2012-12-28

2012’s Movie of the Year – What Was the Best of 2012?

by Yo Snyder

2012 was an interesting year at the movies. It was marked by
both record highs and record lows. There were spurts where there were just so
many good movies that it was hard to choose what to see, and other times of
longs stretches where there just wasn’t anything anyone wanted to or even should
see. The gaming industry has slowly come to see that gamers want quality titles
all throughout the year. While there’s still the mad rush during the holiday
season, there is a bit more consistency in the quality releases throughout the
year. Hollywood hasn’t quite seemed to catch up with that notion yet. Summer
and the Holidays are still when most of the good movies come out, while the
rest of the year is stuck with low quality titles. If they want better numbers,
they need to put out better movies all year long. Still, there were some great
one this year, and like with games, this is more my “favorites of the year”
than a movie of the year, but since I do have to pick one, I will.

This was probably one of the best years for super hero
movies thus far. Yeah, we had The Avengers
and The Dark Knight Rises, which were
both great, but they weren’t the only ones around. The Amazing Spider-Man kind of got lost in the shuffle between
those two juggernauts, but was actually much better than I was anticipating. In
fact, it was my favorite Spider-Man movie thus far. I really didn’t expect
that. Then there was Chronicle. This
was the “found-footage” take on the super hero genre, and you know what, it
worked really well. In fact, this was the most “grounded”, “what would it look
like if it happened in real life” take on super heroes we’ve seen. Not only
that, but it had a great, emotional core with some truly compelling characters.
Seriously, if you haven’t seen Chronicle,
it’s a must-see, and among a crop of big-time super hero films, this is the
small guy that stands tall with the biggest heroes around.

Another under-the-radar film that I really enjoyed was The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Here’s
the thing; we just don’t get a lot of happy, nice, feel-good movies anymore.
Sure, some thought it was cheesy and totally unrealistic in how nice people
were, but I thought it was great. It was refreshing to see something optimistic,
something that believed in the best, something that wanted to show the best of
people and not their worst. Plus, it’s an all-around great family film. They
don’t make many movies like this anymore, and that’s to our detriment.

2012 was also a great year for sci-fi films. Prometheus was the one most people were
anticipating. It had a great advertising campaign, and the whole “is it or isn’t
it a prequel to Alien” added plenty
of intrigue. In the end, it was a sci-fi film whose ambition exceeded its
grasp. It wanted to ask the big questions, but wasn’t sure about how to explore
the answers, and therefore often didn’t; which left many fans frustrated. Plus,
the whole connection to Alien at
times seemed a bit shoe-horned in just for the sake of it. Not the rousing
achievement most were hoping for, but not a total disappointment either, and it’s
certainly a thought-provoking film. As was Looper.
While it’s not quite in the same class, it’s hard to compare the film to
anything other than Bladerunner. It
has the same gritty, realistic sensibilities despite the sci-fi elements, and
it also has that same dark, bleak tone shot through with brief, bright rays of
light. It’s an unflinching film, a tough one to watch, not one I can truly recommend
because of some of the content, but easily one of the best sci-fi films to come
along in the past decade. It’s challenging, thought provoking, emotional, and
it’s a film that lingers with you long after you’ve seen it. Plus,
Joseph-Gordon Levit’s impression of Bruce Willis is eerily spot-on. It’s destined
to become a cult classic.

Animated films didn’t have quite as big of year as they have
recently, but there were some surprisingly great ones. Brave, from Pixar, didn’t quite live up to my expectations, but
ultimately wasn’t the disappointment I originally thought it was. Hotel Transylvania was a total
surprise; I just didn’t expect it to be so darned entertaining and fun. And Wreck-It Ralph was everything I was
hoping it would be. A Who Framed Roger
Rabbit
for the gaming generation. A niche film that’s still accessible to
everyone, even those who aren’t gaming fans. Toss in the not as bad as they
could or should have been sequels for the Ice Age and Madagascar franchises,
and it was a good year for animated films overall.

2012 was also the year that The Lord of the Rings finally
got the prequel many fans thought would have shown up a long time ago. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
finally hit theaters after many unexpected delays and the unexpected announcement
that Tolkien’s short prequel book would get a movie trilogy all its own. The
jury’s still out on whether or not that was a good idea. The film also garnered
controversy over Peter Jackson’s decision to film it in 48 frames per second,
which I really think boils down to personal taste. In the end, The Hobbit wasn’t quite as good, big or
epic as the Lord of the Rings, but it was an enjoyable and worthy prequel, plus
it was just great to seek Andy Serkis’ Gollum up on the big screen once again.

Finally, the Oscar-bait films. There’s really no other way
to describe Lincoln; it’s just the
type of movie the Academy loves to honor. Still, Spielberg’s biopic on the
final months of Lincoln’s life and his push to abolish slavery is riveting
filmmaking; it’s one of the all-time greats at his very best. Most importantly,
it’s a film that makes one want to learn more about our countries history, especially
one of its darkest chapters; the Civil War and the issue of slavery. Any film
that can do that is an achievement in my book. Then there’s the fascinating
experiment that is Les Miserables. It’s
a live stage musical that’s also a movie. It’s actors playing a role, but
singing all their lines. It’s a strange hybrid of live musical and movie making,
and it’s divided Les Miz fans. Overall, I think it’s an experiment that worked
quite well. It’s not without its flaws, but it was another greatly ambition
project that perhaps fell short, but you have to give them credit for trying.
It probably won’t bring in the awards quite the way some thought, but it’s sure
to get some nods, especially for the outstanding performances of Anne Hathaway
and Hugh Jackman.

All in all, a very interesting year at the movies, but what
was the “Movie of the Year”. Well, for me (and this is surprising because I am
a huge Batman fan) it would have to The
Avengers
. Yes, The Dark Knight Rises successfully
concluded Nolan’s Batman trilogy, and did it well. It’s so rare for a trilogy
to have a great ending (I’m looking at you, Spider-Man), so that alone makes it
quite special. However, The Avengers
was just so much fun. It was fizzy, popcorn, over-the-top, spectacle filmmaking
at its best. It was fast-paced an enjoyable, in turns epic and touching and
dramatic and laugh-out-loud funny. It brought six super heroes onto the big
screen at once, and found a way to let them all shine. And above all, it was
fun. I know I already said that, but it’s the thing that stands out the most to
me. I had fun at The Avengers; the
most fun of any film released this year. And in the end, isn’t that why we go
to the movies, to have fun? That’s why, if I have to pick one, The Avengers is my Movie of the Year.

2013 has plenty of big films on the way, so it should be
another great year of keeping up with them and examining them from a Biblical
perspective, so I hope you join us for another year of fun at the movies here
on The Guide.