2012 was an extremely odd year. There was no real superior film that really shook the medium to its core. And yes, you had your share of real duds. Lots of people said they saw interesting, okay and worthy films. But nothing really had people cheering.
I saw probably between 150 to 170 films released this past year so I had a really good gauge on what was worthy. Some I missed were the limited releases of Perks of a Wallflower and Amour. I also missed the late releases such as Zero Dark Thirty and Django Limited. So none of those films made my list.
10. KILLING THEM SOFTLY
WHY: What can I say I love 70’s crime thrillers and “Killing Them Softly” did it for me. I loved the grit, the tension and the really incredible script. I also liked how brave the film was to stick to story and not give us more Brad Pitt because his name is above the title.
KEY SCENE: I have to go with the takedown of Markie Trattman (Ray Liotta). I haven’t seen anything like that since “Bonnie & Clyde” or “The Godfather”.
9. LES MISERABLES
WHY: There are some really incredible performances in this film. And just the scope and force of will to bring the musical version of this story to the big screen finally is incredible.
KEY SCENE: Anne Hathaway’s solo is the greatest movie moment of the year.
8. KILLER JOE
WHY: This is kind of an amazing, gritty character study. McConaughey’s Killer Joe should be the most despicable human being in the movie but he isn’t and it just amazing to see all these characters co-exist.
KEY SCENE: In a scene towards the end of the film, Joe uses a piece of fried chicken to state his point to Gina Gershon’s character. It is shocking and probably the most inappropriate uses of fried chicken I have ever seen. It is a scene about power and revelation.
WHY: First of all, everyone thinks that it was “The Dark Knight Rises” that solidified Tom Hardy as a Hollywood star. They’d be wrong. His incredible performance in “Warrior” and coupled with his vicious bootlegger in “Lawless” proves he is a star to be reckoned with. The film also features an incredible underrated performances, supporting Oscar worthy performance from Guy Pearce. Chastain once more proves her range and could be a Streep in the making. This is a mob movie at its finest but also a strong true story about defiance.
KEY SCENE: There’s one scene in the film where Shia tracks down his two older brothers to a house where they enacting vengeance upon some rivals. The scene looked like it was ripped out of a serial killer movie. It leaves you cold and dumbfounded.
6. ON THE ROAD
WHY: People who love the classic Beat Generation novel, “On the Road” might have some troubles. But don’t readers have problems with 90% of film adaptations. What I liked about this was how it brought you into that decade and the problems that these writers and craftsmen faced. I also liked the twisted dynamic of these three young people. I was also blown away by just how interesting this new actor Sam Riley is. Here’s hoping we see more of him soon.
KEY SCENE: One of the interesting things about the film was it also featured cameos by Viggo Mortensen and Amy Adams. I liked how they were meshed into this film and it was never celebrated. I liked how these A-List cameos didn’t take away from the intensity of these new stars.
WHY: This is probably the boldest sci-fi movie to come out in years. What makes it so bold is just how simple it makes time travel. There is no over explanation just solid story-telling. Willis once more proves why he belongs in movies like this even if his morals are scrambled. JGL is also amazing if you can get past his distracting makeup and just go with it.
KEY SCENE: Where Bruce Willis and JGL face off in the diner.
WHY: We all know how this thing is gonna end but Affleck has evolved into an intricate craftsman and still give us plenty of tension. Affleck takes leaps and bounds with every film he directs and this historical thriller is just another incredible feather in his cap.
KEY SCENE: As a film buff, I have to go with the scene where Affleck is talking with Goodman and Arkin about what their fake movie should be about. It is kind of hysterical and made me wonder if a similar conversation happened when they pitched “Flash Gordon” with a Queen soundtrack.
WHY: This is hands down Oliver Stone’s best film in in almost two decades. That is saying something for a man who changed the way we saw movies back in the 80s and 90s. This is a rare event. The movie is an homage to Tony Scott and True Romance in my eyes. There is so much to like here. I also liked the trio love dynamic and this the second of two films on my list to feature just how complicated those relationships can be.
KEY SCENE: My favorite scene is probably the dinner scene between Salma Hayek and Blake Lively. Quiet scenes are not something that Stone does well but the tension and atmosphere here was incredible. It also allowed the film to blur the line on just who the savages were in the film.
2. RUBY SPARKS
WHY: Probably the most beautiful film I saw in 2012. It is about how much a writer yearns to bring his creation to life. How his doubts, frustrations and ability sometimes can’t deliver. Then when it all comes together it can be magic. But be careful what you wish for.
KEY SCENE: I love the scene where Calvin and Ruby meet for the first time. It’s is incredibly touching. And shows a new side of Paul Dano and why Zoe Kazan needs to be in more films.
1. END OF WATCH
WHY: “End of Watch” is my fourth gritty crime drama on my list and the best! 2012 delivered some real movement in the genre and the work of David Ayers needs to be recognized. The chemistry between Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena is utterly flawless and probably the best duo of 2012. We really get into these guys lives and we see all the humor, action and drama of being a police officer.
KEY SCENE: My fave moment is when Pena pulls the gold AK-47 out of the truck. It just signifies how much America has lost it with gun control. I also loved how the ending is just heart-wrenching and bitter sweet.
The Soothsayer Awards
Best Popcorn Film of the Year: “The Avengers”
Best Action Film of the Year: “Dredd 3D”
Best Sequel of the Year: “Bourne Legacy” or “Skyfall”
Best Sci-Fi of the Year: “Looper”
Most Under-rated Film of the Year: “John Carter”
The Break-Out Actor of the Year: Tom Hardy in “Dark Knight Rises” & “Lawless”
The Break-Out Actress of the Year: Jessica Chastain in everything.
‘What Were You Thinking’ Award: Ashley Greene in “LOL” and “The Apparition”
‘I Thought He Was Dead But He Came Back’ Award: Ralph Macchio in “Hitchcock”
So Says the Soothsayer