Bosco’s Year-In Review: 2012
2012 was the first full year of Bosco’s Grindhouse and I’d like to take a look at the year’s best and worst movies. I’ve been reading a lot of lists and, to be honest, they all look the same to me. With these two lists I wanted to try and offer an opinion that wasn’t the same one you’ve been reading for the past few weeks. There were a couple truly great films in 2012 that got almost no love. This makes Joey sad.
The Top 10 Best Films of 2012:
Take three outdated genres (found-footage, superhero, and high school), put them together, and the result is Chronicle, a masterful piece of filmmaking that defies expectations at every turn to create what is one of the year’s most satisfying, and not to mention emotionally rich, stories. Dane DeHaan is the next big actor, Max Landis is Hollywood’s next big screenwriter, and Josh Trank is the industry’s next big director.
This underseen (and underappreciated; it’s earned a 23% approval rating from audiences on Rotten Tomatoes) story of a conflicted writer trying to reconnect with his ex-wife and estranged daughter is a tragic and gorgeous film that refuses to play by any set of cinematic rules. Ethan Hawke and Kristin Scott Thomas give excellent performances, and the film’s last half hour can be described as nothing but hypnotic.
Artistic in some spots, terrifying in others, V/H/S is the year’s, and possibly the decade’s, most innovative horror film. Weaving together five unrelated short films under the umbrella of one guiding narrative, V/H/S had me hooked from its opening seconds. Never repetitive, with great performances, nightmare-inducing scenes of terror, and an honest-to-God utilization of found footage as much more than a cheap trick, V/H/S (and what it represents) is the future of horror cinema.
Brit Marling had my curiosity with Another Earth but with Sound of My Voice, it’s safe to say she has my attention. Although I’m not usually a fan of films that rely on one shocking reveal (I’m looking at you, Cabin in the Woods), Sound of My Voice is backed up by such a subtly terrifying premise, I couldn’t resist myself. On repeat viewings the film only becomes more powerful and if the rumored sequel is actually in production, I’ll try to be ready.
6. Liberal Arts
How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor and his second feature, Liberal Arts, improves upon his debut film, HappyThankYouMorePlease, while also introducing meditations on college, literature, and age without ever sounding preachy or unnecessary. Radnor has a lot to say, and with Liberal Arts, I feel like he’s finally finding a way to say it.
5. The Comedy
This under-the-radar drama is one of the year’s more intriguing character studies. Anti-comedy veterans Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim star in the tragic story of a middle aged hipster coming to terms with reality. Boasting one of the year’s best and, shockingly enough, most subtle performances, Tim Heidecker proves himself to be not only a capable but a compulsively watchable dramatic actor whose skits on Tim & Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! are just the beginning.
4. The Imposter
Most of the movie-going public is, admittedly, not interested by the proposition of a documentary. But director Bart Layton’s shocking, addictive, and stranger than fiction documentary is one not to be missed. With the pace of an action film and a darkly comedic undertone to add a guilty pleasure element to the proceedings, The Imposter is deceptive in more ways than one; and all the better for it.
3. Cloud Atlas
Possibly the most controversial entry on this list (though The Comedy should also be taken into consideration there), Cloud Atlas is nonetheless a revolutionary piece of cinema. Comfortably spanning several eras of human life and casting actors in multiple roles that cross lines of nationality, gender, and race, it’s also a beautifully intimate tale of love and fate in the midst of a chaotic time in human history. Fans of the book, like myself, will probably appreciate it more, but Cloud Atlas is as close to epic perfection as film may ever get.
2. The Grey
This Liam Neeson starring, wolf punching, January releasing hunk of testosterone was already making its way to the top of my “Worst of” list before I walked into that theater. What I got was a heartbreaking and truly gorgeous story of survival and faith in a time of crisis. Liam Neeson gives what is arguably the best performance of his career, and Joe Carnahan’s screenplay mixed with his expert direction make The Grey much more than just another action movie. In fact, The Grey is much more than a movie: it’s an experience.
Speaking of experiences, Paul Thomas Anderson’s last epic, The Master, can definitely be classified as one of those. But it can’t be classified as much else. After three viewings and a lot of sleepless nights, I still haven’t found another interpretation of The Master that’s identical to mine. In fact, I haven’t found two interpretations that are identical at all. Calling them similar would be a stretch of the imagination. What The Master is isn’t a movie. I don’t think it’s even a film. No, to me, The Master is cinema. It’s haunting, it’s beautiful, it’s epic, it’s intimate. It’s everything cinema should be and so much more. It also happens to be a new American classic. Like 2011′s Drive, the Academy will completely disregard this film because it’s just too great.
Yes, I know, having two films in your number one spot is cheating. But this is my website so if you don’t like it you can leave. In all seriousness, why The Master and Oslo, August 31st both deserve the number one spot is because, in retrospect, they’re not very different. Both films deal heavily with addiction, regret, and searching for some kind of salvation while simultaneously resisting the one thing, or one person, who can lead them to that salvation. Both films end with a retribution and both films end with their protagonists coming full circle, starting and ending their journeys in essentially the same place. Argue what you will, but one can’t be mentioned without the other and both films brought me to a catharsis that I had not prepared myself for. Both are masterpieces, and both are destined to be classics.
The 10 Worst Films of 2012:
10. Ruby Sparks
I love Paul Dano, Zoe Kazan, and Little Miss Sunshine, but Ruby Sparks was such a piece of shit misfire on so many levels that it appalled me more than it probably should have. From its unoriginal screenplay to its predictable dialogue, I really did hate Ruby Sparks. And I don’t hate a lot of things…..okay, maybe I do, but still.
Coming from a Spider-Man 3 apologist, I can confidently say that The Amazing Spider-Man is an insult to Sam Raimi’s masterful trilogy. In fact, it’s an insult to superhero movies. Hell, it’s an insult to movies! Nothing in this film worked except for the chemistry between Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, which is believable enough considering this is director Marc Webb’s follow-up to (500) Days of Summer. Maybe we don’t get the romantic comedy guy to make a hero movie. But that’s just me.
Take a great cast, an excellent premise, and a little bit of Angry Jon Hamm. What do you get? Friends with Kids, a movie that ends with the line, “Just let me fuck the shit out of you.” Need I say more? Please, please don’t watch this movie. Please.
The year’s first film was also one of the worst. A by-the-numbers exorcism movie that really adds nothing to the genre and confirms the naysayers who call it contrived and overdone. As for Apartment 143, it’s basically the same movie with slightly better performances and more of an ending than The Devil Inside could muster up, but hey, who cares, right?! Why aren’t these movies higher up on the list? They made me laugh. Screw it.
I don’t want to spend more than a sentence on this movie, but let me say this: Letting historical figures fight mythical creatures in a film that desperately tries to revive a trend that became outdated two years ago is not the way to make a good movie. Put that on the DVD cover you bastards.
I get it, I get it. Everyone loved this movie. It’s like Adaptation with more guns and some great performances, right? Wrong. Seven Psychopaths is obnoxious, tedious, and a half-assed effort from a great director (see: In Bruges). I understand what Martin McDonagh was trying to do here, but the film must have lost its way during the translation from page to screen because there’s something very, very wrong here.
4. Act of Valor
‘MURCIA: The Movie. Movies like this make watching movies feel like a job.
I love Nicolas Cage. I really do. But movies like Ghost Rider make it hard for me to love him. In times like these, I go home, slip into a snuggie, snap into a Slim Jim, and watch Leaving Las Vegas like a champ. Please, Cagey Baby, no more. Do us all a favor. Stop. Please.
Miley Cyrus bitches about her life for 100 minutes and Thomas Jane is reduced to nothing. I’m done. Seriously, I’m just done.
1. Nature Calls
For a long time, I thought LOL would be my number one, but then Nature Calls had to come around and just take a giant dump on my face. Thank you for the years of nightmares that will follow after seeing Patrice O’Neal’s final role be comprised of nothing but obligatory angry black jokes and reaction GIFs. Thank you, Nature Calls, for that WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE!
The Year’s Guilty Pleasures
Yes, this movie is bad. Yes, it features a performance from Josh Peck that is both awful and brilliant in equal parts. But I’ll be honest this film got to me. It’s unsettling and entertaining and clever in ways that I didn’t imagine. Is it a genre-defining piece of horror? No. Is it fun to watch on a lonely Saturday night. Yes.
Of course, this film is on the list for having more Peck-ness. But Josh Hutcherson and Chris Hemsworth turn in decent performances and the film has some slyly deceiving ‘MURCIA throughout that can be construed as a comment on technological advances that teenagers have taken advantage of during the past decade. Technological advances that have made them more immune to the threat of war. But hey, just one guy’s opinion.
Yes, I gave this film a 0.5/5 in my original review. But there’s a reason it’s not in my Top 10 Worst of the Year. And that’s because I couldn’t resist the film’s atmospherics, or how persisting it is in its unrelenting dreariness. For more than ten minutes at a time, our main character walks silently through rooms that offer nothing but death and despair. It’s intriguing to me that an American film could allow for such wordless meditation. If the entire thing had been silent and French people might be calling this a European masterpiece.
Again, another terrible movie that intrigued me with its stupidity. Like ATM, Piranha 3DD isn’t out to make a profound statement like many horror films do. Instead, it gives us many reasons to hate it while also daring us to keep watching. Plus Matt Bush makes me laugh. Same reason I didn’t completely hate High School. That and Adrien Brody, of course. The Brode.
In my defense, this was definitely the best of all the Twilight movies. In your defense, that’s the equivalent of me saying I have the best kind of cancer there is. Yes, Breaking Dawn Part II is bad, but it also embraces its stupidity and offers up the best action scene any Twilight movie, or any PG-13 action movie, has given us in a long time.
This shouldn’t be a guilty pleasure considering Magic Mike is a legitimately good movie, but what straight man doesn’t love himself a slice of beefcake? I came for the abs, I stayed for the politically and economically poignant message regarding the recession, dreams, and Olivia Munn’s boobs. Damn you, Soderbergh.
Again, another legitimately good movie that could have been in my top 10, but I think it fits better here considering how guilty I felt for laughing at this movie. Yes, it’s a comedy. Yes, it stars Matthew McConaughey in another maniacal role. And yes, Juno Temple is in it so that automatically gives it a few more cool points. But like Magic Mike, I went in expecting one thing and came out having just experienced something completely different. Fried chicken and NC-17 ratings just don’t belong together I suppose…
I honestly didn’t understand why everyone hated this movie. Everyone in the cast gave great performances (especially Giovanni Ribisi as a whacked-out gangster from New Orleans), and it didn’t busy itself with unnecessary bullshit that most crime movies burden themselves with. I didn’t constantly know what was going to happen, and the ending twist was actually a pleasant surprise. Yeah, it was dumb, but it also defied my expectations a little more than I expected.
This movie intrigued the hell out of me. Hate me for it. I do.
This is the one that will probably piss the most people off, but that’s alright with me. Peter Berg directed this balls-to-the-wall sci-fi action flick about an alien race invading Earth for a reason only Peter Berg knows. It starred Friday Night Lights, Brooklyn Decker’s boobs, and Optimus Prime, had two people saying motherfucker cut off by gunshots, and also sparked a really great conspiracy theory that I actually bought. Sue me, but I was reminded of the first Transformers movie. By that I mean a good action film.
A 17% on Rotten Tomatoes is no match for my enjoyment of this movie. What could have been an excruciating experience is instantly made compulsively watchable by the way the film’s four protagonists play off one another. The dick joke to jokes about anything else ratio is severly uneven, but I’d be lying if I didn’t walk out of this movie with a big smile on my face.
Movies Everyone Else Loved But Me
David O. Russell is a fantastic director but his seriocomedy about bipolar disorder and dancing just rubbed me the wrong way. I enjoyed most of the film but I found it to be surprisingly dull when compared to the director’s career, which is almost as insane as he is.
This movie made me kind of angry because it tried to skate by on a million and one video game references that never cohered into an enjoyable movie. Tonally it was about as consistent as Halo: Reach, and I just couldn’t bring myself to care about anything that was going on.
For the only time this year, I reviewed the same film twice because I thought I had been missing out on something when I said I didn’t like The Avengers. And while I didn’t hate it as much the second time, it still didn’t hypnotize my senses like the rest of the world. I mean, it had the Hulk, so there’s something?
I’m one of the biggest Tarantino advocates out there. I’ll stand firmly by my conviction that Death Proof is a misunderstood masterpiece and Inglourious Basterds is one of the top ten war films ever conceived, but Django Unchained and I just couldn’t form a bond. I saw it twice in an attempt to see if I was missing something, but I found myself even more tired out and unimpressed upon a repeat viewing. Maybe slavery, Tarantino, and Joey just weren’t mean to have this ménage à trois.
Let me preface this by saying I really enjoyed this movie a lot. But it didn’t cure my erectile dysfunction and cure my AIDS like it seemed to with everyone else. I dig the concept, the execution, and the meta-criticism it offers, but it’s a one-time watch. And any movie, no matter how good or bad, that’s only a one-time watch can never be a classic film.
I respect this movie and what it’s trying to do and say, but I don’t love it like I do The Hurt Locker. In fact, I don’t really even like it that much. I felt it to be cold and uninviting. And if that was the point, which I’m guessing it was, I think the approach to the story was weak and too matter-of-fact for its own good.
Like all of Michael Haneke’s films, Amour and its characters inhabit a cold and harsh reality. But for a tender meditation regarding old age, that doesn’t really work. I didn’t necessarily expect Haneke to break his form for this film, but it almost seemed like he went out of his way to make the point that he doesn’t want emotion to be involved with this emotional story. It’s a little too contradictory for my taste.
Again, another movie I enjoyed very much, but not one I’m going to run through traffic to tell people about. It brought up some very good points and was a beautifully shot piece of work, but it just didn’t alter my perception of reality as drastically as some people.
This is one of the more conflicted entries on the list. On the one hand I respect the film’s craftsmanship, the message its trying to convey, the performance of its miniature force of nature, and the liveliness with which it tells its story. On the other hand, I had a difficult time connecting to the setting and the characters and just about everything this film was trying to do. Whether this is a fault of the film’s or my own I can’t say, but I do know that Beasts just didn’t touch me like it did others.
Named the most underappreciated film of 2012, I would argue that it’s the most overrated. Aside from the great performances, Bernie is an unfocused, tedious, and demented little movie that could never find its footing. I also wasn’t a huge fan of how it almost validated the actions of the real-life Bernie (who is currently serving a life-sentence in prison).
I really liked Argo, but I wasn’t convinced by its intense final act and I was a little confused as to why Ben Affleck was portraying a Hispanic protagonist in a role that would have probably been perfect for…somebody else. Still, the film is expertly written and directed, and Affleck’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies probably came in handy.
A James Bond film by way of John LeCarre is not my idea of a good time. Whereas Casino Royale found a way to balance action and story expertly, Skyfall is consistently bogged down by exposition. Not even the gorgeous cinematography by Roger Deakins (THE DEAKS!) is enough to save this movie.
Movies I Didn’t Get A Chance to See in Time for this Article
The Deep Blue Sea
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
How to Survive a Plague
The Turin Horse
Rust & Bone
Thanks for reading and get ready for an even better 2013!