Saturday, January 12, 2013

Jacinta's Favourite Films of 2012!

It was about time I stopped trying to cram all the movies I missed in 2012 and deliver my final favourites list before we get to 2014. So here we are! I put a fair bit of effort into my movie-watching in 2012, so I had quite a few to choose from which unfortunately led to some tough decisions! I've cheated a little bit and done a top 15 instead of a top 10. If I'd tried to do a top 10 of 'Best Movies' vs 'My Favourites' they probably would have looked quite different, so in my Top 15 I've tried to include the best of what would have been on both those lists.

Join me below the cutski!

There's a few movies that I haven't had a chance to see yet, like The Raid and Wreck-It Ralph, and then quite a few that are yet to be released in Australia, such as Django Unchained, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty, Cloud Atlas and like a BILLION MORE. These staggered release dates are a pain in the butt. Movie studios, can't you just spare a thought for us poor non-Americana pop culture bloggers and release everything at the same time so we don't look like freaks including movies from two years ago in our top 10 lists? Thanks.

I'm going to start off with the mini-reviews of the five that didn't quite manage to sneak their way into my Top 10.

15. The Dark Knight Rises

Okay, so it wasn’t really the greatest movie ever, and it was definitely the weakest of Nolan’s Bat trilogy, but it was still Batman! Joseph Gordon-Levitt was great, and Anne Hathaway was the best big-screen version of Selina Kyle we’ve had. It’s just a pity that Bane was so rubbish (seriously, who decided on that stupid voice?), and the fact that the woman Bruce chose to sleep with was going to turn out to be a bad guy was insanely obvious even BEFORE he stuck his Bat-wiener in her. But still. BATMAN.

14. 50/50

This one was actually in my Top 10 from last year, but given I never posted my list and the movie actually came out in Australia in 2012, it sneaks in on a technicality. The story of a 27 year old dealing with the diagnosis and treatment of his cancer is probably not the best thing to be watching AS a 27 year old, but it sure kicked my butt into gear. Seth Rogen is great in his supporting role, having to lean more on his dramatic chops than comedy.

13. Undefeated

A very late inclusion on the list (I literally watched it today, and apologies to Pitch Perfect which got cut to make room). If this had been a work of fiction, I would have cast it aside for all the football movie tropes it crammed in. Coach takes group of inner-city kids from being the worst football team in their area to being champs; player comes back from debilitating injury; player with anger management issues fights his demons; talented player battles academically etc etc. In this documentary we don’t share in the pain and joy as translated through actors, these are the real kids with real problems and real hopes and dreams. It’s really what happens between the old football clichés that keeps it so engaging.

12. The Sapphires

This was originally in my Top 10, but was unceremoniously dumped out by a Boxing Day release. The true story of four young Aboriginal women shipped off to Vietnam to entertain the troops during the war is an absolute delight, and one of my favourite Australian films in years. The real strength is in the casting; the chemistry and banter between Deborah Mailman and The IT Crowd’s Chris O’Dowd was great, though the star of the movie was clearly Jessica Mauboy. No one would have doubted she could play her part as far as the singing went, but she proved herself as a more than competent actress in only her second movie role.

11. Argo

I agonized over Argo for days and days before eventually leaving it out. Any other year it probably would have been top 5, but I just enjoyed so many movies this year. The story of the extraction of 5 American diplomatic personnel out of Iran in 1980 is a very slow burn but with a thrilling climax. I adore Ben Affleck as a director, and he keeps as much interest in the quiet moments as he does in moments of tension and action.

And here we go with the PRESTIGIOUS TOP TEN! 

10. The Hobbit

It was always going to be hard for me to NOT include The Hobbit in my Top 10, despite my initial negative feelings. I really disliked the 48fps frame rate, and haven’t yet had a chance to see it again in 24fps, so this is a bit of a token inclusion on the assumption that my opinion would improve with repeat viewings. I know my angst will fade in regards to the things they changed, because realistically if they’re going to drag out what is essentially a fairly short story over 9 hours, they have to add some padding. I did actually love the White Orc, and I think his arc with Thorin will add something to the story, but I just questioned if he needed to be there. I’m not that into Tolkien that I ever thought I’d be ‘that guy’, but here we are. The Hobbit sneaks in at #10 because despite it all, I loved being back in Middle Earth. And because Thranduil is faaaaabulous, darling.

9. Brave 

Disney Pixar hit it out of the park once again with their tale of adventure, magic, and myth. I think the thing I really loved about this one was how different it was, while still retaining the familiar Disney feel. Having an animated film full of Scottish accents, with not one American accent or caricature-esque foreign accent to be found was WONDERFUL. My internal monologue was Scottish for days. Also loved the focus on the mother/daughter relationship, and the important life lesson of ‘Don’t be a dick to your parents, because you might accidentally get them turned into a bear and THEN how would you feel?’ Visually, Brave is bordering on ridiculous in regards to how good it looks. Every little strand of hair is animated to submit to wind and gravity, and frankly it took me a while into the movie to be able to take my focus off the jaw-dropping graphics and just settle into the story. It may never be a classic like The Lion King, but Disney have created something very special here, both in terms of story and visual technology.

8. The Hunger Games

I chewed through the Hunger Games trilogy earlier this year, and was out of my brain excited when the movie finally came out. I absolutely loved the BULK of the movie, particularly the reaping scenes, but towards the end the flaws started to crop up. I do resent the fact that they’re making the love triangle between Katniss, Peeta and Gale a much bigger deal than it ever was in the books, and the low-ish rating (PG-13 in the US and M in Australia) means that a lot of the brutality and psychological attacks had to be dialed back significantly, but for the most part it was a very well done adaption with some inspired casting choices. You can read my full review from back in March here. Be sure to check back this time next year to see where Catching Fire rates in my Top 10, cause I’m pretty sure it will! FINNICK!

7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower 

Just realizing how many of my favourites are book adaptions! Based on Stephen Chobsky’s 1999 novel, ‘Perks’ follows main character Charlie’s first year in high school and all the adolescent troubles that come along with being 15. Chobsky actually adapted the screenplay himself as well as directing the film, with the result being one of the more perfect book-to-movie translations I think I’ve ever seen. The main cast of young actors are quite simply out of this world. Logan Lerman (who I had previously only seen in Percy Jackson and The Three Musketeers) is perfection with his wide-eyed, awkward portrayal of naïve outsider Charlie. His two supports in Emma Watson and Ezra Miller complement each other and Lerman to the tee. I in no way expected this movie to be anywhere near as good as it actually was, and if you haven’t seen it, I can’t recommend it enough.

6. Dredd

My Top 10 list for 2011 featured a ‘siege in an apartment block’ movie (Attack the Block), and now so does my 2012 list (though if I’d managed to track down a copy of The Raid, there most likely would have been two for this year). Shake off any bad vibes you had from Stallone’s 1995 abomination, because Karl Urban’s Dredd is here to kick ass and take names. And he’s already taken the names. Every now and again I do really enjoy a good hyperviolent movie, and this delivers without making it feel like bloodshed for the sake of bloodshed. The SLO-MO drug plot device resulted in some truly spectacular slow motion scenes, and aside from maybe Avatar this is the best movie I’ve seen where not watching it in 3D would result in you missing out on something pretty amazing. Also amazing is Karl Urban’s frowns. At one point I swear he basically looked like >:<

5. Les Miserables

This was the movie responsible for dumping The Sapphires, but I think it’s not an unreasonable move. I could just start and end this review by saying ANNE HATHAWAY and leave it at that, but I’ll try to flesh it out a little. Seriously though, Anne Hathaway beat the almighty shit out of that movie and if she doesn’t win the Oscar, there’s no justice in this world. That first dramatic sweeping shot of the ship had me invested from the get go. It took me a little while to click in to the whole ‘singing every line of dialogue’ thing (not really helped by the fact one of the first scenes featured Rusty Crowe sing-talking, and…ugh), but once I was there, I was there. The cast as a whole was great, though you could tell who were the stage veterans and who weren’t (though that said, I found Hugh Jackman’s voice a bit thin in parts compared to say, Aaron Tveit’s confident Enjolras). I struggled with Russell Crowe through pretty much the whole thing. His voice might sound ‘good’ when lumped in the mix with guitars and drums and feedback with his ‘band’, but exposed by itself it was fairly lacking. I didn’t mind him in the actual role of Javert, but every time he opened his mouth it was in sharp contrast to the rest of the cast. Absolutely loved Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter in their roles as the seedy Thenardiers, and Samantha Barks’ Eponine & Aaron Tveit’s Enjolras almost stole the show from their leads in Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne. It’s certainly not a movie that’s for everyone, and if you’re not much into musicals then it probably really isn’t for you, but there’s a lot to love here for people who do like a bit of sing-y danc-y action.

4. The Deep Blue Sea

Another one that I snuck in on the technicality of it being released late in Australia. Rachel Weisz and Tom Hiddleston star in this stunning character study of a woman who makes self-destructive life choices and then has to navigate the fallout. Not a great deal of over-arcing plot; woman leaves older husband for handsome younger devil, but it is a fascinating and almost voyeuristic journey inside this woman’s mental workings. We flip between the past and the present as we piece together the puzzle that is Hester’s troubled life. Rachel Weisz delivers an utterly enthralling performance, and though I started watching this movie as a bit of background noise while I was doing other things, I was fairly quickly captured and unable to tear my eyes away. The whole tone of the movie is so somber and borderline suffocating to the point that I didn’t realize I had been holding my breath until a character made a tension-snapping joke and I couldn’t help but let out an awkward laugh. This movie is a tough journey, but definitely one worth taking.

3. Skyfall 

There’s probably not a great deal that I can say about Skyfall that hasn’t already been said a thousand times. I love Daniel Craig’s Bond, with his hard-nosed military demeanour and unapologetic brutality, and I think Skyfall would just about be my favourite of his three movies. Skyfall gives us the modern Bond, but still has moments of respectful homage to the classic movies to celebrate 50 years of 007, including a far more iconic villain than we’ve had in the last few Bond movies. It isn’t without its flaws, but the good far outweighs the bad.

2. The Cabin in the Woods

It would probably be fair to say Joss won 2012. The Cabin in the Woods starts off as a fairly formulaic ‘teens out in the woods’ type horror story, but quickly turns into something else entirely. Just when you think you’ve got it all figured out, the script takes a sharp 45 degree turn and turns it up to 11. I can’t really say anything more without giving plot away, but one of my favourite moments was when it became clear one of the characters was going to die, and many people in the audience were sitting forward in their seats, in twisted gleeful anticipation. On one hand you’re rooting for these characters, but on the other you kind of can’t wait to see how they die. If you’re a fan of Joss’s work you’ll see plenty of familiar faces dotted around the place (but I won’t tell you who, that’s half the fun!). I hate horror movies because I’m a wuss, but a horror comedy directed by Joss Whedon? Sign me up. Several times. The level of excitement amongst my group of friends when we exited the cinema was second only to one movie this year.

1. The Avengers

The Avengers set the bar high early in the year, and no other movie could meet it. What could have quite easily become a mish-mash disaster, ended up being the best superhero movie of all time. The tone and pacing was dead on, and the snappy one-liners never felt cheesy or contrived. This movie was a hell of a lot of fun and I enjoyed it immensely, to the point of seeing it three times at the cinema. Or was it four? I can’t remember. I totally found a new fandom with this movie and the enthusiasm is yet to wane, both for myself and most of my circle of friends. The Avengers also has the honour of turning Agent Coulson from a bit-part player to a cult icon, and basically getting Clark Gregg his own TV show. Nice work, Avengers. Watching Coulson crop up in those old movies is so much more fun now. The worst thing about it being so good is that the wait until the release of Avengers 2 in 2015 is going to be insanely painful.

Sadly, what goes up must come down, and I encountered some total shockers during 2012. Let me tell you of them!

5. The Bourne Legacy

To be honest, it wasn’t so much BAD as just really disappointing. It’s starting to grow on me a little (but only a little) after a re-watch, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s a pretty boring action flick, the main character is bland (though rather handsome), and the best thing about the whole movie is the supporting actress! Rachel Weisz can do many things, but she can’t hold your crappy movie afloat by herself, guys.

4. Total Recall

While I was kept entertained by Total Recall (hey, I’m female and not immune to Colin Farrell’s charms), it was pretty soul-less and terrible, and really should never have been made. I only saw the original relatively recently, so I didn’t have the baggage of nostalgia, but even I felt this was pissing on its source material.

3. Rock of Ages

I lasted literally ten minutes before I had to give up. I’d seen the theatre production previously and loved it, but this movie was a Very Bad Thing. Who cast Tom Cruise in this? Seriously! Stacee Jaxx is supposed to be a studly rock god, and Tom Cruise is about as far away from that as you can get. Does anyone find Tom Cruise sexually attractive anymore? Anyone? The only reason this wasn’t further up the list is the fact I had the CHOICE to turn it off, and I had to suffer through the other two.

2. Sherlock Holmes 2

Robert Downey Jr hasn’t had the greatest luck with sequels, huh? I loved the first Sherlock Holmes, so was super excited when this one came out. Joy quickly turned to horror as I realized I was watching the movie equivalent of a shitty Tumblr slash fanfic. I knew things weren’t going to go well when they killed off Adler right at the start, but by the time I endured the 600th ‘OMG LOL how gay are Holmes and Watson????’ joke I was more or less curled up in the foetal position, willing it to stop.

1. Prometheus

I find it fairly easy to switch off my brain during movies and just enjoy the ride, with most of my dislikes and criticisms cropping up later once I switch back on and mull over what I’ve seen. Prometheus was such a steaming pile of dog crap that I was simply unable to sit back and passively enjoy it. If it was a ‘so bad it’s good’ type of movie I could roll with that, but it was a ‘so bad cause we spent all our money on the visuals instead of the script’. It did look amazing, to be fair, but it’s hard to concentrate on the scenery when you’re watching supposedly smart sciencey people get killed by a narrow rolling spaceship. That was the dumbest thing I think I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen Your Highness.

Well, that's 2012 done and dusted! 2013 is shaping up to be a good one; I already have 39 movies on my IMDB watchlist! Hopefully I won't be forced into a top 20 next year. Maybe I can just have a 'genre movie' list separate, so I don't have to decide if I like Thor 2 just because Tom Hiddleston's in it, or because it's actually a good movie.


  1. AAARGH I DISPUTE YOUR PROMETHEUS. But most of the rest I'm cool with. Especially the schwing.

    1. Man, not even Fassy could save that movie for me.