Continuing my look at this past year in film, I give you Part Three of 2012, The Year in Movies. In the first part you saw a myriad of movies which I rated lower than three stars (out of five), ie, the worst I saw over the past year. In part two you saw all the films I rated 3 or 3.5, ie, the middle of the pack. In this section we move into the better movies from the year. These movies were not quite Top Ten material but every bit as worthy of a watch from everyone! Ultimately, these movies were all very enjoyable and very well done. However, they all were missing that touch of movie magic that separates the best of the best from all the rest. I will get more into that when I unveil my fourth and final part of my 2012 movie experience. All of the movies in Part 3 here, I rated 4 stars. They ranked #21-#11 in my 2012 movie experience.
So, without further ado, let us continue our journey through 2012, the Year in Movies!
#21. End of Watch
This film was actually a late (and final) installment to this 4-part series on 2012 films. I had heard a few good reviews from friends and recently checked it out OnDemand. First of all, Jake Gyllenhaal is absolutely AMAZING in this role. He may have turned in one of my all-time favorite depictions of a police officer. The reason this movie did so well in my opinion is fully centered around its realism. The film does not try to cloud things by forcing some type of agenda down your throat, it doesn’t ‘hollywood-ize’ things, it doesn’t depict unrealistic and unbelievable sequences. It is a real story down to the core. The dialogue is fantastic, the acting is on point, the action, writing and pretty much everything else perfectly fit together into an ending product that was first and foremost real, and secondly very enjoyable.
I am not a Bond film expert by any means but according to everything I read and hear this film may go down as one of the best Bond Films of all-time. I can see why. This film was easily the best Craig Bond Film I can vouch for that 100%. I would obviously have to do a bit more studying to rank it amongst the entire library but at first glance this chapter hit each mark. Most importantly, (unlike a few other recent chapters) it actually ‘felt’ like a Bond film. Hopefully this is just the beginning of a new resurgence in quality Bond films!
#19. Trouble with the Curve
So, last year we had Moneyball and this year we have its antithesis is Trouble with the Curve. As one of the biggest baseball fans on the planet it doesn’t take much for me to like or even love a baseball film. Amy Adams, Justin Timberlake, and Clint Eastwood all turned in amazing performances in this film and it delivered the message it wanted to very successfully. Unfortunately for the film, given its release date it will many times be compared to Moneyball and each and every time it is, it will lose. That being said, every baseball fan should add this one to their queue because there is not much they won’t like about Trouble with the Curve.
#18. 21 Jump Street
In a year virtually void of decent comedies, 21 Jump Street stood out like a sore thumb….a funny sore thumb that is. This film was enjoyable through and through and was easily the best straight comedy of the year. Jonah Hill was great once again and the chemistry between Hill and Tatum was surprisingly good. I don’t think a lot of people knew what to expect from this film given the title. I myself, was pleasantly surprised at how much it did not take itself seriously. It didn’t hurt that they sprinkled some nostalgic goodness throughout, including what may have been the best cameo appearance of the entire year!
#17. Red Tails
I feel like Red Tails is a film that got lost in the shuffle in 2012. Perhaps, it was released too early in the year. Perhaps it was overshadowed by some humungous blockbusters, or films filled with special effects and big name actors. I’m not really sure what the reasoning was exactly but what I am sure of is that Red Tails was one of the Top 20 films of the year and a film that any history buff should see immediately. The ensemble cast was great and the historical accuracy was top-notch. For a generation of people overly obsessed with fast and furious cars, fighter jets in real believable and historically accurate dog fights were more than just a breath of fresh air!
#16. Zero Dark Thirty
Contrary to what my colleague, MovieRevolt Dan, may tell you, Zero Dark Thirty was no where near the best film of the year. It was however the 16th best film of the year! It was a great film on many many levels. Most of which you can read about in his review of the film. Perhaps it was all the praise I had heard prior to seeing the film that had me screaming ‘overrated’ (one of my colleagues favorite terms ;) ) However, there were just too many issues and bad decisions made by the director to anoint this film with any more than 4 stars. First and foremost would be the ridiculous amount of time spent on the first act of the film in comparison with the rushed manner in which the final act was handled. After seeing the film I was left with the feeling that I had sat through 2.5 hours of a story that could have been told in half that time. Dan also praised it for sparking conversations, debate and controversy over the idea of torture. Had it done any of that I could agree, on my viewing it sparked none of those things though. Again, don’t let me steer you in the wrong direction…Zero Dark Thirty was one of the best films of the year. Just don’t let someone try to talk you into thinking it was Top 10 material!
Argo and Zero Dark Thirty go hand in hand in my eyes in 2012. They both shared the honor of being the two most overrated films of the year. They both depicted historical events. They both were great films. Neither was worthy of being talked about in ‘top film of the year’ discussions. Really, though, I could have predicted this. Movie reviewers far too often look for that ‘under the radar’, ‘subtle’, ‘unpredictable’ film to tout as their top choice for the year. Zero Dark Thirty and Argo both fit that mold. Sadly, though in a year full of ACTUAL great films these two films stole entirely too much attention from those films truly worthy of such honors. Again, I find myself spouting negative words about a really good film and hopefully you can see through this to the fact that I did rank this film the 15th best film of the year. I know Dan has written dissertations on how ‘overrated’ is a ridiculous term when it comes to labeling films but there is really no other word that can be used when it comes to these two films.
#14. Cloud Atlas
I understand that most critics panned Cloud Atlas. Why was this? I can only conclude that it was because most critics had absolutely no clue what they had watched when they left the theater. This film is perhaps one of the most complex, complicated and misunderstood films of the last decade. This is a prime example of a film that demands multiple viewings before one could even start to grasp its full meaning and effect. I don’t want to ruin anything for those of you who have not seen this film but I will say that this film was brilliantly put together and executed. It was not without faults but in the end those paled when compared to the power of this story and the absolute uniqueness and creativity injected into it.
#13. The Grey
Most of you probably didn’t even know that this film came out in 2012. Like 99.9% of films released in January or February, The Grey was all but forgotten by everyone as they compiled their year end movie lists. I however, cannot ignore a film that easily is the top film in its entire genre. Liam Neeson was pure perfection in this film and the choices made by Joe Carnahan were perfectly on point. There was no real reason why this film should have worked, everything about it was shouting ‘flop’. For some reason though when you put it all together it did anything but ‘flop’. If you are a fan of survivor films or psychological/philosophical thrillers then you need to seek this film out immediately. Beware though, certain vacation destinations may be forever crossed off of your ‘to-go’ lists.
#12. Dark Knight Rises
There weren’t many films released in 2012 that had more hype to live up to than The Dark Knight Rises. The third and final installment of one of the greatest superhero trilogies of all-time is a lot of pressure for any film to tackle. Top that off with the fact that it was coming out the same season as the rival Avengers and you have one heck of a challenge for Christopher Nolan. Nolan succeeded in making the trilogy complete in epic fashion. He failed however in even remotely competing with The Avengers. In time, The Dark Knight Rises will take its place as one of the best superhero films of all-time. It will never take that top spot though. Fans of the franchise should be pleased though in the epic manner with which this trilogy was concluded.
#11. Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
I have long stated that the Lord of the Rings is the best trilogy top to bottom we have ever seen. With The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey we have the beginning of a new trilogy for the franchise. It would be nearly an impossible task for the Hobbit trilogy to meet or surpass the Lord Of the Rings trilogy but hopefully at least it can be somewhere within shouting distance. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip back to middle earth and felt that The Hobbit did an excellent job in creating a flowing depiction of that world in another time. I reserve my right to cast my final judgement until this trilogy is completed. However I do feel the need to note that The Fellowship of the Ring also failed to make my Top Ten list for its year of release as well.