a major problem that is ignored, overlooked, and I hope it is brought to light by this film.  It’s a brave film, and I admire all of the families for participating in it and opening up like they did.  Real life is always more powerful and truthful than fiction.  That is Bully, without a shadow of a doubt.  Bully is the best documentary of 2012.
William Friedkin’s Killer Joe is the most daring and unconventional film of 2012.  The minute you see Gina Gershon’s bush, you know you are in store for a film that is going to shock you and get a reaction out of you.  My jaw was on the floor when this one was all said and done, and that’s rare when you see as many films as I do.  It’s violent, gross, bloody, funny, and completely original.  Matthew McConaughey is the actor of 2012, and I hope to see more great film work for him in the future like I saw in Killer Joe and Bernie.  Friedkin is a master at creating controversy and blurring the line between good guys and bad guys. Killer Joe is definitely a film you need to see. You might not like it. In fact, you might hate it.  But you will not be bored and you will be talking after it’s over.

 2) BERNIE   
Jack Black sings, dances, and kills in the offbeat and hilarious Bernie. Killer Joe is on my top ten list, which is another film that includes the new Matthew McConaughey, which is shown off in this brilliant piece of filmmaking.  It’s a true story, which makes it all the more interesting.  Black plays the flamboyant Bernie and nails it.  He charms everyone, even after he killed an old woman.  I don’t think any other actor would have been able to pull off this crazy performance but Black.  There are more good actors out there in Hollywood. They just need the right roles. 

Ben Affleck is one of the top three directors working today. 2010’s The Town was my favorite film of that year, and his newest film, Argo, is my favorite film of 2012.  He is a Hollywood pro when it comes to directing, and the last thirty minutes of the film will have you literally on the edge of your seat.  He takes his time with his story, allows his actors plenty of room to work, and has characters that are unique, real, and flawed. Argo is the type of old school Hollywood film that we need more of in today’s film landscape. It’s an intelligent film that shows what can happen when everyone works together during trying times.  This is an incredible film.


  1. Very good list. I just saw Jeff, Who Lives at Home yesterday on Netflix, and also thought it was great. Bernie's on there too so I should give that a look. And yes, Argo is also my favorite of 2012.

  2. Thank you, George! Glad you liked Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Really enjoyed its low key but thoughtful tone. Let me know your thoughts on Bernie. We both responded to many films the same way this year: Flight, Argo, Les Miserables. It shows we have similar tastes for sure.