There have been many films shown this year, including the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I along with two other critics have put together a roundtable to showcase the movies of 2012.
- Myself (Liz Parker), Detroit Film Examiner and creator/blogger at Yes/No Films
- Ken Murray, the Boston Movie Examiner
- Mike Spring, Editor of DVDSnapshot
Ken: Argo is the best FILM of the year. A great history piece with great performances from Alan Arkin and John Goodman and is hysterical in places.
Liz: Argo was definitely a great film. It’s been nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Drama along with some other contenders like Life of Pi and Django Unchained. I loved Django too but I think Argo would be my pick for Best Film as well.
Mike: This is almost an impossible category for me. The obvious honorable mentions here for me are The Avengers, Skyfall, and The Hobbit, but I felt like those were all too big and had gotten enough attention. Looper is a wonderful science fiction action/drama, with some great twists and turns, excellent action sequences, and terrific performances by Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis. While the film did moderately well at the box office, it deserves a much bigger audience.
Ken: Silver Linings Playbook, Seven Psychopaths, The Grey
Liz: Django Unchained, Perks of Being a Wallflower
Mike: The Avengers, Skyfall, The Hobbit, Cabin in the Woods
Ken: There’s a lot of films I didn’t like, but can respect, something like Life of Pi or Cloud Atlas, so worst has to be The Apparition. Just a joke of a paranormal thriller with awful acting from B-list actors that could have done better.
Liz: Fun Size. I want the 1.5 hours back that I spent watching this movie. It was NOT funny at all, which was sad because Jane Levy from Suburgatory, whom I like a lot, was in it.
Mike: Okay, so this was really the second worst film of 2012, but my first choice HAD to be listed below in another category. And let’s face it, John Carter was pretty awful. The script featured way too much talk about zigalaks and muktafraks, and Taylor Kitsch is far from the most commanding lead a movie has ever seen. The only bright spot was Lynn Collins, who — let’s face it — I mostly enjoyed because I’m a guy and she’s smoking hot and wearing a skimpy outfit.
Ken: The Watch, The Raven, Battleship
Liz: Playing for Keeps, The Bourne Legacy, Rampart
Mike: W.E., Rock of Ages, The Watch
Ken: The Avengers. My most highly anticipated film of 2012 was funny, great, and everything I wanted in a comic book movie. Loved it.
Liz: Django Unchained. Could be because it’s fresh in my mind, but I’ve seen it twice and was surprised at how much I liked it both times. The dialogue is snappy and fresh, and even though it’s a Tarantino movie (and therefore super bloody), I ended up really liking it.
Mike: 21 Jump Street – hands down the funniest movie I have seen in theaters in a very long time. Channing Tatum provers he’s a much more gifted comedic actor than anyone expected, and Jonah Hill manages to do that thing he always does without being incredibly annoying. I literally laughed out loud from start to finish while watching this film, and have enjoyed it just as much every time I’ve watched it at home.
Ken: Ted, The Cabin in the Woods, Goon
Liz: Maybe The Grey, surprisingly; also Safe House, Ruby Sparks, Savages.
Mike: The Amazing Spider-Man, The Expendables 2
Ken: I didn’t particularly like Total Recall, didn’t hate Red Dawn as much as others, but neither are great. I think I’m gonna cheat a little and go The Cabin in the Woods. Not a straight up remake, but there’s been so many cabin in the woods horror movies that I’m gonna go with this masterpiece.
Liz: Sparkle or 21 Jump Street, though I’ll admit that I haven’t seen the original Sparkle and have only seen the first few 21 Jump Street episodes. Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill were a surprisingly hilarious duo in Jump Street, and Sparkle brought Motown glitz and glamour, as well as being Whitney Houston’s last screen performance.
Mike: I know most everyone hated Dark Shadows, but for some reason I really enjoyed it. I’m not even a huge Tim Burton fan, but there was an odd tone to this film that I really enjoyed. Credit goes largely to Johnny Depp, who just took the role of Barnabas Collins and had a ball with it. The film has some flaws, most notably the final act, but by and large I had a lot of fun with it.
Ken: Dredd 3D
Mike: Dredd 3D (okay, I know it’s not really a remake, but I wanted to fit it in somewhere.)
Most Surprising Film:
Ken: The Dictator. I hated Borat so much I never saw Bruno, but I really liked Sacha Baron Cohen’s film The Dictator. It really surprised me how much I liked it.
Liz: I’m actually going to go with Frankenweenie, by Tim Burton. The previews made it look like a dumb kids movie, and it ended up being rather scary, creepy, and enjoyable.
Mike: Tie between The Dictator and That’s My Boy. While neither of these films was actually great, they both surprised me by having me laughing a lot more that I expected to. I’ve never liked a single Sacha Baron Cohen film yet (I hate Borat) and so didn’t expect much from The Dictator, while That’s My Boy just looked atrocious from the trailer. Instead, both films turned out to be stupid and over-the-top, but also filled with guilty-pleasure humor that kept me laughing throughout. Am I proud? No, but who cares?
Ken: Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Hope Springs – fun, cute little films that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Liz: Django Unchained – again, I didn’t think I would like it so much. It was very witty, and although also throughly bloody (typical Tarantino film), I enjoyed it so much I saw it twice in the theaters.
Mike: Get the Gringo
Most Overrated Film:
Ken: Skyfall. I liked it, but people saying it’s the best Bond film of all time is a joke. I don’t even think it’s the best Daniel Craig Bond film. It’s Home Alone meets Batman.
Liz: Unfortunately, I have to say Lincoln. I almost fell asleep during it. The performances were great, but the movie is way too long, and could have been shorter and more concise too.
Mike: The Dark Knight Rises. I love Christopher Nolan, but his last Batman film was more work to watch than anything else. Batman was barely in it, and his antagonist was a barely understandable drunken Sean Connery impersonator with a big bomb. The film had so many flaws, I barely enjoyed it at all. Yet everyone proclaimed it more genius work from Nolan, and another great Batman film. Except, it’s not. It’s a three-hour bloated epic with a few really great moments.
Ken: Looper – broke its own rules and the ending killed it for me. 21 Jump Street – hated that film.
Liz: Trouble with the Curve. Fantastic A-list cast, including Clint and Amy Adams, but a little too slow for me overall.
Mike: Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Movie You Wish You Saw in Theaters:
Ken: Hmm, considering I saw over a hundred films at the theater that’s tough, but somehow I missed The Expendables 2.
Liz: Taken 2, even though the first one was kind of dumb, in my opinion (but great action scenes, and I’m a sucker for Liam Neeson movies).
Mike: Wanderlust. I thought this movie looked pretty bad from the trailers, and my expectations for it were next to nothing, but when I finally sat down to watch it, I laughed my ass off. I watched it with a small group of friends, and we were hysterical. I would have loved the chance to see it with an audience full of people. Comedies work best in groups, and I can only imagine how much fun a full crowd of people watching this movie would have had.
Ken: A little bit of cheating again, but E.T. They re-released it for a weekend and would have been cool to see it on the big screen.
Liz: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. It looked kind of bloody but also kind of cool … I didn’t think I could handle the blood but now after seeing Django Unchained I feel like I probably could.
Mike: Red Tails.
Movie You Wish You Didn’t See in Theaters:
Ken: Lots of movies I wish I never saw (Damsels in Distress, The Babymakers), but I’m gonna cheat a little again and say The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. I liked the film, but I had to see the 48 FPS nightmare and hated the look of it ON THE SCREEN.
Liz: The Guilt Trip. Even with Seth Rogen and Barbra Streisand at the helm, I thought it was just an okay film overall and was one that I could have seen on DVD instead of at the theater.
Mike: Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. Let me be perfectly clear: the headache I got from watching Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance had nothing to do with the fact that I saw it in 3D. In fact, the headache came from the film itself, which was one of the most obnoxious, hyperactive, painful movie experiences I’ve ever had. The lousy 3D just made it worse, frankly. You will regret watching this movie under any circumstances, but watching it in theaters literally almost made me physically sick.
Ken: Snow White & the Hunstman
Liz: The Hobbit, at least not in 48 FPS.
Mike: Silent Hill: Revelation 3D
Ken: The answer is probably Life of Pi because it did look beautiful, but I didn’t like that movie at all so I’m gonna go with The Dark Knight Rises. Wally Pfister is a master with the camera (especially IMAX) and although I didn’t love the film, the scope and size is amazing.
Liz: Life of Pi for sure. I saw it twice and was enthralled both times.
Mike: The Dark Knight Rises. Despite my complaints about the film, it looked utterly amazing, and the relatively small amount of CGI in bringing the massive film to life made it look all the better. Simply put, Christopher Nolan makes some of the most gorgeous blockbusters on the planet.
Ken: Prometheus – the opening sequence is brilliant
Liz: Let’s throw The Odd Life of Timothy Green into the mix – beautiful cinematography throughout. Also The Dark Knight Rises.
Mike: Prometheus, Skyfall, Life of Pi
Best Indie/Unknown Film:
Ken: Wow this one is very difficult for me cause I loved Goon, God Bless America, Newlyweds, but I think I’m gonna go with Mike Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk With Me. If it’s good enough for Joss Whedon, Judd Apatow and Ricky Gervais, it’s good enough for me.
Liz: Safety Not Guaranteed. It has Nick from New Girl in it (Jake Johnson) as well as Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass, and the ending leaves you wondering. I loved the film.
Mike: Tie between Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best and Safety Not Guaranteed. Two of my favorite films of the year. Some of you have probably heard of Safety Not Guaranteed, while Brooklyn Brothers Beat The Best is something very few of you might have stumbled across. Safety Not Guaranteed is about a team of journalists doing a story on a man (who may or may not be mentally unbalanced) who places a newspaper ad looking for a companion to travel through time with. Brooklyn Brothers Beat The Best is a dramedy about a down-on-his-luck musician who teams up with a guy who makes music using kids’ toys and goes on a micro-tour across the country, finding himself in the process. Both films are small, charming, funny, and dramatic, and each of them will have you thinking about them long after you’ve finished watching them. Seek them out; you’ll be glad you did.
Ken: God Bless America, Newlyweds
Liz: The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Ruby Sparks
Mike: The Raid: Redemption
Best Animated Film:
Ken: Wreck-It Ralph. Loved John C. Reilly, loved Jack McBrayer. ParaNorman is a close second though.
Liz: Tie between Wreck-It Ralph and ParaNorman for me. Both were witty and well done, and I enjoyed them equally.
Mike: The Secret World of Arrietty. I’ve only seen a handful of Studio Ghibli films, and the ones I’ve seen previously haven’t done much for me. But The Secret World of Arrietty (an adaptation of the book The Borrowers) is a marvelous, charming film that didn’t get nearly the attention it deserved. The animation is simply gorgeous, the characters are endearing, the voice cast is excellent, and the film bridges that gap between kids’ fare and adult entertainment with flair. This is another film that’s worth tracking down, even if you don’t have kids.
Ken: ParaNorman, Frankenweenie
Liz: Frankenweenie, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Mike: Brave (only because I haven’t yet seen ParaNorman or Hotel Transylvania)
What were some of your favorite movies of 2012? What about your least favorite?
You can follow me @yesnofilms on Twitter, at yesnofilms.com and on Facebook. Mike can be found @dvdsnapshot, and Ken @murraymaker.
See you at the movies in 2013!