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.

argo-2012
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?

Movie Review: Take This Waltz [2011]

Take This Waltz [2011]

Take This Waltz [2011]
Director: Sarah Polley
Genre: Comedy/Drama
Starring: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Luke Kirby and Sarah Silverman
Runtime: 116 minutes

It has come to the point where I will see anything Michelle Williams is in. She has become one of the most consistently brilliant actresses over the last few years, and she does not disappoint in Take This Waltz, director Sarah Polley’s second feature film.

Williams stars as Margot, a happily married 28-year-old freelance writer who begins to fall for the curious artist across the street. This new love interest, Daniel (Luke Kirby), intrigues her in ways her loving husband, Lou (Seth Rogen), does not. While Lou is a caring, playful companion, Margot wonders what life would be like with someone else. Her strong attraction to the handsome Daniel begins a “waltz” of sorts — she doesn’t want to cheat on her husband, but she doesn’t want to cease seeing her neighbor as well. Ultimately, something has to give.

We are teased for much of the film’s running time. Margot and Daniel continue to push the boundaries of a platonic relationship, and we are there to witness the internal struggles of both, as well as the obliviousness of Lou. Clearly, this is not an ideal situation for any of them, but the emotions are just too powerful to control.

Take This Waltz [2011] -- Seth Rogen & Michelle Williams

During one critical scene, Margot and her sister-in-law Geraldine (Sarah Silverman) are showering completely nude with a number of other women at the local gym. Stripped of their self-consciousness, they are talking about whatever comes to mind, including relationships (naturally). One older woman bluntly states that “new things become old” — words that expertly resonate within Margot’s love triangle.

In essence, that statement is the moral of the film. Sure, the grass always looks greener on the other side, but is it worth leaving the comforting stability of the present in order to get there? Just how far is too far?

My favorite moments in the film have a key 80s song as their backdrop — “Video Killed the Radio Star.” In one powerful scene, Margot and Daniel are riding together in an amusement park ride as the song blasts over the speakers. They are having a great time, laughing, throwing their hands up in the air. Suddenly, the ride abruptly stops, as does the music. The stark reality of their inappropriate behavior hits them like a bag of bricks — they had a moment of pure bliss without any lingering thoughts of their situation, but it ended just as quickly as it began. The song is also used in a later scene to echo this sentiment.

Take This Waltz [2011]

Take This Waltz is not without faults, however. It takes a while to build momentum, and this may throw off some casual viewers. Also, a strong argument could be made for the film to end about 15 minutes earlier than it did. I was expecting the movie to end on one particularly sad note, but Polley kept it going in favor of adding a different type of resolution. In a way, everything came back around full circle. The jarring transition to the film’s “real” ending threw me off at first, and in fact, it had me question my overall rating. The more I think about it, however, the more I like it. Still, the conclusion will not appeal to everyone.

Not enough can be said about Michelle Williams’ performance here, as she is fantastic as always. Her character is eccentric and lively, and we always have a feel for her mental thought processes. Luke Kirby is also surprisingly great as the rickshaw-driving artist who is charming but with the right amount of sleaze to back it up. Furthermore, it was refreshing to see both Seth Rogen and Sarah Silverman in dramatic roles, each doing well with their limited screen time.

The initial reception to Take This Waltz has been decidedly mixed, but for my money this is a moving film that feels both fresh and authentic. Those who have been in similar situations will easily feel a connection. Folks, keep an eye on Sarah Polley — she looks to have a very bright future behind the camera.

8/10

 
Take This Waltz is currently available on demand. The U.S. theatrical release is scheduled for June 29.