January 4, 2013

My Favorite Things of 2012

2012 came and went and the apocalypse never arrived!  Thank goodness because I am very much looking forward to 2013, although it will be hard to top the amazing entertainment that 2012 gave us.  Here are my favorite things this year:


1) Cabin in the Woods
It is rare that a film will rocket past even the loftiest of expectations and defy "Best of the Year" lists to instantly claim its right among "Best of All-Time" lists.  Cabin in the Woods is that film.  Rookie Drew Goddard expertly directs the film I wish I made from a hilarious, terrifying, captivating, ingenious, masterfully-crafted script by the incomparable Joss Whedon.  The elevator sequence goes down in history as one of the most memorable horror movie moments ever and leads in to a third act that even a non-fanboy would call a joyously entertaining cinematic spectacular. 

2) Django Unchained
What can I say about this film that hasn’t already been said?  The entire movie-going community agrees that Django effing rules!  In true Tarantino form, the verbal confrontations are just as good (if not better) than the outstanding edge-of-your-seat, blood-splattering, hyper-violent action sequences in this highly satisfying American fantasy.

3) Safety Not Guaranteed
And the award for best performance of the year goes to Mark Duplass as a one-eared time-traveling pioneer in search of a companion.  Perhaps the biggest surprise is that newcomer Derek Connolly's decidedly indie script about defying convention unconventionally delivers a wholly conventional cinematic finale that elicits cheers and warms the heart. Like Elliot and E.T. taking flight or Luke firing his photon torpedoes into the Death Star exhaust port, this is warm-fuzzy movie magic.

4) Sound of My Voice
This raw and riveting journey down a cult rabbit hole kept me guessing all the way through.  The charismatic and intense Brit Marling orchestrates a nail-biting film that creeps its way in to your soul with an unsettling intimacy.    

5) The Innkeepers
Sara Paxton and Pat Healy portray the two most loveable small town innkeepers-turned-ghost-hunters in Ti West’s superb follow-up to 2009’s cult classic House of the Devil.  Touching human moments and genuine humor endear the characters to the audience while an unbearable suspense builds underneath, as the inn’s secrets are uncovered.  

6) The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky adaptation of his own novel is one of the finest depictions of modern American teenage life ever committed to film, even if the amount of issues the plot deals with is a bit over-the-top.  The superb cast led by Logan Lerman effortlessly charm their way in to the hearts of anyone that has ever felt like an outsider. 

7) Argo
While real life may not have been quite so suspenseful, there is no denying that this is simply excellent filmmaking.   The exposition is clear, the characters are real, the goals are set, and the audience is whisked away to Iran, 1980 for a captivating 120 minutes.

8) Wreck-It-Ralph
Walt Disney Animations Studios out-Pixars Pixar this year with the extremely clever, nostalgia-filled, romp in to the world of video games.  With equal parts thrills, humor, and heart, Wreck-It-Ralph is an instant classic of the digital generation.  It’s genius, however, is in the details.    

9) Silver Linings Playbook
Tour-de-force performances from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence entertain in this enlightened script about mental illness in contemporary life.  A surprisingly subtle return to the silver (linings! lol) screen from Chris Tucker is icing on this crowd-pleasing rom-com cake. 

10) The Hunger Games
Guilty!  Lock me up!  More than any of the massive comic-book movies released this year, I loved getting sucked in to the new and detailed post-apocalyptic universe of Katniss & company.  Purposely avoiding the books, I was completely captivated and cannot wait to find out what is next in store for ‘The Girl On Fire’.

Runner’s Up:  Lola Versus, Premium Rush, Goon, The Amazing Spider-Man, Frankenweenie


Catfish: The TV Series
Nev Schulman brings the online identity investigation skills from his hit documentary to the small screen in the immensely suspenseful and highly captivating Catfish: The TV Series.  There is something sadistically entertaining about knowing and watching the inevitable disappointments as the twisting truths about online lovers is revealed.  However, it is Schulman’s enthusiasm, compassion, and genuine desire to better the lives of his documentary subjects that really makes the show special.   In the final episode this year we had the privilege of witnessing true love, real love, an unconventional and


 Adventure Time
Rather than jumping a shark or slowly fading into nonexistence, Adventure Time stepped up its game with consistently more hilarious and weird instant classic episodes than ever before.  The characters only became more enthralling as we were treated to much mythology and back-story this year as well as more formidable foes.

Game of Thrones
What can I can, it's the best.

Mark Duplass - Safety Not Guaranteed
Michael Shannon - Premium Rush
Matthew McConaughey -  Magic Mike
Brit Marling - Sound of My Voice
Greta Gerwig - Lola Versus/Damsels In Distress
Sara Paxton - The Innkeepers


Some Nights - Fun.
Thank you 2012, for introducing me to the incredible music of Nate Ruess and company.  Poetic lyricism combine with melodious sing-along choruses and vocal theatrics in this celebratory album.  The opportunity to see the band's incendiary live show this year truly solidified my fandom.  Plus, I don't think any songwriter references his love for his parents as much as Ruess does in Some Night, I appreciate that.


I thoroughly enjoyed both of Tim Burton's film releases this year, Dark Shadows and Frankenweenie, more than I have enjoyed a Tim Burton film in a good long while.  I'm sure getting the opportunity to interview Frankenweenie's producers, Don Hahn and Allison Abbate, had a little to do with it.  Both were a return to classic Tim Burton territory of dark humor, colorful macabre, and inspired weirdness.  While neither will be remembered as landmark cinematic achievements, they sure felt like coming back to a welcoming and comfortable home after a long, long journey.


The two latest Pixar releases have, undoubtedly, been their worst (Cars 2 and Brave), hopefully 2013's Monsters University will break this trend!  What most disturbed me about Brave is that fact that it blatantly steals major plot elements directly from a recent, far superior, yet largely forgotten Disney film, 2003's Brother Bear!


The Devil Inside
This fake documentary is so stupid and pointless and unscary that I’m ashamed for even mentioning its name.

It’s just guys shooting at guys.

Chernobyl Diaries
There has perhaps never been a more generic horror movie than this people-running “thriller”…at least Jesse McCartney gets eaten by mutants.

Paranormal Activity 4
This is a major disappointment after the surprisingly effective third installment of the franchise.

The Woman in Black
Welcome to snoozeville England, 1900 and something-or-other.

Pacific Rim, John Dies at the End, The Evil Dead, Oz: The Great and Powerful, Frozen

And that wraps it up for 2012, what a wonderful year it was!  Have an amazing 2013, everybody!

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