As I was going through this list (this is Gabe, by the way, which I only point out because Kelly wrote some of these movie blurbs, too, but she is not the one talking right this second, and it is always weird when someone says I but you don’t know who the I is, OK) I realized that I didn’t like very many movies this year. Even the movies that I have picked out as my favorite movies all have some kind of qualification, or include some laundry list of movies from years past that were better movies but, you know, were not from this year. There were good movies for sure, but none of them were all-time faves (CAVEAT: there are at least two movies I can think of off the top of my head–Silver Linings Playbook and Beasts of the Southern Wild that are supposed to be great that I simply haven’t seen yet, so there is that also). But there were good movies, I don’t know. How pumped is everyone for this list! Get in there, guys! Mix it up! LOL! And I’ll see YOU at the movie!
The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises didn’t offer the dark glee of The Dark Knight, in fact just the opposite. It was dour and thick and heavy. And OK, there may have been a couple of plot holes. But it was still pretty darn good. In pure theory alone, sneaking an existentialist movie featuring the anarchic nightmare of inevitable annihilation into a summer blockbuster about superheroes is a neat magic trick. Oh, and considering how terrible third movies in trilogies often are, and how bad the third act of the these third act films often are, the ending of The Dark Knight Rises was perfect. So yeah. More like The Dark Knight Ruleses!
The Master! All the nerds were foaming at the brains for this movie to come out, and then once it did it seemed like people were trampling each other Black Friday style to declare it an incredible masterpiece with the ever-present caveat that no one understood it and needed to see it again. Frankly, we thought the movie was a little bit like an expensive meal at a four star restaurant that leaves you feeling hungry at the end. It had nothing of particular interest to say about its purported subject matter, and the surrogate father-figure themes are something we have seen Paul Thomas Anderson deal with before and much better. But the acting in this movie was, like, totally the best acting. And it was beautifully filmed. And all in all it WAS one of the better movies of the year, even if we’d rather watch There Will Be Blood again before rewatching this.
Hey, do you guys like to have fun?! Well then we have great news for you: this movie is fun! Considering that it is the third highest grossing movie of all time and that it has all of our old pals in it, you would think it would be even better than it is, actually. Like, we enjoyed the first Spider-Man (2002) more as a movie-goer looking for a blast, and we think The Dark Knight (2008) is a straight up better movie, but this is still just very fun. That sequence where the camera flies around all of the different Avengers and shows how they are kicking the spaceworm butts in their own unique ways? COME ON, MAN! AWESOME STUFF, GUYS! #fun
When the trailer for Moonrise Kingdom came out it looked like a viral video parody of a Wes Anderson movie, and the fact of the matter is that the full-length movie wasn’t that much different. This guy sure has a couple of aesthetic notes and emotional beats and quirky overtones that he sure likes to hit as hard as he can. The fact of the matter is that this movie was pretty far down on our list of Wes Anderson movies, easily beating out The Life Aquatic with Steve Zisou for second-to-last-place but no comparison to all of the movies stacked above it. That being said, it’s like a few years ago when everyone was complaining about how tired and annoying The Office had become and Mindy Kaling in some interview said something to the effect of “if you shot a pilot today with this incredible cast, everyone would want to watch that show,” which is certainly true. A mediocre Wes Anderson movie is still a lot better or at least more interesting than a lot of other movies. So here we are.
Jiro Dreams of Sushi
This is just a beautiful movie about finding your purpose in life and dedicating yourself to that purpose with everything that you have. There’s also this scene of Jiro shopping for tuna in the legendary Tsukiji fish market that very quietly and unintentionally reminds you of just how big the world is and how many different kinds of lives are being lived in it every single day that you cannot even begin to comprehend, so that seems like it’s worth SOMETHING.
Safety Not Guaranteed
You may remember our glowing review of Safety Not Guaranteed back in July, and all of our feelings still stand. (Mostly because we have not seen it again since then, and it is only a wonderful, distant memory of a perfect, at once light-hearted and emotionally-heavy dramady in which Jake Johnson shines in the way he always does, Aubrey Plaza shines in a way she rarely does, and Mark Duplass shines kind of in the way you expect him do when he’s featured in someone else’s work.) See it! Why not just On Demand it right now?
The Do-Deca Pentathlon
We have to admit that we were not very excited to see The Do-Deca Pentathlon. The Duplass brothers are fairly hit-and-miss, and a film about a pair of brothers secretly competing in a olympic-style series of events behind everyone’s backs at a family reunion sounds like almost literally the last thing we want to watch a movie about. But! BUT! The Do-Deca Pentathlon proved to be just the incredibly moving, honest, dark, and humorous enough look at interpersonal relationships that you look for in a Duplass film. Possibly their best yet, and certainly our favorite.
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Beasts of the Southern Wild is a big, beautiful movie showcasing a tiny, wonderful actress. (We’re going to break the “we” for a moment, since Gabe pointed out that he has not seen this movie yet. Kelly has. “I” have!) It would be a lie to say that our love of this movie extends very far beyond Quvenzhané Wallis’s performance as the young Hushpuppy, but also it would be a lie to say this movie in general extends very far beyond Quvenzhané Wallis’s performance as the young Hushpuppy. The fantasy and reality-blended story gets lost in the scenery, and the scenery gets lost whenever Wallis is on-screen, but they all join together to create one of the best viewing experiences of the year.
Silver Linings Playbook
Honestly, this might be the movie of the year, I wouldn’t know, I haven’t had a chance to see it yet. So it can’t be officially counted as one of my favorites of the year. But other people sure seem to like it a lot, and I love David O’Russell’s movies (I even liked I Heart Huckabees, so…) so who knows. If you like it, now you don’t have to be mad that it wasn’t included. And if you don’t like it, now don’t be mad because I didn’t actually say it was my favorite yet.
Wreck It Ralph
See above. Honestly the honorable mentions are really just the movies of 2012 that we haven’t gotten to yet that we cannot wait to get to. Life is what happens when you’re busy watching other movies.
Sound Of My Voice
Oops! See above. But we’d be remiss to not mention this cult-y film co-written by one of last year’s Best People, Brit Marling. It looks great! Can’t wait to finally see it someday.
Save the Date
We actually saw this one, and it was very good! One of those movies that quickly gets labeled “white people problems” because that is EXACTLY what it is, but it is also a wonderful, funny look at being in a relationship that you don’t want to be in, or do you? OR DO YOU?
Rust and Bone
(Main image via Shutterstock.)