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Ranking the Year in Film (Flack’s Article)

Posted on | February 11, 2013 | 1 Comment

Here is my end of the year extravaganza special showcasing my overall thoughts on the year in flicks by Flack. This article follows a (mostly) similar pattern to Flick’s article. From my top 11 list to “awards” for some top achievements in film, here is my super special epic piece of year-end movie writing.

THE TOP 11 OF THE YEAR

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)

11. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey IMAX 3-D Better than I expected…and yet it still could have been so much better. The highlights are a thrilling three part climax and Martin Freeman’s deadpan lead performance.

Richard Parker in Life of Pi (2012)

10. Life of Pi Beautiful and emotionally satisfying. So why isn’t it higher on the list? Because on the whole it’s not completely satisfying. I’m happy for those who thought the un-filmable literature masterpiece Life of Pi became filmable and more. But under the direction of Ang Lee the movie works, but doesn’t “fly”. Still the 3-D and actors are amazing. 


4 out of the 5 Guardians in Rise of the Guardians (2012)

9. Rise of the Guardians An underrated animated joy. Emotionally moving, dazzilingly visual, and often hilarious (especially the voices; Alec Baldwin’s Santa Claus in particular). The trailers are deceiving. It’s not all action. In fact it’s something much better than that. It’s a charming family film that deserves to be seen. This movie definitely should’ve been nominated for the Best Animated Feature at The 2013 Oscars (even if it’s not my favorite animated movie of the year!!!).

The band of misfits on a pirate adventure in Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012)

8. The Pirates: In An Adventure With Scientists 3-D This animated charmer not only works as a movie the whole family will enjoy but also as a comedy. In fact, it’s not only a comedy, it’s one of the funniest films in recent memory. The amazing animation and hilarious voice cast help make this my choice for Best Animated Feature at this year’s Oscars and my favorite animated film of the year, in general. I also had tons of fun meeting Peter Lord at TIFF!!!

Spider-Man versus The Lizard in The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

7. The Amazing Spider-Man 3-D Action packed fun at it’s funnest!!! What else can I say? That people complained too much about it. But what’s great about the movie? The performances are top-notch (at least for a superhero flick) and Marc Web does a better job than Sam Raimi did with three shots at perfecting the Spidey mythology. Marc Webb’s last name spells out greatness, apparently. And that greatness sure is apparent.

Two young lovers in Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

6. Moonrise Kingdom Laugh out loud funny, this underrated gem of a film is a must-see. Shot partly in Rhode Island, the movie manages to be funny, dramatic, romantic, and bittersweet often all at once. Wes Anderson does an amazing job as director and the cast is stellar. Add in the gorgeous visuals and you get a film that is local, lovely, and lyrical. The story plays out like a big, long series of paintings. And that’s a great thing!

Quvezhane Wallis as Hushpuppy facing the Aurochs in Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

5. Beasts of the Southern Wild Powerful with a capital P. Also, flawed with a lowercase f. In a stunning starring role Quvenzhané Wallis wows. Meanwhile Benh Zeitlin does a phenomenal job with his directorial debut. I have some minor quibbles with the film but, when I put them aside, I am left with a powerful indie!!!

Hugh Jackman singing his heart out while being a slave as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables (2012)4. Les Miserables Terribly reviewed, Les Miserables is (alongside Pirates!) the most underrated movie of the year. The actors are terrific and the singing is soulful. Even when Russel Crowe is placed on center stage the sheer singing overrides any minor issues I had with the film.

An animated sequence from Searching For Sugar Man (2012)3. Searching For Sugar Man Powerful. Deeply moving. Transcendent. Not that I’m a documentary expert of any kind, but of the ones that I’ve seen this is definitely one of the best. You don’t just watch this movie. You experience it. The emotions feel real (because they are!) and the interviews are fascinating. It’s also astonishing how much footage there is of Rodriguez (the film’s focus) playing music from the 70’s. An especially terrific scene is a misty-back to the audience concert where Rodriguez was discovered that seems filmed on an 8 millimeter camera. The film is not perfect. It’s 86 minutes long but feels closer to 180, which isn’t entirely a good thing. But the dazzling cinematography and animation plus the thrilling and surprising tale that the movie tells combine to make a film that is fascinating. It’s not a most disgusting movie. It’s a must-see, yet under-seen piece of art.

Daniel-Day Lewis playing (or being) Abraham Lincln on a certain fateful night in Lincoln (2012)2. Lincoln Smart, brilliant, and shockingly tense for a you-know-the-outcome movie. Steven Spielberg, Daniel-Day Lewis, Tony Kushner, John Williams, and the rest of the cast and crew are all at the top of their game. Lincoln is at times dryly funny and at other times politically nerve wracking. The final scene didn’t quite fit my taste but the rest of the film is modern movie making making at it’s best. Hold on, maybe there’s something better…

Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez at a meeting in Argo (2012)1. Argo  Dramatic. That’s how I’d describe this movie. The definition? Sudden and striking: “a dramatic increase in recorded crime”. Yep, sounds right. Deeply disturbing. Fantastically funny. Thrilling tensiony. The movie of the year. Ben Affleck does an astoounding job as director. His greatest feat? Keeping the laugh out loud Hollywood interludes in check with the more nail biting thriller scenes. Affleck is also terrific in his underated starring role; as CIA mastermind Tony Mendez. The supporting cast is also strong, with particularly notable work from Alan Arkin (just as good as Tommy Lee Jones in Lincoln, if not better) and John Goodman. And what about the final 15 minutes or so? It’s a movie!!! Why criticize the climax of an already great film that is greatest in it’s climax (in my opinion). The plane chase may be a little bit over the top…but I’m talking about good over the top. And the perhaps slightly sappy family tie-up? Perhaps partly untrue but satisfying. This movie not only demonstrates what kind of greatness human beings can achieve, it shows the greatness that human beings can achieve through teamwork. Every individual counts. The unknown CIA agent and Tony Mendez both contributed their talents to the rescue mission. It’s the same as the film. Both the unheard of set designer and Ben Affleck both contributed their skills to the film. By working together and using teamwork, the real life mission turned out more than fine. And by teamwork Argo turned out more than fine. It turned into my favorite movie of the year… Argo watch it!!!

THE YEAR ROUNDUP

THOUGHTS ON A FEW OTHER FILMS

Merida in Brave (2012)

Brave  An underwhelming animated effort from Pixar. While a slight bounce back from Cars 2, it’s still dissapointing. I’m hoping this summer’s Monsters University will mark a comeback for Pixar. In the meantime I can revel in the joys of Brave that do exist.

The Lorax, himself, relaxing and playing with his friends in The Lorax (2012)The Lorax 3-D Cheesy, but fun. It’s silly and shows the problem with most animation these days. But as far as a big budget re-doing of a beloved childrens’ book can go…well it’s fairly ridiculous and fun.


Jiro and fellow sushi makers in Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2012)Jiro Dreams of Sushi  A terrific documentary about sushi. Mixing nitty gritty sushi making and candid and interviews, this gem of an indie is a lyrical meditation on both life and food. Mouth wateringly great.

The team assembles and readies for battles in The Avengers (2012)The Avengers 3-D  It’s fun but awfully cheesey. That’s what I came away with after part of a second viewing (I only got halfway through it). But when I saw this movie for the first time, the day after it opened in 3-D, I was wowed. I didn’t think there was much to it (learn some lessons from The Amazing Spider-Man!). But I did enjoy it as a pure piece of popcorn munching summer fun. However, as I took another look at it the fun went away. Let me count the reasons it might not have worked… 1. The opening weekend summer fun was gone, gone, gone. 2. I was tired. 3. It wasn’t in 3-D. 4. And…most of all it was on a regular TV not a big screen. Well, the movie just felt silly. Not fun.

THE WORST MOVIE OF THE YEAR

The hero scouting out the location in John Carter (2012)John Carter 3-D By far the worst movie of the year. You’re probably guessing that’s because it’s all action, no emotion. But, shockingly, you’re wrong!!! The reason is that there’s not enough action (or story, for that matter!!!). And the action scenes that there are? Terrible. I had high hopes a possibly epic piece of sci-fi cinema from the director of Finding Nemo and WALLE (both some of the greatest animated films ever made). Instead I got a film that makes me say “Bah humbug”.

1/2 OF THE I.O. AWARDS

Here’s my thoughts on some of the best in film of the year. However, I don’t talk about my favorite film of the year because I have already talked about it (look above!!!).

Steven Spielberg on the set of Lincoln (2012)Best Director: Steven Spielberg For Lincoln I think Ben Affleck (Argo) did just as good a job at directing as Steven Spielberg. But I wanted to split the top prizes and show that, even if it’s not my number 1 film of the year, I love Lincoln. So, what did Spielberg do right? I’m sure Spielberg gave the actors tips on what to do but for the most part I think the stars are responsible for their own performances. He gathered a top notch cast and let them freely make great actor decisions. Spielberg did a terrific job assembling the set designers, sound effects workers, and other many crew members and creating a historical, 1860’s feel.  He also does a great job making a film that does not feature any alien abduction set pieces or overlong Civil War battle scenes. Instead he, screenwriter Tony Kushner, and the entire cast let the characters sit down and talk…NOW, NOW, NOW!!! His greatest feet, however, is having the guts to make a film that was slow. And by doing so he created a classic.

Quvezhane Wallis as the fierce Hushpuppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)Best Actress: Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild For someone who was 5 when cast, 6 when filmed, 8 when her film was released, and 9 when she was Oscar nominated, Quvezhane Wallis did an absolutely astonishing job in Beasts of the Southern Wild. As Hushpuppy she is strong, fierce, and powerful. Her turn as a 6 year old bayou girl facing a drunken and dying father, a missing mother, and the apocalypse may be considered not quite acting. How could someone so young come off as so professional!?!? But Wallis does an amazing job. Her tear jerking voice-overs are great as is her on screen kiddie intensity. She might not even have a chance at winning the Oscar but as far as I’m concerned she’s a total winner.

Daniel Day Lewis as Lincoln (2012)Best Actor: Daniel-Day Lewis for Lincoln As our country’s greatest president Day Lewis captures the man, not the myth, at his most humane. His fascinatingly real portrayal of the larger than life legend is legendary. What else can I say without rambling, something Mr. Lincoln never does in this movie?

Alan Arkin as hilarious moive producer Lester Shields in Argo (2012)Best Supporting Actor : Alan Arkin for Argo and Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln TIE!!! Two curmudgeonly character actors with emotional depth who steal every scene they’re in, even while playing opposite movie stars in towering lead performances. Two equally great actors in equally great performances!!!

Anne Hathaway singing her heart out as doomed Fantine in Les Miserables (2012)

Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables In a remarkable supporting turn, Anne Hathaway makes the best out of her few scenes. Her gut wrenching perfomance is tragic, terrific, and wonderfully sung.

An edge of your seat climactic chase in Argo (2012)Best Scene of the Year: I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables and Airplane Chase! from Argo TIE!!! The intense sadness, dazzling acting, and catchy singing of I Dreamed A Dream makes it iconic; exactly what a great scene of the year should be. The airport chase is thrilling popcorn suspense in a decidedly non-popcorn movie. And by the end of the scene (if the scene and film’s intended effect truly works on you) you’re crying and cheering, all with a smile of happiness and relief; it stays with you which is exactly what a great scene of the year should be.

SPECIAL PRIZE: Searching For Sugar Man Surprising, fascinating, bold, and amazing Searching For Sugar Man is, like many other films I saw this year, different than any other movie I have ever seen. WATCH IT!!!

YEAR RATING: 4 OUT OF 5 MOVIE REELS

There was an exciting superhero film that ultimately fell short of my expectations (The Avengers), a hilarious stop-motion adventure (The Pirates: In An Adventure With Scientists), a talky historical masterpiece (Lincoln), an action packed but flawed part 1 of a based on a book fantasy epic (The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey), and much, much more!!! But the true champion ended up being a pulse-pounding foreign set drama (Argo). Argo and Lincoln were the only true masterpieces of the year, even if Searching For Sugar Man and Les Miserables came pretty close. How many disasters were there? One, in the evil shape of John Carter!!! 2012 was the year of storytelling and surprises, and an amazing year at that!!!

A FINAL NOTE

BRING IT ON, 2013!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comments

One Response to “Ranking the Year in Film (Flack’s Article)”

  1. Anisa
    February 11th, 2013 @ 10:58 pm

    Wow! What a great review of your favorite films of 2012. I love your honest descriptions and in-depth look at the films you loved (and why) and the ones that missed their mark. I agree with many of your favorites although Beasts of the Southern Wild would be a bit higher on my list.

    I say bring on more reviews like this one where you share your passion, knowledge and analysis of film!

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