Part II of rootshed.com’s 2012 Year in Film Review
8) If the Academy of Arts and Sciences Had Any Balls They Would Nominate:
Jorge Carreon MediaJor: Logan Lerman for The Perks of Being a Wallflower. A supremely nuanced turn from an actor relegated to teen dream hell.
Chris Sawin Houston Movie Examiner: Killer Joe. For what? I have no earthly idea. The ability to traumatize fried chicken for every living person who sits through it, maybe? I’d really like to see Holy Motors and Denis Lavant get some love, as well.
Tom Clocker Baltimore Movie Examiner: Javier Bardem for Best Actor in Skyfall. I am one of the few critics out there that did not really like this latest James Bond film. I gave it a pretty average rating of 6.2 out of 10 and Bardem accounts for most of those points. He was the only real flavor in a rather vanilla film, and he was really, really, ridiculously good.
Tom Santilli Detroit Movie Examiner: The Cabin in the Woods or Marvel’s The Avengers for Best Picture. Both are not quite in my Top 5, but with the Academy including up to 10 nominees for Best Picture, these inventive and refreshing films deserve praise. In general, I would love to see them begin to honor more comedies in all of their categories. How about some love for Ted? And here’s one more thought for you. How about growing a pair and nominating some of those too young to know what “growing a pair” even means? What a year for child actors, with Jared Gilman and Kara Heyward in Moonrise Kingdom, Tom Holland in The Impossible, Thomas Doret in The Kid With a Bike, Quvenzhane Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild, James Rolleston in Boy, the cast of Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days or the voice-talents of Kodi Smit-McPhee and Tucker Albrizzi in ParaNorman? With years like this, the Academy may want to consider handing out lollipops instead of trophies.
David Wangberg Chico Movie Examiner: The obvious answer would be Andy Serkis for his performance as Gollum in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. But, as history has proven, Serkis will be snubbed.
Joe Belcastro Tampa Bay Movie Examiner: Tom Cruise for Best Supporting Actor in Rock of Ages.
Brian Zitzelman Seattle Movie Examiner: Denis Lavant for Lead Actor for his outstanding work in Holy Motors. Asides from playing multiple characters (sort of), which was a big thing in 2012, he made swooning for Kylie Minogue and being in a family of gorillas in one movie seem of a piece.
Glenn Percival Playstation Nation: The Avengers. Not only is the movie filled to the brim with Oscar Nominees and winners, but has a script that handles multiple lead characters perfectly. Every character, most of which have already been established in a dedicated movie (or two), is handled exceptionally, and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/Hulk is not only the best we’ve seen the character handled since Bill Bixby, but also just one of the best performances period. This movie could have easily become an absolute mess, but Joss Whedon proved quite handily that an ensemble of superheroes could work with the right people in charge. I’m not even a Marvel fan, but this movie blew me completely away.
Tim Hall Seattle PI People’s Critic: Javier Bardem for Best Villain. Who would be upset if they added a category for Best Villain? They’ve already got 384,098 movies for Best Picture.
Jason Roestel National Movie Examiner: Jack Black for Best Actor for his work in Bernie – just for the opening seven minutes of the movie alone. The Grey for anything – especially Liam Neeson’s performance. I would also like to challenge fate itself and make a case for Best Supporting nods for both Michael Pena in End of Watch and Elizabeth Banks in People Like Us. C’mon fate… these two actors were fantastic in these little seen films. Don’t make me slap you across the cheek with one satin glove.
9) Biggest Waste of Talent?
Jorge Carreon MediaJor: Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy. The fact that she received TWO major acting nominations from SAG and the HFPA makes me realize that they do give out medals of valor in Hollywood. And no, the peeing on Zac Efron post-jellyfish attack isn’t the nadir. Having to mime oral sex to John Cusack in front of Woody Harrelson and Zac Efron in a jail cell IS the nadir of all trash yourself cinema divas.
Chris Sawin Houston Movie Examiner: Gary Oldman in Lawless comes to mind. I feel like I should mention On the Road though. The movie was little more than driving across country, having sex with everything that was the opposite sex, and writing about it, but it was kind of crazy how many well recognized actors took such small roles; Kirsten Dunst, Amy Adams, Viggo Mortensen, Steve Buscemi, Terrence Howard, and Alice Braga. The cast was more impressive than the movie itself. Zero Dark Thirty did that, too. I loved the supporting cast (Scott Adkins, Mark Strong, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Frank Grillo, Mark Duplass, Jason Clarke), but wasn’t a fan of the movie.
Tom Clocker Baltimore Movie Examiner: I usually can’t avoid having a tie or two when I answer these 20 questions each year. This is a tie between Denzel Washington in Safe House and Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Premium Rush. Safe House was just so predictable and unoriginal. It seems like it was shot on a relatively low budget besides all the big name actors. It’s an average film with an all-star cast. They could have made the movie for 1/3 of the money with a ‘no-name’ cast and it would not have changed a thing. No acting was going to save that one. Premium Rush is pretty much the same thing. JGL was not going to take that average film to the next level. Both are decent rentals and should have been cast as such.
Tom Santilli Detroit Movie Examiner: In my circle, there is a lot of love for a film called Damsels in Distress, specifically Greta Gerwig. I hated this film and her in it!!! Oddly enough, her performance in another film this year, Lola Versus, was among my favorites. Damsels sucked dry every ounce of what makes Greta Gerwig a relatable actress, whereas Lola Versus showcased her talents as one of the best young actresses in Hollywood. A close second is covering up Tom Hardy’s face in The Dark Knight Rises…why choose a gifted actor to play a dude wearing an immovable mask? There’s a reason they didn’t get Laurence Olivier to play R2-D2, although I think he could have added depth to the astromech droid’s somewhat stiff performance.
David Wangberg Chico Movie Examiner: Men in Black 3 and Magic Mike. For Men in Black 3, there was really no point for Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith to return for a third film. Plus, Josh Brolin and Michael Stuhlbarg are good in their respective roles, but the overall film is a mess. Magic Mike had a great performance by Matthew McConaughey, but that was really the only reason to watch the movie. Everything else was just bland.
Joe Belcastro Tampa Bay Movie Examiner: Cloud Atlas. Engaged, award-winning performers, running around in a certifiably crazy (padded-room worthy) screenplay.
Brian Zitzelman Seattle Movie Examiner: Hey Mr. Neeson, I know Taken was a huge hit and changed your career. Taken 2 though Liam? I mean come on sir. Come on.
Glenn Percival Playstation Nation: Ben Kingsley in The Dictator. I’m not a fan of Sacha Baron Cohen’s characters in the first place (he was SO GOOD in Hugo and Talladega Nights,) but The Dictator really never hit a beat for me. I agonized at any point where Sir Ben Kingsley was on the screen, because he’s so much better than what that movie could have ever been. He was wasted almost as much as Kevin Spacey was in Superman Returns, but we know that’s going to be a tough thing to surpass anytime soon.
Tim Hall Seattle PI People’s Critic: Zac Efron. He’s a really good actor despite his High School Musical days. He could easily be doing what Taylor Kitsch is doing right now.
Jason Roestel National Movie Examiner: I guess I’ll say it… The Master. Whoah… it’s like the great gastric cramp binding me up inside just suddenly dissipated. Pass me the Twinkies.
10) Favorite Performance of 2012:
Jorge Carreon MediaJor: Jennifer Lawrence in Silver Linings Playbook. Bold, confident, sexy and human.
Chris Sawin Houston Movie Examiner: Denis Lavant in Holy Motors. Portraying 11 different roles in one film and having a huge Lon Chaney influence is a big way to win me over. Also loved Guy Pearce in Lawless, Javier Bardem in Skyfall, Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables (she was honestly the only thing I enjoyed about that one), and Sam Rockwell in Seven Psychopaths. This list is never ending though.
Tom Clocker Baltimore Movie Examiner: I am gonna go outside the box a little with this one and pick an A-lister in a supporting role: Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx in Rock of Ages. Words cannot express how good he was in that role…
Tom Santilli Detroit Movie Examiner:Benicio Del Toro is one bad dude and in Savages, he creates one of the most memorable monsters ever to hit the screen. By far he’s the best part of the film. Also, Andrew Garfield does better than The Amazing Spider-Man probably deserved and Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln – with help from a fabulous costume and makeup job – gives one heck of a memorable performance.
David Wangberg Chico Movie Examiner: This one’s tough, but I really loved Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman in The Master. Yes, I’m choosing two actors from the same movie. Seriously, though, if you didn’t think Phoenix could make a comeback after his faux rap career, you’re wrong. And Hoffman is good as always.
Joe Belcastro Tampa Bay Movie Examiner: See answer to #8.
Brian Zitzelman Seattle Movie Examiner: Maybe it’s cheap to pick Denis Lavant for Holy Motors. The man gets to play a variety of roles in one outing; each one is surprising and different through, ranging from the poignant to the absurd. Also, see question 8.
Glenn Percival Playstation Nation: Javier Bardem in Skyfall. Javier’s depiction of Silva, the jilted former agent bent on revenge and set to bring down the one person that he feels betrayed him, but at the same time, with his total and complete respect of that same person. The villains in James Bond’s past have varied from some rich guy that wants more stuff, to an almost skin-crawling motivation of total world dominance, but none have ever exuded the singular goal of not only taking an individual down, but doing so in a way to punish that person so methodically. Mr Bardem’s performance was masterful throughout the entire film, and every time that you think that you’ve figured the character out, he takes a left turn and completely debunks any of your theories. His presence on screen is so many things all at once, and at times, you almost sympathize with him. Some of these traits have been displayed by other villains in the past, but the culmination of those parts in Silva are something that I never expected but I truly appreciated. RUNNER UP: Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained. I’ve been a huge fan of Mr. Waltz since his brilliant performance in Inglourious Basterds and once again, Quentin Tarantino wrote a brilliant character for this man. There are so many scenes that I could reference, and although there were many other excellent performances in this just awesome movie, Waltz acted as the anchor for the entirety of his time on the screen.
Tim Hall Seattle PI People’s Critic: Bradley Cooper in Silver Linings Playbook. He’s amazing and made me forgive him for Hangover 2. Kudos to him. He got to hook up with Jennifer Lawrence and they paid him for it.
Jason Roestel National Movie Examiner: Liam Neeson in The Grey. Three years after his actual wife died in a ski accident he’s putting on his best performance ever – playing a guy who’s just lost his wife in death. Which is beyond ballsy. Marion Cottilard in Rust and Bone was completely awesome – and kind of heart-breaking. As for the most chilling performance I saw in 2012? Daniel Henshall was crazy-good in The Snowtown Murders. This Aussie’s a charmer. I dare you to try not fall under this guy’s homicidal spell, even as he’s turning your stomach.
11) Scene Stealer of the Year:
Jorge Carreon MediaJor: Salma Hayek in Savages. I actually bought the Blu-ray JUST to watch her scenes again and again.
Chris Sawin Houston Movie Examiner: Pretty much anything John Goodman did in anything he was involved in this year. He was one of the only enjoyable parts of Argo (yep I know, I’m insane), he was the funniest he’s been since The Big Lebowski in Flight, and he got to crawl out of a toilet and talk to the dead in ParaNorman. You always wanted to see more of him. If I had to narrow it down to anything, just choose any particular scene in Holy Motors. Holy Motors was the most thought provoking film of the year for me as I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since seeing it. Also, the entire baghead sequence during the raid in Django Unchained made me laugh harder than anything else Tarantino has ever written.
Tom Clocker Baltimore Movie Examiner: I hate to reuse an answer, but this has to be Javier Bardem in Skyfall again. When I was defending my dislike of Skyfall to a friend I had to compliment Bardem and I said, “This was a Silva (Bardem’s character) movie with a James Bond in it, rather than the other way around.” That’s how good he was in this film. It felt like Bond was a secondary character in Silva’s movie.
Tom Santilli Detroit Movie Examiner: Pitch Perfect‘s rival group, The TrebleMakers, is fronted by a young Jack Black look-alike named Bumper, played by Adam DeVine. The guy was great. But few times has an actress carried her scenes quite the way Anne Hathaway does in Les Miserables. Simple stellar.
David Wangberg Chico Movie Examiner: I’m going with two of them. Those would be John Goodman in Flight and Argo, and Javier Bardem in Skyfall.
Joe Belcastro Tampa Bay Movie Examiner: You know what, it’s rare that you see a solid chick fight on screen (last one was probably Kill Bill Vol. 2). But how about Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale in the Total Recall remake? That was so well-done and tastefully graphic, the head on my shoulders was just as into it as the one between my legs. And you’re welcome for the TMI.
Brian Zitzelman Seattle Movie Examiner: While many hated Cloud Atlas, it’s mishmash of you-name-it largely worked on me. Anchoring the wackiness down was Ben Whishaw, sublime as a melancholy composer caught in between his ambition, love and the morals of the time.
Glenn Percival Playstation Nation: Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers. I mentioned it above, but Mark Ruffalo IS Bruce Banner/The Hulk. The funny thing about coming in to The Avengers was that I was really disappointed that Edward Norton wasn’t reprising the role, as I truly loved his depiction. That was until I saw the movie, and as I sat there, watching Ruffalo own every scene that he was in. He WAS Bruce Banner, holding the epitome of pure rage deep inside of him while still attempting to be a part of what society deemed “normal.” It showed in his facial expressions and especially in his eyes, both as Dr. Banner and as the Hulk, every emotion worn on his sleeve. What compounds the strength of his performance was the amount of talent in his presence in almost every scene, from Robert Downey Jr, to Chris Hemsworth, and the BMF himself, Samuel L Jackson. Through all of that, he stands-out on that screen, in a way that will cut right through anyone it his wake.
Tim Hall Seattle PI People’s Critic: The Wolves from The Grey. Every time they showed up on screen I was scared for my life.
Jason Roestel National Movie Examiner: James Badge Dale in Flight. He’s the best thing in the best scene of the movie, and he’s only around for five minutes of screen time. I spent the rest of the film hoping he would show up again – he didn’t.
12) The Film I Have the Most Mixed Feelings About?
Jorge Carreon MediaJor: Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty. I still don’t know how to perceive this drama — is it jingoistic propaganda or a statement on how the war on terror is never going to end. Discuss.
Chris Sawin Houston Movie Examiner: Beyond the Black Rainbow is this really trippy sci-fi film until the last twenty minutes where it tries to be this weird slasher which almost works until the really abrupt ending that is just so unsatisfying. The other being Flying Swords of Dragon Gate. I mean, it’s Jet Li. But the special effects are kind of wonky and everyone is flying around a little too much; so much that it ruins things at times. Being Flynn hit on a lot of personal stuff for me. I loved the film, but I feel like it’s one I wouldn’t watch very often even if I owned it.
Tom Clocker Baltimore Movie Examiner: The Amazing Spider-man. I gave this film a 7.7 out of 10 and I am torn right down the middle. I feel like this one would be an easy 10 out of 10 if it was the original Spider-man that came out 10 years ago. I liked Andrew Garfield more than Tobey Maguire. I liked Emma Stone more than Kirsten Dunst. I liked the origin story and supporting characters. I think I am just a little tired of comic book movies. We get several a year now and have for more than a decade. I just wasn’t excited for this at all, and I really should have been. I guess timing is important in the movie world too.
Tom Santilli Detroit Movie Examiner: It’s got to be Silver Linings Playbook. I liked the movie. I wanted to love the movie, as many others do. But it is flawed and I couldn’t overlook the inaccuracies. Or am I flawed, because I can’t accept this film’s supposed greatness? I’ve never liked and loathed a movie all at once, until now.
David Wangberg Chico Movie Examiner: I’m still on the fence about Savages. Part of it is absolutely brilliant, while the other part is pure garbage – especially the ending. I did recommend it, but very mildly. I’m still uncertain about how much I truly liked it.
Joe Belcastro Tampa Bay Movie Examiner: The Master. Perhaps I just wasn’t smart enough to fully get it.
Brian Zitzelman Seattle Movie Examiner: Life of Pi is beautiful to look at and the middle chunk of the movie had me by the heart. Its bookends are a tad messier though and I’ve found myself swinging from place to place to hunker down my exact take.
Glenn Percival Playstation Nation: Unlike seemingly everyone else out there, it’s definitely NOT The Dark Knight Rises (haters gonna hate!) My pick though, is Prometheus from Ridley Scott. I’m a huge fan of Mr. Scott (and his brother too RIP) and I was pretty excited for this one. Admittedly though, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Alien universe (I did just buy the Blu Ray set to watch again though, now that I’m older I may see things differently.) With that however, I went in to Prometheus with an open mind and a bit of anticipation. I watched it in 3D, and after I walked out of the theater, I just didn’t know what to think. I thought about it, and talked to others for days after to try and put things together. I even read the lengthy thesis that was posted in the Internet, which actually made sense. My problem though, is that there was so much inconsistency, from characters that were so ridiculously stereotypical (the 2 idiots that first found the “goo”,) to the obvious future plot-points like the medical capsule, but at the same time including absurdly abstract plot elements that had to be described later by some guy on the Internet. On one side, it seemed like a typical space action flick, and on the other side an art house film with a story that could only be understood under the influence of illegal pharmaceuticals. Thing is though, I mostly loved the movie, even with all of that weird crap. Visually, it set a new bar for science fiction films, and there were some truly outstanding performances from the principal cast. But anytime that I talk about this movie to anyone, and even right now, I can only end my thought with “I dunno.”
Tim Hall Seattle PI People’s Critic: The Words. I enjoyed 95% of the movie but the 5% I hated ruined the whole movie. It was like finding a turd in a punch bowl.
Jason Roestel National Movie Examiner: I would have said Ridley’s Prometheus, but Prometheus’s crime was that it wasn’t what I expected it to be, not that it was a necessarily bad film at all. On the other hand, The Dark Knight Rises was just lazy. I love Bane and Catwoman in this film – as I do Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Gotham’s next generation of crime fighter. But Batman went wonky this time around. It’s almost as if James Bond and the Caped Crusader traded notes this year, and while Bond got more hands on and personal, Batman decided to run his game with gadgets and vehicles. As a fan of this series of comic book films, I can’t help but think it wasn’t a fair trade. I still loved 60% of this movie, especially the destruction of Gotham city. But as for a bomb with a five month timer on it…? I’ll never be able to get past that ludicrous plot device. And why didn’t Bruce Wayne just climb the BLOODY ROPE to escape Bane’s prison pit?? Also, I concur with Santilli about Silver Linings Playbook. Really liked it, thought some of it was extremely funny and sweet, but its formula is about as blah as dish soap.
13) The One Movie in 2012 I Would Never Watch With My Mom?
Jorge Carreon MediaJor: You don’t know my mom, she’ll watch pretty much anything. But even she would draw the line at Ted. I bet she’ll watch it after a few more shots, though.
Chris Sawin Houston Movie Examiner: The Sessions. Watching any movie with parents that revolves around sex is just automatic awkwardness, which then leads to really weird conversations after the movie. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be Helen Keller in a situation like that.
Tom Clocker Baltimore Movie Examiner: Ted. The movie was hilarious, but definitely the type of comedy I would never watch with my mom…and she has a great sense of humor!
Tom Santilli Detroit Movie Examiner: So my mom, the poor gal, just can’t wrap her head around the concept of time travel. Explaining quantum theories of even the most basic Back To the Future-level principles to my mom is like trying to explain to a Republican that a melting glacier is brought on by climate change and not Obama-care. Some things, certain intelligent minds can’t accept. So please spare me the pain of watching Looper with my mom. She is still trying to process why Marty McFly is still alive after his car burnt up in the Twin Pines Mall parking lot.
David Wangberg Chico Movie Examiner: Killer Joe. If I’m terrified to eat fried chicken after that movie, she will be, too. Ted is another one. She might find it funny, but I think many of the scenes are just too awkward to watch with her in the room.
Joe Belcastro Tampa Bay Movie Examiner: Rock of Ages. Finding out if she was a rockstar groupie would require years of therapy. Though it would explain my many failed attempts at being a slut.
Brian Zitzelman Seattle Movie Examiner: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter for sure. It’s garbage and I don’t want anyone seeing it. Also, I never get antsy about watching movies with my mom; she took me to Private Parts when I was in high school. Hi mom!!
Glenn Percival Playstation Nation: That’s My Boy. because I love my Mother, and I would never subject her to such atrocities.
Tim Hall Seattle PI People’s Critic: Flight. My mom could be president of the Old Black Women Who Love Denzel Club but she refuses to see any movie where he’s “bad” and I know she would cringe at the nudity and drug use in the first 2 minutes.
Jason Roestel National Movie Examiner: I don’t know if I want the type of mother who would sit through The Snowtown Murders or Killer Joe beside me and not try urge me toward some sort of psychiatric diagnostic. And I would never watch Holy Motors with my mother. Too many questions that I’m confident that I don’t have the answers for just yet – if I ever will.
14) Best Cast Movie of 2012?
Jorge Carreon MediaJor: The cast of Argo. Everyone was on the same page and it was thrilling to watch a cast of actors embody such stock archetypes with such commitment and humanity. That is what made Ben Affleck’s dramatic thriller work on so many levels as both serious and popcorn entertainment. You weren’t distracted by celebrity, a key reason for its success with both critics and audiences.
Chris Sawin Houston Movie Examiner: I feel like The Avengers was probably the best, but Seven Psychopaths was definitely my favorite. Abbie Cornish and Olga Kurylenko were pretty much a waste, but everyone else was great.
Tom Clocker Baltimore Movie Examiner: Lincoln. If Daniel Day-Lewis doesn’t get the Best Actor award he sure as heck better at least be nominated. Beyond him, every single member of that cast was brilliant. I literally cannot think of one person who did not totally blow me away. This may have been the best cast of the last few years.
Tom Santilli Detroit Movie Examiner: Hmmm…how about The Three Stooges? The Farrelly Brothers apparently didn’t want interpretations of the classic trio, but instead wanted direct imitations. I think they hit the fist on the head (Nyuck, nyuck, nyuck).
David Wangberg Chico Movie Examiner: Lincoln and Moonrise Kingdom. A lot of big names in both films, and they all gave great performances.
Joe Belcastro Tampa Bay Movie Examiner: Oh man, there were so many worthy ensemble castings this year. Picking just one would be a disservice. And to spare everyone a rant, I’ll just skip this.
Brian Zitzelman Seattle Movie Examiner: Always a tough one to come down on, but if forced to pick; Zero Dark Thirty. Not a sour note in the bunch, diverse and able to go showy and subtle.
Glenn Percival Playstation Nation: I unfortunately haven’t been able to see it yet, but Lincoln has to the best casting in a movie in a long time. I look at the cast in this film, and I find my jaw hanging lower and lower as I peruse the list. When you have a powerhouse like Steven Spielberg at the helm, you’ve got the juice to get essentially anyone that you need in a movie, and that’s pretty damned clear in this case. I’m aching to see this movie, but it didn’t even open in the small town that I live in. Luckily though, they kept Sinister for something like two months.
Tim Hall Seattle PI People’s Critic: Lawless. Everyone was good in this film. The script wasn’t the best, but the cast was pretty awesome.
Jason Roestel National Movie Examiner: I’ve been known to make absurd, metaphorical connections between the cast of a film and its subject matter. So what exactly was Ben Lewin trying to tell us subliminally when he cast three members of Deadwood in The Sessions…? The best cast has to go to Lawless. Even Shia LeBeouf put on the performance of his career in this flick.
rootshed.com’S 2012 YEAR IN FILM REVIEW: PART I – PART III