2012 was a strong year for film, delivering numerous high quality event movies and also a ton of very excellent serious fare as well. But perhaps it's the overall high quality that made us take note of the moments in which we were wrenched out of our suspended disbelief, or maybe it's just that the gods of moviedom knew something had to be done to prevent people from taking themselves too seriously. Either way, the year was blessed with some rather amazeballs moments of unintentional awkwardness that really forced us to step back and gasp, "Did that really happen?!" [SPOILERS!] more »
We can all agree that 2012 has been an excellent year for the movies, but the more salacious among us will note that it's been an awesome year to perv out at the movies. Although we didn't get another look at the Fassmember and all the conflicting feelings it brought up (Hotness! Confusion! Embarrassment at being psyched to see him naked in Shame when actually it's really f***ing depressing!) there were some rather interesting trends that reared their heads that invite a closer look. Whether studios are getting braver or filmmakers are getting bolder is a debate for another time — and please don't suggest that 50 Shades had too much to do with it. Let's salute all the sexin' that happened onscreen in 2012.
2012 was a ho-hum year for "serious" cinema. As proof, the Oscar race has narrowed to films like the chipper Argo and dreary Zero Dark Thirty — a chase so routine that the alternative is a Steven Spielberg period piece as wholesome and agreeable as enriched bread. But it was also a banner year for the films that we'll still want to watch in 2022: Ambitious over-reachers (Cloud Atlas, The Master, Les Miserables), loony passion projects (Killer Joe, Magic Mike, The Paperboy), and perfect popcorn flicks (Step Up 4, The Expendables 2, Premium Rush).
That last category is frequently left off top ten lists, but it deserves our applause. When studios get tired of risking $250 million on a single blockbuster (and audiences get tired of paying $14 just to keep up with water cooler conversation), mid-priced modest hits like Looper will be our collective salvation — and help build the next generation of filmmakers and stars. The films that made my Top Ten did so because they were bold, memorable and flawless (or at least two of the three). But of course, if critics can judge art, we should take our own creative risks. And so I've written my remarks in haiku.
There are Top 10s galore this time of the year, but no doubt Ben Affleck is taking a bit of extra notice on this one. Uber critic Roger Ebert gave Argo his choice for the Best of 2012.
He called the year "one of the best recent years in cinema," noting that he wrote over 300 reviews over the year, which is a personal record. He also noted that it was "unusually difficult" to leave out films in the top ten.
Picking Argo, Ebert noted that the feature had the "classic values of a Hollywood thriller" and noted the story, based on true events, "reveals surprises about a story we all lived through. It is told with classic comedy and tension."
Also making the list was Sundance winner Beasts of the Southern Wild and perhaps surprisingly considering the momentum of the Oscar race, End of Watch Oslo, August 31 and A Simple Life.
Notables not making the cut in the top ten at least include Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained, Les Misérables and Silver Linings Playbook.
Ebert has long taken a course of his own. You can see his comments on his Top 10 here.
Roger Ebert's Top 10:
1. Argo by Ben Affleck
2. Life Of Pi by Ang Lee
3. Lincoln by Steven Spielberg
4. End Of Watch by David Ayer
5. Arbitrage by Nicholas Jarecki
6. Flight by Robert Zemeckis
7. The Sessions by Ben Lewin
8. Beasts of the Southern Wild by Benh Zeitlin
9. Oslo, August 31st by Joachim Trier
10. A Simple Life by Ann Hui
In many ways, James Bond laid the template for what a modern-day action hero would look like: handsome, cool, badass, but most importantly, witty. The tradition of tough-guy one-liners may not have originated with 007, but it certainly had a good run within the franchise, and has continued to thrive across all genres of action today. Here’s some of the best of Bond’s zingers over the years.
"Obamacare." "Romney Hood." The political name-calling sounds like campaign season is well under-way (though does it ever end or begin?). The art of the possible will get a comical twist this weekend with the release of The Campaign, starring Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis. The pic follows two rivals who clash in an election that will decide who will head to the U.S. Congress from their North Carolina district (Ferrell appears to even flash a not-so-subtle coif similar to former V.P. candidate John Edwards). The film, which opens this weekend, prompted ABC's Political Punch reporter Jake Tapper to offer up his Top 10 political films of all-time (documentaries were excluded) and "political film" was kept to a narrow definition. See if you agree with this list and let the campaign begin.
The Colin Farrell-starring sci-fi remake Total Recall is readying for release this weekend (read Movieline’s review here) and while Len Wiseman's adaptation of the 1990 Paul Verhoeven film that mixes up bullets, muscles and abstract notions of Cartesian dualism and the specious present isn't the worst thing in the world, it is hardly memorable. (A bit of an unfortunate situation, as the whole thing is about memory.) Still, it's important that we don't present ourselves as the type of dweebs who get all hung up over sci-fi remakes. Sometimes, they're damn good, as this list of ten shall prove.
If you thought you were getting any work done during the second part of the day, think again. The good people at Vulture have apparently teamed up with the RAND Corporation and NASA to devise a series of charts with endless permutations that rank today's most valuable movie stars. But, we ask: Who are today's Most Valuable Indie Stars?
Today I learned two things. 1) You can never predict SCOTUS and 2) I'm gonna punch the next guy in the eye who calls the Supreme Court of the United States 'SCOTUS.' You don't need to have been swallowed up in the abyss of indifferent bureaucracy to know that our medical system is FUBAR. (Oh, God, enough with the acronyms!) All you need to do is go to the movies. Here are some of cinema's highlights that have made me want to try chewing cardamom seeds and holding a crystal rather than make that $15 copay.
Because we're a little more than two weeks away from the opening of Prometheus, and because the Film Society of Lincoln Center opens its complete, week-long retrospective of his films this Friday in New York, because it's a quiet morning otherwise and because it's gone so well with other directors in the past, let's rank the 19 feature films of Ridley Scott. The order is obvious:
At a few West Coast theaters this Friday, Diane Keaton’s dog weepie Darling Companion and the documentary Chimpanzee will make room in the theatrical line-up for one more animal movie, the docufiction Otter 501. That’s right. While the rest of the world was distracted by the latest superhero shawarma scandal, the rapidly growing field of wildlife documentaries produced a transmedia movie in a genre you might have never heard of. About otters. And in a few weeks, this spring’s primates, canines, and water weasels will migrate to the DVD shelf, replaced by their summer counterparts in Madagascar 3, Ice Age: Continental Drift, and Piranha 3DD. There will, in other words, always be a creature feature at the movie theater.
For the 14th consecutive year, the folks at Time Magazine have once again passed me over when considering their annual roster of the world's 100 Most Influential People. Heretics! So be it — even an incomplete list is worth visiting judgment upon. Let's check out (and rank, naturally) the film personalities included this year. And to my publicist: You're fired!
You may have heard the news that Sony plans a big-screen adaptation of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the animated series that yielded the Melissa Joan Hart cult TV favorite from the '90s. This time, though? She's a superhero. "The live action film will be an origin story in the vein of Spider-Man, about a young girl coming to terms with her remarkable powers," writes Mike Fleming at Deadline. Of course. I guess it'll work, but I can think of at least 20 TV characters off the top of my head whom I'd sooner see grappling with hero issues:
James Cameron’s Titanic is a stunningly realistic portrayal of a sinking ship, but apparently it just got more real for at least a handful of people. According to some tweets that are making the rounds, some younger Americans had no idea until now that the “unsinkable” cruise liner existed and did in fact hit an iceberg and sink in the Atlantic 100 years ago. What? They didn’t watch Downton Abbey and put two and two together either? (Note: Just like the deceased would-be heirs of Downton, Jack and Rose are fictional. Though something tells us many of the Titanic’s passengers probably had acting abilities comparable to Billy Zane’s.)
There's a movie for every special occasion/holiday, but when it comes to Easter you've got a lot of very, very different viewing options. Why go the traditional bunnies and kiddies route (a la Hop) or take a more pious tack (Passion of the Christ, anyone?) when there are so many other, less predictable ways to celebrate? I'll start with a few to whet your whistle as you dip into the chocolate basket this Sunday...