Argo is a strong outing from Ben Affleck who is slowly rising up in the director rank The story of Argo is quite a fascinating tale in American history that not many know of it. That’s what makes Argo a fun movie, you aren’t too familiar with this story and are in constant suspense. Instead of going for a typical historic biopic or generic rescue tale, the film has a fleshed out script. Every character in this movie is fleshed out, you get to know everyone and care for them. And like mentioned before, Argo plays out like a movie not a retelling of events. It’s thrilling form beginning to start. The film refuses to stoop to political propaganda. It just wants to inform of us this amazing story. Argo is an uplifting tale about survival and the will to succeed with everyone on stake.
9. Safety Not Guaranteed
Safety Not Guaranteed is one of 2012’s most under looked movies. Safety Not Guaranteed is a funny tale about a guy building a time machine to go back in time to save his girlfriend and the reporters doing an article on him. It’s a unique story that provides a lot of laughs and showcases talents from funny individuals known to play straight laced characters. You have Jake Johnston playing an asshole, a total antithesis from his character on New Girl, with Aubrey Plaza playing a sweet nerd. There are similarities between her character & April on Parks & Rec but like I said this is a sweeter version but the great thing about the script is all these characters have heart. The great thing about Saftey Not Guaranteed is you empathize for every character here and care for them. The script strays away from being too silly or dumb, it’s at the right medium. I felt certain things were lacking, like Jake Johnson’s arc’s ending was a bit underwhelming and I was a bit weirded out by the ending but it didn’t detract too much from the film It was a pleasure to see a nice simple comedy with an intriguing premise that brought laughs especially in a year full of non stop big budget films.
8. The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises is a film that frustrated many and there were definitely tons of flaws that even infuriated me. There were plot holes, ridiculous conveniences, stupid actions by characters and etc. Though most do forget there are some great elements to the film. The parts of Bruce Wayne’s character trying to find inner peace and the scenes with Alfred are masterfully acted. The action sequences are beyond epic and the return of Batman sequence is a joy ride. The Dark Knight Rises is the most emotional film of the trilogy. Batman Begins is Bruce Wayne becoming Batman & accepting the responsibility of it but in the Dark Knight, Batman’s character development is kept down to a minimum but in The Dark Knight Rises the movie is truly about Batman. Bruce is on a death wish for most of the movie and being more reckless than he usually is and it isn’t towards the end where he realizes why he’s Batman and what Batman means to everyone. It’s a great story arc to be explored in live action Batman films like I said the film did have its flaws and could have capitalized on it a lot of things but what detracts from the film as its advertised the last in the trilogy but I have a feeling future WB films will use the Nolan films as a spiritual tent point and I can forgive the film for some of those flaws. The problem that most have with the film is that Nolan left the series abruptly when there was more story to tell but overall as a movie it’s a strong emotionally driven movie with great action sequences and powerful score. If The Dark Knight Rises fixed some of its flaws it’d be higher on the list but it was a strong story that stood out in the year of 2012.
7. Django Unchained
It had been more than four years since Tarantino released a film but ever since Inglorious Basterds, Tarantino has been reaching a wider demographic. Tarantino is a director known for not telling deep symbolic stories and with that he has created his own style. Tarantino films are heavily influenced from old school Westerns and this was his biggest homage to westerns yet. Movies were created to entertain especially westerns from 60s and it pays a huge influence on Tarantino but with Django Unchained Tarantino adds some substance. Slavery is a topic that doesn’t get explored very much in Hollywood films and that’s something Tarantino capitalizes on. The film is still full of the typical Tarantino dialogue, humor, retro soundtrack and outrageous violent action but there are some serious elements here. Tarantino dips into scenes that show just how awful slavery was and how twisted some of these slave owners. Tarantino does have a little fun here and creates this imaginary hero living through these times and we get great performances from everyone. Especially Leonardo DiCaprio & staple Tarantino actor, Samuel Jackson as the villains. Django Unchained turned out to be one of Tarantino’s better stories and one of his best films. Django Unchained is fun from beginning till end with its cartoony characters but it is also one of Tarantino’s most serious and mature films to date.
6. Wreck It Ralph
Wreck it Ralph isn’t a deep movie. It’s not a thought provoking one either but it’s a heartwarming story. Disney ruled the 90s and the reason they ruled the 90s was because they created movies about underdogs who were seen as nobodies that grew to do greatness. Their stories brought joy, humor, and inspiration to all those who saw them and ever since the plunge into 2000’s that magic of Disney disappeared. Pixar kept the magic alive but they started to lose of some of that magic too recently. Wreck it Ralph was a film that brought back that magic. Wreck it Ralph was aimed a film aimed for audiences of all ages. Video Games have existed for a few generations now and It was a joy to see those characters interact. The old school disney humor is all over this film but it’s also an inspiring tale of being the good guy no matter who you are and you can do greatness no matter who you are. Wreck it Ralph was a beautiful homage to video games but a step in the right direction for Disney to finally give a smart film to children and to inspire them.
5. The Master
The Master is the second venture into a new career path for Paul Thomas Anderson. PTA has gone with a whole overhaul in his films with Phillip Seymour Hoffman being one of the few links from his past few films since There Will Be Blood. PTA has adopted a much more slower paced style with darker characters & stories. There Will Be Blood had issues of being boring to some but The Master is the complete opposite. It’s probably PTA’s third best film in my opinion. The Master is a haunting film of two men bonding through tough times in their life with opposite views. Joaquin Phoenix plays Freddy Quell, a sad destructive WWII veteran while Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays Lancaster Dodd a leader with unique philosophies and a group of followers. The two men bond through out the story and play a role in each other lives but what elevates this script is strong performances from Phillip Seymour Hoffman & Joaquin Phoenix. They feed off each other and bring the subtle parts of the script to life. The Master has its moments where its slow and does drag but it’s the overall movie that matters. The Master is a deep film that explores loneliness, self destructiveness, and being delusional. It makes you seriously think how living our life and when we’re at our saddest are we willing to believe anything? Are we really willing to destroy ourselves? The Master isn’t an uplifting film by any means it’s a thought provoking one. It’s one of the most thought provoking films of the year and it has stayed etched into my mind ever since I’ve seen it.
4. The Raid Redemption
The Raid was one of the more unique films I’ve seen in the year. Five minutes into the movie it becomes a non stop action movie. The problem with action movies usually are that they contain a dumb generic plot, stupid characters and alpha male hero. Action movies have gotten quite worse with their dialogue & action in the last couple of year and throughout the last decade, successful action movies have become dramas with action in them. That’s what makes The Raid a surprise. It’s an action movie with a brain. The Raid refuses to fall into any action tropes. The protagonist, Rama is fleshed out from the first scene as a family man ready to go fight crime knowing he might not ever come back. You have the commanding officer, Jaka who isn’t the typical idiotic superior officer with dumb commands. He actually cares for his team and is willing to do anything for these guys. The concept of the film isn’t anything too advanced it’s actually a very simple story about cops infiltrating an apartment building full of crooks & poor people to catch a criminal but the characters in this story have a human element to them. The film is tense from beginning till end and the action sequences are beyond incredible. The entire film is an adrenaline ride full of twists and turns. The Raid earned it’s position in my top 10 because it was a film that set a new standard for action films and is a joy ride that doesn’t lose any steam from start to finish.
3. 007: Skyfall
Skyfall was one of the most enjoyable films I saw all year. James Bond films usually have a standard formula, James Bond is a confident womanizer, finds a new girl to love and deals with a new threat that usually is a villain bent on world domination and he saves the day. There’s no depth to most of those James Bond films. The Daniel Craig rebooted series set out to change that but Skyfall is the most unique of the trilogy but the also the most unique Bond film. Skyfall changes the pace by making this a non stop thriller from start to end and brings the most human characterization of Bond yet. You get to understand why he’s an agent and why he is 007.Daniel Craig’s Bond isn’t perfect he’s got his weaknesses & flaws. He can be hurt and broken down. Of course there are typical James Bond quips like the seduction of random women and a cartoony looking villain but Javier Bardem’s villain is actually a part of the character. He’s a sick twisted individual with much more sinister intentions than world domination and he absolutely owns the role. Skyfall does borrow a lot of The Dark Knight but instead of being a carbon copy it takes those elements and makes them its own. Skyfall is a fun flick that’s a game changer for Bond films and blockbusters. It’s a smart movie and like I mentioned before part of the the dramas with action phase. It’s masterfully filmed and thanks to Roger Deakins, it’s one of the most beautiful films of the year.
2. Seven Psychopaths
Martin McDonagh is a rising talent in Hollywood. I like to think of him as a mix between the Coen Brothers & Quentin Tarantino and there is nothing negative about that. Seven Psychopaths gathers a cast from McDonagh’s previous two works, the broadway play, A Behanding in Spokane (Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell) & In Bruges (Colin Farrell) with Woody Harrelson thrown in. Everyone casted in this film is perfect. It’s Mcdonagh’s darkest work to date. At first watch the film plays out like a hardcore black comedy. It’s absolutely hilarious start from finish (of course there are some tragic moments throughout the film) and I loved it for it’s smart entertaining script. It took a second viewing for me to appreciate the film even more but to understand it for what it truly was. It’s a film about writing and the characters in the world that shape our stories. Society has gotten insane over the times and Seven Psychopaths is commentary just on that. We live in a violent world where we crave for violence in our media, it’s a terrible thing that attracts us. Colin Farrell’s character, Marty is a screenwriter trying to write a story about the Seven Psychopaths and he debates with his friend Billy played by Sam Rockwell for most of the movie on how it should end. Billy prefers a violent ending with a movie about psychopaths while Marty wants a peaceful ending. Seven Psychopaths is an allegory for Martin McDonagh trying to write a film about peace and he achieves just that with Seven Psychpaths in a twisted way. This is a film bolstered by strong performances with Sam Rockwell giving an award worthy performance and Christopher Walken giving his best performances in years Seven Psychopaths is a clever tale about the world we live in and a tale about peace. It’s one of the smartest films to come out all year.
1. Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson is a director who rarely disappoints. Wes Anderson has created a world of his own with his films. It’s a quirky world with filled with flawed characters all trying to find their place just like most people try to do. With Moonrise Kingdom, Wes manages to create one of his stronger films to date about a coming of age story about two young lovers. Suzy & Sam are two outsiders trying to escape their boring lives and live this happy fantasy of their own. They live in a world full of controlling confused adults where they just want to escape and start their own life. The irony of it is as kids we refuse to listen to adults but why is that? As kids we feel we are smarter than adults but only because we are thrown off the complexities of being an adult. You have people that are miserable in their life or are trying to act younger than they really are and Suzy & Sam don’t want to be like that. The problem with each and every character in the movie is they live in their fantasy world, with Bruce Willis’ sad lonely cop being the closest to reality. It’s not a coming of age story for Suzy & Sam it’s a coming age of story for everyone including the adults and children. With all the crazy events that happen in the film it allows everyone to jump back to reality and grow. It’s a sweet touching film that had me smiling through out and really got to me. Even with our flaws & tragedies, we should appreciate the little things and not let us fall into monotonous lives.
Honorable Mentions: Cabin in the Woods, Celeste & Jesse Forever, 21 Jump Street, Avengers