Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Taking On 2012: Top Films (Q3 Quarterly Review)

With Oscar season nearly in full effect this is kind of the last gasp of air for the early year darlings, and as such I'm glad to have the chance to do this list because some of the films that topped the first and second lists earlier this year are sure to fall as more foreign film and prestige pictures start releasing. Or that's the assumption. It's been a great year for songs and albums so far, but what about film? Let us take a quick look before Mr. Oscar starts shaking things up.

10. The Secret World of Arrietty

Though I had hoped, at the time of release, that perhaps the latest from Studio Ghibli was a precursor for a great year of animated films that sadly has not happened thus far. Of course I still need to catch up on a number of animated releases, so perhaps it was and I just don't realize it yet. Either way, this surprisingly nuanced film kind of still makes me weep a little bit as a result of its sheer beauty, and that's a great sign for a movie.

9. Dredd 3D

Unlike the previous entry this one doesn't actually make me cry; however, even as someone who has an aversion for most action films it's kind of hard to not get behind the visual delight that is Dredd 3D. It may be my love for the 3-D format, or it might just be the fairly straight forward Chronicles of Riddick Escape From Butcher Bay feel that permeates the film, but damn was it a great surprise.

8. The Grey

Master of modern ass kickery, Liam Neeson's film from earlier in the year actually was notably more subdued than I expected. Yet, despite not being a balls to the wall ride of Neeson punching wolves, I was actually more taken (pun intended!) with the meditative philosophical qualities of this drama. An refreshing film in a refreshing year for films.

7. Dark Shadows

While I still need to work my way out to the theater to see Burton's latest film Frankenweenie, if it retains any of the splendor of his earlier film than I'm sure I'll be a happy moviegoer. For a director who has hit a little bit of a slide with Alice in Wonderland, the release of Dark Shadows announced a return to form for Burton, an exciting byproduct of this fish out of water dramadey.

6. Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie

Though I am not sure I'd call the motion picture debut of [adultswim] destructo-humorists Tim and Eric to be a traditional comedy it is most certainly the year's best pure comedy by a mile. A glut of visual gags to go along with the traditional Tim and Eric formula of post-modern comedy (oh man, what a silly title) delivers on the laughs in the way that comedies haven't for quite a while.

5. Indie Game: The Movie

This documentary speaks directly to my heart as it focuses on the development and release process of the acclaimed independent games. Though the majority of the film focuses on the creation and launch of Team Meat's Super Meat Boy, a nice amount of time is also spent looking at current gen indie godfather Jonathan Blow's Braid and creator Phil Fish's current front runner for Game of the Year Fez. A heartbreaking beauty, a sense of triumph, and an examination of modern times's greatest artistic medium should be seen by anyone regardless of their feelings toward the medium.

4. Tiny Furniture

This is an odd entry to include, but considering that it was largely unable to be seen by many until Criterion's DVD release this year I see little problem including Lena Dunham's debut feature. Though I am a bit more partial to her 2012 TV series Girls, which I kind of feel should stand alongside any number of the films I have seen this year in terms of quality, this movie shows a distinct voice and perspective that is balanced and critical enough to elevate her material to the realm of the universal.

3. Margaret (Theatrical Cut)

Much like the previous entry this one has also been floating around for quite a while but finally saw a wide DVD release in 2012 many years after it had finished filming. By year's end I hope to watch the three hour cut, but even without seeing that one Margaret continues to rise in my esteem by the day. This examination of growing up, as seen through the eyes of a high school girl living in post-9/11 New York City, has been described as messy by some, but there's a delicate splendor to the way the movie is constructed and assembled, dwelling below the surface is so much more.

2. Moonrise Kingdom

What more can be said about Wes Anderson's latest nostalgia fueled dramadey? A good deal, I am certain, but not in the space I allow myself. I find it easy to get lost in all the warm feelings surrounding the two protagonists; however, what most attracts me to the film is the way it handles danger and the sense of dread that hides behind all of these perfectly constructed shots. It truly is a remarkably terrifying film, even though it's masked in this clear artifice.

1. The Master

So, what can outdo Wes Anderson? Another Anderson, of course. Paul Thomas Anderson's follow up to what I consider to be the greatest film I have ever watched is not magnified to the same scale as There Will Be Blood, but spending even a few minutes contemplating all the possible readings of the film after my initial viewing prove that it's just as complex and rewarding. An accomplishment of filmmaking, from America's greatest living filmmaker.

And, as usual, here is the unabridged list:
  1. The Master
  2. Moonrise Kingdom
  3. Margaret (Theatrical Cut)
  4. Tiny Furniture
  5. Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie
  6. Indie Game: The Movie
  7. Dark Shadows
  8. The Grey
  9. Dredd 3D
  10. The Secret World of Arrietty
  11. Jeff, Who Lives At Home
  12. Pina
  13. Film Socliaisme
  14. Damsels in Distress
  15. The Cabin In The Woods
  16. Titanic 3-D
  17. That's My Boy
  18. A Dangerous Method
  19. Lawless
  20. The Amazing Spider-Man
  21. Brave
  22. Ted
  23. Looper
  24. Safety Not Guaranteed
  25. Prometheus
  26. Marvel's The Avengers
  27. Radio Rebel
  28. Fenemies
  29. Fred 3: Camp Fred
  30. 21 Jump Street
  31. Men in Black 3
  32. The Hunger Games
  33. A Separation
  34. The Dark Knight Rises
  35. The Five Year Engagement
  36. The Campaign
  37. The Watch
  38. American Reunion
  39. Friends With Kids
So that brings us to the end of the Quarterly reviews. What did you think of the list? Anything I need to see that I missed out on earlier in the year? Let me know in comments!


Comments are welcome and, for anyone with a literary mind, I encourage checking out my poetry blog filled with all original works for your reading pleasure.

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© 2012 Richard James Thorne

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