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Tuesday, December 04, 2012
First of all, the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA), the boxing of the 21st century, doesn't interest me. It's unnecessarily violent and injury-prone. So when I first heard about this little movie called "Warrior" coming out, I didn't give it a second thought. But then a friend or two had some glowing things to say about it, so I thought I'd check it out. Wow, am I glad I did. It will remain one of my favorite movies of all-time for many years to come, so much so that I've already re-watched the last 30 minutes of the film a half dozen times. From a great story of redemption to brilliant acting (Nick Nolte and Tom Hardy deserved Oscars) to one of the greatest closing songs ever, this powerful movie was easily my favorite of the year. I give additional props to the production team in leaving out unnecessary R-rated content which could have so easily found its way into the film.
Honorable Mention: The Descendants, Win Win, A Separation, Looper, Argo, Flight, Anna Karenina, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Safety Not Guaranteed
~ The Guard
There were some high-profile comedies released this past year, and while some were very good (Silver Linings Playbook and Seven Psychopaths) and others overrated (Moonrise Kingdom), the one that stood out for me as the funniest film I saw this year was "The Guard". Starring Brendan Gleeson (a comic genius) and Don Cheadle, this movie is about a rural Irish cop in over his head (or is he?) in dealing with drug dealers and hit men. It's hilarious.
Honorable Mention: The Muppets, What to Expect When You're Expecting, Silver Linings Playbook, Hope Springs, Ted, Seven Psychopaths
~ The Avengers
This is a tough category, as there were so many solid action films this year. But in the end, I have to give it to the Avengers. Not much needs to be said about a movie that blew away nearly every box office record this past summer, so suffice it to say that this film was WAY more fun than it had any right to be and was the first movie to make The Hulk actually fun. Once again, Joss Whedon proves himself a genius behind the camera.
Honorable Mention: The Man from Nowhere, Ip Man 1&2, Safe House, Chronicle, Men in Black 3, Dark Knight Rises, Looper, Headhunters, Skyfall
~ The Muppets
While action movies were doing well in 2012, family flicks were experiencing a down year. There were several decent ones, but nothing great. So I'm giving it to the Muppets for once again charming a new generation. Sit down with your family and check out this film for all ages.
Honorable Mention: Hugo, Madagascar 3, Tintin, The Odd Life of Timothy Green
Best Chick Flick
~ Anna Karenina
My wife and I had to go to a little single-screen indie theater to catch the new cinematic edition of Tolstoy's masterpiece, "Anna Karenina". We found ourselves surrounded by Russian expats, some of whom probably hadn't been to a theater since Omar Sharif played the titular character in Dr Zhivago. And like that 1965 film, the story of Karenina centers on her marital infidelity and the huge costs that comes with it. A lesser director would have merely followed the script laid out for him by Tolstoy. But this director dazzles the viewer with a unique film set that evokes a Russian theatre. Quite enjoyable!
Honorable Mention: What to Expect When You're Expecting, Hope Springs, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
~ The Man from Nowhere / Ip Man
I can't choose, so I'm naming two movies as the best foreign flicks of the year. "The Man from Nowhere" is a great Korean film about a man with a secret who comes to the aid of a neighbor. "Ip Man" is actually two movies, the first takes place during in China during WWII, while the other shows us a few years later. Ip Man was Bruce Lee's master, and this story of heroism was very enjoyable to watch.
Honorable Mention: Headhunters, A Separation
Best Movie You've Never Heard Of
~ Safety Not Guaranteed
This was a fun little flick about time travel that avoids some of the cliches and mistakes of other films while giving us some real character depth. The ending is not one you see coming...
Honorable Mention: Jeff Who Lives at Home, Rampart
Worst Movie of the Year
~ One Day
Vacuous and depressing, this one is not worth a rental. And if you come across it in a few years on TNT, you may want to consider immediately calling Comcast to cancel your cable subscription. Enough said.
Honorable Mention: The Lorax, Friends with Kids, Moonrise Kingdom (mostly because of how over-hyped it was)