By R.K. Priddy
Well it’s that time of year again. While I was eagerly anticipating a few movies this year, I was still unsure how good the films would turn out. Thankfully, since I’m at a disadvantage due to my region, I was able to see a lot more independent films this year thanks to the same day releases featured on the IFC channel. So without further adieu here is my list of the top ten films of 2012…
Lincoln, The Guilt Trip, and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham-Carter,and a seldom-ever-seen-on-film anymore Michelle Pfeiffer, all acting under the tutelage of my personal favorite director Tim Burton. I don’t really think those that know me would ever doubt this movie would be somewhere on my list. Some may even wonder why it was a mere number 10. Johnny Depp as in all his roles tackled Barnabas Collins with a humorous sense of ease, to such a beloved cult icon.
Part of why this made my list was a sense of the old gamer nostalgia in me. Yet another reason was the superb vocal performances from both John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman. But the REAL reason why this was one of my favorite films of 2012 was the look of awe on my five year old’s face as he watched this 3D animated romp of fun. Hardcore gamer or not, I challenge any child of the 80’s not to exclaim “Q-bert!!” When you see him on screen.
As a author, I am incredibly wary when any book is made into a film. Doubly so when it’s a book is as critically acclaimed as Matthew Quick’s debut novel. Triply so when it’s centered around my favorite sport, football. Again, I had to struggle with even watching the move because wasn’t sure of the casting of Bradley Cooper or Jennifer Lawrence for the film. Both performances were authentic and well translated. Unlike most books that translated into movies I didn’t see actors portraying characters in books but rather, saw the characters themselves.
7) The Avengers
It’s hard enough to make a success out of one super hero movie, but to mesh the back story of four successful box office favorites into one summer blockbuster was beyond my wildest expectations. And to leave it in the hands of Whedon made me hold my breath. Because while his television success can not be duplicated, leaving such a huge undertaking to him was risky. Yet some gambles pay off. Literally not only was the movie outstanding, but it became part of that elite Billion dollar club. While Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and Captain America were enjoyable films, watching them together in The Avengers was movie making dream come true and fantastic, storytelling magic at it’s finest.
6) Beasts Of the Southern Wild
While I am unsure of the rest of the U.S. States, when this movie came out it was the buzz of the South. Perhaps is was because it was released right around the time Hurraicane Issac was scheduled to hit us and around the time of the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. With such storms so fresh on our minds down here, this movie truly hit close to home and revealed some of the southern “magic” that has charmed me since relocating down here. While there are elements of fantasy within the movie. It’s a bit humorous that there are some true and real beliefs that are adhered to in reality down here. Even the nicknames themselves pour out of Southern lore.
What is it about Wes Anderson that allows you to look at the truly tortured bits of adolescence with such humor and compassion? Maybe it’s because it is easy for me to identify with the mismatched characters of his films. Again, Anderson’s movie displays some surreal cinematography, aided by vintage costuming and set pieces. But the real triumph of the film is that he utilizes the strongest traits of his actors, such as Willis and Norton to make the audience feel for them.
4) The Master
Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie was probably destined to make my list this year. I wondered if he would retire after the career defining, near-perfect film There Will Be Blood. It is almost unimaginable how he could top a film like that. So why even try? And yet, when I first learned the director was back on the scene with this movie, of course I was extremely excited. Once I saw The Master, I realized again like most things in life, it’s not about quantity but quality. While one expects excellence from Phillip Seymour Hoffman, the true stand out performance in this film is Joaquin Phoenix. His portrayal of the tortured Freddie Quell leaves you gasping for breath.
3) The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
Let me admit this by saying… I was prepared to detest this film. The book is an all-time favorite of mine and was written beautifully. All the characters in this novel were types of people I knew growing up. So seeing it as a film, unjustifiably angered me. Even the casting of Emma Watson agitated me. I felt they would try to monopolize on her “Potter” mojo to carry the film. I was more than pleasantly surprised by the outcome. The movie did the book justice. In fact, it made Patrick, portrayed by Ezra Miller, much more likable than in the book. I worried lastly about Emma Watson, biting off a bit more than she could chew when taking on the role of Sam. What it showed me was a remarkable young woman who truly left her wizards robes in her childhood.
What can I say… Tarantino is Tarantino. I expect greatness from him every time I take my seat in the movie theater. I began to ponder if my demands on the director would make it impossible for him to meet my standard. I am pleased to announce any let downs will not occur with Django Unchained. Only Tarantino could save an extremely talented actor such as Christoph Waltz, from continuously being tragically typecast as a villain in all his films. Not only does he cast him against type he has featured him in a high profile, affable role that threatens to steal the entire movie from other actors involved. Once more, in a bit of what I call movie karma, Tarantino transformed Waltz from the man you wanted dead most in one film, into the one you rooted the most for to live. Jaime Foxx proved his Oscar winning talent was not a fluke, simply put… this man could act. And like all his villains he gave DiCaprio’s Candie a stomach turning charisma that you hate to admit drew him to you. This would have been #1 on my list except…..
I actually just finished watching this movie today. As a “Les Miz” aficionado, I painstakingly evaluated every person they cast in every role. The most difficult casting to identify with was Hugh Jackman. Seeing the stage production of it so many times and having a image of what Jean Valjean looked like, the casting really threw me for a loop when I saw Jackman. Instead of making the character recognizable Jackman made the character his own. Hooper’s use of tight close up shots of the actors gave you something a play production lacked personal connections with each character. His decision to make the actors sing their dialogue as they shot rather than have them “dub and roll” gave the film so much more depth and realism superseding any other musical film I have ever seen. It would be a absolute crime if Hathaway’s heart breaking performance of Fantine does not give her Oscar Gold. Bring your tissues and expect to be blown away when you see this film. Your favorites aren’t just acting They are singing truly singing giving the the classically trained a run for their money.