Top Ten Films of 2012 (Helen Geib)
by HELEN GEIB
In the final analysis, every “best of” list is a list of favorites. These are the ten movies that made me the happiest in 2012.
The final Marvel origins story is the year’s top juggling act. A measure of its success: I read five reviews claiming five of the fan favorite characters- four superheroes and one supervillain- had stolen the show. When I went to see it for the second time I thought I might discover hidden depths, or at any rate something I’d missed in the hurly burly. I didn’t, but I don’t love it any the less for its superficiality. (my review)
A bold experiment in form masquerading as comedy. Paradoxically, it’s the laughter that allows us to consider the tawdry true crime story with the seriousness demanded by its ruined lives. Jack Black is so incredibly good as Bernie, it was a positive surprise to realize he isn’t in my two favorite scenes: explaining the map of Texas and nabbing the deadbeat dads. (my review)
The Bourne Legacy
I really, really loved this movie and not only because it stars Jeremy Renner. This is a smart and well-calibrated thriller with good performances across the board and a knockout action finale. A combination remake of The Bourne Identity and sequel to the Jason Bourne trilogy, it creates its own identity within the series by neatly inverting the core theme of identity. (my review)
A great Shakespeare film from one of the minor plays. Leading a fine ensemble cast, Ralph Fiennes is a double threat as director and star. Filming amid the modern ruins of Serbia to represent ancient Rome besieged by a hereditary enemy was the stroke of genius.
They had me at the Gettysburg address. Lincoln is the ideal biopic: excellent, consequential, and accurate. Too bad he couldn’t resist taking the film a step beyond its natural dramatic endpoint; and yet, even the Spielberg Coda can be defended as the fitting last words of a study of the American president remembered more than any other for his words to the nation.
From my review: One of Moonrise Kingdom‘s charming points is its multifaceted homage to old-fashioned children’s books spinning tales of adventure and fantasy, most charmingly expressed by Suzy’s reading passages aloud from her favorite books by the light of the runaways’ campfire. That this particular children’s story was made for adults is signaled by the theme of transience and the lightly worn nostalgia. The connecting thread is the quirky sensibility of writer-director Wes Anderson.
The Raid: Redemption
In a tough field this is the movie of the year I’m happiest to have seen on the big screen. Star-choreographer Iko Uwais is a killer combination of skills, screen presence, acting talent, youth, and good looks. (my review)
Safety Not Guaranteed
They start by assembling a roster of indie cliches, then confound expectations by writing them as fully developed characters. In one way or another they’re all seeking love through time travel. Clever, funny, bold, perceptive, and heartfelt, this is the most thoroughly engaging movie of the year as well as one of the best.
Writer-director Martin McDonagh’s follow-up to the brilliant In Bruges trades that film’s clean-lined perfection for an exuberant kitchen sink approach. Crime, comedy, philosophy, religiosity, Hollywood satire, and a formalist exploration of modes of storytelling are all in the mix. It also vies with Lincoln for the distinction of being the all-around best acted movie of the year.
Silver Linings Playbook
It’s not the edgy psychological drama promised by the first act, but I won’t be the one to criticize it for being a lovely romantic comedy instead. Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro deserve the accolades, and the depiction of family and community life is refreshingly true to life.
Please read this post before you fire off an angry comment asking why Zero Dark Thirty (Indianapolis release date: January 11) isn’t on this list
Meanwhile, this post explains why my list is in alphabetical order