Thursday, January 3, 2013

Eimer's Best Movies Viewed in 2012


Having not yet seen ARGO, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, LES MISERABLES (yuck!), LIFE OF PI, ZERO DARK THIRTY, THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL, LOOPER, BRAVE, THE DEEP BLUE SEA, WRECK-IT RALPH, CLOUD ATLAS or THE MASTER; I’m sure this list would have been a lot different.



But what are you going to do? I watch most of my movies on DVD and ON-DEMAND. So, suck it. 

That said, here are the Top 15 favorite films viewed on Cable, DVD, On Demand and at the Theater in 2012 (in no particular order):

LINCOLN (2012)
Definitely one of the year's best. Speilberg transports you back in time to the late 1800's as a fly on the wall to witness the political process during the abolishment of slavery in the United States. Sure, the cinematography, lighting, editing, score, costumes and art direction are top notch, but it's the acting that receives a top honor here. Fantastic, former award-winning actors are ply their trade. Everyone from Day-Lewis and Field all the way to the supporting cast including Haley, Spader and Gordon-Levitt...do an above-par job. I can't even begin to talk about Day-Lewis's performance. Just mind-blowing what this man can do in front of a camera. When we left the theater I looked at my watch..."That movie flew by," I said. "Didn't feel like two and a half hours at all." To be honest, I wasn't sure I wanted to sit through this long of a movie on a Tuesday night, but I'm so happy that I bought my ticket. Kudos, Mr. Spielberg, for a job well done. Check 'er out.

DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)
Based on past cinematic history, we all know that the third movie of a trilogy usually isn't that good. To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to this movie at all. I think I was expecting a big turd just like the third Spider-Man or the former Batman series or Godfather Part 3. But, oh my, did I forget who was behind the camera and writing the script - the Nolan Brothers. From the beginning they had me hooked. And it's hard to do that in a movie for me nowadays. I just thought the action, the direction, the acting and the overall storyline was top notch. And the fact that they didn't really over-costume the heroes (sans Batman) made it feel like "You know, this could possibly happen." No corny outfits. No over-the-top battle choreography. Just a cool story with a little ultra-voilence tossed in. Speaking of the violence, this is the most violent of the three (in my opinion). Be careful with the little kiddies. But man, oh man, check this movie out. Fantastic acting, direction. This one has it all, including a crazy Bane voice that I can't get out of my head.

FRANKENWEENIE (2012)
Fantastic animated film harking back to the old vintage horror movies with stop-motion monsters of the 50's, 60's and 70's. I cannot talk enough about the overall art direction and the great storyline and plot. I saw Burton's original 'Frankenweenie' live-action short and I always thought this idea could be extended in a full-length feature film. I didn't, however, even think about animation. What Burton does here is create his vision of growing up without a lot of electronic contraptions and video games. You just watched lots of TV, went outside and experimented in the laboratory that is life. Again, some parents may be put off by the horror aspects, but my five and six year olds loved it to death (oops! excuse the pun). Check er out. Kudos to Tim Burton, who created what probably will be an Academy Award-Winning Animated Film.

MOONRISE KINGDOM (2012)
Went into this movie expecting a whimsical, beautifully shot and written Wes Anderson movie and did not leave disappointed. I loved the visual tapestry that director Anderson and cinematographer Robert Yeoman have created. Stark, yet beautiful images in this pastelish dull tone. Beautiful. Also, the acting was perfect, even from the younger actors in the crowd. With a supporting cast of superior adult actors, Anderson is able to see his creation come to life. Very fun film that I will probably view a couple more times for sure. For a good night of Anderson youth, rent RUSHMORE followed by this film. It's almost as if, Shwartzman's RUSHMORE character of Max Fisher has been reborn here. Check er out. One of the most entertaining films that I've seen in 2012. Definitely a top ten.

CABIN IN THE WOODS (2012)
Fantastic 'take' on a tired old genre. It's movies like this that get me excited to head back to the theaters and start plopping down my $10 bucks plus food. Great screenplay by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard with over-the-top direction by Goddard. Acting is well done and there are a number of surprise supporting actors as well as twists and turns. What's more to say? It's a fun horror movie with a fresh twist...and buckets of blood.

DJANGO UNCHAINED (2012)
The thing about Quentin Tarantino's movies is that they are 'events' in the same vein as a Van Halen concert or seeing a stand-up comedian or magician ply his trade on stage - or any other form of 'live' entertainment for that matter. Truth be told, my wife and another couple 'tailgated' at a local bar before going to see Tarantino's event movie, DJANGO UNCHAINED. I don't tailgate for movies often, but Tarantino's films are such the grandiose films that you almost have to. In any event, I was not disappointed with the outcome. Well-written, well-directed and well acted, the film is sure to spark some racial conflict, but kudos to Tarantino to not bow to the PC community, forge ahead with zero inhibition and create a film the way he desires. A tip of the hat to the old Blaxpoitation flicks and independent art-house films of the 70's - with a little bit of Kubrick's old ultraviolence tossed in, the film works on a number of levels. However, more than anything, it's entertaining. And, it probably shouldn't be considering the subject matter. But it is. A lot of hubbub was brought up about the use of the n-word during the movie. It's a derogatory word indeed, but I think it puts the time and place in perspective. Just like this year's LINCOLN, I think it's important that these movies are being made. They serve as a reminder of where we came, who we are today and who we want to be tomorrow. And, quite the opposite of LINCOLN, sometimes the movie ain't pretty to look at. In fact, it's kind of ugly at times due to the content. That said, kudos to Tarantino for having the cojones to write and make this movie during this important time in our American History. And kudos to all of the actors who do a fine job including Christoph Waltz who won an Academy Award for his work in Inglourious Basterds. I should also note, that I saw this film with an audience that was, on average, 50% black and 50% white. And guess what? There was no racial divide. Everybody laughed.  Everyone seethed. Everyone cheered. And everyone jeered. Just human beings having fun at a film. And damn if that ain't cool.

TAKE THIS WALTZ (2012)
Let me just tell you that Sarah Polley is a writer/director to watch. Her first film AWAY FROM HER, was very well written, directed and acted. Her sophomore effort is even better. You may have thought every movie about infidelity has been made (i.e. UNFAITHFUL, FATAL ATTRACTION, INDECENT PROPOSAL). But Polley and her fantastic cast have taken it in a totally different route. A more subdued, more intimate look, feel and tone. Dialogue is fantastic. The cinematography has a Wes Anderson-type look that, surprisingly, is all its own. The movie keeps you in suspense of what the hell is going to happen in the end. Will she? Won't she? You never know until the camera takes you on a cinematic tour de force in a 360-degree view of the main characters life. And don’t even get me started with the Twirl a Whirl scene played to the sounds of ‘Video Killed the Radio Star’, which ends just as quickly as it begins. Could it be a hidden innuendo about relationships in general? You be the judge. What a great, smart intelligent film.

MARLEY (2012)
Had a chance to catch this on same-day release on cable TV. Let me tell you, it was worth the extra cash. Great movie. Fantastic documentary. Although I have loved his music since college (who hasn't?), I really didn't know too much about the man, the myth that is Bob Marley. I"m sure even the most diehard fans will learn something interesting from this documentary. He's half-white, loved soccer, died from melanoma, survived an assination attempt, exiled to England and united political parties in Jamiaca. If you enjoy Marley and reggae music, you will love this documentary. Kevin MacDonald has put together something really beautiful celebrating this man's short, but fantastic life.

THE AVENGERS (2012)
Great flick. Highly recommended. I thought I saw one of the greatest superhero movies in last year's CAPTAIN AMERICA. Not so. This is the definitive pop-corn superhero film of this generation. This is the one to beat. Sure there were a lot of other great superhero films, but this just feels right. Everything from the casting, the script, the special effects and overall length and tone of the film. Joss Whedon is a fanboy at heart and knows exactly what the superhero geeks want to see. Fantastic film. Sure to win every technical Academy Award out there.

50/50 (2011)
Man, this was a very good movie. Relied on acting at every turn. Funny, at times. Other times, extremely sad. Jonathan Levine directs an all-star cast to great performances. From Gordon-Levitt to Howard to Anna Kenrick, Rogan and a fantastic Anjelica Huston - everyone brings their A-game to this heartfelt touching film. Plus, the screenplay is top-notch. Great dialogue. Doesn't feel like it's forced. Very conversational. And, like I said, the actors bring it to life. Not much more to say besides this is my personal sleeper-hit, thus far, for this year.

BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (2012)
Wow. First off, let me say that this is not a very happy movie. In fact it's a bit of a downer. But, the overall content shouldn't dissuade you into seeing it. In fact, it's a very beautiful, very mystical, very well-acted and directed film (by first-time director Benh Zeitlen). So much so that you're completely and utterly enthralled in the very odd land of Bathtub, Louisiana off the coast of New Orleans. Reminds me a bit of Gilliam's earlier efforts. Cinematographer and script should get nods for originality. This is such a creative film, and made on such a modest budget ($1.8 million), that I would be remiss not to include this on my Top Ten list. Because, quite frankly, I want more of these type of movies to be made. Again, I mentioned acting, but you have to watch this film to see the talents of Quvenzhan√© Wallis, who plays the main character of 5-year old Hushpuppy. Props to Zeitlen as well for bringing out the best in everyone in this film.

BICYCLE THIEF (1964)
Take yourself back 64 years and contemplate when this film was made. Post World War 2. Israel declared an independent state. Harry Truman is the President of the United States. Italy became a Republic (1946), signed a Peace Treaty with the Allies (1947), a member of NATO (1949) and an ally of the United States. It's interesting to take into consideration what was going on in the world during 1948 to see why a movie such as this film is so respected. And this movie is a small, simple film by today's standards, the film still pulls you in. And speaks volumes. Everything from the acting to the simple script to the direction and cinematography - very intereseting movie about the struggle of humanity. The genuineness of the film was probably a shock to many movie goers at the time who wanted song and dance, or comedy to entertain them at the theaters - not to be depressed by the cruel realities of life. In the game of life, sometimes you win and sometimes you lose, which you get a little taste in this film. Such a beautiful classic. I'm kicking myself for not watching this movie sooner. Kudos to Vittorio De Sica for having the backbone for bucking the odds and creating such an inventive film.

SHAME (2011)
Wow! In the same vain as WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN and REQUIEM FOR A DREAM. A very beautiful, well-directed, well-acted movie about addiction and sadistic thoughts that is, at times, a little unsettling and depressing to watch. Great character study on Brandon Sullivan, a man who likes his porn and sex maybe a little too much. With an insatiable sexual appetite we get a peepshow into his semi-tortured life. Yeah, he's having a lot of sex, but is he really enjoying it? And what the hell is up with the family? A fantastic ambiguous ending leaves the film hanging in uncertainty. I loved this movie from start to tragic finish. Again, this isn't some crazy comedy that will have you giggling. This is a tragic film all around, but a film that needs to be viewed for the beauty and splendor and tragedy that it is. Fantastic film-making. Check er out. Also, I should note great sophomore outing by Steve McQueen (Hunger) and great supporting acting by up and coming actress Carey Mulligan, who looks eerily similar to acress Michelle Williams in this movie. Speaking of We Need to Talk about Kevin...

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN (2011)
Wow, what a strong compelling film. Sad, very sad. Not your average entertaining fun, bubble gum movie that's for sure, but it's a powerful melancholy viewing nonetheless. As I was watching this film, of course memories of Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings came to mind. However, this movie follows the mom, who was impacted the most from this tragic believable horror film. Kudos to Co-Writer/Director Lynne Ramsey, beautiful, poignant cinematography by Seamus McGarvey and Editor Joe Bini, not to mention the fantastic soundtrack, which all comes together to tell this tragic tale. And I can't speak enough of the acting, Tilda Swinton was phenomenal, Jasper Newell and Ezra Miller are jaw-dropping as the young and teeenage Kevin and the rest of the supporting cast including John C. Reilly. The difference between a good movie and great movie is the great movie makes you think about it one day, two weeks, three years down the line. This is a great movie. It's not the funniest of the most light-hearted of films, but it's a damn fine film.

THE GREY (2012)
Solid action, direction, plot and screenplay. Great acting choices as well. My only little piece of criticism came from the Wolves themselves. In some instances thye looked a bit fake, especially the close-up shots (probably because they were). However, the film still rocked and works on all cylinders from start to finish. Edge-of-your-seat action and great character development. Nice ambiguous ending. Great direction by Joe Carnahan. What a fantastic piece of film-making. Reminded me of the short story TO BUILD A FIRE by Jack London.

BONUS ADDITION:
TUCKER & DALE VS. EVIL (2010)
Clever, fresh, interesting take on the 'college students in the woods' horror story. Mostly comedy, hardly horror, Tucker & Dale Vs. Evil was just a fun movie that had much, much more laughs than most comedies I've seen lately (Hangover Part 2, I'm looking at you). Great acting, smart script not to mention nice direction by actor/writer Eli Craig bring this movie together for a fun experience.

OTHER FILMS I THOUGHT ROCKED:
  • Your Sister’s Sister
  • John Dies at the End
  • Safety Not Guaranteed
  •  Prometheus
  • The Artist
  •   21 Jump Street
  • Sound of Noise
  • The Pixar Story
  • Wanderlust
  •  Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol
  • Young Adult
  • Take Shelter
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene
  • The Help
  • Drive
  • I Saw the Devil
  • The Ides of March
  • Moneyball
  • Margin Call
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
CHECK OUT MORE OF EIMER'S FAVORITES:

What about you? Any favorites you'd like to share that aren't on this list? I'm always searching for great movies. Why not help me out? Thanks.

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