Every single movie and entertainment news source has been compiling their list of top 5’s and top 10’s, so why should this we be any different?
These selections are based solely on my opinion and are out of the films I’ve reviewed throughout the year. If there’s a big film that’s on everybody else’s lists that’s not on this one, I probably haven’t seen it.
I must also add that this list will be based on a criteria of both technical and narrative merits. As such, I will attempt to keep the “fan-boy picks” to a minimum.
#3: Mirror Mirror
This film couldn’t decide what type of story it wanted to tell, whether it was serious or comedic. This isn’t helped by Julia Roberts’ confusing performance. However, there were some good bits that made the film bearable.
While the film tells a nice story about an orphaned chimp and an adoptive elder, could they not have different person than Tim Allen to narrate it? If I wanted an out of work comedian stating the obvious and making bad jokes for two hours, I’d watch Ted.
#1: The Devil Inside
Lots of build-up, lousy payoff. If you’re going to say that there’s “an active investigation” instead of actually writing an ending to your movie, then commit to it by maintaining the website and creating details, an altered reality game, a fake vlog, something that shows you didn’t just write yourself into a corner. It just makes the two hour “shaky-cam mockumentary” feel even more like a waste of money. It had a good premise, but then it shot itself in the foot.
#5: Rise of the Guardians
This film is a family film through and through and is definitely worth your time if you’re looking for something wholesome, but different. It has a very unique look and aesthetic that makes it feel like a simplified, yet fully fleshed out world.
While I enjoyed the film as a whole, it didn’t have a lot of moments that really blew me away. I was invested into it as much as a younger viewer would, but when you really break it down, it follows the same basic scenes found in any film in the children’s fantasy genre.
For a family movie, it’s a really good one, but it didn’t really push the envelope in the field of animation.
#4: The Grey
I use this film as my rebuttal to those who actively defend Drive and say that it’s the “prime example of cinematic storytelling.” The film is slow at times and was marketed in a way that betrayed what the film was actually about, exactly like Drive and Killing Them Softly.
The cinematography and character development was what stood out to me while watching this film. It’s a nice blend of sound, writing and visuals that most auteurs fail to grasp when making their films. It incorporates all facets of the medium, not just one. It’s definitely a film I recommend for the students in the film department.
This may seem like an arbitrary mention to get in to people’s good graces, so I will take this time to ask the following question. What industry professional is going to be sifting through the various COLLEGE news sites throughout the US to see what they’re saying about their film?
With that out of the way, allow me to reiterate one of the key points of my review. It’s unapologetic Oscar-bait, but it’s really good Oscar-bait. It has a classic filmmaking style that showcases really good acting performances and clever wordplay. The reason I put it at number three is because it just feels like the product of an Academy-pandering Hollywood system.
Talk about a film that takes a premise and runs with it. This is a film that not only exceeded expectations, but also defied them. Not only was it a tribute to the horror films of the 50s and 60s, it was also a film that challenged what kids could handle in a film. Employing the Don Bluth philosophy where, as long as the story has a happy ending, children can handle darker material.
While in the hands of a studio like Disney the scares would mostly be done for laughs, in the film’s third act the scares are legitimately terrifying and actually raise the stakes of the story. Something horror films for an adult audience haven’t been able to accomplish in this past decade. It’s a well-crafted animated film that tells both a timeless, yet progressive story.
I place this film at number one for the following reasons. Firstly, it has an intelligent, thought-provoking take on time travel. Second, it takes that premise and shines it through a neo-noir filter that adapts the impact to the scenario. Having the information on a more need to know basis rather than bog the story down with long exposition riddled with techno babble. Third, within that framework, we are given an interesting cast of characters that each have their own motivations.
At it’s heart, Looper is a shining example of “smart” science fiction and shows that a studio can respect its audience’s intelligence and still tell a good story. That is why I place Looper as the best film of 2012.
Honorable mentions: The Dark Knight Rises, John Carter, Dredd, Les Misérables.