Hey folks, Harry here... before I get into a formal Best of 2012 lists, I figured I'd just write up a look back at 2012 in general.
First - what a wonderfully great year in Movie theaters for a geek like me.
In January we had our first Apocalypse film of the year with THE DIVIDE - a lean and mean nightmare of a movie. Michael Biehn was awesome in that, but man... what a nightmare world to live in. We also got WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN which made us all terribly afraid of having children that could one day go on a killing spree... and then that's exactly where we end up in December after that exact scenario played out... only without a bow and arrow. We also had MAN ON A LEDGE, which was certainly a silly thriller with Jake Sully starring. My fave film of January was the absolutely fantastic THE GREY with Liam Neeson & Frank Grillo - both of whom deserve nominations for their incredible work in Carnahan's best film to date. It's still one of the absolute best movies of 2012.
In February, it kicked off with a fucking awesome bang. Remember that first weekend when we got CHRONICLE, THE INNKEEPERS and THE WOMAN IN BLACK. INNKEEPERS continued Ti West's awesome run of small, yet incredibly effective thrillers. THE WOMAN IN BLACK had Harry Potter in a wonderfully atmospheric and scary ghost story from HAMMER Films! CHRONICLE was spectacular. An absolute delight. One of those films that hardly anyone was anticipating, but once it screened - it gathered a whole lot of lovers. I think watching everyone involved in making CHRONICLE is a very good idea - and let's hope that Josh Trank can make a great FANTASTIC FOUR. But that was just that first weekend. That next weekend we had the first of the STAR WARS 3D conversions - EPISODE 1... at that time, we couldn't foretell what would happen with STAR WARS. People thumbed their nose at this - but man... podracing in 3D was really cool. We also had the much more fun JOURNEY 2: THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND which kids loved. For those that saw CHICO & RITA, which was nominated last year for the Academy Awards for best Animated film. CHICO & RITA played like a revelation. Wonderful tale of love and Cuban beat music. Then we had GHOST RIDER: SPIRIT OF VENGEANCE - which felt like a fun drive-in theater version of GHOST RIDER - it sorely needed to be R-rated though, which is the key to doing the right GHOST RIDER flick. In my opinion. McG came out with the excellently cast frothy dessert called THIS MEANS WAR, which had more air than substance, but I couldn't help enjoying the charisma of those involved. Then there was ACT OF VALOR which followed a SEAL team on mission to take down terrorists - this had action fans holding their breath a bit, but ultimately ZERO DARK THIRTY erased this from just about everyone's minds. It was a light film in terms of acting, character work, etc. The action was pretty damn wow.
In March, PROJECT X unleashed the party from hell movie the same time that THE LORAX hit. Personally I liked the film. Just thinking about Danny DeVito being The Lorax made me giggle all on its own. But March 9th wound up giving me one of the several DREAM films that I've been wanting to see for about as long as I can remember. Andrew Stanton finally was the director to make a real damn fine JOHN CARTER of Mars flick. Disney mangled the release, but fans that saw the film, seemed to love it, even if the PR campaign blew. The real disaster that was released that weekend was A THOUSAND WORDS - a film that people making their WORST OF 2012 would do well to remember. JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI was one of the spiritually perfect films of 2012 - check it out on Netflix. 21 JUMP STREET caused people to cough up lungs laughing, but it felt oddly flat to me. Shame. Wish it had played for me the way it did for so many friends. It just wasn't funny to me. My loss. Then Gary Ross slapped pop culture for a loop with his adaption of THE HUNGER GAMES, which was the first real Box Office titan of 2012. Also the second film with a BOW & ARROW theme. I really do feel 2012 was the year of the Bow & Arrow. Now the same day that THE HUNGER GAMES opened - the best fucking action film of 2012 hit, THE RAID: REDEMPTION. It will knock you silly. You'll rewind to watch sequences over and over again. If you loved this film, by all means check out MERANTAU too! March finished strong. WRATH OF THE TITANS was so much better than the CLASH OF THE TITANS remake, but I feel too many felt so burned by the first film that they didn't dare give it a chance, but for me... I liked it's END OF THE GREEK GODS theme and I was captivated to hear a new tale of Perseus. The Weinstein Company gave us BULLY which the MPAA totally fucked up by giving it an R - this film should be played at the start of the year in every school in the country. HOWEVER - the most entertaining film of MARCH of 2012 fell to GOON, this hockey movie will make you cry laughing. It's the best thing Seann William Scot and Jay Baruchel have done and it has me watching Michael Dowse's career with interest.
April began with TITANIC 3D, which was awesome to see in 3D. James Cameron & Vince Pace should over see all 3D conversions. Just my opinion. April also saw the release of my first film as a Producer with COMIC CON: EPISODE IV: A FAN'S HOPE. That weekend also had Whit Stillman returning to screens with DAMSELS IN DISTRESS, another wonderful film! And that crazy horror scenario flick ATM, which was oddly disturbing. But I loved Willem Dafoe in THE HUNTER - where he was hunting the ellusive Tasmanian Tiger. Brilliant work on DaFoe's part. Then CABIN IN THE WOODS hit and all was just super happy. CABIN IN THE WOODS became a geek addiction and frankly that's what makes us geeks rule. We embrace a film like this right from the get go. It will grow in cult stature quickly! THE THREE STOOGES was actually pretty entertaining. Huge shock for me, I was expecting nightmares forever. April wound up holding the release of HEADHUNTERS, which is one of my favorite Fantastic Fest films that I've ever discovered there. Do not miss that film. THE RAVEN was utterly ridiculous and just didn't work. Aardman released THE PIRATES! BAND OF MISFITS and again they nailed it. You can never go wrong with Aardman. Linklater knocked BERNIE out of the park with what held the best performance to date from Jack Black. And Apatow's company gave us THE FIVE YEAR ENGAGEMENT which did feel a bit long, but good.
Then May came along and bitchslapped the world with THE AVENGERS - a film that took the depressingly realistic superhero vibe and junked it, so we could have a whole lot of fun. THE AVENGERS is the perfect MARVEL film to date. We need more & it looks like that's exactly what we're going to get. MARVEL stood tall with THE AVENGERS and I hope they keep knocking them out of the park. So great. I watch the film habitually. And in 3D on my Home 3D Projection? HOLY SHIT, how did we ever get this lucky!!! Loved having Hawkeye representing masculine use of the Bow & Arrow in 2012! Then Tim Burton released DARK SHADOWS, a film that I quite enjoy for the crazy melodrama it was. Ultimately though I feel the film was trying to tell too much of the story all at once, but I have a lot of fun with this gothic soap opera. Unheralded, yet great, Derick Martini released HICK - a film of haunting power featuring truly great performances from Chloe Moretz, Blake Lively, Eddie Redmayne and Alec Baldwin. HICK is one of the great overlooked films of 2012. Remember when BATTLESHIP was supposed to teach us what a SUPER MOVIE was? Instead it taught us about a super shitty movie. MIB 3 closed out the month at the box office, and I love that film solely for the awesome that is Josh Brolin doing Tommy Lee Jones. Actually, MIB3 is my fave of that series. But that same day we had Wes Anderson gifting us with his MOONRISE KINGDOM. What a great kids film - also check out I DECLARE WAR if you can - especially if you love MOONRISE KINGDOM.
June got underway with SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN - which more people remember for scandal reasons, than for the really cool stuff that went down in the film. Loved the production design throughout. Liked Kristen Stewart, Chris Hemsworth and Charlize Theron in this, but the dwarfication process for Nick Frost, Bob Hoskins, Ian McShane, Toby Jones and others was the real delight of the film for me. Distracting, but captivating. John Gulager also gave us PIRANHA 3DD, which was a whole lot of trashy fun. Then Ridley Scott gave us PROMETHEUS. For me, this is my favorite film to talk with fans and friends about in 2012. In a year where we looked to the ancients for our own ends, I found it amazing to have a huge film about looking to the sky for our own origins. PROMETHEUS felt like a huge big EC Weird Science-Fantasy story that they never told - and I love that it is the beginning of its own story and not a direct prequel to the stories we already have. Then I saw one of the worst films I've ever suffered through, ROCK OF AGES. Wow. I don't have enough hate for this film. So I'll spend passion on telling you about Nacho Vigalondo's EXTRATERRESTRIAL, his second wonderful film after his debut with TIMECRIMES. EXTRATERRESTRIAL is a wondeful science fiction story about what happens in a town that wakes up to a giant space ship overhead. Not at all like any of the films with a giant space ship above a city. Nacho made the story his own. Bless him! Then Pixar gave us BRAVE, continuing the Bow & Arrow theme! BOW & ARROW box office came to right at $1.5 Billion at the domestic Box office. So when do we get a great GREEN ARROW movie? Heh! Now I flipped for ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, but then I've been a fan of Timur Behmambetov from the beginning of his career making those NIGHTWATCH & DAYWATCH films - which are still my favorite films of his... but that horse stampede and train fight are a pair of the most insane scenes I've seen captured on film. Sure it doesn't look real, but aren't you sick of reality yet? This is a crazy movie that has our most beloved figure in American History chopping the heads off the evil fucking undead!!! What's not to love? June ended with male strippers and foul mouthed pot headed teddy bears - and America was happy as hell about it. TED is the much more fun film, though MAGIC MIKE certainly glistened.
July got underway with a new Oliver Stone film, this one called SAVAGES - which is a crime film involving Marijuana in California. It didn't get a big push, but it's a solid film. In particular, I like Salma Hayek quite a bit in it. She's... well, you'll see. Then I reviewed THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and I'll probably never live down thinking that THE DARK KNIGHT RISES was a painfully inadequate follow up to THE DARK KNIGHT, which was a truly landmark Comic Book film. I found DARK KNIGHT RISES lacking in Batman, lacking in a great villian, lacking in well choreographed fights and insulting to the BATMAN that I've spent a life loving. The film is handsome, but it isn't the BATMAN movie I was hoping for. For those that did love it, congrats - this great year is even better for you, than me. William Friedkin released KILLER JOE - which featured a Gina Gershon role that should be nominated for Supporting Actress. She's amazing in this film - which plays as a modern noir. Truly great film from Friedkin! It was easily the best film of July!
August started with the utterly unnecessary remake of TOTAL RECALL. Len Wiseman needs to go to director jail, where he should be forced to watch the great films that it is absolutely evident he is completely unaware of. Then they made THE BOURNE LEGACY without Matt Damon... and it kicked ass. But not as a Bourne film, but as an origin story for HAWKEYE. At least that's how I watched THE BOURNE LEGACY. I like to pretend that the AVENGERS' Hawkeye's pre-origin was in HURT LOCKER. He was reborn into a secret super soldier program in THE BOURNE LEGACY, after which Sam Jackson's Nick Fury recruited this nameless cadaver to be Hawkeye. Yeah, cinematically - it works for me! COSMOPOLIS was the first Cronenberg movie in a long time to just bore the hell out of me. In fact the best Cronenberg film that came to my eyes in 2012 was ANTIVIRAL which is a great body horror film and satire. Can't say enough about ANTIVIRAL, the less I say about COSMOPOLIS the better. EXPENDABLES 2 was bigger and sillier than the first - and Chuck Norris was just crazy! PARANORMAN became my favorite animated film of 2012, Laika is just doing great work - and the tech used in this film is amazing. David Koepp released a great little bicycle thriller with Joseph Gordon Levitt called PREMIUM RUSH. THE APPARITION was the best Paranormal Activity film of the year. SAMSARA was such a majestic follow up to BARAKA. The best Tom Hardy performance of 2012 came in LAWLESS, a true story about the wettest county ever. Hardy became legendary in the film. Be sure to check it out, John Hillcoat did a great job off of Nick Cave's script - and the music is awesome! Drafthouse Films released my favorite documentary of 2012, THE AMBASSADOR - a film that had me biting my nails and pissed off.
September got underway with the very very very strange BRANDED, getting through the first hour or so involves dedication, but where the film ends up is something more captivating than I thought the film had in it. I love the notion of BRANDS as a living viral thing sapping our human will. Not sure if this film nailed it - but it brings up great stuff to chat about. Then FINDING NEMO came out in 3D - and it was really really really cool in 3D! Just beautiful! But even more beautiful... even cooler... Paul Thomas Anderson made a 70mm movie about a pair of desperate characters that became friends in a time where one of them was birthing his own religion. SCIENTOLOGY isn't really on display here, the film is more about the exquisite character work and relationships that form in the film. It is breathtaking to behold in 70mm. Paul continues to be one of our great filmmakers! THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER became one of the big surprises for me. DREDD became one of my favorite movies of 2012 - and the coolest shot 3D movie yet. I'm gonna talk more about that in a piece I'm going to do on 3D at Home soon. DREDD 3D Blu Ray 3D is WOW! More on that later. END OF WATCH by David Ayer is a brutal flick - you fall for Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena. Anna Kendrick is surprising in the film as well. Really wonderful buddy cop film, told with a realism akin to TRAINING DAY. September was also when SOLOMON KANE finally came to the United States! Great stuff. Then Genndy Tartakovsky got to direct a feature animated film with HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA - and he did real real good! Anna Kendrick knocked PITCH PERFECT out of the park. Such a fun a cappella movie. The film is carried by a whole bunch of young comedic talent that are in perfect unison throughout this movie. If you haven't checked it out, you're missing out on a lot of fun. Then there's LOOPER by Rian Johnson. It's one of the best written & directed science fiction movies you've seen. If you haven't seen it, rectify your situation immediately! It just hit on Blu!
October got underway after another tremendous Fantastic Fest! Where FRANKENWEENIE world premiered with Tim Burton and the cast! FRANKENWEENIE felt like 100% vintage Tim Burton having a blast. I'd give Martin Landau an award for best supporting actor in an animated film for this! His Science Teacher is my dream Science Teacher! AWESOME work Martin! TAKEN 2 phoned it in. Massawyrm unleashed his SINISTER upon the world - and it scared the hell out of a lot of ya. SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS kicked everyone's ass. And Ben Affleck continued to earn our respect for his outstanding directing and acting in ARGO! ARGO feels like a film that could compete with the best films in several vintage years. That's why it is so damn refreshing. Affleck made a great spy story. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next! THE SESSIONS has some amazing acting in it by John Hawkes and Helen Hunt. Great movie. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY 4 is the film that causes me to want to be finished with that series. October ended with CLOUD ATLAS by Tykwer & The Wachowskis. The movie is beyond most it seems, but if the movie resonates with you, you're likely to love it above all else. This isn't a cookie cutter film that plays like other films. It rewards enraptured film goers that cease being smart asses and just take the movie in. This film seeks to illuminate some of the great mysteries of life. Great film.
Then November began with Robert Zemeckis directing a live-action film again. FLIGHT with Denzel Washington playing a man out of control, while being phenomenally in control during a disaster. The film is quite manipulative in how it plays out, but Denzel does great work here - definitely bringing it. Rza gave us his THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS - which just didn't quite feel cool enough for me. The story itself just felt lacking. The Action Gore just didn't have the fun of RIKI-OH, ya know? Had you told me that in the first weekend of November, I'd most love WRECK IT RALPH - I'd call you a dirty liar, but WRECK-IT RALPH was a great fun animated movie that plays with the TRON premise of a world within video games, but instead of it being based on the souls of the users, it's the soul of the video game characters themselves - and I love seeing there's more to the Video Bad Guys than EVIL! Then Spielberg unleashed his LINCOLN and there wasn't a single vampire mentioned! Instead we had an amazing Daniel Day Lewis and Sally Fields showing us what a real divided Congress was like. It's a great film. But I'd been raving about what I was anticipating from Sam Mendes with SKYFALL all year long. I just knew he had this film in him - and SKYFALL just knocked it through the roof. I mean, who was anticipating a billion dollar James Bond movie? Javier Bardem is great, but Judi Dench steals the movie for me. BUT I am so ready to see Daniel Craig and Ralph Fiennes work together more in this series. I also love that it became a more intimate Bond. Less about great big things and that STRAW DOGS conclusion. GOOD STUFF Mendes! ANNA KARENINA's style takes a bit to get used to, but about 30 minutes in, it ceased to be a distraction for me - and instead I was just impressed by the movie. Joe Wright does something different with Keira Knightley and it works! Isn't his best film, but is his most ambitious stylistically. THE TWILIGHT SAGA came to an end? RED DAWN sucked balls. RISE OF THE GUARDIANS just didn't work. LIFE OF PI was a wild triumph from Ang Lee and made my nephew phobic about a boat trip with a tiger! Good job Ang! David O Russell again shows us why he's a great director with THE SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK which featured the best work from Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper to date. I also loved HITCHCOCK with Hopkins and Mirren. I didn't take it as a Biopic, I saw it as a character. A character called Alfred Hitchcock. HITCHCOCK became a character to me through his TV show and Comic Books. As I watched his films, Hitch was definitely a character you could feel directing his films. So when I saw HITCHCOCK - I was surprised how much I loved Hopkins as this Hitchcock character. More than that, I loved Hopkins and Mirren playing together. I would love to see more of these. And yes, Moriarty is screaming at me on the phone.
That brings us to this month, the final month of December. It started with HYDE PARK ON HUDSON with Bill Murray in a very interesting portrayal of FDR, the film doesn't quite work for me, but I can't not watch Murray with rapt attention. The rest of it just isn't as good. Then THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY hit and I've been lost in Middle Earth ever since. I feel for folks that don't seem to love the 48 fps, my eyes took to it instantly. But I'll again go more into that on my 3D piece coming in 2013. I seriously can not wait to see the rest of this play out on screen. THE HOBBIT is one of those things I've always wanted to see on screen. And Peter gave me exactly what I wanted. With this, JOHN CARTER & AVENGERS - I have 3 of my longest hoped for cinematic dreams come to life. And I would love it if they continued for the rest of my life. Along with STAR WARS! Wasn't that amazing news this year? Then there's JACK REACHER, I really really dig the hell out of McQuarrie's second feature as director. I also really liked what Cruise and Herzog did in this film. Apatow showed us THIS IS FORTY - which nails some things, but mainly misses on connecting exactly with me. I had some fun with it, but I don't see a reason to revisit it much at all. Then this Christmas we got DJANGO UNCHAINED & LES MISERABLES - two of my very favorite films of 2012. Tarantino continues to make the best MOVIES of our time, precisely because he never forgets he's making a MOVIE! LES MISERABLES introduced a new musical to me - and I'm in love with it. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway gave their all in this film. Then the last new film I saw of 2012 was PROMISED LAND, now as a land owner that deals with Oil companies I'm very familiar with FRACKING and Oil Company practices. Hell, I get solicitation emails from Oil Companies EVERY WEEK. It's great to have a film shine a big light on their dirty tricks. But Fracking isn't as cut and dry as they make it. The terrible environmental cases are not constant with that practice, but it can go terribly wrong.
Well, that's my experience with 2012. How'd it go for you?