Best Movies of 2012 by Brian Lee

This “Best of 2012” list is a part of the Great Movie Challenge of 2012.  For all of the “Best of” lists, please see the post: All the Best Movies of 2012 Lists. -Eric

Best Movies of 2012
by
Brian Lee, MFA 

Great
01 ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA – Murder mystery as tone poem in the Turkish countryside, incredibly nuanced commentary on characters’ lives.
02 HOLY MOTORS – Leos Carax and Denis Lavant team up again in a wonderfully bizarre, almost indescribable flight of fancy.
03 THIS IS NOT A FILM – Deconstructs narrative and reality as well as highlighting the state of Iranian cinema.
04 AMOUR – Unflinching look at aging and death, powerful performances from Trintignant and Riva.
05 MASTER, THE – Perfectly captures the strangeness of the post-WWII era and the emotional struggle between two twisted men.
06 JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI – Both inpsiring and depressing, what complete commitment looks like.
07 56 UP – The latest installment in what Ebert called “the most noble use of film,” this is real humanity in the age of “reality” shows.
08 DAMSELS IN DISTRESS – I’d been waiting for years for the next Whit Stillman film, he didn’t disappoint.
09 MOONRISE KINGDOM – Childhood is the perfect subject for Anderson.
10 5 BROKEN CAMERAS – The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is so compelling almost any documentary would be near the top of my list.
11 INTO THE ABYSS – Herzog stares death in the eye, again.
12 OSLO 31, AUGUST – Graceful deptiction of a day in the life of a recovering addict.
13 BULLHEAD – If Scorcese made a gangster movie about the illicit bovine hormone trade in rural Belgium.
14 GERHARD RICHTER PAINTING – At times opaque, it was an interesting look at an artist showing some vulnerability in front of the camera.
15 HAYWIRE – For me, the perfect action film, long takes, no shakey camera, awesome stunts, Gina Carano is a superstar.
16 DJANGO UNCHAINED – QT has got the revenge flick down pat.
17 TURIN HORSE – Bleak and nearly silent, this was almost unbearable but in a good way.
18 ZERO DARK THIRTY – Tense and understated, I still questioned the verisimilitude of much of this film.
19 SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK – Although I wasn’t excited by the subject matter or the trailer, I correctly put my faith in David O. Russell.
20 TAKE THIS WALTZ – Emotionally wrenching, Sarah Polley is very talented.
21 HEADHUNTERS – Clever and amusing, why are Scandinavians so good at thrillers these days?
22 AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY – More about Ai WeiWei the activist than the Ai WeiWei the artist, my favorite parts were when he had to talk about his child out of wedlock.

23 PATIENCE: AFTER SEBALD – A meditation on one of my favorite writers, it is a mimetic journey through his book, The Rings of Saturn.
24 KLOWN – Raunchy Danish equivalent of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
25 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK – Julie Delpy is so funny as a writer, director, and actor. This follow-up to 2 Days in Paris had a much more hopeful outloook.
26 HELL AND BACK AGAIN – I first saw footage from this on a Frontline about Afghanistan. An all too familiar story about a veteran adjusting back home.
27 KID WITH A BIKE, THE – Dardennes brothers have never missed the mark. They show what families can be at their best and worst.
28 QUEEN OF VERSAILLES – Funny and ironic look at capitalistic excess during the Great Recession.
29 TURN ME ON, DAMMIT! – This Norwegian movie was like a female Superbad, more naturalistic but just as funny.

30 CHRONICLE – This is the last “found footage” movie I will tolerate. Still, the core of the movie was the relationships between the three protagonists.
31 LOCKOUT – I love a sarcastic, quipping Guy Pearce, especially if he’s on a space fortress.
32 AVENGERS – Ridiculous plot but Whedon has just the right touch for superhero movies that don’t take themselves seriously.

Good
33 BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD – I don’t know. The racial politics of this made me squirm a bit. But it’s lyrical in the vein of Malick.
34 HUNGER GAMES, THE – Much better than I thought it would be. The only things holding it back were the source material and the frenetic editing.
35 CABIN IN THE WOODS, THE – It’s really clever and funny but kind of just thew it away in the end.
36 DARK KNIGHT RISING – We don’t need any more of these.
37 SLEEPWALK WITH ME – Birbiglia is funny. Lauren Ambrose is so good. But I’d heard so much of this material before the movie underwhelmed me.
38 FRIENDS WITH KIDS – It starts out great but ends up so conventionally I couldn’t shake the feeling it could have been much better.
39 21 JUMP STREET – Probably one of the best tv show adaptations I’ve seen in a long time.
40 MAGIC MIKE – Matthew McConaughey is gross.
41 PINA – I wish there was more of Pina Bausch’s productions and less of the weird staring head interviews.
42 FLIGHT – Denzel plays a great drunk. But I could only roll my eyes when I realized what was going to happen in the climactic scene.
43 TIM & ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE – This stuff is better suited for television but their genius still shines through.
44 COMEDY, THE – Talk about depressing. I almost don’t see the point of this movie yet I still felt like it captured some slice of real life.
45 GOD BLESS AMERICA – A bit too on the nose but funny.
46 LOOPER – I expected more from Rian Johnson. This world just didn’t make sense to me. It’s a cool concept though and I love Jeff Daniels as a crime boss.

OK
47 HUNTER, THE – So slow for no reason. A lot of indie movie tropes here.
48 HOBBIT, THE: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY – Not painful to watch but probably unnecessary.
49 TED – Mildly amusing jokes.
50 WANDERLUST – White people problems.
51 DICTATOR, THE – There were some really funny scenes in here. The parts in between were lackluster.
52 FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT, THE – White people problems.
53 THIS MUST BE THE PLACE – I could not get past Sean Penn’s make up and voice.
54 HOW MUCH DOES YOUR BUILDING WEIGH, MR. FOSTER? – Despite the beautiful shots of buildings, this movie bordered on hagiography and so I feel I learned nothing.

Bad
55 AMAZING SPIDERMAN, THE – Completely unnecessary and filmmaking by rote.
56 JOHN CARTER – The movie tried to pack too much into it. It didn’t feel epic, just busy.
57 FRONT LINE, THE – Koreans have also gotten good at making stylish action movies that have no resemblance to reality.
58 TOTAL RECALL – The CGI views of the city were awesome.
59 RAID, THE: REDEMPTION – I am a big fan of B-movie action but the gore and fighting in this got to be so repetitive.
60 WATCH, THE – So many people I like are involved in this movie but sometimes the whole is worse than the sum of its parts.
61 VIRAL FACTOR, THE – Cheesy and dumb.
62 PROMETHEUS – All the characters were irrational and unbelievable, there was no narrative logic. What was left was a kind of a cool premise.
63 SKYFALL – James Bond outruns and outfoxes an explosion by running into a side tunnel. Lots of cliches. Bardem’s haircut was perfect.
64 GREY, THE – The camera work was fun to watch. The emotional component was contrived.

Ugly
65 LAWLESS – Shia Lebouf bad. Tom Hardy wasted. Jessica Chastain also wasted.
66 SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN – Flashy, stylish but hollow.
67 MAN WITH THE IRON FIST – RZA really disappointed me. I know classic kung fu movies make no sense storywise but we’ve seen too many well done wuxia movies by now.
68 RED TAILS – Lucas really screwed up his chance at making a great war movie with an all black cast. Tuskegee Airmen deserve a better movie.
69 SAFE HOUSE – Another dull rogue secret agent movie.
70 PROJECT X – Let’s party dudes. We’re douchebags.
71 BATTLESHIP – They really got some details about the navy right and a lot of details about the world and reality wrong.
72 RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION – This is the Paul Anderson that is always at the bottom of my list.
73 ONE FOR THE MONEY – Why is Katherine Heigl so bad at choosing roles. And acting?
74 THIS MEANS WAR – White people problems combined with another dull rogue secret agent movie.
75 WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING – What to expect when you’re expecting a really terrible movie.

At least you didn’t see This Means War in the theater.  Seriously. -Eric

Best Movies of 2012 by Patrick Short

This is a submission to Great Movie Challenge of 2012.  For all of the “Best of” lists of 2012 submitted for the contest, please see the post: All the Best Movies of 2012 Lists. -Eric

The Great Movie Challenge of 2012
Patrick Short
@patrick_short

1. The Avengers – (8/10) – A kid/comic book nerd’s dream. That’s the only way I can describe The Avengers. Five years have passed since we saw Sam Jackson in that post credit scene in Iron Man. It’s been a long wait, but it was damn sure well worth it.

2. The Grey – (8/10) – If you want to see a typical Hollywood movie, don’t see The Grey. Liam Neeson is brilliant as John Ottway. The story of survival is amazing. Rarely do I like movies that make me feel terrible after a viewing. The Grey succeeded in that.

3. The Cabin in the Woods – (8/10) – Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon flip the horror movie genre on its head with The Cabin in the Woods. To simply call it a horror movie spoof would be doing it a grave injustice. Cabin is a brilliant mash up of all the great horror movie tropes.

4. Silver Linings Playbook – (8/10) – As someone who has a bipolar stricken family member, this movie adequately portrays the trials of having to deal with such an issue. It was such a charming tale of two troubled individuals who connect deeper than either of them thought possible.

5. Zero Dark Thirty – (8/10) – Kathryn Bigelow directs this thriller about the mission to hunt Bin Laden. Even though the viewer (probably) knows the end result, the movie still manages to have that “edge of your seat” feel.

6. Django Unchained – (7/10) – Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained is pretty damn good. Leonardo DiCaprio shines as Calvin Candie, and the acting all around is great. Some scenes tended to drag and there were some directorial question marks for me.

7. Skyfall– (7/10) – The first two acts are phenomenal, but the third act falls flat and doesn’t work as well as the other two. Luckily, that doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the film. Skyfall is the best Bond that I’ve seen.

8. The Dark Knight Rises – (7/10) – TDKR is visually impressive. There’s no doubt about that. The acting, minus Marion Cotillard, is superb. However, the story leaves little to be desired, andthe twist at the end was anticlimactic. Also, the lack of Chicago as Gotham took away from the movie, for me at least.

9. Lawless – (7/10) – Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Jessica Chastain, and Guy Pearce round out a fantastic cast in a pretty damn good movie. I wasn’t too big a fan of the ending, though. At this point we are just sitting here waiting for Tom Hardy to be nominated in one of the big award shows.

10. American Reunion – (7/10) – The whole original cast is back in this fourth installment (not including those straight to DVD crapfests) of the American Pie series. American Reunion is just like the originals: funny, gross, and filled with heart.

11. Chronicle – (7/10) – What happens when three teens wind up with super powers? Chronicle is what happens. Right vs Wrong, Good v. Evil, It’s all there in Chronicle. This happens to be the ONLY “found footage” movie I have ever liked. R.I.P. Steve.

12. Les Miserables– (7/10) – Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway star in this 2012 version of “the greatest musical of all time.” It was fantastic aside from Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter. They completely took me out of the story and were close to ruining the entire film for me.

13. 21 Jump Street – (7/10) – The combination of Jonah Hill, Ice Cube, and Channing Tatum is just shy of comedic gold. Brie Larson and Dave Franco were awesome as the “cool” kids. The movie was just funny all around. On top of that, the cameo by Johnny Depp put it all over the top.

14. Trouble with the Curve– (7/10) – Amy Adams carries Trouble with the Curve. Clint Eastwood is as good as ever, and it’s nice to see a comeback by John Goodman recently. Justin Timberlake is steadily becoming a pretty decent actor. As a sports fan, Trouble is more than just a baseball movie. The story between Adams and Eastwood was the highlight of the film for me.

15. The Amazing Spider-Man – (7/10) – Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone shine as Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy, respectively. Dennis Leary is good as well. The tone of the character and the tone of the movie didn’t match very well, and there we several plot points that seem to just die off without any resolution.

16. Dredd 3D – (7/10) – Karl Urban plays the title character perfectly. Wood Harris and Lena Headey play excellent bad guys. The movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, and that is exactly what I expected. I loved everything about this movie.

17. Safety Not Guaranteed – (7/10) – This little charming indie movie is the best time travel movie to be released this year. Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, and Aubrey Plaza are all wonderful.

18. Looper– (6/10) – I’m ashamed that I didn’t like this movie more. I went in with such high expectations, and unfortunately, they weren’t lived up to. Time travel continues to be a troublesome venture for writers. The story was good, but the film itself is filled with inconsistencies that take away from the overall quality.

19. Lockout – (6/10) – A prison is overrun by its inmates… in space! Do I really need to say more? I knew it wasn’t going to be good, but damn, this movie sure is fun. Guy Pearce’s demeanor as Marion Snow was awesome.

20. The Five-Year Engagement – (6/10) – Randall Park shines in his role as Ming. To stand out among the likes of Chris Pratt, Alison Brie, Emily Blunt, Rhys Ifans, and Jason Segel is no small task. Five-Year was fun with an almost perfect blend of drama and comedy.

21. The Words – (6/10) – The trailers led me to believe that the movie was about a guy who stole a book. The film is much more than that, and not in a good way. Dennis Quaid’s character writes what I believe to be an autobiography of sorts when he writes The Words. The film asks us to care about a person who lies and cheats his way through his adult life, and I didn’t buy that.

22. This is 40 – (6/10) – There wasn’t many laughs for me in Judd Apatow’s latest flick. It almost seems as if the more Apatow works, the worse his films get. It’s a shame to see that from such a funny and talented writer and director.

23. Act of Valor – (6/10) – Is this a good movie? Not really. It had its moments; the opening drive through the busy streets and the river boat gun fight are two of my favorite scenes. I’m going to admit that this ranking is a little high, and I would feel un-American if I didn’t enjoy the movie.

24. Prometheus – (6/10) – I wanted to love this movie. The movie is basically about a man’s want to live forever and his hiring (and making) of people to help him do so. Fassbender is great as David. Idris Elba, CharlizeTheron, and NoomiRapace are great as well, but a good cast couldn’t save this movie from being just mediocre.

25. Magic Mike – (6/10) – Matthew McConaughey shines in this dramedy about a male strip club and those who dance in it. Magic Mike’s cast is full of people who can’t act. I haven’t seen a good movie from Steven Soderbergh since Ocean’s 11.

26. Project X – (6/10) – There really isn’t much to say about this movie. It was funny here and there, but it didn’t do much for me. Maybe it’s because I would never attend a party like this. Maybe it’s because my hopes were too high. I just don’t know.

27. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – (6/10) – I can’t wrap my finger around how I feel about this movie. Movies about the end of the world are weird to me. I hardly ever feel good when they end, but this one kind of succeeded. It’s sweet and just funny enough.

28. Taken 2 – (6/10) – While remaining entertaining, Taken 2 fails at making the stakes high enough for me to ever worry for the main character and his family especially after showing just how much of a bad ass Brian Mills is in the first one.

29. Safe House – (6/10) – The two stars of the movie (Ryan Reynolds and Denzel Washington) are both good in their respective roles, however there wasn’t much that set this C.I.A. action movie apart from any other of its type.

30. Snow White and the Huntsman – (6/10) – A classic fairy tale with a twist is what we get from SWATH. It is the Dwarfs (and the creepy fairies) that stand out in the movie. To be honest, that’s pretty much it. It’s a fairy tale turned into a slightly better than average film.

31. Total Recall – (6/10) – Aside from the movie having (in my opinion) the two hottest females in Hollywood and tons of action, Total Recall is fairly dull.

32. The Hunger Games – (6/10) – Before I begin, I’d like to state that I have not read the book. With that said, The Hunger Games is an okay movie. There wasn’t enough of emphasis on the fact that Katniss was in a “fight to the death.” I never felt like at any time in the movie that Katniss’ life was in danger.

33. John Carter – (5/10) – I went in to the theater expecting a 6 out of 10. It didn’t disappoint. It was corny funny and had terrible dialogue at points. On the plus side, Lynn Collins wasn’t bad to look at for 2 hours.

34. Haywire – (5/10) – Despite its star studded cast, Haywire failed to impress or entertain me. The movie seemed to be sluggish at times, and it took a little long to get into the action. I caught myself checking my watch on more than one occasion. There were even times I laughed when I clearly wasn’t supposed to.

35. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance – (5/10) – I’m a sucker for movies based on comic books/comic book characters. I’m also a big fan of Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. With that being said, there isn’t much going for Ghost Rider. It’s still better than the first one, though.

36. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter – (5/10) – When will this whole vampire craze stop? Hopefully soon. AL:VHwas slightly better than bad and slightly worse than good. The premise is nice, however. I like the idea of exploring possible alternative pasts, but this movie just didn’t do anything for me.

37. Red Dawn – (5/10) – Chris Hemsworth was the standout here. I’d be completely satisfied if Josh Peck and Adrianne Palicki were to never act again. The action was terrible, but everything else was laughable at best.

38. Battleship – (5/10) – Liam Neeson headlines an otherwise terrible cast. Unfortunately the line “You’ve sunk my Battleship,” is never said. The only positives the movie has to offer is Brooklyn Decker and a nice homage to the men who served during the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Battleship? More like Battleshit.

39. Pitch Perfect – (4/10) – Rebel Wilson is coming off of a scene stealing role in Bridesmaids. The locomotive that is her comedic talent doesn’t seem to be slowing down. In a movie full of hot women and bad music, Wilson shines, and I’m looking forward to more from her.

40. Silent House – (4/10) – Elizabeth Olsen is a breath of fresh air. She’s been nothing short of great in what I’ve seen her in. The movie wasn’t even scary. It did, however, build up the perfect amount of suspense. Then it ended, badly at that. I won’t spoil it, but the ending seemed like a cop out to me.

41. Underworld: Awakening – (4/10) – Underworld: Awakening had two things going for it before I saw it: Kate Beckinsale and the fact that I’m a fan of the series. That being said, it’s hard to find something good in this supernatural garbage heap. I would’ve liked to see a movie about the attempted cleansing of Vamps and Weres.

42. Wrath of the Titans – (4/10) – I genuinely like Greek mythology. I also genuinely disliked this movie. Same Worthington and his mullet can just go away. I’m even finding it hard to pinpoint the smallest good thing about it.

43. What to Expect When You’re Expecting – (4/10) – Not even a cast full of hot women could save this trash. It’s a pregnant version of New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day, and that’s definitely not a good thing. It fails at being funny, and it fails at telling a compelling story.

I also saw Argo, but I fell asleep in the theater, thus it will not appear on this list.

 Woah, didn’t expect that diss of Argo at the end, Patrick!  Try and stay awake for the the whole thing next time – you just may like it!  -Eric

Best Movies of 2012 by Jim Crose

Here’s another “Best of 2012” list that is a part of the Great Movie Challenge of 2012.  For all of the “Best of” lists, please see the post: All the Best Movies of 2012 Lists.

Woah, Cloud Atlas at #1?  And a dissertation on Magic Mike?  This IS an interesting list. Thanks Jim!  -Eric

Best Movies of 2012
by Jim Crose
@BearDrivingCar 

1. Cloud Atlas – One of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. Editing was ridiculous, acting good. I felt the time switching was done perfectly. Anyone having trouble following wasn’t paying attention.

2. Les Miserable – Holy Shitballs. It’s overdone, melodramatic, over-the-top. There are many many legitimate criticisms, but my theatrical experience was amazing. More than once it broke me down into little bitty pieces and as a film going experience – cathartic and beautiful.

3. Magic Mike – I think this may be Soderbergh’s most naturalistic mainstream film. He forgoes the formalist framing of his more arty pieces as well as the self-conscious stylization of hits like Oceans 11 and Traffic. The flowing but seemingly unrehearsed framing made for an easy loose feel without overtly drawing attention to the camera itself. He cared more about the performances then occasional lens flare or washed out shots that others might spend hours trying to eliminate, possibly hurting the performances. The story was not what I expected – I figured we would see Magic Mike as a semi-successful stripper with a dream who goes through some trials and then ends up making his dreams come true. Instead we see a man who’s been working himself to death, supposedly to save up for his big business dream, but keeps getting shut down and never seems to get any closer. He trusts his mentor and club owner (McCaunaghy in a role that to me felt like Wooderson from Dazed and Confused moved to Tampa and opened a strip club) and gets burned for it. He takes a new lost kid under his wing, trying to lift him up and make him a success, and gets screwed for it. He tries to turn a casual hookup relationship into something more – and misses that as well. Structurally we start out traditionally, but later learn that the story we thought we started on isn’t the one we’re watching. What starts our as Buddy Love with Mike and the New Kid turns into a man realizing he’s been treading water for half his adult life and realizing the only way to move out of that rut is by completely cutting bait and taking a new, unknown direction.

I thought it was particularly interesting that a potentially movie shifting subplot involving some missing drugs and money was dealt with extremely quickly – because that wasn’t Mike’s story. A lesser movie would have made that the big third act action / salvation plot. Instead, we barely got a third act at all. After All is Lost, Mike basically realizes that he can’t possibly achieve success using his existing life plan and tries something else – which we never see because the movie ends at that decision point. It was risky, and people in the audience seemed surprised and upset at the ending, but I think they enjoyed the very well done dancing and eye candy enough to not be too disappointed. I was a little surprised that none of the strippers were openly gay, as my understanding is that many in that industry are. It was a deeply heterosexual film – it just showcased the extremely well built male form instead of the usual half-naked females. Although he did toss in some Olivia Munn boobs, for which I am grateful.

4. Looper – I can’t remember the last time I had less of an idea what was going to happen next throughout the film. I knew it was going to be good, and it surpassed that.

5. Argo – Great adult drama. Please make more.

6. Avengers – Best super hero movie ever. Best action movie I’ve seen in years. The Aircraft carrier was silly, and the set piece surrounding it defied logic, but it was still a hell of a movie. Black Widow stole the fucking movie. There was an absolutely genius beat in the final battle where the camera flows to each team members across a war-torn NY that I want to watch over and over.

7. Hunger Games – I’ve read the books and it was still way better than expected. I liked the way they used the omniscient POV to further explain the games and other events going on – stuff that was in Katniss’ head in the book. Extremely powerful without hitting you over the head with it. All actors, especially Lawrence, were great.

8. Moonrise Kingdom – Holy shit, I almost OD’d on Wes Anderson, but it was pretty fucking amazing. For something stylized within in inch of its life it was crazy good.

9. 21 Jump Street – Absolutely hilarious. Structurally it was impeccable. They did an enormous amount of work in the first ten minutes that set the stage for the entire rest of the film. Many setups and payoffs. Tatum and Hill had terrific chemistry. Extremely clever dialogue. Almost fell over laughing when they actually called out “And that’s the end of Act II.”

10. Project X – Best Found Footage movie I’ve even seen. I can’t defend it from any serious film criticism standpoint, but goddamn I enjoyed watching it.

11. Premium Rush – Way better than I expected. It was nice to see a film obviously shot on site. The courier world is one I don’t think I’ve ever seen. The plot moved nicely, the time floating ended up working well and this movie deserves way more interest than it received.

12. Safety not guaranteed – Cute story well told. Aubrey was adorable.

13. Bachelorette – Leads did a good job. It felt very close to the spec I read. Enjoyed it. Raunchy and funny.

14. Chronicle – I fucking loved it. I totally bought into the arc of the villain. The hoops necessary for the found footage conceit did get a bit tedious, but overall I thought they did it well – and once they went with the remote controlled camera they war able to actually use nicely framed shots. Final sequence was badass.

15. Bernie – Awesome. Linklater’s semi-doc style worked perfectly. My only complaint was what seemed like a lack of Bernie in the third act.

16. For a Good Time…Call – Very funny. This movie should get much wider attention.

17. Pitch perfect – Super funny – love that kind of story. Entertaining as hell.

18. Anna Karenina – I loved the theatrical conceit and was impressed it didn’t get too precious or overwhelming. The story drug some, but the actors were good, the look was great and it did a great job distilling a huge novel into two hours.

19. Haywire – The 70’s style was fantastic, the main character was very good for a novice, and her action was terrific. Marketing was terrible – it’s not a Bourne movie, it’s a Steve McQueen film. Good slow pacing, jumping around in time worked, all the actors were good. Liked it big time.

20. MiBIII – Way better than I expected – and Brolin killed it as young Agent K. Nice sappy ending and fun set pieces. Going back in time gave a needed jolt to the universe.

21. Lockout – Despite the fact that it felt like an Escape From … movie, I liked it. It knew what it was, and it had fun.

22. Deadfall – Nice and tense – a good story. It was obvious that they would all end up together in the end, but the progress as they got there was very good. Good, not great.

23. The Grey – Very good movie that I’m unlikely to watch again. A wonderful meditation on life and death. Man v Nature. What do you live for? The man who chooses to sit and die by the river was the best scene in the film. Again, not good marketing.

24. Man on a Ledge – Liked it a lot. Not great, but straight forward, good momentum. No major twists but fun. But I’m a sucker for a heist film…

25. Snow White – I liked it, it was a good take on the story, but I felt like it was too slow. And that chick still can’t act.

26. Dredd – I’d heard it was better than I thought, and everyone was right. A good contained story set in that universe.

27. Bourne legacy – Well done but I’m just not sure we need more stories in that world.

28. This Means War – not bad by any means, just purely by the book. It was slick and fun and the acting was decent, and McG did one of his better jobs showing us the action and telling the story.

29. Joyful Noise – I suppose that it’s intended audience would like it a lot.

30. One for the Money – Eh, it was ok. Enjoyable but predictable – I had no real problems with it.

31. Wanderlust – OK, but I felt the obvious improvised stuff wasn’t that great and it was too loosely edited. Several minutes of Rudd in a mirror being not very funny? Lame.

32. Safe House – Boring.  I like both the leads and just didn’t give a shit at all for anyone during the story.

33. Skyfall – lots of silly plot holes. It looked beautiful but didn’t make much sense. Upon further thought, ranks in the lower end of enjoyable Bond movies just because it tried so hard to be modern but made no sense.

34. John Carter – It wasn’t just poor marketing – it was also a generic, decent looking fantasy epic. I like Taylor Kitsch from FNL, but he was too young and too subdued for this. Didn’t buy him. Actors were hard to tell apart, costumes were boring. And the worst of all – his “abilities.” Sure, Mars is like 2/5 Earth gravity, so he’s stronger and can jump and run better. But he jumped, swear to God, 100s of feet. And swung around man sized boulders like a whip. It just totally lost me. I’d give you fifty, but some looked like jumps of a thousand feet, or literally flying back and forth hopping off columns. Stupid

35. Total Recall – boring, future-generic dystopia. I almost fell asleep. Two super hot chicks in catsuits can’t save a generic dystopian setting and ludicrous plot.

36. Taken 2 – TERRIBLE. A complete hack job paycheck movie.

Thanks Jim!  I will avoid Taken 2 and if I ever get to Mars, will not expect to jump 1000 feet.. 🙂  -Eric

Best Films of 2012 by Carman Tse

This is one of the “Best of 2012” lists that is a part of the Great Movie Challenge of 2012.  For all of the “Best of” lists, please see the post: All the Best Movies of 2012 Lists.

Carman and I go back years.  I have many fond memories of sitting around the  UCLA Radio station (where we both were DJs), arguing about music while eating Panda Express.  Seriously.  -Eric

The Best Films of 2012
by Carman Tse 

Big ups to Script Doctor Eric for holding this contest and personally inviting me to participate in it after I berated him last year for not having a single film in a foreign language on his Best of 2011 list.

Alas I won’t be listing everything I’ve seen here because I doubt the 37 films I saw that came out last year would be enough to win the contest anyways (not that I particularly care to win the contest), nor do I feel the need to share that I saw The Avengers like everyone else in the world or any particular thoughts I had on movies that hardly moved me. Instead, I’ll be sharing the ones that affected me the most with a few stray thoughts.

This list isn’t quite complete yet, as there are still a handful on my mental queue that need to be gotten to. Unfortunately, Eric’s deadline looms so I gotta get this over with. It should be final by the time the Oscars roll around. A few of these I saw in 2011 and in 2013, but I’m going by official US release date so don’t argue with me over that shit.

Directors are named in the brackets.

19. Holy Motors [Leos Carax]

Holy Motors probably doesn’t deserve to be on my list, but I’ll admit that it has an irresistible charm in between being absolutely aggravating. I just couldn’t do a Best of 2012 list without mentioning Kylie Minogue’s performance as a 21st century meta-update on Jean Seberg’s Patricia from Godard’s Breathless. Perhaps no other singular movie scene moved me as much as hers in 2012.

18. Django Unchained [Quentin Tarantino]

My favorite scene in this overlong movie comes quite early on when Dr. King Schultz tells Django the tale of Wagner’s Brünnhilde and Siegfriend by the campfire. As he gesticulates before the fire, his shadows are projected onto a bare rock face, thus providing the most obvious metaphor for cinema. That Django sits there, wide-eyed, taking in this violent hero’s tale pretty much sums up what Django Unchained is really all about.

17. Haywire [Steven Soderbergh]

Speaking of violence, what I appreciated most about the underappreciated Haywire is that it pretty much was a no-nonsense action movie that made absolutely no pretentions beyond just that. It’s a movie of performance, not one of actors but of Gina Carano’s neck-crushing thighs.

16. Silver Linings Playbook [David O. Russell]

While I can’t speak to how accurate its portrayal of diagnosed mental illnesses is, Silver Linings Playbook is probably the best film depiction of the mass hysteria that is sports fandom. Despite the rather conventional romantic comedy trappings it falls into, the film ends with a heavy dose of melancholy as a) you realize that, despite finding each other, these are two still severely damaged people and b) the 2008 Philadelphia Eagles that Robert de Niro’s character devoutly follows through the movie lose in the NFC Championship.

15. In Another Country [Hong Sang-soo]

Hong Sang-soo often gets criticized for making the same movie over and over again. And while it may be a fair assessment of his work, it completely misses the point as each of his films (and the vignettes within the films) act as a different take on the rhythms life and the interactions we go through on a daily basis with the people that surround us, like John Coltrane reinventing “My Favorite Things” through his career.

14. Declaration of War [Valérie Donzelli]

More often than you’d like Donzelli can’t get out of her own way (that slow-motion ending, sheesh, it’s not like this kid turned out to be Max Fischer), but from nearly the beginning I was all in on the ride. It’s mostly-Truffaut-with-some-Godard but without being pandering, not just in form and style but also in its (sometimes cursory) dabs in Greater Social Context. Narcissistic but not solipsistic, you can’t help but be won over by its sincerity.

13. The Turin Horse [Béla Tarr]

Perhaps the most complete vision of marrying the depiction of the events on the screen with the experience of watching the same film. Thank you for your service, Mr. Tarr.

12. Barbara [Christian Petzold]

Simple in its stakes and construction, but also perfectly understated and executed. Barbara is an elegant political thriller without the muck of politicking or morals.

11. Cosmopolis [David Cronenberg]

Cosmopolis is like an update on Godard’s Week End, except this time the rich is the one doing all the eating while the world falls apart for the rest of us.

10. Crazy Horse [Frederick Wiseman]

In a perfect world, Wim Wenders’ bloated 3-D mess of what could’ve been a nice tribute to Pina Bausch would’ve gone by the wayside and Wiseman’s tribute to the female form would be the dancing documentary that got all the praise. While Wenders can’t get out of his own way to tell of Bausch’s dedication to her craft, Wiseman’s unobtrusive (to the point of voyeuristic) camera lets the figures (in both sense of the word) do the storytelling of the world’s most famous erotic cabaret.

9. Moonrise Kingdom [Wes Anderson]

In Wes Anderson’s worlds, the adults act like children as an expression of the primal, almost infantile id that exists within each of us. In Moonrise Kingdom, he finally has children acting like adults, as an expression of the complexity that lies in the emotional and intellectual desires that are innate, even in pre-adolescence. Moonrise Kingdom might not be his finest, but it is certainly the perfect culmination of Wes Anderson’s career to date.

8. Bernie [Richard Linklater]

Despite the title and the magnetic charm of Jack Black’s performance of the titular character, ultimately Bernie is about the sense and warmth of community in Smalltown, America. An especially powerful message in the wake of the divisive political Red State/Blue State rhetoric that is so prevalent today.

7. ATTENBERG [Athina Rachel Tsangari]

The wonder of ATTENBERG is that despite its cold, clinical look at the ceremonies, motions, and activities that make up our natural life cycle (birth, sex, death), the innate humanity is impossible to be fully exhumed from them. Plus it has a badass Alan Vega soundtrack.

6. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia [Nuri Bilge Ceylan]

I mean it’s basically a Malick movie set in the Turkish countryside. I’m all about that.

5. The Master [Paul Thomas Anderson]

Boy if you thought Les Misérables was full of awkward close-ups, you’ll get up close and personal with Joaquin Phoenix’s craggy face like you never thought you would in The Master. In 70mm glory too, if you were so lucky.

4. Zero Dark Thirty [Kathryn Bigelow]

So much has been made of this film that it has practically been dissected to death so I wanted to highlight a small moment that I thought captured it quite nicely. There is a moment where Jessica Chastain’s Maya is sitting at her desk and over her head on a shelf are plain white binders each labeled with some War on Terrorism buzzword, one of them is notably “UBL.” Those letters, frequently recited by every character in the film quite dutifully, serve as the Rosebud of Zero Dark Thirty. Whereas bin Laden himself was an individual, here is he conceptualized into a fragment, a spectre that haunts the characters of Zero Dark Thirty and a post-9/11 America. He is the ultimate goal of Maya, but is nothing more than that achievement, hovering over her until her mission is completed.

3. Tabu [Miguel Gomes]

The Artist was a nice in anachronistic film techniques that did nothing more than trivialize the past of cinema (weren’t silent films just so cute?). Here in Tabu, Gomes utilizes these techniques to create the most otherworldly cinematic experience of 2012 that both romanticizes and critiques our dangerous romance with the past.

2. The Day He Arrives [Hong Sang-soo]

Hong Sang-soo often gets criticized for making the same movie over and over again. And while it may be a fair assessment of his work, it completely misses the point as each of his films (and the vignettes within the films) act as a different take on the rhythms life and the interactions we go through on a daily basis with the people that surround us, like John Coltrane reinventing “My Favorite Things” through his career.

1. This Is Not a Film [Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb]

Igi the iguana for Best Actor.

There ARE films on there I haven’t seen.  Thanks Carman, will check those out!  🙂  -Eric

Best Movies of 2012 by Judy Lee

This “Best of 2012” list is a part of the Great Movie Challenge of 2012.  For all of the lists, see All the Best Movies of 2012 Lists

Judy is a client who has used my screenwriting servies and is a filmmaker in China.  That’s right, China. -Eric


Best Movies of 2012

by Judy Lee

Top 10

1. Argo – A historical politic event mixed with thriller genre, compelling as it to the best.

2. Silver Linings Playbook – A bi-polar character doesn’t need medication, but crazier love. Plausible screenwriting with a novel perspective.

3. Zero Dark Thirty – Tribute to the female director as this film actually is feminism, apart from the torture issue. (Oscar best actress)

4. Life of Pi – A human survivor connects unexpectedly with a fearsome tiger survivor. An epic adventure.

5. Amour – Tedious ordinary aged couple life as neighbors you can see, but shocked and deepened by the powerful ending.

6. Les Miserables – “To love another person is to see the face of god”.

7. The Impossible – A family strength toward the tsunami. Perfect cast performance.

8. The Grey – Courage to surviving. The monotonous snow white turns into hopeless hazy grey.

9. People Like Us – Forgiveness to a deceased father, though the moral related with the extra-marriage affair is not acceptable by everyone. Chris Pine’s remarkable acting made him the Oscar award presenter.

10. Five Broken Camera – A documentary on a Palestinian farmer’s chronicle of his nonviolent resistance to the actions of the Israeli army.

Don’t Miss or Overrated

11.Lincoln – Great historical story, but for the movie, mostly due to Daniel Day-Lewis’ excellent performance. (Oscar best actor)

12. Skyfall – First time feel emotional bond with the theme, a little sentimental about Bond’s boss change. Bond’s girls weakly functional though

13. Django Unchained – Okay it’s a Tarantino’s film, if you like him, you like it. If not, this is a mean film.

14. Hunger Games – Very entertaining.

15. Looper – Better than expected.

16. The Dark Knight Rises – Overrated.

17. The Land of Blood and Honey – Watchable.

18. Flight  – The main character’s flaw ‘drinking problem’ seems too common, not well rooted to make audience into him no matter how terrific Denzel Washington performed.

19. The Cabin in the Woods – An enjoyable horror film.

Could be Worse

20. The Lucky One  – A tsunami of syrup drama with gap plotting, but visually enjoyable.

21. This Means War – The main character’s emotion subsided due to ‘high concept’, but enjoyed the twists and turns. However the last turn in the ending is a surplus.

22. Cloud Atlas – The story’s spine is weak and vague as six lives’ circle spanned a thousand of years.

23. This Is 40 – The screenplay needs more twists to weave the couple’s conflicts.

24. LOL  – Ahigh school budding love is a cliché, nothing to do with internet style by the term ‘LOL’

25. Beasts of the Southern Wild – Need special understanding. Watch just for it’s an Oscar nominee.

Thanks for the list, Judy!  I learned a new phrase: “tsunami of syrup.”  Nice!  -Eric