Monday, February 25, 2013

My favorite movies of 2012: The Final 6 In which none of you have seen my top picks, and get mad about where I place things Jan 07, 2013 8:07PM PST

6. The Avengers

Despite whatever takes home the Best Picture Oscar this year, we all know exactly what film we'll first remember when thinking back on 2012: the one where Thor and Captain America fight while neglecting a hostage that can fly, and contrary to all that "science" bullshit, Iron Man proves that overheating a battery gives you super strength. Speaking of Tony Stark, this movie made well over a billion dollars in a very short amount of time.

Aside from Cabin in the Woods, which I also saw in theaters last year, I really don't have much exposure to Joss Whedon; as a kid, I couldn't stand low-budget-looking live action series and lumped in Buffy with Hercules and Xena: Warrior Princess as "shows that are not Simpsons, Bobby's World, Power Rangers, Biker Mice from Mars, Street Sharks, Louie Anderson's ... cartoon thing, Animaniacs, or Batman: TAS (by the way I grew up in the 1990s; I figured it might not be obvious since this decade is never referenced on the internet in any way) and I've never had much interest in Firefly, cause I already had my fill of space western from Cowboy Bebop. I did see this first few episodes of Dollhouse in college, but that didn't last very long, nor does it have anywhere near the rabid fanbase of his other shows.

However, like everyone else, I was shocked how well this was all pulled off. You get a sense of each character, fanboy-service fights, a surprising amount of well-placed humor, and in general the ultimate popcorn action movie.

And, despite the fact I actually enjoyed both previous Hulk movies for different reasons, it has the best portrayal of that character by far.

Frankly, if you didn't like this movie, I feel bad for you, cause it must be awful to have no one agree with you and be completely wrong about something. Don't cry, though. Here, have some plotholes (SPOILERS IN VIDEO):

5. The Dark Knight Rises (SPOILERS; SKIP TO 4 IF HAVEN'T SEEN)

Ok fine, so maybe I've pointed out in the past that those convienences in Avengers never bothered me that much, but I was bothered by some of the dumb character actions and things being a little too convienent in this movie. Namely 1:05 in this video:

and pretty much this entire scene had me thinking of writing this spoof myself almost exactly:

Not even mentioned in the above videos is how the hell Bruce Wayne got back to Gotham after crawling out of that hole in bumfuck-nowhere-India-look-alike-country (I said after, I had no problem with him going through the mental challenge, magically running and climbing with no knee cartilage, and having his back magically fixed with a hard punch, cause while he's not supposed to have superhuman powers like that, whatever he's Batman, fine, but I will question with what phone was he calling whatever jet got him back to Gotham in time?), what I consider pretty weak revenge motivations (I though Ra's wanted to destroy Gotham cause it was a crime-filled cesspool, so Talia wants to destroy it to avenge him... even though it's practically crime-free now, supposedly? Well, I guess there wouldn't be a movie otherwise, but still), and a few other problems I won't mention cause you've already gone to the comments to scream about how I just don't get it, cause I'm too stupid to understand Nolan's intricate explanation for everything, even though he didn't bother writing said explanations into the script.

Now, did I question it when Joker blew up that hospital in Dark Knight? No. Despite the fact you'd have to be a 9/11 Truther to think he could have pulled that off, at least there are people who seem to think it's possible in real life, and whatever, it was like one unrealistic thing I noticed in an otherwise intense and seemingly near-flawless movie (to me, at least). Rises, though? I noticed a ton of stuff that just seemed off to me, sitting in that theater at midnight, hyped as hell, yet sometimes looking over and wondering if my then-girlfriend was having the same problems I was... and ironically, hoping she was having the same amazing experience I was despite these flaws.

See, despite the fact this is the first in Nolan's trilogy to have this many plot points, I won't call them plot holes, cause I don't think that's quite accurate, but despite having so many plot points that bothered me, the good here so outweighed the bad that I was easily able to allow myself to be blown away. It's still not The Dark Knight or Batman Begins where I didn't know what to expect and just was blown away, but unlike those other two, I actually own this movie after asking for it for Christmas.

The cinematography is simply gorgeous, the quiet, somber nature and gray tones that surround Gotham are beautifully dreary, the pacing letting you know this is the end of Bruce Wayne's legacy as Batman, the explosions, effects, and badass Bat Plane adding to the hugeness and scope of Bane's threat.

Speaking of Bane, while I agree that he sounds a bit too much like Sean Connery, Tom Hardy's massive size and his way of seeming to be in absolute control with the way he moves and talks is probably the best answer to Joker's manic insanity I could have hoped for.

The acting in general is top-notch, as I loved Hathaway as the sexy and efficient jewel thief Catwoman, Joseph Gordon Levitt is simply a bad ass, Commisioner Gordon is still perfectly cast, Freeman and Cain are still the best old man acting team ever conceived, and Bale... still has that dumbass lozenge voice as Batman, even though like everyone knows who he is in this movie. Can't win them all.

The tension was absolutely great, and the way the end had that call back to Master Alfred's fantasy and left things open for a new Batman to "rise?" Genius.

That being said, some of the sound mixing was pretty awful, and I couldn't hear characters softly talking when the score was pounding over them when silence would have been fine, but hey, I enjoyed the hell out of it despite all that.

For a lot of people this is their least or most favorite in the trilogy. My take? I'll have to marathon the trilogy and decide that way, cause it's been forever since I saw Begins, but I'd probably say the Dark Knight. But Rises can't be my least favorite anything. Despite so much I find to complain about with it, it's such an enjoyable experience and overall a fitting end to a fantastic trilogy.

4. Pitch Perfect

If I were to redo this list, I might put this at #6 and move Avengers and Rises up to 5 and 4, respectively. But you know what? I'm not uncomfortable having it as 4 anyway, simply because this was by far the biggest pleasant surprise I got last year.

It has its flaws, don't get me wrong. I'm pretty sure even Juliard isn't just teenage-ish looking faces singing a capella with no fraternities or sororities to be seen, and I honestly didn't even enjoy the music in this all that much outside of "No Diggity," and there is a lot of music. This movie succeeds with flying colors in its mission to get you hating a certain Ace of Base song I never actually minded in its original form.

With Rock of Ages, I recognized the selection of songs quite a bit better, and got a kick out of a lot of the dialogue and such, but it didn't have the secret weapon of Fat Amy.

Where Rock had me chuckling and smiling at the references and cute premises and Tom Cruise's chapless ass and monkey (despite often making me want to listen to the original songs and not Glee-style covers, at least if Mary J. Blige's superior-to-all-other-cast-members vocal talent wasn't on screen), this movie had me losing my damn mind with laughter almost every time Fat Amy opened her mouth. Not to mention, Anna Kendrick is both sexy and a good singer, and I genuinely rooted for her team to win a competition even though I could care less about what it was for.

The only ads I saw for this movie were on the Facebook app Song Pop, where you could choose songs from this movie as a playlist, and given that almost none of them were my thing and this looked like the worst crap this side of Step Up Revolution (which to be fair, I've never actually seen, and still don't plan to), I thought this would just be another dumb Glee'd up tween movie. And then Whattheflick praised it so I saw it with my then-girlfriend on my suggestion (totally different girlfriend than the one at Dark Knight Rises, by the way), and ... it was kind of a Glee'd up tween movie... but one that had me laughing my ass off and smiling the whole time.

Thank you, Fat Amy. Your singing voice is great as well.

3. Wreck-it Ralph

I'll come right out and say it: I'm glad they tossed most of the references at the first 15 minutes and went into a character-driven story from there. Frankly, I only found the bad guy therapy thing mildly funny, and was really let down by the fact Robotnik was there, but never spoke, while the Street Fighter characters and a Pac Man ghost did? The hell? Besides, the direct references are always the least funny to me, the little jabs at gaming tropes are what really had me laughing (especially the Jane Lynch character's back story).

Also, I didn't think I'd like Silverman in this, but like her character, I thought she'd be this movie's "glitch," but was instead its strongest point. To the point where I got all misty eyed at a pivotal point for her in the movie. Didn't care quite as much about Ralph, but the voice acting and the way these characters play off each other is really excellent and captivating.

It wasn't hilarious, but there was a lot there to laugh at, and it had the most heart of almost any movie I saw in 2012.

In sequels, I'd like to see more jokes about things exclusive to games that don't make sense outside their virtual context, like bosses allowing characters to clearly see and access their weak points. It would also be funny to see like a villain arcade where a bunch of koopas or Hammer Bros. are playing a version of whack-a-mole where Mario pops out of his pipes and they have to hit him with the hammer when he appears. Also, as BigMex pointed out, music is extremely important to gaming, so more references there would be nice, too.

But again, what it lacked in references, I felt it made up for with character and heart.

2. Killer Joe

This just might be the strangest experience I've ever had with a movie. It's terrifying. It has dumb, despicable characters. It's gross. It's morally reprehensible. It's also hilarious, fun to watch, and I couldn't take my eyes off it.

This might be the only thing I've seen in theaters or otherwise, rated NC-17 and it earns the hell out of that rating. Part of it was filmed in the city I live in, Dallas, TX and it follows the dumbest hicks on planet earth try to get insurance money by hiring a hitman to kill their mom, only when they can't find the money to pay him in advance of the insurance, the hitman agress to do it on one condition: he get to sleep with their underage sister.

It is the most depraved, filthy plot description I may ever have had to write on a top whatever list of mine since A Clockwork Orange became my favorite book, and I could not stop being fascinated by the mix of pure and simultaneous disgust and entertainment I felt to take my eyes off this masterpiece. I guess it makes sense, considering it's directed by the guy who did the original Exorcist.

I will never eat chicken again.

1. Silver Linings Playbook

My favorite movie of 2012 was this more or less straight up drama.

I've had family and personal issues with mental health that, while nowhere near this intense, did help me relate to the characters in this story. Not only that, but I was still fully unemployed at the time, feeling like I wasn't living to my potential, and needed a silver linings playbook myself.

The immensely fantastic acting from Dinero, Lawrence, Cooper, and hell, even Jackie Chan's partner from Rush Hour didn't hurt, either. I was able to feel and connect with the emotional struggles of all of these characters who had gone through some kind of loss, were struggling to make ends meet within and around themselves, and who, like me at the time I saw it, just wanted some small semblance of a lucky break.

The love story is one of the best I've seen on-screen in years, because the characters earn each other's affection; they have an initial attraction yes, but they ultimately fight hard for what they end up getting from each other.

The movie's even got a pretty good sense of humor to boot, acknowledging the awkward situation of Bradley Cooper's strange character coming back to normal society, and a particularly funny twist involving his psychiatrist, even a humorous competition in which to set the climax.

In many ways, the aspect of struggle and perseverance had this reminding me of what is so far my favorite movie of all time, Cinderella Man.

Time will tell if this surpasses that movie as my all-time favorite or not, but as far as 2012 is concerned, this was easily the best movie I saw.

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