my 2012 at the movies

2012 at the movies
I watched 210 different movies in 2012, and 179 (or 85%) of those were movies that I've never seen before (which is an increase both to the total number of movies that I saw the year before, as well as the total number of new movies... which was only 75% last year).

Part of that I attribute to the fact that I was laid up in bed for two solid weeks in May and couldn't really do anything OTHER than watch movies, but also because since then I've often opted to just lay on the bed and watch a movie rather than sit up.

And I went through lists of the best movies of every decade from 1930 to 2000 and picked out movies I hadn't seen... I also went through a phase of film noir movies, screwball comedies and westerns... as well as the occasional fixation on an attractive actor (Paul Newman, Montgomery Clift). And when Christmas rolled around I sought out all those Christmas movies that I'd heard about but never seen (or hadn't seen since I was a kid)... even those ones that are only tangentially Christmas movies like Die Hard.

But only 21 of those movies were actually in the cinema. It did kind of seem like we skipped going to the movies on more occasions than in previous years, but that could just be my imagination... I do know that there were a few times where there just wasn't anything good on.

It also means that my review of Wreck-It Ralph was the 200th movie review since I started this blog. So, you know, woohoo.

And my top 10 of new releases for 2012 looks like this...

1. The Amazing Spider-Man

the amazing spider-man - the untold story begins

This Peter Parker is a character in so much pain. Not just the lingering pain of his parent's abandonment/deaths, but also the loss of his Uncle Ben. And Garfield nails it. That doesn't mean that there isn't a sense of lightness and fun at points, but the pathos is just right.

2. Skyfall

skyfall

Skyfall feels exotic, it feels big and bold and brassy. It has brilliant moments of classic Bond action. And it had me bouncing in my seat on more than one occasion with a big stupid grin on my face.


3. The Avengers

avengers assemble

At the nexus point in the Venn diagram of "character", "comedy" and "action" is the name Joss Whedon! And he brings all three out in equal measure in The Avengers.

He also manages to take characters from three different movies and make them all fit into the same one seamlessly. Yes, a chunk of that is down to the actors, but the writing certainly helps.


4. Looper

looper - face your future, fight your past

Johnson's story was both more complex and less complicated that I thought it was going to turn out to be as the movie progressed. Without giving anything away, while the ending went to the place I thought it was going, it got there by a different route than I expected and surprised me.

5. Hysteria

hysteria - a comedy about the birth of the vibrator in victorian england.

It's definitely one of the funniest movies I've seen in a while, and although it's occasionally a little bit cheeky, it's still something you could take your grandmother to.

6. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

the enemy is within

It very much feels like they've taken the bag of excellent male British actors, turned it upside down and out has fallen a sublime cast...

7. Rise of the Guardians

rise of the guardians

And yet, it touches on belief and nurturing the child inside of you and all that stuff that is almost guaranteed to tug on your heart strings... and in that regard it does an excellent job.

8. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

abraham lincoln: vampire hunter - president by day, hunter by night

But there's something about this movie that just made me put my brain in neutral and enjoy the ride. I even didn't mind the liberties with vampire mythology like vampires walking around in the daylight with the use of "sunblock".

9. Resident Evil: Retribution

resident evil: retribution - evil goes global

It was something of a grab-bag of elements, situations, characters and actors from the last four movies. And given that the Resident Evil universe is full of genetic experiments, clones, mutations and a vast catalogue of monsters, there's a lot to draw on, and it's easy to bring back characters who may or may not have survived from previous movies and not necessarily have to worry about whether they were killed already. While that sounds like it could have made the movie a total mess, it was actually more like revisiting all the things from the previous movies that were great.

10. Wreck-It Ralph

wreck-it ralph - the story of a regular guy just looking for a little wreck-ognition

One of the things I love about the way the movie was put together is that they contacted a range of video game companies and actually have real game characters featured. There's Sonic, Pac Man, Bowser from Super Mario Brothers, even all the way back to Pong. It makes the world of Ralph and his friends feel much more real.

Dishonourable mention: Beasts of the Southern Wild

I'm sure there will be any number of people for whom this movie is right up their proverbial alley, and who will think this is the greatest movie ever made... but I'm not one of them.

Of the other 150-something movies that I'd never seen before, there were a lot of good ones and surprisingly few really horrible ones... but these are some of the more memorable ones...
  • A Christmas Story (1983): I finally get why America is crazy about this movie
  • The Artist (2011): It's kind of amazing that a black and white movie with no sound can win a Best Picture Oscar... I'm not sure it's Best Picture good, but it is an enjoyable movie
  • The Cheyenne Social Club (1970): When screwball comedy meets western... and I love that they make it through the whole movie without using the word "prostitute" or even "whore".
  • Double Indemnity (1944): Not my first experience with film noir but definitely one I enjoyed
  • The Evil Dead (1981): Made on a shoestring and all the more atmospheric for it... the sequel, however, is woeful
  • The Godfather (1972): Yeah, it took me until 2012 to finally get around to watching this... and I enjoyed it more than I expected to
  • His Girl Friday (1940): Some of the best comedy dialogue in a movie, ever
  • J. Edgar (2011): Mostly I watched this for Leonardo and the homosexual subtext, but it turned out to be a really engrossing movie
  • The Long, Hot Summer (1958): Sweaty shirtless Paul Newman... but Orson Welles' Southern accent is so bad I had to use the subtitles
  • Madagascar 3 - Europe's Most Wanted (2012): I liked the first one, wasn't that impressed with the second but the third one was a vast improvement... and the final Cirque du Soleil inspired circus sequence totally makes the movie
  • The Man Who Wasn't There (2001): A wonderful modern version of film noir that hits all the right notes
  • Never Let Me Go (2010): Timeless dystopian future that isn't all shiny touch screens and chrome, but a living breathing thing
  • New York, I Love You (2008): It's not as good as Paris, Je t'aime (the stories overlap and bleed into each other much more), but it's still lovely
  • Private Romeo (2011): I've already blogged at length about why this was awesome
  • Red River (1948): The most homoerotic cowboy movie (just from one scene about guns) up until Brokeback Mountain... plus Montgomery Clift is gorgeous
  • Wait Until Dark (1967): Audrey Hepburn is completely convincing as a blind woman terrorised by three criminals
  • Waking Sleeping Beauty (2009): A must for any Disney animation fan... it covers the Disney studio from 1981 to 1994 and the birth of the Disney Renaissance
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