Top 20… err 23 movies of 2012 part 2
Starting with the # 21 –16th ranked movies published recently, we are counting down the top films of 2012, as ranked by yours truly. The list will be made up of films seen in the calendar year of 2012, whether during a regular theatrical release or the film festival circuit.
Just a quick preface, there will be a handful of films that will not appear on this list simply due to the lack of being able to see them before this list was made. These include critical favorites Argo, The Imposter, Lincoln, Life of Pi and The Impossible. Now to continue with the list.
# – 15 [Tie] Pitch Perfect and 21 Jump Street
The second of the 2 cheats on the list, and the last, involves 2 comedies from this past year that at first glance should not work at all but exceeded expectations to become two of the funniest offerings this year. Pitch Perfect is one of the rare teenage girl targeted films that manages to be smart, funny and engaging no matter what your gender is. Like now classic films Sixteen Candles, Mean Girls, Bring It On and Clueless, Pitch Perfect is a perfect tonic for the overly sappy ‘Glee’ filled demographic. Anna Kendrick delivers a memorable performance unlike any of her other roles to date, and while most will be enthralled with the over the top antics of Rebel Wilson as ‘Fat Amy’, there are also brilliant supporting turns from Brittany Snow and Hana Mae Lee.
Remaking 21 Jump Street, a high school narc drama from the late 80’s, as a straight comedy co-written and starring Jonah Hill sounded like a terrible idea. Casting Channing Tatum as Hill’s partner made the prospects seems even gloomier. Nothing could be farther than the truth though as the chemistry between the two leads is undeniable and the script is one of the funniest of the year. Featuring one the best cameos since Zombieland and a hilarious take on changing high school politics, not to mention Korean Jesus and the best performance from Ice Cube since Barbershop 10 years ago, 21 Jump Street has inherit re-watchability and will for years to come.
#14 – The Master
Was The Master Paul Thomas Anderson’s take on Scientology? Perhaps, but more importantly this is Anderson’s first film in 5 years, since There will be Blood, and it features stellar performances from Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams and Joaquin Phoenix. The film does meander in parts, though it`s not really about the story as much as it is the interactions between the characters and the slow and gradual attempt to indoctrinate Phoenix`s Freddie into a believer in “The Cause“. Adams` steely turn as the matriarch of the family is impressive, quite possibly the most impressive turn we have seen from her, and without her strong performance Hoffman would rough-shot over every sequence involving the Dodd family.
#13 – Wolf Children
The biggest surprise from this year’s Reel Asian Film Festival was this anime from director Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars) about a young woman left alone to raise her children after her mate dies. The twist, her lover was a wolf that could change between wolf and man and her children also possess the same qualities. Despite the fantasy aspect of the film, Wolf Children is actually one of the best stories about a single mother’s struggles and tribulations raising 2 rambunctious children all on her own. Moving far away from home to accommodate the children’s growing curiosities and having to learn how to provide for her clan from the land, Hana grows from an awkward college student to a strong willed matriarch. And the animation is superb.
#12 – The Avengers
The first entry on this list from Director/Producer Joss Whedon is the biggest and loudest of the bunch. Marvel’s four year journey, beginning with Iron Man in 1998, to bring together its main heroes into one gigantic film came to fruition this year with spectacular result. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow and The Hulk (the first movie to properly use The Hulk I may add) all combine here to take down Thor’s brother Loki and his allies the Chitauri. The battle scenes are epic, comic book fans get all they want including a knock-down, drag out fight between Thor and Iron Man (with Captain America hoping in for the conclusion), an amazingly staged attack on New York city and of course there is the ‘Puny God’ sequence. The Avengers is the most satisfying of the major summer blockbusters of the year.
#11 – Les Misérables
The grand musical that has played non-stop around the world for over 25 years, based on the novel by Victor Hugo, gets a grand scale film adaptation from the director of the King’s Speech, Tom Hooper. Jackman is good as Jean Valjean, Crowe is less successful as Javert, but the most impressive turns come from Anne Hathaway, who is utterly brilliant, Eddie Redmayne and Samantha Barks. Be aware, audiences not inclined to enjoy musicals will not find this any different as 90% of the dialogue is sung in this one. Not without its issues, Les Misérables succeeds despite them and delivers one of the most wholly satisfying experiences at theaters this winter season.
Pitch Perfect, 21 Jump Street and The Avengers are all available on DVD and Blu-Ray are available for rental and purchase on DVD and Blu-Ray at local retailers and online through sites like Amazon.ca and its American counterpart Amazon.com. The Master and Wolf Children look to be released on Blu-Ray and DVD later in 2013. Les Misérables is in theaters nationwide as of Christmas Day.
Up Next is #’S 10-6 which includes another Whedon effort, one of the best music documentaries ever made and Bradley Cooper taking dance classes.
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