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I know film critics say this every December, but it’s true; this has been a great year for movies. Yes, there have been a few bumps along the way (ten of them are featured below) but for the most part, this year’s cinema experiences have been spectacular.
We’ve had a summer of superhero blockbusters taking over the box office, including the incredibly enjoyable The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble), and the epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises. And as Oscar season heats up, we’ve had some great award contestants from Ben Affleck’s Argo to Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. Oh, and there was the small matter of James Bond’s 50th anniversary, celebrated in style with the superb Skyfall.
So here are my ten best and worst films of the past year. Please note that this list is based on their release date in the UK, so some will have technically been released in the US during 2011.
Let’s start by getting the rubbish out of the way:
10 Worst Films of 2012
10. Silver Linings Playbook (Dir. David O. Russell): A lot of people are tipping this for Oscar success, but that is part of the problem. It’s clear Oscar bait from start to finish, and that’s a little annoying. It’s very uneven, the humour is rather cringe worthy, Robert De Niro is irritating, and poor Bradley Cooper is left to twist in the wind with a bad script. Jennifer Lawrence is superb; that’s the only redeeming feature.
9. Alex Cross (Dir. Rob Cohen): This was the film that was supposed to bring the Alex Cross franchise back to life after a stuttering start with Along Came a Spider and Kiss the Girls. Matthew Fox even features as a homicidal maniac. Instead the end result is just a formulaic bore with loud noises. James Patterson fans would be wise to stay away.
8. Snow White and the Huntsman (Dir. Rupert Sanders): This is a film that thinks it’s something new and impressive. Instead it’s the same old claptrap they keep forcing on us because a lot of people like Twilight. It’s aimless and doesn’t really go anywhere. It made a fair bit of money though. A sequel is already on the cards – oh, the joy.
7. Gone (Dir. Heitor Dhalia): When it was coming up to the release of Gone, the studio decided it didn’t want to do much press coverage. They’d probably just watched it. It’s got straight-to-DVD written all over it, so it’s bewildering that it actually turned up on cinema screens, and not many of those either.
6. Men in Black 3 (Dir. Barry Sonnenfield): Men in Black 3 sports the biggest plot hole of the year, when Will Smith’s J appears miraculously immune to the effects of time. Tommy Lee Jones appears on all the posters, even though he’s only in it for ten minutes, and they had to stop filming while they tried to fix the script. They should have tried harder.
5. Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (Dir. Timur Bekmambetov): Seth Grahame-Smith’s book contains a lot of tongue-in-cheek and dark humour. The film takes itself way too seriously, and is filled with very poor CGI. The book is good, the adaptation is terrible.
4. Red Lights (Dir. Rodrigo Cortes): It’s hard to believe that this is from the same director who brought us the gripping Buried. Despite the all-star cast, this is just a dreary mess. And just when you think it couldn’t get any worse, it has a “twist” ending that just beggars belief. A crying shame.
3. Taken 2 (Dir. Olivier Megaton): The first instalment of Taken was one of the most deliriously fun films of the decade. The sequel is just a series of loud, ridiculous events. The writer Luc Besson said he wasn’t interested in making a third film, until he saw how much money Taken 2 had made and has now changed his mind. He really should have focused on the fact that it’s total bile.
2. Top Cat: The Movie (Dir. Alberto Mar): Really?! I mean, are they kidding with this? Apparently Top Cat is very big in Mexico, so they made their own terrible film version, voiced by actors who sound nothing like the original characters. Top Cat fans should stay away from this if they value their sanity. Just watch the repeats on Boomerang, you’ll be much happier.
1. This Means War (Dir. McG): So once again McG proves that he’s completely incompetent when it comes to directing movies. This film is filled with so much creepy, uncomfortable, and voyeuristic humour that it makes you want to tear your own eyes out just to have something else to do. The stars Chris Pine, Tom Hardy, and Reese Witherspoon all deserve so much better than this pile of absolute dreck. To summarise – I hated it.
10 Best Films of 2012
10. Shadow Dancer (Dir. James Marsh): One of the opening scenes of Shadow Dancer is shot in complete silence as a bomb is planted on the London underground. It’s one of the most tension-filled scenes of the year. James Marsh certainly is one of the most promising young directors British cinema has to offer. Giving him a Bond film certainly would be an interesting idea.
9. Ted (Dir. Seth MacFarlane): Anyone who is a fan of Family Guy, or generally has a funny bone, will enjoy Seth MacFarlane’s film. It’s crammed to the rafters with hilarious jokes, all of which would be quotable if they weren’t so filthy or offensive. It’s amazing what a cute teddy bear can get away with saying.
8. Skyfall (Dir. Sam Mendes): Bond is back, this time with a film that isn’t just filled with gripping action but also has a deep and thoughtful story. Many people want Sam Mendes to come back and direct another Bond. If Skyfall is anything to go by, then that would be a very wise decision.
7. Seven Psychopaths (Dir. Martin McDonagh): This was certainly a Marmite film, you either loved it or hated it. I certainly fall into the former category. Deliriously fun, with plenty of dark hilarious moments that have become a trademark of McDonagh’s work. Incidentally, the short pre-credits scene at the start of the film – best written scene of 2012.
6. Into The Abyss (Dir. Werner Herzog): Very few people can make deep and thought provoking documentaries on a regular basis like Werner Herzog. His film about the aftermath of a double homicide is a harrowing watch, that at the same time is a celebration of life. Poetic, and very wise.
5. Margin Call (Dir. JC Chandor): This is quite simply one of the best films about Wall Street ever made. Set during the 2008 economic collapse, the film takes place over one night as a company struggles to come to terms with what is about to happen. Intelligent, and gripping even though we know what’s coming. It made a last minute appearance at the Oscars when it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay. Quite right too.
4. Moonrise Kingdom (Dir. Wes Anderson): No one can really create a world like Wes Anderson. Even though it sports an all-star cast, it’s the two children at the heart of the story that are really impressive. It’s a celebration of the innocence of childhood, and sends the message that if we look hard enough, we’ll never be alone. A delight from start to finish.
3. Headhunters (Dir. Morten Tyldum): Once again the Nordic writers and film makers are showing us how to make great crime thrillers. Based on the novel by Jo Nesbo, Headhunters is captivating, funny, and the most enjoyable film of the year. Sadly, there is already an American remake in the works. Even if you don’t like subtitled films, please watch this and avoid the remake. Believe me, you’ll have fun.
2. The Dark Knight Rises (Dir. Christopher Nolan): Many people will have breathed a huge sigh of relief after watching Christopher Nolan’s conclusion to his Batman trilogy. He didn’t let us down, and he delivered on the hype. A gripping, stunningly epic conclusion, which ended in the best way possible. Pure genius on Nolan’s part.
1. Cosmopolis (Dir. David Cronenberg): I know this is going to raise a few eyebrows, but I can explain. Yes, the dialogue is strange – that’s why it’s the best written movie of the year. And yes, it makes no attempt to emotionally engage with the audience – but that’s the point. Cronenberg is presenting to us an uncomfortably realistic vision of the future, where capitalism leaves us as emotionless unsatisfied vampires. It’s proved to be a little too distant and unattached for some people, but for me it was a work of sheer brilliance.
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About the Author: Eric Wood is 21 years old, from Bury in Greater Manchester, and a graduate of Salford University where he studied Journalism and English Literature. His first novel comes out later in the year, and he begins work directing his first feature length movie in the summer. Eric absolutely adores all forms of writing and loves movies so he’s the ideal film critic. His greatest inspiration for many years has been Michael Crichton, as Crichton has written novels, non-fiction, screenplays, and directed movies. Eric would love to be able to achieve all of those things in my lifetime.