in Top Ten

The movie industry needs to change. We have all these great ways of delivering content nowadays, and yet it still sucks trying to see movies that aren’t the AAA release of the last few weeks. In December, I really wanted to catch up with some of the big movies of 2012. First I checked Netflix, but their selection of 2012 movies was limited to movies that were super indie and out of theaters by early summer. Red Box wasn’t much better. Then I looked at Amazon, which had a slightly better selection, if I wanted to buy Blu Rays or pay the DVD price for a streaming rental. This sucks. Don’t make me want to pirate things!

Honorable Mentions

10. The Queen of Versailles

MV5BMTM0MzY0NDc3NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTAyODY4Nw@@._V1._SY317_CR3,0,214,317_How incredible that this movie got made. If you haven’t been keeping up, The Queen of Versailles stated as a documentary about a rich couple building the biggest, dumbest mansion in the world (of course they’re American). Then it’s 2008 and the economy implodes and the house is only half-finished and their business crashes. Watching this family flounder through the crisis should be an exercise in pure schadenfreude, yet Lauren Greenfield does not judge and instead creates an amazing portrait of the reality of the American dream.

9. Lincoln

Lincoln_2012_Teaser_PosterI had my doubts. I think a lot of people did. And it would be easy to say that D. Day elevated Lincoln singlehandedly, but that’s not the case. His performance is wonderful, but so are many of the members of the cast. The script deserves credit too, for giving the characters such delicious scenes. And Spielberg himself did a fine job making the movie so restrained and quiet. Lincoln is an impressive, moving portrait of the greatest men in our history as he perhaps really was – which does in no way diminish how truly awe-inspiring he is to me.

8. Seven Psychopaths

Seven-Psychopaths-PosterI thought we were beyond a time when Christopher Walken could be great in anything but a bad comedy movie. I was wrong. Seven Psychopaths owes a debt to Adaptation, sure, but if one of most interesting writer/directors of the day is going to crib from one today’s greatest, I’d be a fool to complain. Plus, I’m always going to be a defender of Sam Rockwell movies, and this is one of his funniest parts. I want to see it again, more than I want to see a lot of movies from 2012 a second time. This movie has its cake and eats it too, and I’m all about it.

7. The Avengers

TheAvengers2012PosterIt shouldn’t work! Five whole movies! Four years! Box office poison/nerd god Joss Whedon! Go back in time and tell people about The Avengers, I dare you. I bet you’d end up covered in blood and brain bits, from all the minds you’d blow. Then tell them they did it all without Spider-Man, the X-Men or even the Fantastic Four. The only people left alive would be old people and attractive young people who have better things to do than read comics. And now it’s up to them to save the human race.

6. Django Unchained

Django_Unchained_PosterI know I’m not in the cool minority with Spike Lee, Matty Ballgame and Colin, but I really liked Django Unchained. Is it too long? Probably, these last few Tarantino films have been great experimentations in tension, but it sure does appear lacking compared to the masterclass that is Inglorious Basterds. Is it racist? I don’t think so, since the movie takes the stances that anyone who would condone slavery deserves horrible punishment. Slavery is portrayed so brutally it makes the way some other movies represented it seem tame. Is it weird that Tarantino always seems to write himself in as a character who says the N-word? Yeah, you got me there.

5. Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beats-of-the-southern-wild-movie-posterTo me, what this movie accomplishes completely overcomes its weaknesses. It’s so intense, so raw in its portrayal of this community and the people in it. Beasts of the Southern wild is certainly set in New Orleans, and probably set during Hurricane Katrina. But despite one sequence near the end, we could have just as easily been set in another time, or maybe even another world. Who the man?

4. Life of Pi

Life_of_Pi_2012_PosterI fear this movie is getting overlooked. Ang Lee, man. Never would have thought Ang Lee would be the one out there making a case for 3D filmmaking. God knows the damage he could have done with 3D technology when making Brokeback Mountain or Ang Lee Hulk. Here it’s a hell of a journey, with some truly beautiful imagery. And to be honest, ultimately I’m not even sure I’m sold on 3D needing to be a thing to keep around. But I was sold on Life of Pi, no doubt about that.

3. Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise_Kingdom_FilmPosterEven as the resident Wes Anderson fanatic, I wasn’t expecting this to end up so high. But I really liked this tale of young love, despite usually not wanting to see tales of young love. I love when Anderson is able to combine his trademark quirk and style with characters who are coming from a place of incredible pain and discontent. It’s what made Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Life Aquatic great, and Moonrise Kingdom easily stands among them. Especially The Life Aquatic, like a lot of people hate that movie, actually.

2. The Master

the-master-poster1It gets in your head and you can’t let it go. Three scenes from The Master haven’t left me since I saw it. There’s the first processing scene, the most intense staring eye contest that turns into a haunting brainwashing. There’s the POV dance sequence, so strange and creepy and all the while Amy Adams is staring right at you. And the second processing scene, a late turning point in the movie for me, when I stopped really having any idea where the movie was going. Maybe I never knew. It’s not easy, but damnit it’s interesting and ridiculously well-made. The Master is a dangerous movie to dismiss.

1. Zero Dark Thirty

ZeroDarkThirty2012PosterBut it’s Zero Dark Thirty that wins, if by “wins” we mean “is my favorite movie of 2012.” It’s a project that I thought Kathryn Bigelow was foolhardy to undertake. I was wrong. Everything she did right in The Hurt Locker is amplified here, starting with a story that is both several magnitudes bigger in scope and actually based in reality. Of course, we’ll probably never know how much of the story is actually true, but it doesn’t really matter. I’d like to say this is a tasteful take on the source material, but man, I’m not even sure. That last shot. Shit.