Oh boy! It’s end of the year reflection time once again. 2012 was another great year on the festival beat with trips to Sundance, SXSW, Cannes, LA Film Fest, Toronto International Film Fest, Fantastic Fest, AFI Fest, and the Amazonas Film Fest making for plenty of hot butt-on-theater-seat action. When it was all said and done (and assuming I kept my records straight), 178 movies qualified for my 2012 list. Each of these films either played at a festival or in theatrical release in 2012, but did not qualify for last year’s list. That’s why some movies that showed up on many critics’ 2012 list, such as Joachim Trier’s Oslo August, 31st, won’t be found here. That film was on my 2011 list (at #3, no less).
Still, there were plenty of potential chart middlers that I was unable to get to. Some popular titles that have made their way to other lists include Amour, Life of Pi, Wreck-it-Ralph, Tabu, Polisse,This is Not a Film, and Total Recall. Sorry — can’t see em all.
As like past lists, I’ve included my original tweet (sometimes a couple) that usually serves as my initial reaction to the film. I’ve also included a link if I reviewed the film on Twitch. This year I’ve also endeavored to include the distribution status for each film so you can know where to find it. Please take the time to drop me a note and let me know your thoughts.
50. BRING ME THE HEAD OF THE MACHINE GUN WOMAN – Chilean low budget genre director Ernesto Diaz Espinoza has been a favorite of mine since his hitman-tastic Mandrill a few years back. His latest is a pulpy, desperado-tinged crime drama that had the Fantastic Fest audience howling. Currently without US distribution.
“BRING ME THE HEAD OF THE MACHINE GUN WOMAN is a crazy exploitation/video game mashup. Worthy MANDRILL followup from Espinoza.”
My review of Bring Me the Head of the Machine Gun Woman at Twitch
49. THE FINAL MEMBER – The Fantastic Fest documentary about an Icelandic penis museum is way more than it seems. Most of all, it’s extremely entertaining. Currently without US distribution.
“Hilarious and fascinating, THE FINAL MEMBER (aka the Dick Doc, or the Cockumentary) proves good chars make for a good doc, not subject.”
48. WAITING FOR LIGHTNING – Jacob Rosenberg’s SXSW debuting Danny Way skateboarding doc is as much about the man as it is about the crazy feat of jumping over the Great Wall of China that acts as the plot’s centerpiece. Samuel Goldwyn Films released the movie in limited theaters in December 2012 and is available on VOD now.
“Danny Way docu WAITING FOR LIGHTNING is a traditional but brilliantly told story, packed with emotion & ridiculously nerve wracking.”
47. SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS – Martin McDonagh’s second feature may not have been as well put together as his debut In Bruges, but it was still an enjoyable action-comedy with a great cast and a handful of really funny moments. CBS released the film in theaters in October.
“7 PSYCHOPATHS is brilliant self refr’tl comedy by 1 of today’s smartest writers. Perfs to match. In Bruges fans won’t be disappointed.”
46. LOS CHIDOS – The Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodriguez Lopez’s latest absurdist drama is part hyper-sexual fever dream and part Mexican telenovela. It is weird as fuck but if the premise sounds cool, you won’t be disappointed. Currently without US distribution.
“Wow. Certainly a lot to unravel in Omar Rodriguez Lopez’s absurdist gender satire LOS CHIDOS. Very graphic. Very stylish. Very bold. “
My review of Los Chidos at Twitch
45. EDEN – Megan Griffiths’s follow-up to Sundance film The Off Hours premiered at SXSW and is a more interesting and rather haunting tale of sexual slavery that is actually more accessible than the subject may imply. Phase 4 will release the film in theaters in 2013.
“Megan Griffiths follows-up THE OFF HOURS w/ another mature work in EDEN; this time with a far more engaging story.”
44. FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL… – Jamie Travis’s feature debut is this fun little Sundance story of Ari Graynor and Lauren Anne Miller starting a phone sex operation out of their apartment. Focus released the film in the summer without a lot of success. It’s available now on VOD.
“FOR A GOOD TIME, CALL is the smart & silly girl power raunch-com you’ve been waiting for. Perfect summer counter programming.”
43. FRANCES HA – Noah Baumbach’s Greenberg follow-up cast’s that movie’s co-star Greta Gerwig as the titular character in her own little awkward black & white world. The plot meanders a bit (not unlike Frances), but it is a very enjoyable film with a few just brilliantly written scenes. IFC bought the film at TIFF and plans to release in May 2013.
“FRANCES HA is at its best during its very funny situational humor, especially the scenes between Greta Gerwig and Adam Driver”
My review of Frances Ha at Twitch
42. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS – Drew Goddard’s meta-tacular horror-actioner is a very difficult premise, excellently executed. Lionsgate released the film to plenty of success not long after its SXSW debut.
“THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is a hilarious horror comedy. It’s extremely enjoyable and an all around well made movie.”
41. THE AGGRESSION SCALE – Steven C. Miller’s SXSW Midnighter is an impressive indie genre thriller with plenty of action that keeps the film moving along at a healthy clip. Anchor Bay released the film in May and it’s now available on VOD.
“Enjoyable midnighter THE AGGRESSION SCALE will get your blood pumping. It’s pretty much Home Alone if Kevin was a psychopath.”
My review of The Aggression Scale at Twitch
40. THE IRAN JOB – This fascinating documentary follows former pro basketball player Kevin Sheppard as he makes a new career for himself playing BBall in Iran’s small but growing professional league. The film got a tiny release from Paladin last fall and is currently not available on VOD or DVD.
39. COSMOPOLIS – David Cronenberg’s divisive philosophical limo ride was most controversial because of the casting of Robert Pattinson. I thought he did fine and the film has plenty of interesting ideas to go around. eOne relased the film in August and it’s now available on VOD.
“COSMOPOLIS works if you think of it as Cronenberg’s WAKING LIFE. A lot of ideas to wade through, but a worthwhile trip into the muck.”
38. HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE – This emotional rollercoaster of a film documents the fight by AIDS patients to gain access to drugs that would eventually prolong their lives. The Academy has rewarded it with a nomination for Best Documentary. Sundance Selects released the film in September and we will hopefully it expand now that it has its Oscar nom.
“HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE is epic and emotional from scene one & worth squeezing in for year end lists. I’d love to see it expanded for TV.”
37. STORM SURFERS 3D – This surf chasing docu is both 3D filmmaking and surf cinematography at their best. If you’re into surfing, seek this out. XLrator Media bought US theatrical rights after TIFF and have yet to announce their plans.
“Bodacious STORM SURFERS 3D defines a new generation of 3D action sports filmmaking.”
My review of Storm Surfers 3D at Twitch
36. THE IMPOSTER – Another great 2012 docu is this Sundance premiering “truth is stranger than fiction” tale of a missing boy and the grown man that assumed his identity. Indomina released the film theatrically in July and it’s now available on VOD.
“THE IMPOSTER is a truly stranger than fiction docu, ripe for remake. Wondering if the extreme stylization adds to the intrigue?”
35. YOUR SISTER’S SISTER – Lynn Shelton’s Humpday follow-up again stars Mark Duplass but this time with two beautiful women (Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt) to fight over him. It’s smart and funny and takes place on the beautiful Puget Sound. IFC released the film to modest receipts in June. You can watch it now on VOD.
“Great performances & a smile-inducing story make Lynn Shelton’s YOUR SISTER’S SISTER is a wonderfully worthy follow up to Humpday.”
34. V/H/S – This found footage anthology (brainchild of Brad Miska and Roxanne Benjamin) has already spawned a sequel that will be premiering at Sundance next week. The original will go down as one of the most buckwild Sundance premieres the fest has ever seen. Magnet released the film last Fall and it’s available now on VOD.
“V/H/S is a bunch of very good filmmakers having fun with a particular medium. Even w/o coordination, interesting themes emerge.”
My review of V/H/S at Twitch
33. THE AVENGERS – It’s not often that big summer tentpoles make my year end best of list, but Joss Whedon’s take on the Marvel superteam was too much of a good time to ignore. The less these movies take themselves seriously, the more fun they are (you hear that Justice League producers?). I’m pretty sure this one played in theaters.
“THE AVENGERS is cosmic comic book popcorn fare at its best. A colorful & light hearted flick that only loses points for its slow opening.”
32. CAROLINE AND JACKIE – Adam Christian Clark and Adam Hendricks’s sibling relationship indie is a very smart drama with particularly strong performances by Marguerite Moreau and Bitsie Tulloch. While there’s no theatrical distribution lined up yet, be sure to give this one a watch if it ends up on a screen near you.
31. ARBITRAGE – Nicholas Jarecki’s dramatic debut is a whip-smart financial thriller with a very strong central performance by Richard Gere. This one’s well worth a watch on Netflix. Roadside found success both in theaters and on VOD when it released the picture in the fall.
“ARBITRAGE is excellently written/directed/performed thriller about wealthy privilege. Might Gere be thinking about statues?”
My review of Arbitrage at Twitch
30. ANTIVIRAL – Brandon Cronenberg’s directorial debut about a weird world of celebrity obsession bested his father’s effort on my list this year. IFC will release the film in 2013.
29. FUNERAL KINGS – This tiny little SXSW discovery is a gem of a story about a couple of misbehaving altar boys who get in over their heads. Kudos to the McManus Bros. for a smart script that never talks down to the audience. Freestyle gave the film a tiny theatrical run in November. No word yet on VOD but it should be coming soon.
“FUNERAL KINGS is an enjoyable indie tale of pre-teen angst, very realistic in its depiction of sneakin smokes and scammin chicks.”
28. PARADISE: LOVE – The first part of Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise trilogy follows a middle-aged Austrian woman as she heads to Kenya looking for love (with Euros to pay for it). It is punch-you-in-the-nose realism, but boy if you won’t be fascinated. Strand Releasing owns US rights and will hopefully put the film into theaters for a 2013 Foreign Language Oscar run.
“PARADISE: LOVE is an incredible experience of a film. Both visually striking & emotionally devastating. Difficult but brilliant.”
27. 21 JUMP STREET – We can argue about whether this 80s throwback laugher started the Channing Tatum renaissance (I think it might have been Haywire), but there’s no doubt Chris Miller and Phil Lord’s second feature was way better than anyone expected it to be. Sony released the film to mega numbers after premiering it at SXSW.
“21 JUMP STREET is both silly and smart; extremely enjoyable with plenty of big laughs for anyone in round-abouts 30 generation.”
26. THE INTERNATIONAL SIGN FOR CHOKING – Zach Weintraub’s tiny Buenos Aires set drama only played a handful of fests. That’s a shame because this is one of the best “mumblecore” films in a long time. No sign of US distribution as of yet.
25. COMPLIANCE – I’ve gone on a real journey with Craig Zobel’s uber-uncomfortable true story of human gullibility since squirming through the premiere at Sundance a year ago. After seeing it a second time and chatting with Zobel, I’ve grown a real fondness for the film and now recommend it whole-heartedly. Magnolia found decent success with the film and it’s now available on VOD.
“Feel like a survivor after COMPLIANCE. Extremely uncomfortable. I hated experience of watching it but am starting to respect it.”
24. LAWLESS – This solidly pulpy prohibition drama from John Hillcoat could have done with more Oldman and Hardy (and less LeBeouf and Wasikowska), but it’s still a whiskey barrel of fun. Released by Weinsteins and now available on VOD.
“LAWLESS does shotgun shootin, jalopy drivin, moonshine bottleggin right. Great performances. Not a ton new but a very solid film.”
My review of Lawless at Twitch
23. ON THE ROAD – Another Cannes premiere that turned out to be better than I’d expected, Walter Salles’s Kerouac-daptation (I’ve really been hoping that would take off) was the kind of literary adaptation that doesn’t overshadow the novel, yet works as an interesting standalone piece of craft. In theaters now from IFC.
“Kerouac-daptation mostly successful. Salles does a commendable job of capturing spirit & velocity of ON THE ROAD in accessible story.”
My review of On The Road at Twitch
22. IT’S A DISASTER – If this hilarious situational comedy from LA troupe The Vacationeers is any sign, these boys will be providing plenty of laughs for some time to come. Oscilloscope has bought US rights with plans to release the film in 2013. Don’t miss it!
“IT’S A DISASTER is a wonderfully funny situational feature that fully commits to its premise. Great acting all around. “
21. PITCH PERFECT – A late addition to my list, this Anna Kendrick college singing comedy by Jason Moore takes a basic plot and injects loads of mature laughs that makes it feel especially fresh. Uni saw plenty of success with their September release and it’s already available on VOD.
“Catch up Dec. continues w/ PITCH PERFECT, an incredibly enjoyable young person comedy w/ more for adults. Divebombed mid-low 20s on my list.”
20. SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED – One of my favorite films from Sundance 2012, Colin Trevorrow’s Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza starrer is just the right mix of comedy, sci-fi, and romance. FilmDistrict got it up to almost 200 screens as summer counterprogramming. It’s available now on VOD.
“Adored SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED! A heartfelt & hilarious love story w/ perfect amount of wackiness, awesome cast, & a great script.”
19. RUBY SPARKS – LAFF’s surprise screening was this clever deconstruction of the manic pixie dreamgirl stereotype written by stars (and real life couple) Zoe Kazan and Paul Dano. Hiring Little Miss Sunshine directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris was the perfect decision for nailing just the right amount of quirk. Fox Searchlight gave it a real shot throughout the summer and fall but the film never really caught fire. It’s available now on VOD.
“Dayton & Faris’s Little Miss Sunshine follow-up RUBY SPARKS is a charm-filled story, propelled by Zoe Kazan & Paul Dano’s chemistry.”
My review of Ruby Sparks at Twitch
18. FILLY BROWN – Youssef Delara and Michael Olmos’s Sundance competition story of a girl trying to make it in LA’s latino hip hop scene is an honest and hard hitting coming-of-age tale that sails on the strength of newcomer Gina Rodriguez. Indomina bought US rights last year and will release in the spring.
“FILLY BROWN is exactly the hard hittin hip-hop drama I hoped. Gina Rodriguez straight kicks ass. A Sundance must see!”
17. ZERO DARK THIRTY – Kathryn Bigelow’s follow up to her Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker is so tense and realistic that it’s under Senate investigation. That may cost Bigelow the Oscar this time around, but it can’t hurt the movie in the box office. Sony took the film wide this weekend and made a boatload.
“ZERO DARK THIRTY is exactly the Bigelowvian action drama they set out to make. HURT LOCKER fans will swoon. Oh, hey HOMELAND’s on tonight…”
16. SIGHTSEERS – Three solid movies so far from Ben Wheatley with Down Terrace, Kill List, and now this. Each is quite different, but I’m calling this latest killer road trip comedy his finest. IFC owns US rights and hopefully won’t be waiting too long into 2013 to bring it to screens.
“Yes! SIGHTSEERS is equally as hilarious as KILL LIST is gonzo and every bit as violent. Funniest movie I’ve seen at TIFF & a definite fave.”
15. ROOM 237 – Rodney Ascher’s The Shining conspiracy docu is catnip for film (and especially Kubrick) fans. I think about this movie all the time and can’t wait to see what Ascher tackles next. I want a Room 237 for every Kubrick movie out there (and plenty of other movies, as well). IFC took it for an awards-qualifying theatrical spin in December but it failed to get many noms. Let’s hope they give it a real release soon.
“ROOM 237 has some pretty incredible theories about THE SHINING. Some are wacko but film nerds will love it.”
14. REALITY – Matteo Garrone’s indictment of our reality obsessed culture is every bit as complex and fascinating as his previous film, the Oscar shortlisted Gomorrah. This is the kind of film that makes a trip to Cannes so special. Oscilloscope has US rights and has yet to announce their release plans.
“Garrone’s Gomorrah follow-up REALITY is another mature & thoroughly interesting look into Italian society, this one more individual.”
My review of Reality at Twitch
13. DOM – A RUSSIAN FAMILY – A movie that almost no one saw when it played Fantastic Fest, this Russian crime family drama is a very mature character study with a first class script. I don’t know if this will ever find its way to US screens (it’s not even on IMDB, for God’s sake), but it’s well worth a watch if it does. Currently without US distribution.
“DOM – A RUSSIAN FAMILY is an engaging drama with a great, guns blazing finale. Impressive that each of many chars developed.”
My review of Dom – A Russian Family at Twitch
12. SPRING BREAKERS – I don’t have to say much about Harmony Korrine’s absurd pop-star soft-porn because there will be plenty said when this film makes its debut from A24 this spring. With its bizzaro story and incredible visuals, this is one audacious and undeniably enjoyable piece of contemporary culture.
“SPRING BREAKERS is bad girl pornographic fantasy of epic proportions; totally self aware (I think…) and a total blast.”
My review of Spring Breakers at Twitch
11. BREAKFAST WITH CURTIS – This teeny tiny movie that made its debut at LAFF takes you into the red wine sipping, ping pong playing, philosophy spouting world of its almost real life characters and makes you never want to leave. It’s pure joy and I pray it will make it to theaters so everyone can experience it. Currently without US distribution.
“In a year filled w/ charming films, BREAKFAST WITH CURTIS is at the top of the heap. The kind of movie you just want to live in.”
My review of Breakfast with Curtis at Twitch
10. DJANGO UNCHAINED – It may not be QT’s finest work and it definitely stretches a bit long, but even those knocks aren’t enough to slide this slavery actioner out of the year’s 10 best films. Out now from The Weinstein Co.
“DJANGO UNCHAINED may not be QT’s best, but it’s a plenty entertaining journey into his vision of the wild west. Performances are top notch.”
“2hrs 45mins may be par for the course for Tarantino, but DJANGO UNCHAINED’s single, mostly linear storyline makes it feel like a long 2:45.”
9. THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES – The only unreleased film in my top 10 is Derek Cianfrance’s follow-up to 2010 Top 10er Blue Valentine. His latest is a triptych with some of the year’s very best performances – especially Bradley Cooper whose recent Oscar nominated role in Silver Linings Playbook pales in comparison to his work in this film. Focus will bring this to screens in March 2013.
“PLACE BEYOND THE PINES is an extraordinarily precise drama w/ complex less-you-know plot. Bradley Cooper shines. Cianfrance a talent.”
8. HOLY MOTORS – There is a whole lot to decode in Leos Carax’s odd and complex ode to cinema, but its beauty might be best experienced if you are able to just sit back and enjoy Denis Lavant’s remarkable performance. This is one movie people will be talking about for a many years to come. Indomina is letting this one run its course in art house cinemas and should be available in VOD shortly.
“HOLY MOTORS. My BA in Film Studies did not properly prepare me. Graduate level studies required for adequate deconstruction.”
7. KILLING THEM SOFTLY – Andrew Dominick’s heavy handed crime actioner was my favorite at Cannes. With the best ensemble cast of the year and style coming out its ears, I remain surprised the Weinsteins weren’t able to do more with this in theaters. Should be available on VOD soon.
“KILLING THEM SOFTLY kicks ridiculous ass! Get ready for plenty of comparison’s to Drive. It’s Top 10 without a doubt. Maybe Num 1.”
My review of Killing Them Softly at Twitch
6. MOONRISE KINGDOM – Wes Anderson’s latest is a joy soaked adventure that celebrates the grace of youth. With a brilliant cast and stunning technical design at every turn, New Penzance is a destination that will be wonderful to revisit on future rainy movie days. Focus released to great success in the summer and it’s now available on VOD.
“MOONRISE KINGDOM is every bit the delightfully wacky whimsical story of young love I’d hoped for. Master craftsmanship by Anderson.”
5. ANNA KARENINA – Though it is obviously a classic tale, Joe Wright’s adaptation was my introduction to Tolstoy’s world of Russian high society. I was immediately smitten and now look forward to reading the novel and further exploring these characters and their world. As adaptations go, Wright has got to be one of the most imaginative. His innovative production design and work to condense the story keep things moving and enjoyable in a way that so many adaptations of great literature fumble. This is a beautiful film that really deserves to be seen on the big screen if the chance is still available. In theaters now from Focus.
My review of Anna Karenina at Twitch
4. ARGO – Regardless of Oscar nominations, it can’t be denied that Ben Affleck has emerged as one of the best directors working in Hollywood today. Argo is an expertly crafted thriller in a world that is a whole lot of fun to visit. This is popcorn cinema at its very best and the kind of movie I’d love to see more of. In theaters now from WB.
“ARGO is the real deal; a tense, emotional, FASCINATING period thriller with an incredible cast. Affleck deserves much credit.”
“ARGO the rare film better seen at press & industry screening. Aud loved (bit many) inside Hollywood jokes. Arkin channels Bingham Ray.”
My review of Argo at Twitch
3. SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS – I’ve been singing the praises of Will Lovelace and Dylan Southern’s LCD Soundsystem concert docu (even getting a quote on the DVD) since I grooved all through the screening at Sundance last January. With its multi-layered narrative, this is a very mature work from young filmmakers who will be fascinating to watch continue to work. Oscilloscope had a bit of luck with their “one night only” theatrical campaign, but you should watch it on VOD now if you missed that.
“LCD Soundsystem’s SHUT UP AND PLAY THE HITS is a near perfect concert doc w/ many cool narrative elements & a slammin performance.”
My review of Shut Up and Play the Hits at Twitch
2. THE MASTER – This was a close call with Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest masterpiece taking the lead in the race after an epic first viewing of the film at Toronto. I walked out of the theater feeling like I really connected with the film and its themes. But an odd thing happened. When I watched The Master a second time about a month later, I didn’t feel the same connection and was left a bit flat. It wasn’t enough to let this brilliant film slip far, but it was enough to knock it back to my second favorite of the year. Maybe upon a third watch, I’ll realize I’ve made some kind of horrible mistake. In theaters now from The Weinstein Co.
“No mincing of words here, THE MASTER is one of the most beautifully told stories ever put on film. A true staggering work of genius.”
“From production design and costumes to music and lensing, THE MASTER could not have been a more expertly executed production.”
“But it’s the raw emotion portrayed by THE MASTER’s incredible cast that is bound to linger. Phoenix, Hoffman, Adams: all 10s.”
“Last words on THE MASTER: It is, in fact, about Scientology, but it’s not the indictment some expected. Instead, it’s about humanity.”
1. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD – With its out-of-nowhere jaw dropping premiere at Sundance permanently engrained as one of the coolest festival experiences of my career, Beasts has been the film to beat since the very beginning of the year. A second magical viewing at LAFF proved it wasn’t just Sundance discovery fever; this film really is something special. With its remarkable nonprofessional actors, whimsical world, and absolutely stunning score, I’m proud to be a fan of this beautiful film. Fox Searchlight saw very decent numbers with their fall release and it’s available now on VOD (and perhaps again in theaters soon).
“BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD is the kind of remarkable film that rekindles your passion for independent cinema. Pure magic.”
My review of Beasts of the Southern Wild at Twitch
And now, a look at a few of the most overrated films of 2012:
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK – I’ve recently heard the argument that the dramatic third act destruction of character motivations that David O. Russell’s film (script) undertakes is actually an ironic commentary on modern cinema. Bullshit. It’s a damaging ploy to cater to story conventions in pursuit of awards and box office success. The worst part is, YOU ALL ARE FALLING FOR IT!! I implore you film going public, resist!
“SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK is the worst king of bloated, self-indulgent romcom that cheats character and plot to manipulate the audience.”
“Looks like it’s gonna be me against the world on SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. So much to pick apart. Like, what kind of an awful sister?!”
“Also, a pro gambler would never, NEVER bet on a week 17 NFL game in November! If the Eagles have already clinched, they’d rest starters.”
CLOUD ATLAS – Being ambitious is not enough. Anna Karenina is a very ambitious adaptation but it succeeds by employing excellent writing and innovative techniques to tell a huge story in a small time. Mixing up the stories in Cloud Atlas is not innovative, it’s destructive. Each of those six stories could be its own movie. Even though some of the visualization may be pretty cool, overall the adaptation is a failure.
“CLOUD ATLAS is remarkable for scope and ambition. Having just read the book, it’s difficult not to judge through adaptation lenses.”
“With a 3 hour running time and a tough 6-stories-in-1 pitch, it’s very difficult for me to foresee CLOUD ATLAS becoming a hit.”
NO – Pablo Larrain’s film about Chile’s 1980s advertising campaign against the Pinochet regime made for a very interesting subject matter. Unfortunately I found it wildly uneven with a backwards set of stakes that left me never feeling the protagonist and his family were in any danger. Add to that a very bold stylistic decision to shoot the movie in video that simply didn’t work for me and I just can’t agree with the Oscar nom for Best Foreign Language feature when there were so many better movies overlooked.
“Larrain’s NO is an interesting story but the stakes seem oddly low & the shallow focus/bleeding colors of video are too distracting.”
FRANKENWEENIE – Another film that isn’t terrible but is definitely not worthy of an Oscar nomination, Tim Burton’s latest is more of the same dull, meandering filmmaking I’ve unfortunately come to expect from the director of late. However, where most of Burton’s films are at least fun to look at, this film’s dull black and white animation was just as visually boring as its completely forgettable characters.
“FRANKENWEENIE is Burton-Lite for kids not ready for the full strength blend. Too many laughs come down to “that looks funny.””
SKYFALL – With all the love the latest 007 was getting from early screenings, I was ready for a return to form for Daniel Craig’s Bond after the tepid Quantum of Solace left me thinking the impressive Casino Royale was just a fluke. What I got was a boring action movie that took itself way too seriously and tried to make up for it by inserting stupid little nods to the world of 007. Who cares about M? Who cares if someone is the new Moneypenny? I want high tech swashbuckling and fantastic spycraft, not a deeply sorrowful moper of a man that’s afraid some old lady might be in danger. The film did have some bright spots but there certainly weren’t many in the second half. All in all, it’s just disappointingly boring.
“Baffled by critical wet dream for SKYFALL. Mediocre actioner at best. 2nd 1/2 slow as gravy. Takes itself too seriously. Story probs abound.”
So, let’s hear it. What’d I nail? What’d I get wrong?