Crash! Landen’s Top 10 Films of 2012

I didn’t see all of the films that I wanted to see in 2012, but I saw just about all of the ‘big ones’. The only one I can think of that I wanted to see  (and didn’t) was the ‘Les Miserables’ film… you know, the musical… Maybe I’ll see it before it leaves theaters. There are still many of the smaller films that I haven’t seen. My 2012 list will reflect that.

Some 2012 movies that didn’t quite make the list: Seeking A Friend For The End Of the World (the happiest of the recent barrage of apocalyptical films), Safety Not Guaranteed (one of those navel gazing, quirky indie dramedies), The Hunger Games (the better than I thought it would be Battle Royale  ripoff) and John Carter (of Mars…a big movie that wasn’t the box office success that maybe it should have been).


(Bumped) The Avengers (Or more accurately: Marvel’s The Avengers… Worst title ever… They added the ‘Marvel’s’ because they couldn’t get the rights to the name from the British television show/movie. That’s appropriate since I’m betting the TV show at least influenced the naming of the comic book in the first place. Why they didn’t just name it ‘The Mighty Avengers’ probably was along the same stupid decision making as not adding the (of Mars) to John Carter. Anyway, despite not being a fan of Joss Whedon, Marvel’s The Avengers managed to entertain. This was yet another Marvel film that appeared to be written while they were filming. In fact, they camouflaged a wet paper flimsy plot with large doses of humor and lots of shiny FX. It was eager to please audiences and it did in a big way. After revising my list for 2012, it slipped out of the Top 10. Still a lot of fun, though. Remember, these aren’t my favorites, but a list of the films that are the ‘best’. Two different things entirely.)


(Bumped… Was on my Top 10 for a few hours. Then, I saw Dredd.)

The Bourne Legacy (Not a reboot, but somewhat of a passing of the torch for the franchise. I’m betting Jason Bourne  somehow ends up in the sixth installment, if not in the next, but this indicated that the series will be fine without him. I didn’t care for the sci-fi aspect introduced into the ‘canon’, but I’m warming up to it.


The Master (I’m a huge fan of Paul Thomas Anderson, so it’s probably surprising to some that I hated ‘There Will Be Blood’, which to me was a pointless film about an unlikable person that does wrong from beginning to end. I’ve liked everything else that I’ve seen from the director including this.  The Master is a little heavy on running time and Anderson uses symbolism like a blunt force tool, but this is a great movie. I’m going to watch it again, but I don’t think it will quite make my Top 10. If you’ve seen this, tell me if you can’t break the story’s theme down to a man who needs to get laid… Joaquin Pheonix really is a great actor.).


Argo (Ben Affleck continues to prove he ‘s a better director than actor. He’s 3 for 3 now in my view. Argo is not quite as historically accurate as it purports to be, and they sidestep/ignore reality in order to be kind to Jimmy Carter, but Affleck manages to create high tension and make this a well told story. He maximizes suspense, but I have to wonder if maybe the hostage situation that was going on in Iran simultaneously that this group of bureaucrats manages to avoid… by abandoning Americans to look out for themselves… might have been glossed over too much. This was sort of like that movie La Vie En Rose, where the French manage to skip over World War II in a biography about a French singer that lived through that. Argo is still a great film, though, even if it lacks a little in historical honesty.)


(Bumped) Looper (Although imperfect, this was an extremely entertaining sci-fi morality tale of sorts. If you stop and think about it too much it unravels to a large degree, so it’s a good idea just to go along with it. Bruce Willis’ character even says so much about midway into the film:”It doesn’t matter!” The movie does have a point and makes the most of its easily recognized symbolic elements to make that point. This isn’t the best  Bruce Willis time travel flick IMHO, but it’s still a a really good one.


10) Arbitrage (I’ve never been a huge Richard Gere fan, but if he ever has a chance to win an Academy Award, it’s probably going to be with this movie. I usually have trouble with films that focus on a villain because they usually have nothing to say. Not so here, and really the character is not a villain so much as someone who is mightily flawed, makes some poor decisions, tries to justify in his own mind those poor decisions and ultimately  tries to avoid responsibility for his mistakes. Is that a villain?  Whatever the case, he manages to make the character likable and even a little sympathetic maybe. Hard thing to do.)


9) Les Miserables (An apropos title if there ever was one. They sure were miserable. So miserable they went around singing about it and it really wasn’t all that bad. And misery has never looked as stunningly beautiful as it does here. I hope the cinematographer won some awards for this.)


8) Snow White And The Huntsman (Probably the biggest surprise on my list. It’s better  than it has a right to be for a big budget mainstream film about a well known fairy tale. It is a beautiful looking film as it should be given its nearly 200 million dollar budget. I’m DEFINITELY not a fan of those Twiglet films, but Kristen Stewart continues to prove that she’s a decent actress if you can get past the anti-Twiglet bias. She plays the fairest one of them all, and has to compete with a bevy of fair beauties in this, with Charlize Theron playing the Evil Queen antagonist. And Chris Hemsworth gives a better account of himself  as the Huntsman than he does as Thor, god of thunder (that’s my opinion, anyway). This story could have easily gone chick flick, but thankfully has more broad (no pun intended) appeal than that.)


7) Prometheus (Ridley Scott’s return to the genre that put him on the major film director map is flawed certainly, but in my mind was worth the long wait. Entertained while doing what sci fi does best: poses questions.)

DarkKnightRises Poster

6) The Dark Knight Rises (Sadly, the end of the series… supposedly.. for director Christopher Nolan and company, but a completion of a great trilogy. Very few ‘superhero’ films end up being about anything other than FX and fantasy, but Nolan managed to take Batman into the realm of real films. None of these are great superhero films, they’re just great films. Both sequels have built on the foundation of the original, but have what amounts to stand alone stories. I will acknowledge that TDKR is probably the least of the three, but is still satisfying as Nolan’s final chapter. I think you could do a film study class on each of these as to what works on film and the integration of all of the various parts of filmmaking that add up to the whole. Every part added another layer in how the story was approached, from the cinematography to the acting to the soundtrack. The next Bat-director will have big shoes to fill.)


5) The Pirates! BAnd Of Misfits (Not on par with some of Aardman’s other work like Chicken Run, but still a fantastic animated feature. It takes repeated viewings to catch all of the jokes because Aardman really cares about the details. The backgrounds can sometimes be even more entertaining than what’s going on in front of the camera. Everyone always talks about the genius of Pixar, but pound for pound, Aardman matches up rather well. Hugh Grant is at the top of his game supplying the voice for the Pirate Captain. I would have to make note of the entire cast if I wanted to highlight the stand out performances. Just a great film that maybe deserved a little more recognition).


4) The Hobbit Impressive from start to finish, even if it is a little baffling why Jackson feels the need to stretch the book’s material into three films. You don’t get the idea that it’s for profit’s sake, though, Jackson seems genuine about the art side of it. What’s onscreen backs that up. This was my first IMAX film in 3D and it was worth the money spent.)


3)  Skyfall (Much like with Batman in recent years, James Bond has been reinvented with a little more substance than he’s had in the past. Sam Mendes takes the reins for this latest outing and delivered one of the best Bond films ever. As I said with TDKR, this isn’t just a great Bond film, it’s just a great film. And yes, I prefer the Bérénice Marlohe poster (above) to the Daniel Craig version.


2) Dredd (Is this too high for a box office bomb? How about for a comic book movie? Not in my humble opinion. It passes with bright shiny colors in slow motion on every level. A smart script. Great direction. Startling visuals. Interesting characters. A sardonic sense of humor. Cool action sequences. Revels in its rated R rating. And it’s all done on what would be considered a relatively small budget by today’s standards. A great film that didn’t find an audience… Yet.)

1) Life Of Pi (My number one film and I still haven’t written a review for it…. Sigh. The best of stories say something about the human condition and Life of Pi tackles a wide variety of  issues while being intensely focused in what it’s saying. At the same time, it allows for a wide variety of interpretations. The film touches on tolerance, beliefs, spirituality, the importance of story and the very nature of man’s existence and his relationship with all other forms of life. If ever there was an instance to say that a film is  a ‘meditation’ on anything, it’s this one. Director Ang Lee has had  a career of excellence, and while I haven’t seen all of his films, every one that I have seen has not just been good, but  have easily made their way onto my ‘Best of’ Lists. Is this his best film? I don’t know, but it is profoundly spectacular. Solid story, acting and striking visuals. The use of CGI with live animals was near seamless. The sinking ship in the first act was as impressive of a disaster as I’ve seen on film, but leave it  to Ang Lee to frame as hauntingly beautiful as he does; the shot where the title character is suspended underwater in front of the ship’s lights, especially. It reminded me of  the ghostly underwater scenes in Night of The Hunter. I also think Irrfan Khan is deserving of at least a Best Supporting actor award. Khan plays the older Pi, recounting the story of survival on the open sea. He is understated, but deliberate in his mannerisms. When I made my Top 10, I was surprised that I kept moving this one to the top, but it was as affecting as any of the movies that I’ve seen this year. It deserves all of the acclaim that it gets.)

And that’s my list for 2012. I’m sure I’ll have to revise it as I see more films from the past year, but I think this was a good start. Comments?


4 Responses to “Crash! Landen’s Top 10 Films of 2012”

  1. […] Hobbit film highly engaging as you can read here in my review of that one. It even landed on my Top 10 Films of 2012 List.  I’m sure this sequel will make my list of ‘Best Of 2013′. I have found the […]

  2. […] Anyway, good film, but not my movie of the year by any stretch. I do think it will win many of the bigger awards at the Oscars (which is going on right now… I’m not watching). This is the type of film that those Hollywood types love. I’ll be majorly surprised if Hathaway doesn’t win, especially. If I had a Best Actress award, she would probably win it, this year and not just because I think she’s hot. is that the right not to end on? I think so. This film will probably be in my Top 10 of 2012. […]

  3. […] Again, I love this movie. Absolutely love it. I loved the shit out of it, if I can be frank. It’s smart. It’s violent. It’s a little grimy. It frames some of that grime rather beautifully, too. It entertains. It surprises quite a few times with the biggest one being that it’s such a great movie. Dredd undersold itself and over delivered. I will be greatly saddened if there isn’t a sequel. I don’t know if the character would work, but I would love to see a sequel with the homicidal villain Judge Death, as long as all of the principals return, but I doubt that’s going to happen. At least we got this one, I guess. I just wish I had seen it in theaters. It’s one of the best comic book to film translations ever; not perfect, but how many movies are? No surprise that it crashes my Top Ten List of 2012. […]

  4. […] get a rimshot? No? Sorry. I digress. The Bourne Legacy was probably good enough to go on my ‘Best of 2012‘ list. It was solidly made  even if I didn’t care for the genetics […]

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