In Part 1 of the best of film countdown, there were such movies as “Ruby Sparks”, “The Cabin in the Woods” and even “Hitchcock”. Now here are the next ten best films of 2012 in Part 2 of the continuing countdown:
20. “God Bless America”: A middle-aged man disgusted with American society and a teenage girl take on the task of ridding the nation of every repugnant being that gives our country a bad reputation. We all have moments when we look at our country and just face palm, wordless at the rampant foolishness, hypocrisy, bigotry, arrogant ignorance and self-entitlement that plagues our home. Clearly, killing everyone isn’t the answer to deal with this problematic frustration; however, the film makes it clear that we need to do something about how uncivilized we‘ve all become. Some thought-provoking commentary and dark humor is great. Beyond the violent murders of the idiots in the world, the film’s internal message is well-established and the film manages to have some surprisingly heartwarming moments too. It’s aim might be a little off and rather cynical at times, but this is no simple revenge fantasy sermon!
19. “Bully”: Perhaps one of the most important films of the year that has stirred up a bit of controversy as it looks into this country’s bullying crisis and the harmful affects it has on our growing youth. Appropriately hard-hitting and sensitive when called for, the documentary delivers an essential message to its audience. I feel that it is imperative that parents watch the film with their children. Heck, the film should be shown in all schools across the country and, why not, the world. It is not perfect, yet as many people as possible should see it in order to start a serious dialogue on the very real, tough consequences that the history of bullying has done and continues to do to our youth on a daily basis. In it’s intentions to open some eyes, ears and hearts to the situation, the documentary film deserves a spot on the list.
18. “Electrick Children”: In what proves to be a thought-provoking tale of repressed teenage rebellion, the film by Rebecca Thomas, a young teenage girl from a fundamentalist Mormon community believes herself to have been impregnated by a music recording on a cassette tape. Essentially, the film is somewhat of a coming of age story full of childhood origins and revelations. It’s odd; carries a frequent magical tone, electrically charming and full of sweet and humorous adolescent discovery. A film that traces the intricacies of teenagers coming to their foolish realizations. Perhaps the coming-of-age story of this generation, filled with misguided and lost misfits attempting to makes sense of a disheveled world that isn’t always clear. Definitely electrick!
17. “Flight”: If not simply for Denzel Washington’s performance and that truly frightening and well-done plane crash sequence that might make some viewers not want to get on a plane ever again. Robert Zemeckis’ return to live-action films is fantastic as he helms this story of thoughtful and compelling triumph, in which an airplane pilot miraculously lands a falling plane and the ensuing investigation of the crash discovers some troubling details concerning the film’s main protagonist and the crash. Along the way, the movie kind of turns into a film studying the flawed pilot and human’s messy struggle with alcoholism that carefully balances great drama with some well-placed humor as well. Great direction, editing, and performances all around in this one! A gripping thriller of a drama film, in all aspects!
16. “Silver Linings Playbook”: I am a sucker for oddball eccentrics that fall in some sort of love so this quirky, touching little film that brings two mentally unstable misfits together is quite a treat. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence have a surprising chemistry together onscreen that is charming and odd yet very sweet, in a genuine way. In fact, the entire cast is rather charming, dysfunctional, and it all works well to compliment each others’ performances. Honestly, the performances are what make the film so great. Jennifer Lawrence gives another performance that is one of my favorites of the year. You’ll laugh, maybe cry, and even feel occasionally inspired. I can say that the film left me feeling…happy. Which is a great gift to be given by a film. One of the best!
15. “Amour (Love)”: A rather bleak yet emotional film that took me by profound surprise, in which an older couple in their eighties, Georges and Anne endure a new challenge in their lives when Anne has a stroke that leaves her impaired. A long bond of love that is tested in some of the most simple, yet complex ways. Both Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva give delicate, realistic and painful performances as the simple cultivated and retired music teachers who become strained. It’s beautiful, tragic, occasionally depressing, yet well directed, acted and the themes of an old love are discovered, both in its lovely and ugly details. Some might consider it a cathartic film experience, but even then, it portrays a strong power of love even in old age and in the most distressing stages in life. That in itself is something surprisingly powerful.
14. “Beasts of the Southern Wild”: “Everybody loses the thing that made them”. Set in a forgotten and defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world, this film is yet another surprising favorite that is just as emotional as it is magical. This spectacular film wavers between the two spectrums of life’s beautiful majesty and its ugly realities. What makes the film work so well are its greatly developed themes, many that concern the complex relationship between parents and their children, even between an underappreciated earth and its often stubborn inhabitants. Also, the very young actress, Quvenzhane Wallis gives a versatile performance well beyond her age that I consider one of the best of the year! Another strength is the music score. And the film altogether is proven to be a close-up, emotional ride.
13. “The Hunger Games”: Based off the popular book series, the first adaptation of the trilogy is as entertaining as it is surprisingly thought-provoking. Suzanne Collins’ wildly successful novel is successfully adapted into a strong first film helmed by Gary Ross. Thrilling and excellently acted, the first chapter in the trilogy is full of shocking and dramatic violence, emotion and ambition with an intricate look at the consequences of a dystopian society’s fall into radical control of a broken population. It’s full of creativity, action, striking and thought-provoking thematic elements. Jennifer Lawrence carries the film with a raw, strong performance that is surprising and real. Bringing this intricate world to life, THG is spectacular and compelling for a blockbuster film based off of a young adults novel.
12. “Les Miserables”: The biggest musical spectacle I’ve seen in quite sometime, which is saying something. Another star-studded cast with fantastic voices that help lead this beloved musical to a glorious crescendo worthy of all the awards this awards season! The actors get to show off their full range of talents, and so do the behind-the-scenes workers. Production values are impeccable and lush, while the story by Victor Hugo is accentuated to its best. Fantastically over-the-top and melodramatic, one literally gets lost in the excellent performances, set, and music. If you don’t get goosebumps during a specific few of the musical performances and scenes, then you may not be human. Epic in the most intimate of ways, it’s a special kind of musical that is both heartbreaking and vaguely uplifting at the same time. A whirlwind of emotions, it’s a musical unlike anything I’ve ever seen (and heard) in a long time!
11. “Argo”: Movies such as these aren’t usually my cup o’ tea, yet this dramatization of the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian operation to capture six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran is a well-put together film. All the hoopla surrounding the film is granted considering the excellent craft in which the entire story is put together and how it is drawn out, especially direction wise. The film manages to keep its audience involved in the characters and authentic plot. Very entertaining, occasionally full of some wit and great dark humor, as well as the tense grit and breathtaking suspense to make the film the dramatic thriller in history it is meant to be. The flick also highlights a historical event that used ideas of filmmaking to make political strides. Political strides that ultimately caused strain between our country and Iran. I dare say that it is a pivotal, gripping film that should be seen by damn near everyone, especially film buffs. Well done, Ben!
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