It is so hard to distinguish between the best movies of the year and the ones that I like to watch repeatedly. Sometimes they are one and the same. I absolutely loved The Perks of Being a Wallflower, but I have a feeling that my enjoyment of the movie is more about my personal connection than the actual worth of the film.
There are also several very good films that I consider extremely worthy of being considered the best of the year, such as; Lincoln, Life of Pi, The Master, and Silver Linings Playbook. They are honorable mentions, but unfortunately I had to cut it down to three.
3rd – Moonrise Kingdom
Moonrise Kingdom tells the tale of a pair of teenagers who fall victim to love at first sight and flee together from their tiny secluded island town which causes the local search party to sound the alarm to fan out and find them. It takes us back to the age when we had our first crushes and just couldn’t wait to grow up. Moonrise Kingdom is a touching, funny, original story of young romance and innocence.
I’m usually not a fan of Wes Anderson’s films. I’m not sure why, because I appreciate the technical detail and interesting stories. But something about them just doesn’t sit right with me. It could be his melancholy characters, dumbfounded performances, unique costumes or quirky music, but all the things that I didn’t like in Life Aquatic and Royal Tenenbaums seem to work here.
Bruce Willis & Edward Norton deliver solid performances in this ensemble cast but the child actors really make the film for me especially Kara Hayward, in her first role. Part of me feels like I have to include this one somewhere on my list because I know that Wes Anderson deserves it, but this is his best film in my opinion, and it still isn’t enough to beat the next two.
2nd – Django Unchained
Quentin Tarantino gives us his take on the western mixed with a little blaxploitation in Django Unchained. Set before the Civil War, the plot centers around the titular Django who is freed and joins a former dentist to form a bounty hunting team and to rescue his wife.
Jaime Foxx is the obvious star as he matures into a hero, but the supporting cast is in their finest form as well. Christoph Waltz is Tarantino’s muse and displays a gentle charm as an enlightened German bounty hunter. Samuel L. Jackson is a house slave, Extremely loyal to his master but he lords his “leadership” over the rest of the house and commands the screen as individual to be feared. It’s a chilling portrayal of a slave unlike any other. The best of all is Leonardo DiCaprio is the slimy villain plantation owner who pits slaves against each other in gladiator style competitions to the death. It’s a committed and entrancing performance that establishes the generally protagonist DiCaprio as a formidable foe.
These intricately designed characters are able to shine because of Tarantino’s ear for biting dialogue and comedy. This is one of the best written screenplays of the year. But the nearly 3 hour running time could have been slightly condensed as the real story doesn’t even begin until almost halfway through. Django Unchained is really entertaining. But it isn’t quite up to par with the #1 film of the year.
1st – The Avengers
I can already see some of you shaking your head thinking that I’ve lost it. I mean how could a Superhero movie be the best of the year? Well, Joss Whedon has defied all of the skeptics who thought it couldn’t be done. He saw my high expectations and blew them out of the water. The Avengers is the best superhero film ever made.
I don’t say that as a knock on any other superhero films, especially The Dark Knight. But, The Avengers bypasses the typical genre categories. I think that the superhero elements are actually irrelevant to the story and narrative in many ways. to the point that you could practically remove costumes and capes, and the film would still exist almost unchanged. That has to mean something.
Because I don’t believe that any particular genre of film is inherently greater than another. The Avengers is a great movie overall. Think of other movies that were breakthroughs where the filmmakers did things that no one had ever seen before. Well, practically nobody seemed to think that this film could be done. Think back to years ago right after the success of Iron Man when we first heard Marvel’s intentions to build an on-screen Marvel Universe. Four solo superhero franchises, all existing in the same bigger world together, and all leading into a massive team-up movie where they all share the limelight? Most scoffed and said, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But they pulled it off and we have now seen more solo films and spin offs all leading into yet another shared movie.
They gave us a world that extends beyond any one film, something that’s spanned the globe and many different characters with their whole separate lives and arcs, and a team-up movie that instantly feels larger and full of real people with real histories and backgrounds entirely apart from the team-up itself. That is enough to make it the best of 2012 and maybe more.
What do you think? Am I nuts? Let’s discuss it.