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2012: A Year In Review

Alas, we are at the end of yet another year and with it will come the endless “Best Of” lists.  These countdowns can get old after awhile, yet they are always fun to write/read.  2012 was an interesting year in film and one that will be remembered for many reasons.  Well for what it is worth, here is my countdown of all the best/worst things in film this year.

Here we go:

Best Comeback: Charlize Theron

This tall, blonde stunner won an Oscar in 2003 for her unrecognizable portrayal of real life serial killer, Aileen Wuornos, in Monster, was nominated for a second Oscar for North Country, but since then she had all but disappeared with blink and you’ll miss ’em supporting roles until this year.  2012 saw Miss Charlize Theron start the year with a Golden Globe nomination for Young Adult and then go on to star in Prometheus and Snow White and the Huntsman.  While Snow White was received with mixed reviews, it was a global box office success and had Theron play the juicy role of Ravenna.  She may have been underused in Prometheus, however her screen time was used effectively.  The future looks even more promising for this actress as she has a number of high-profile roles, including the villainous role in Mad Max: Fury Road.  Glad to have you back!

Breakout Star: Anna Kendrick

Like last year, this title was awarded to an up-and-coming actress.  Jennifer Lawrence is the obvious choice, but I want to give Anna Kendrick some attention since she has flown under the radar for quite some time.  Despite being an Oscar nominated actress (Up in the Air) and being in the Twilight Saga, she was previously relatively unknown to mass audiences.  After this year, things are a little different.  From starring in What to Expect When You’re Expecting and End of Watch to voicing a role in ParaNorman, Miss Kendrick was all over the place.  Yet her star-making role came in Pitch Perfect, one of the most refreshing delights of this year.  Using her assets that got her a Tony nomination back in the day, Kendrick was the heart and soul of the film as she belted her heart out in catchy, head bobbing worthy musical numbers.  Adding all these starring roles to her filmography, we can expect to see plenty more from this talent young lady.

Biggest Surprise: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Every year there are a few Sundance flicks that garner enough buzz to carry them onto awards season.  Of those films, few have been as Cinderella story-esque as Beasts of the Southern Wild.  With a first time director and a cast of nearly all first feature actors, the film had every reason to go wrong.  Yet on the contrary, it became the critical darling of the summer and a frontrunner for multiple prizes this awards season, including Best Picture and Best Actress for its nine-year old star, Quvenzhané Wallis.  A splendid surprise and nice alternative to the big budget, star-studded films that tend to crowd awards season.

Best Music: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Smiths, David Bowie, Sonic Youth, and multiple Rocky Horror Picture Show songs!  This soundtrack captured the voice of the mixed-tape generation.  Sure all these songs were referenced in the book, but the film brought them to life with energy and devotion.  We all wanted to know kids who listened to cool indie music in high school, but for now we can just imagine we are friends with these cool characters.

Honorable Mention: Anna Karenina

If you like more traditional music in films, Dario Marianelli’s work on the Joe Wright/Keira Knightley Anna Karenina is the way to go.  Marianelli previously won an Oscar for his innovative score for 2007’s Atonement (another Wright/Knightley picture) and it looks like he could get a well-deserved second!  Give it a listen:

Best Trailer: The Impossible

The art of trailer making has become a perfected craft.  Nowadays, trailers feature all the emotional highs and lows of films in order to persuade people to come into the theaters instead of staying home and picking a film from the OnDemand directory.  As a result of this, many of the great moments in films are spoiled by the intense marketing.  This can hurt certain films, but not this is not the case for Juan Antonio Bayona’s The Impossible.  Based on the destructive tsunami of 2004, so people know the outcome therefore it becomes more about the journey and less about the destination.  Check out the trailer below and try to say you didn’t get teary eyed.

Best Director: Joss Whedon

Who’da thunk that the beloved director of the hit show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, would go on to direct one of the most sought after projects in years?  Well, this blogger definitely didn’t!  Joss Whedon came into the directing scene with a number of hit shows, but his only feature film prior to The Avengers was 2005’s cult classic, Serenity.  Whoever decided to go out on a limb and put Whedon at the helm of the project needs to get a major raise.  This man took what could have been one of the most monumental flops in film history and turned into one of the most critically and commercially acclaimed films.  While it is not as heavy hitting as Nolan’s Batman trilogy, it offers laughs and excitement for old and new fans of the Marvel comics.

Best Performance: Daniel Day-Lewis

The acting legend of our age does it again in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln!  Daniel Day-Lewis, the chameleon actor, transforms himself into America’s most iconic president.  In my humble opinion, no living actor could have done a better job than Mr. Day-Lewis, and a few actors since the beginnings of film can match his high level of craft.  A fifth Oscar nomination is most definitely in the bag, and a third win is almost certain.  Thank you for being so picky with your film choices, Mr. Day-Lewis!  It makes them that much more enjoyable when they roll into the theater.

Dishonorable Mention: Johnny Depp

Dark Shadow was a mishandled mess, for lack of a more effective description.  With Johnny Depp at the lead you would think this would be a saving grace, however he simply added to the film’s pointlessness.  I want the old Burton-Depp collaborations back!

Best Movie Moment: Cabin in the Woods

There are great films with no great moments, and then there are awful films with many great moments.  Fortunately, Cabin in the Woods is a excellent film with some truly iconic moments.  For those of you who have yet to see the film, get on that, but first, I will warn you to not watch the clip below unless you want some major spoilers.  For those of you who have seen the film and the others that don’t care about spoilers, watch ahead!  This is a moment in a horror movie every diehard fan has been waiting on for years.

Honorable Mention: Take This Waltz

Sarah Polley has been making quite the name for herself in the directing world.  While still an actress, Polley has begun to focus on her directing and it is paying off!  Her latest work is Take This Waltz, which star Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen.  While the film is divisive, it has some great moments like below.

Best Movie You Didn’t See: Your Sister’s Sister

A film starring Emily Blunt is sure to get plenty of attention, right?  Well, not necessarily.  Mark Duplass and Rosemarie DeWitt co-star, but both of them are still widely unknown to casual moviegoers.  While it was a critical darling, the film was kept at a limited release and ran its theatrical run at arthouse theaters.  If you did not see it, I beg you to give it a shot!  It is not for everyone, but it is definitely a must-see from 2012.  Kudos to Lynn Shelton for writing and directing this project, for few could have pulled off the tricky subject matter so splendidly.

Little side-note:  I’m still holding onto to the hope that Rosemarie DeWitt can pick up a Best Supporting nomination come Oscar season for her truly remarkable performance.

My Top Ten Films of 2012:

(Bear in mind this list is compiled of only films that I have seen thus far.  Zero Dark Thirty, Skyfall, Looper, The Intouchable, etc will probably alter this list once I see them.)

10. Prometheus

Ambitious and strange, yet an all-around triumphant return to the sci-fi genre for Ridley Scott.

9. Argo

Gripping, stunning, and definitely Oscar-worthy, this film continues Ben Affleck’s terrific directorial career.

8. The Hunger Games

For all the naysayers, The Hunger Games is a film to see and provides us with a franchise worth following.

7. Lincoln

Not just a movie your parents want to see, Steven Spielberg puts out his best film since Schindler’s List. 

6. Django Unchained

Gleefully violent and fiendishly hilarious, Quentin Tarantino proves that he’s just as good as he was 20 years ago.

5. Silver Linings Playbook

The dramedy of the year that solidifies Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper as respectable actors as well as brings back Robert De Niro in his best performance in quite some time.

4. The Cabin in the Woods

A love/hate letter to horror films that is also arguably the best postmodern film in the past decade.

3. The Dark Knight Rises

A monumental conclusion to the greatest superhero series to date.

2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

My Pittsburgh ties may make me biased on this one, but Stephen Chbosky translates his beloved novel to the big screen with grand success, resulting in a John Hughes-esque classic for a new generation.

1. Moonrise Kingdom

The reigning champ from my mid-year countdown , this Wes Anderson masterpiece proves even more whimsically delightful with each viewing.

Honorable Mentions: The Avengers, Pitch Perfect, Ruby Sparks, Brave, 21 Jump Street, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Safety Not Guaranteed, and The Amazing Spider-Man.

Dishonorable Mentions: Battleship, That’s My Boy, The Watch, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Paranormal Activity 2, and This Means War. 

Well there you have it!  This is my 2012: A Year in Review.  It has been a great year for films and I hope you enjoyed yourself at the theater.  Comment below if you feel I missed a favorite film of yours from this past year.  Well, now to look for forward to 2013!

But, first…..

Watch this compilation of over 300 films.  I promise it’s worth the 7 minutes!

Happy moviegoing!  See you next year!

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