A new year is now a week old and if you caught last week’s show, you know that we here at Geek Hard have been looking back at the past year and giving our stamp of approval to the Best of the Best in 2012. Sure, I know, everybody else posted their lists weeks ago. Well, we might be the last to the table but 2o12 ain’t done until we’ve had our say. So over the next couple of days, I will be posting my personal favourites of the past year. This list might not look like other critics’ lists but I got to be honest, since when have other critics had as much fun at the movies as I have? So, without further ado, here is my selections for the 10 Best films of 2012:
#10 – Cabin in the Woods
This one was a late addition to my list as I did not get to see it when it hit theatres. A great deal of folks told me I HAD to watch this film, stating that I would think it was AWESOME. Well it took me long enough but I finally watched the flick and was happily surprised by this fresh take on what I thought was a tired premise. A group of friends go to a secluded cabin to enjoy a weekend of debauchery but little do they know that something is lurking in the woods. Sounds familiar, right? Well, there’s even more in those woods than you would think. And to top it off, death might be guaranteed in this tale but the “how” isn’t the story. it’s the why. I enjoyed the performances and was intrigued for the entirety of this film. If you were like me and passed on this flick initially, you’re doing yourself a great disservice by not seeing it. And this coming from a guy who doesn’t really dig horror.
#9 – Argo
This film is not necessarily geeky, but it’s definitely a great film. The third picture directed by Ben Affleck, this film had a lot of hype leading up to it. That usually doesn’t bode well for a film in my book. Thankfully, this flick had the acting, the direction, the story and the characters to transcend the hype. Based on a true story, it’s a dramatization of the joint CIA-Canadian Embassy secret mission to extract 6 American diplomatic personnel from revolutionary Iran using the guise of a Canadian film crew scouting locations for a sci-fi film. Maybe it’s a bit geekier than I thought. A great deal of this tale is told from the perspective of the Americans and I know this became a point of contention with Canadian audiences. As a Canadian, I can say honestly that I don’t think Canada got the short end of the stick in this as I feel we were represented well. There’s a great deal of character performances in this that almost steal the movie. Alan Arkin and John Goodman are great. And even though it’s only a few seconds of screen time, Michael Parks’ performance as comic legend Jack Kirby was spot on. The most amazing thing about this film is Affleck’s use of dramatic tension in the 3rd Act. We already know the outcome of this film, yet Affleck is able to get us to second guess the ending. If you don’t like this movie, I got 3 words for ya: Argo Fuck Yourself!
#8 – Seven Psychopaths
I now know that if you want to make an awesome film all you need is Christopher Walken and a little dog. Seven Psychopaths might not make others’ lists but for me, this was a film that I felt a great kinship towards. Playing with the idea of “meta” film making, this film strongly refers to its own conventions. Colin Farrell plays a screenwriter whose relationship is on its last legs and spends more time with a bottle than in front of his computer. He’s sold a script on the title alone, Seven Psychopaths. Unfortunately for him, a title is all he’s got. But with a little help from his friends and a few chance meetings, the psychopaths and the story for his screenplay materialize around him. If you’re a film buff, a screenwriter, or someone who just enjoys story deconstruction, this film is for you. Sam Rockwell gives a great showing here and Farrell does a great job as straight man for the piece. But without a doubt, the film is stolen by Christopher Walken and a little dog.
#7 – The Raid: Redemption
This film had its North American release in 2012 so I am counting it as eligible for this list. The premise is simple. 30 tactical force police officers raid a 30 floor high rise apartment. On the top floor is a drug lord they’re attempting to take down. The other 29 floor are filled with some pretty vile criminals and a hell of a lot of obstacles. With a story set up that feels like a video game it’s not only a pretty cool film to watch but has already influenced others. Dredd 3D did not make my list solely based on this fact. The action is intense and doesn’t let up. It the best action movie of the year, hands down.
#6 – Moonrise Kingdom
This film danced around my top 5 for most of the year. The latest film from Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom is a coming of age story in the style that he’s become known for. It’s sixties influence is front and center as it’s the first film he’s made to actually take place in the era. 2 young lovers (and I mean young) run away from their hum drum lives to have an adventure. This of course causes upheaval in the lives they’ve left behind and a search party is put together to find them. With great performances from Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand, and Edward Norton and some fantastic dialogue, this film was extremely endearing. The two lead actors, Jarad Gilman and Kara Hayward, really shine in this piece especially. For anybody who’s never fit in, this film will warm your heart.
#5 – Django Unchained
Bad-Ass! That’s all I really have to say about this film. It’s everything you’d expect. If you were soured by the bait and switch that was Inglorious Bastards, a film that was good but not the film we were sold by the trailers, Django makes up for it in spades. Quentin Tarrantino has been dying to make a film like this for years. His love of spaghetti westerns is front and center. Blaxploitation and Revenge pictures are also payed tribute in this story of a freed black slave who becomes a bounty hunter and makes it his mission to free the woman he loves from the Candy Land Plantation. The chemistry between Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz is perfect and Waltz does a great job of playing the exact opposite of everything we saw of him in Quentin’s last film. Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo Dicaprio are another great onscreen duo in this flick as they are equal parts evil and hilarious. What I like most about this film is that the bad guys get theirs and the good guys win….eventually. For a long film, it plays pretty tight with no real drags in the storytelling at any points. And the action, while spaced out in the movie, delivers in graphic detail. As per usual for a Tarrantio movie, the soundtrack kicks ass, as does the rest of the film. Hands down, most Bad-Ass film of the year!
#4 – Safety Not Guaranteed
There are films that come along every so often that hit you at just the right time in your life where you can see them for their fullest potential. This little story of a magazine intern who, along with two other employees from her work, heads out on assignment to contact a man who’s placed a personal ad seeking a companion for Time Travel was such a film for me. Aubrey Plaza brings us Darius, a disgruntled, disenfranchised twenty-something who after meeting Kenneth, the would-be time traveler played by Mark Duplass, sees something that she hasn’t seen in quite awhile. Hope. This quirky little comedy says its okay to keep dreaming big dreams ’cause they just might come true and says it in a way that is both charming and hilarious. With great supporting performances from Jake Johnson and Karan Soni, this was the feel good movie of the year in my opinion. It’s all about being genuine and this film is just that.
#3 – Chronicle
This film astounds me. It’s a “found footage” film that’s about super powers in the real world. All the elements should have equaled a recipe for disaster. But instead we get this fantastic film from Josh Trank with an innovative script by Max Landis. It explores some classic “comic book” themes like the responsibility of those with power and the origins of a hero but does so from a very fresh perspective. Also, the film is about telekinesis, which comes into play as a quick fix for the usual shaky cam associated with found footage films. But all of this is just window dressing. The performance by Dane DeHaan as the unassuming Andrew Detmer is what’s really on display. Throughout the film, he goes from being the outcast that we can relate with to the kid with powers who’s found something he’s finally good at to the power hungry animal that needs to be put down. Thanks to all involved here on proving to me that you can make a found footage film that doesn’t suck.
#2 – Goon
I originally saw this film at the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival and fell in love with it immediately. The ultimate underdog story, some are calling it the Rocky of Hockey. Sean William Scott stars as Doug Glatt, an ex bouncer who falls into playing as a goon for a local hockey team. His abilities as a brawler get him sent up to the minor leagues where he ends up playing for the Halifax Highlanders. His job is to protect the star player, Xavier LaFlamme, who resents having a protector. Add to this the pending showdown between Doug and longtime Hockey goon Ross “The Boss” Rhea, played by Liev Schrieber, and a love interest in Alison Pill and you’ve got not only a great ensemble cast, but also 3 very well defined stories that do a great job of not stepping on each other and weave together in the 3rd act for some great dramatic moments. This film has a great mix of comedy and drama and is all heart. My hat goes off to Jay Baruchel, who not only is a supporting character in the film but also wrote this amazing screenplay with Evan Goldberg. I also have to give props to the amazing Mike Dowse for directing a hockey film that feels like real Hockey.
#1 – Marvel’s The Avengers
I know you were expecting this one to be on the list and I couldn’t disappoint. This was, without a doubt, the best superhero film of all time. 4 years of buildup with Iron Man‘s 1 and 2, Thor, and Captain America, lead to the perfect payoff. With a strong script, great performances, a thrilling 3rd act battle on the streets of New York, catchy dialogue, a deliciously evil showing from Tom Hiddleston as Loki, and a tribute to Shawarma at the end, this film had everything. Joss Whedon was able to take the plum pieces that were given to him by everyone that worked on this film and place them perfectly for a work of cinematic art. After years of saying that no one could pull off a hero team movie, Marvel Studios proved them all wrong and produced the best damn movie of the year. I can’t wait until we get to the see Avengers assemble on the big screen again. Nuff Said.
So there you have it. My picks for the 10 Best Geek Films of 2012. Let me know what your picks are by leaving a comment.
If you’re gonna geek out, Geek Hard!