Friday, December 6, 2013

Top 10 Lists: 2012

As we're in the last month of the year, I thought I'd take a look at my favorite films from last year.  Haven't seen all the stuff from this year I want to yet so the list for this year will be a few months in the future.

10. Argo

The Best Picture Winner for last year get the 10 spot here.  Ben Affleck directs and stars in this taut, thoroughly entertaining thriller bases loosely on true events.  A great cast, a fun script and some nice tension towards the end makes this a real winner.

9. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth in this entertaining, fantastic looking opening to the Hobbit Trilogy.  Good performances, great f/x and of course, the usual attention to detail one expects from the director earns this one a solid ninth place on the list.
8. Dredd

I was actually a little surprised by how much I enjoyed this one.  While the Stallone version from 1995 is a guilty pleasure of mine, this ends up being a pretty damn entertaining little action film.

7. Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino has sort of fallen into a pattern of taking a genre he loves and putting his own unique spin on it and this ends up being a perfectly solid action film.  Going away from the thematic crutches he tends to go for (the old west setting makes pop culture dialogue a non-factor and his thing for barefoot women goes completely by the wayside) he just puts out a solid epic story with tons of violence.  The cast is good as one would expect and for once, the casual racism that pops up from time to time in his movies fits.

6. Men in Black 3

I honestly had no expectations for this one as the second film was fairly bad but somehow,m some way, this ended up being quite a good movie.  Will Smith is fun, Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin are good and the f/x work is stellar.  The story is also nicely put together, which is quite welcome after the mish-mash of the second film.

5. The Woman in Black

The best horror movie of the year, this is a reworking of a BBC TV movie that has the usual bells and whistles one expects from a ghost story with the added bonus of actually being quite creepy.  I generally consider it to be a success if in the middle of viewing a horror movie, I have to pause it so I can turn the light on.  The fact that unlike other times I've done this, the film still manages to put together a good third act also helps.

4. The Avengers

The Avengers is modern era Hollywood blockbuster filmmaking at its best with a fun cast, some great laughs and assured direction from Joss Whedon.  Marvel has really stepped up their game in the last few years as far as their cinematic properties go and this is the very satisfying culmination of an epic five year project.  Let's hope they can continue the quality over the next few years.

3. The Expendables 2

If The Avengers was an example of the best a modern blockbuster can be, the second Expendables film is an example of how great it used to be.  Fast, violent as hell and funny in all the right places, this betters the original by a fairly large margin.

2. The Cabin in the Woods

The most clever film of the year is this wonderfully satire/tribute to the horror genre that plays with the usual tropes we expect and unlike the Scream films, does so with a straight face while still having fun.  Some great monsters, a light tone and an overall sense of fun make this one hell of a fun ride.

1. Skyfall

For me, Skyfall marks the culmination of the reinvention of 007 that started in 2006 with Casino Royale.  A fascinating spy thriller, this gives the viewer all the bang for their buck as well as an interesting story with a wonderful villainous turn from Javier Bardem.  Easily one of the best Bond films in quite some time.

Honorable Mentions:

The fourth Bourne film is a worthy follow-up to the Damon films, though truth be told it's basically a condensed version of them with Jeremy Renner in the lead instead.  Still, it's a solid enough action movie to warrant at least one viewing.

For some reason, I really, really dig Tom Cruise as an action hero (possibly for the unintentional humor to be found in that idea).  All four Mission: Impossible films have worked on at least some level for me and this one is no different.  Cruise is fairly decent, the action is solid and whether you like the guy or not, he certainly delivers a crowd pleaser.

Didn't see the original but the sequel is a fun, pacy bit of horror thrills with some good f/x and a pace that lets you forget whatever silliness may be present in the plot.

This one barely gets a pass from me by sheer virtue of me being somewhat easy to please when the mood is right.  The cast is fine but the film is way too long, the action is merely okay and while I do like the way the ending is played, it's probably not good that I came away from it going "Whew, good, now I never have to see this again."

Guilty Pleasures/Misses:

The world needed a Total Recall remake like it needs a third world war but this one was forgettably watchable.

I really wanted to love this one but it just didn't do it for me.  The film is too long, the action is merely okay and there are some editing choices that really annoyed the hell out of me, mainly a strobing effect that pops up a few times that nearly made me turn the damn thing off.  Still, van Damme is fine in his small role as is Lundgren and any time they are on screen, the film is worth watching.

 I sort of love this amazingly over the top little flick.  Far better than the first, it has Nicolas Cage wonderfully unhinged, some nice action and some nice scenery.  Overall, it's a classic example of a bad movie still being entertaining.

2012 was a pretty damn good year for films with a solid showings in most genres.  It's not my favorite year of all time, but it still ended up being quite good.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.