Film Threat’s Top Movies of 2012 List

Each of Film Threat’s writers made their own picks for their favorite movies of 2012. Here is my list:

I had a hard time getting to the movies this year. I feel like I saw more bad films than good, though that is probably par for the course. There are several films that might have made the list, only I haven’t seen them. Among them are Moonrise Kingdom, Argo, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, This Is 40, and Seven Psychopaths. Of the films I did manage to catch, these are the ones I liked best:

1. The Cabin in the Woods
Number one with a “hacked off and ett” zombie arm. It’s not often that such a perfect send-up of a genre also serves as a masterful example of that genre.

2. I’m Now – The Story of Mudhoney
If you aren’t a Mudhoney fan when you start watching, you certainly will be by the closing credits. The band has a lot to be bitter about. But they aren’t bitter. In fact, they couldn’t be more gracious. These are guys who love to play music and consistently found a way to keep doing it. Ryan Short and Adam Pease have made an explosive piece of art, fueled by the raw power of Mudhoney’s music that delivers sweet comeuppance to all the folks who did the band wrong over the years.
3. Take This Waltz
Sarah Polley is a brilliantly nuanced filmmaker, mastering the art of “show, don’t tell”. She has the directorial eye of a painter, letting each shot speak volumes about her characters. Michelle Williams and Seth Rogen play no small part in weaving such a complex and morally ambiguous story about the beginning and end of love.
4. Safety Not Guaranteed
This adorable sci-fi offering to the Mumblecore genre re-defines time travel and showcases the dramatic chops of Aubrey Plaza (“Parks and Recreation”) and Mark Duplass (every Mumblecore movie) whilst preserving their comedic charms. It’s rare that a film about time travel will be so enchanting that you don’t even begin to analyze the time-space continuity until long after it’s over.
5. Lincoln
Daniel Day Lewis plays the shit out of one of the most important U.S. presidents in the history of U.S. Presidents. Emanca-motherfucking-pator of the slaves.
6. Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie
It’s not for everyone. In fact, it’s not for most everyone. But if you’re a fan of Tim Heidecker & Eric Wareheim’s surrealistic shock humor, you’ll probably laugh a lot while watching this film.
7. Grassroots
It’s amusing that one of the greatest political films I’ve ever seen is about something as seemingly insignificant as the 2001 Seattle City Council race. Stephen Gyllenhaal’s clever script is about more than just local government. In a presidential election year, it was inspiring to watch the “mostly true” dramatization of an unemployed alt weekly journalist who decides to take local politics into his own hands despite tremendous odds and a pessimistic political climate. Between “Grassroots” and “Lincoln”, I’m just swelling with democratic pride this year.
8. Looper
Another time travel goodie starring a digitally de-handsomed Joseph Gordon-Levitt, playing a young Bruce Willis who is hired to kill his future self. Even though they eventually do get into it, writer/director Rian Johnson gets major points for making Bruce Willis utter the line, “I don’t want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then we’re going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws”.
9. Old Goats
A well-told micro-budget story of a group of old men who are having trouble getting into the swing of retired life. It serves as a good reminder that even though it’s not over till it’s over, it’s never too early to start mulling over what you want to have done with your life.
10. Phantom of the Paradise
It’s probably not fair to include a film that came out in 1974 when there were other great films that came out in 2012. But it’s because of a mediocre 2012 film that I discovered this old gem, which immediately shot straight to my top 20 films of all time. “Paul Williams, Still Alive” profiles the titular prolific genius songwriter responsible for the songs of “Phantom” as well as a significant amount of musical masterpieces, including “The Rainbow Connection” and “Rainy Days and Mondays”. Williams also played a lead part in this stylized horror re-telling of “The Phantom of the Opera.” Nicolas Cage cites it as the film that made him want to be an actor. 30 seconds into the opening credits, you understand why that is. Brian de Palma was never as irreverent and groundbreaking and Paul Williams was instrumental in that mindblowing result.

Honorable Mentions:

The Comedy
There are very few people I would actually recommend this film too, but it gave me plenty to mull over and Tim Heidecker gives a beautifully understated dramatic performance about a trust fund asshole who is trying to deal with his father’s impending death.

Killer Joe
Juno Temple may be British, but I still consider her an American national treasure. I’ve never seen her do anything less than nail every single role. Here, she plays an underestimated trailer-dwelling teenage girl.

Liberal Arts
Josh Radnor (“How I Met Your Mother”) wrote, directed and stars in this excellent film, which could be considered a companion piece to “Old Goats.” Turns out there are a lot of parallels between the crises of 30-somethings and 60-somethings. Furthermore, Elizabeth Olson somehow manages to play a manic pixie dream girl without being annoying about it.

Wonder Women! The Untold History of American Superheroines
Great documentary about the woeful lack of female superheroes in popular media and the impact that has female genre fans.

Read the other lists at Film Threat.

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