Top 10 Films From 2012

The “best of” lists have been well underway, and it’s time for me to join in on the festivities. I wanted to wait until I saw a few of the most recent heavy-hitters, and now I feel confident enough to put together my own top 10. This has been a great year for film, and I could have easily stretched this out to a top 20, or even 25. For the sake of consistency, I am sticking with a top ten.

Honorable Mentions:
The Intouchables
Zero Dark Thirty
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Beasts of the Southern Wild

Killer Joe [2011]
10) Killer Joe
“A totally twisted deep-fried Texas redneck trailer park murder story.” Yeah, it’s as great as it sounds. I will never look at fried chicken the same way again.

Take This Waltz [2011]
9) Take This Waltz
Pretty much a “love it or hate it” film, but this one struck an emotional chord within me. I can’t get enough of Michelle Williams either.

Lincoln [2012]
8) Lincoln
Daniel Day-Lewis deserves every bit of praise sent his way, and he anchors a well-rounded cast in a film about one of America’s most pivotal moments.

7) Argo
Dare I say Ben Affleck is a much better director than actor? This is a gripping thriller that manages to maintain suspense despite the outcome being well-known.

The Dark Knight Rises [2012]
6) The Dark Knight Rises
I can’t think of a better conclusion to one of the best trilogies in recent times. The film flies by despite its lengthy running time, and Bane is a hell of a villain.

Indie Game: The Movie [2012]
5) Indie Game: the Movie
A documentary about indie game developers? Whaaaa-? This is actually a damn good film, one that shows a dedication to a craft where no outcome is certain.

The Imposter [2012]
4) The Imposter
The perfect example of truth being stranger than fiction. My favorite documentary of the year.

Oslo, August 31st [2011]
3) Oslo, August 31st
A look at a reformed drug addict trying to fit back into society. Sounds familiar, but this film looks at addiction in a fresh new light. Joachim Trier is a director to keep an eye on.

Django Unchained [2012]
2) Django Unchained
I could watch Quentin Tarantino recreate history any time. Just as stylish as expected from the eccentric director, with an especially memorable soundtrack.

The Master [2012]
1) The Master
I’m still a bit shocked at how divisive this film has been, but no other release resonated with me this year like Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest. The trio of Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams deliver some of the best performances of the year, and the film itself will leave you thinking about it for days (or much longer).

Still need to see: Amour, Seven Psychopaths, Rust and Bone, The Impossible, Holy Motors

Any thoughts? What do you agree with? Disagree?

Documentary Mini-Reviews: Catching Hell, June 17, 1994, Indie Game: the Movie, Man on Wire

I got on a bit of a documentary kick this week. Here’s some quick reviews of what I watched:

30 for 30: Catching Hell [2011]
30 for 30: Catching Hell [2011]
Poor Steve Bartman. When the Chicago Cubs were on the brink of heading to the World Series in 2003, a fan reaching for a foul ball became the unfortunate and unnecessary scapegoat for the team’s spectacular demise. It’s amazing that everyone remembers Bartman — what with his black sweatshirt, headphones and blue Cubs cap — but most forget that the Cubs had plenty of chances to put the game away on their own accord. If we want scapegoats, why not blame Moises Alou for throwing a temper tantrum about the incident and damn near starting a riot? Or better yet, what about sure-handed shortstop Alex Gonzalez being charged with an error on what should have been an easy double play to end the inning? No, thanks largely in part to the media, Bartman was left to shoulder the blame. The poor guy received death threats in the days afterward, and he is still ridiculed to this day. To his credit, he has turned down countless offers to do interviews, commercials, etc. Although the film is a hard watch for Cubs and Red Sox fans (thanks to the Bill Buckner clips), it’s a great spotlight on just how desperate people are to blame others. 8/10

30 for 30: June 17, 1994 [2010]
30 for 30: June 17, 1994 [2010]
Do you remember June 17, 1994? If that date doesn’t ring a bell, I bet you will still remember some of the sporting events that happened that day. The New York Rangers were celebrating their first Stanley Cup in 54 years, across town the Knicks were battling the Houston Rockets in game six of the NBA Finals, the World Cup kicked off in Chicago, and Arnold Palmer played his last round of golf at the U.S. Open. Oh, and there was this little thing of O.J. Simpson being chased in a white Ford Bronco. I don’t know if there has ever been a more tumultuous day in sports history. This is a pretty unique documentary in that everything is presented via archive footage, making it appear that we are watching these events unfold in real-time. There is no voice-over narration, just the banter from announcers during the day. It’s an interesting time capsule of a day that anyone alive during that time certainly will not forget. 7.5/10

Indie Game: The Movie [2012]
Indie Game: The Movie [2012]
You don’t need to be a gamer to like this, but it certainly helps. Indie Game chronicles the paths taken by the indie video game developers behind Super Meat Boy, Fez and Braid. All of these games are operated by just one or two guys, and they have dedicated the last few years of their lives to creating and finally releasing their games. The film follows them through the creative process, going along with their highs (i.e. breaking sales expectations and reading glowing reviews) and their lows (debuting a game at an expo, only to have it be a bug-ridden disaster). While not all of these guys are entirely likable, it’s still an emotional ride, and it just shows the amount of dedication and hard work that is put into these titles. Quite frankly, this is one of the best movies I have seen all year, and there’s a good chance I will be doing a full write-up on it soon. 9/10

Man on Wire [2008]
Man on Wire [2008]
On August 7, 1974, a Frenchman named Philippe Petit set up a tightrope between the two towers of the World Trade Center and walked back and forth for a good hour before getting arrested. It was a batshit crazy idea, and even more remarkable that he did this without causing harm to himself or anyone else. Man on Wire presents the time leading up to this stunt much like a heist film — it jumps between time-frames while introducing everyone involved. It’s a well-made documentary, but it suffers from being forced to stretch out this one event into a 90 minute feature. By the time the incident actually happens, it’s anticlimactic. There are no videos of the tightrope walking, just stationary images, and nothing terribly exciting happens afterward. While a solid effort, I’m rather shocked that this has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 6/10

Have you seen any of these? What’s your take?