Going to the Movies in 2012…

Because I can’t remember most of this last year, I will abstain from a detailed review of the year itself.  There are a lot of things to evaluate from this last year – how I’ve handled my unemployment, my progress on completing my Master’s Thesis, the changes in my son’s education status… but really I don’t want to take the time to think through all of that – so instead, I’m going remember all the fun movies I saw this year.

I go to the movies for entertainment.  I’m not a Serious Film Connoisseur.  I do love some art films and count some of the great independent films among my favorites.  But really, the darkened movie theater, giant bin of popcorn and enormous bucket of sugary lemonade are all compliments to a screen filled with fun and action for me.  Escape and enjoyment.  That’s what I love – and it’s usually what I need — so I go to the movies.  This year’s few movies that I REALLY loved were just pure escapist entertainment.

My Top 4 Action Movie Favorites of 2012:

(runners up: Safe House, Bourne Legacy, Hunger Games)

4. Looper  – I am a Sci Fi geek girl and so I will usually try any Sci Fi offering unless it looks completely ridiculous, it’s a genre I never got into, or it’s more tilted on the horror side (NOT a horror fan).  I especially love time travel because I just can’t get my head around it. Looper was a surprise pleasure – not only because of the original take on time travel, but also because of the storyline itself, the contemplation about fate vs. free will, and the acting of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis.

While it didn’t keep me guessing in the classic sense, it kept me wondering how they would end it.  I was fairly and pleasantly surprised with how they handled the ending of the story…or rather, the beginning…?  The fact that JGL was made up to look like a younger Willis really brought out his acting ability as well because you didn’t feel like you were looking at JGL himself.

3. Dark Knight Rises – Obviously the cinematography of this movie can’t be overstated – it was on a scale that goes way beyond “grand.”  I have some annoyances with Christian Bale’s Batman – most likely because I am of the age when Michael Keaton’s Batman transformed the franchise – and he was funny.  Bale is anything but funny.  Also his Batman voice sounds like he decided it would somehow be more authentic if he chewed on gravel while saving the world.


But besides that, it was a great finale to the trilogy’s storyline – really, really bad guy.  Great Cat Woman. Excellent closure with Alfred.  …and the emergence of a really, really cool Robin.  There is all kinds of in-depth analysis that can be done on the character of Batman.  But really, the best part was the adventure.  All in all, fantastic action and great escape.

3. Skyfall – Despite my concerns regarding the British Secret Service in real life, the James Bond fantasy has always been one of my favorites.  I have shared a love of Bond films with my dad over the years, and this year, we went together for the 50th Anniversary Bond film, Skyfall.  Beyond its gorgeous cinematography, it was classic non-stop Bond action.


But what really made this the best Bond film I’ve seen since Connery was the… Connery-ness of it.  It was perfect because of its homages to classic Bond films, including the Aston Martin (complete with ejector seat) the low-tech gadgets, the classy costuming, and the Shaken-Not-Stirred Coolness of it all.


1. Avengers — A.W.E.S.O.M.E.  I can’t remember a more entertaining film in a long time.  It helps that I’m a huge Marvel fan and each of the characters was really well developed prior to this event.  It also made a massive difference to have Joss Whedon direct.  While I consider myself a Whedon devotee, this really surpassed my expectations of adventure and fun.

The writing was wonderful, the characterization of the Hulk, and the ancillary characters were all amazing.  Even the Whedon curse of killing off a beloved character was horribly awesome.  When a great movie leaves you wanting to immediately see the sequel, it did its job.  This is one I would see again and again just for the pure fun of it.

My Top FILM of 2012.  There is a difference, I suppose, between “films” and “movies.” I tend to prefer “movies,” because of the afore-mentioned desire for escape and entertainment.  But I also like true films – the occasional drama and wonderfully written and acted art that can stun us on the big screen.  This year, my absolute favorite was:

Les Miserables — I have already posted extensively about this film in my other areas of writing, so not to be repetitive, but WOW.  I am a devoted fan of this theater production – I first saw it as a teenager at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC.  I then saw it 4 more times, including in NY and London.  Thanks to Victor Hugo, it is one of the most compelling stories we have, and the musical itself made the story truly come alive.  The operatic nature of this production in addition to the incredibly brilliant set work make the theater version inescapably stunning.  So I had high hopes when I heard that the director the film was hoping to keep it as close to the stage version as possible, and that the film was trying something completely new: live singing.


For me, it worked.  Having the film allow such up close and personal contact with the characters while they sang added a new dimension to the production that just soaked me with the passion and tragedy of the story.  I was blown away by Hugh Jackman’s interpretation of Jean Valjean and I thought that the secondary characters were obviously chosen for their voice abilities, and it showed.  Marius’ “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” was the best I’ve ever experienced, of any of the stage productions I’ve seen.  I loved that there were added details from the book that aren’t in the original stage version (selling the teeth), and the switch of “Lovely Ladies” and “I Dreamed a Dream” really worked, I thought.  I didn’t even mind the new song stuck in there, it gave some momentary respite from the endless tragedy.  There was so much to this film, and I don’t want to do an in-depth review here (for a fantastically funny and on-target review of the songs, check out Jezebel’s review) — but the fact that I saw it five days ago and the music is STILL echoing in my head and I”m STILL entranced by the scenes and the characters tells me that this was truly a successful transition from stage to screen.  I hope to see it again on the big screen soon before it goes away.

The 2012 Films I Still Really Want To See:

Hyde Park on the Hudson
Moonrise Kingdom
Silver linings Playbook
Jack Reacher
Django Unchained
The Total Recall Remake

Alright, well there’s one list from 2012.





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