Adam’s Top 20 Movies of 2012

Warning: Opinions incoming. If you disagree with me, send me angry tweets. @AdamTheGreat

Well 2012 has come and gone. I, Adam The Sound Engineer not Ravingnerd, have seen somewhere around 30-40 movies this past year. Despite movies like Battleship and The Vow, 2012 was a pretty good year for movies. I was going to make a top 10, but I really couldn’t in good concious leave off some good movies I saw. The reason this took me so long to make is because Zero Dark Thirty didn’t get a wide release until last friday. But without further ado I present to you loyal readers of Ravingnerd

THE TOP 20 MOVIES OPINIONATED BY ADAM

20: Pirates Band Of Misfits

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This one really surprised me. Not many people saw it, and it didn’t do very well at the box office, but it was a fun little animated movie. Aardman entertainment, the same people who made the Wallace and Grommet movies and chicken run make the most fun pirate movie of the year. (Its not like it had competition, the pirates of the Caribbean movie they released this year was awful.) But the cast of pirates, led by the surprisingly good Hugh Grant (Believe me I never thought I would use the words Good and Hugh Grant in the same sentence). There were quite a bit of laughs in it and the charm we have come to expect from Aardman. I’d like to see a sequel to it, I really like the world they created in it. There were lots of creative pirates in it. If you didn’t see it, give it a go on DVD. It’s a great kid’s movie and some good jokes. It was actually a hard choice to pick a top 20 for me, considering I saw so many movies.

19: Chronicle

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This movie shouldn’t have worked at all. A found footage movie about kids who get super powers? First all, we are bombarded to death by found footage movies, and this is a trend that needs to stop. We don’t need paranormal activity 5. We don’t need any more of these found footage movies. WE DON’T NEED PARODY VERSIONS FROM THE GODDAMN SCARY MOVIE PEOPLE. It just needs to stop. But that is unrelated. Chronicle is a surprisingly good character drama about kids in high school that stumble upon super powers. The found footage element of this movie actually works to the movies advantage. The acting performances are very believable, and they make it seem like these kids actually got super powers. It made it very easy to immerse the viewer in the world of the movie because I could really identify with their characters and understand why they did certain things. It came out early in the year, but I very much recommend it. It was certainly something different and fairly original.

18. Ted

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Oh ted. First off, I must say after all of these years I’m still a fan of Family Guy. I like the non -sequiter type of humor, and I really think that Seth McFarline is a very talented voice actor. I mean really, some of his voices sound the same, but he has so much range. I thought Ted was absolutely hilarious, but I must say most of it was because I am a huge fan of the movie Flash Gordon. The movie would have been funny enough, but the Flash Gordon scene in that movie set it over the top for me. That scene alone is enough to put it on my list. But overall it was a very funny satire on the whole buddy movie genre and Mark Walhberg has finally gained back my faith that I lost on him from The Happening. Oh yeah, I haven’t forgotten that movie. Its awfulness haunts my dreams. But Ted was great.

17: Cosmopolis

ImageIf any movie on my list could be considered a “Guilty Pleasure”, it would be this one. I should absolutely hate this movie. And part of me does. But this movie is so weird and philosophical that I just end up loving it by the end. This is the only movie on my list I really can’t recommend, unless you are a fan of artsy cinema, but as a character piece, I think Robert Pattinson gives an amazing performance and Paul Giamatti is AMAZING. He is only in one scene, but damn if it wasn’t one of the most memorable scenes of the year. I absolutely understand why anybody wouldn’t like it, and in all honesty I can’t figure out why I like it so much. But I’ve seen it twice already this year and it was definitely better the second time. The plot was very odd. Basically Robert Pattinson is in a millionare in a limo on the way to get a haircut and he is on a path of self-destruction. Its hard to describe the movie, but I enjoyed it and it is my guilty pleasure pick of the year, only because I can’t really pin down why I enjoyed it.

16: Sleepwalk With Me

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I wish there was more hype around this movie. Out of any movie I saw this year, this is the one that wins the most like a Woody Allen movie category, and that is okay in my book. I am a fan of Mike Birbiglia’s comedy and his first full length movie was just spot on. I really related to this movie, not only being a comedian starting out, but someone who is indecisive about life. He starts to experience sleepwalking and some pretty funny dreams as well, and all of these plays into how he reacts to the world. This movie does drag a little bit, and I don’t think it lived up to its full potential as a movie, but I really liked it.

15: 21 Jump Street

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If you would have told me a year ago that Channing Tatum would star in the best intentional comedy I saw all year, I wouldn’t have believed you. But the man certainly had an impressive year in terms of output of movies. He had 2 hits Magic Mike and This movie and one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen with The Vow (yes I saw it and I really REALLY regretted it) But damn this movie was funny. Jonah Hill was good in it too, pretty much his best role since Cyrus (plus the dude lost a heck of a lot of weight for this movie and that is cool). This movie is absolutely hilarious. So many funny scenes and a surprising amount of chemistry between Chaning Tatum and Jonah Hill. I don’t want to spoil any of the jokes, but be prepared to laugh a lot at this one. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I do, and I highly recommend it.

14: Dredd/The Raid: Redemption

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I really had to include both of these movies because they both had pretty much the same plot. I actually like the Sylvester Stallone original Judge Dredd (THE LAAWWWW) but I will be the first to admit it’s a terrible movie. I was very skeptical about the remake from the trailer, but really this movie was fucking awesome. Like start to finish awesome. Same goes for The Raid. And the raid, in my opinion, is the better movie just because of the jaw droppingly amazing fight sequences. I mean I really haven’t seen fight sequences that awesome in a long time. The director of that movie knows perfectly how to frame action. But I really like both movies equally and I couldn’t decide which to put on the list, so I put both. But my hat goes off to Dredd for being the best reboot of an IP EVER! The writers and directors of the movie had a clear reason for making the movie and it wasn’t just to cash in on the 80s.

13. Wreck It Ralph

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This is one movie that really blew me away when I first saw it. It felt like it was practically made for me and my generation. There were so many creative ideas in this movie. They had so much cool material to work with. Initially this movie was a lot higher on my list because I really like what we got out of it, but after subsequent watches, it’s hard not to see possibilities that this movie could have gone to, to make the movie that could have been perfect. Don’t get me wrong. I fucking love this movie start to finish. But I feel like the conventions of movie pacing and structure really brought this movie down.  Had it been more organized like Scott Pilgrim (another video game movie) and they had been working toward a goal, instead of a character piece I think it could have been better. But like I said, what we got was full of ideas and creative and I really hope we get a sequel out of this movie because they could basically go anywhere from this point. Also, on a side note, Paperman is one of the best animated shorts i’ve ever seen and it was so touching and great. A+ Disney Team on that one.

12: Argo

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Wow Ben Affleck you are 3 for 3 on the director front. While I wouldn’t say this movie is as good as his last movie The Town, it was so entertaining. I still can’t believe this was based on a true story. And can you really ask for a better cast than Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Alan Arkin, and Bryan Cranston? A very tight screenplay makes the plot exciting and fast paced. I just really love the story of this movie as well. All around one of the best I saw this year.

11: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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I’m a big lord of the rings fan. I used to marathon the special editions of them all the time on DVD. This really just felt like more of the same from that camp. I never actually read the books, but I enjoyed the movies. Grant it, it really isn’t as good as any of the three LOTR movies, but I really did like it. What I really liked about this movie as compared to the lord of the rings was that it was relatively a simple movie. I mean I do enjoy the complex politics at play sometimes in the lord of the rings, but this was a relatively simple story and I can really appreciate that. The dwarves want their shit back. But I really loved the dwarves in this movie. I wish they had more screen time, but I also realize that its called “The Hobbit” not the dwarves. I think the CGI they used on Gollum got even better somehow. He looked amazing in this. I also really like how they included tiny bits of stuff that would lead up to the events of LOTR. I happened to see this movie in a 48fps critics screening, which I thought looked beautiful. I know there was a lot of controversy over it, but I think it looked stunning. The regular frame rate looked good too, but I could definitely tell the difference with the 48fps. If film is heading that direction, it would be okay with me. Overall I enjoyed the movie and I’m slightly more optimistic for what is to come with the upcoming parts.

10. Paranorman

Image2012 was certainly a good year for stop motion animation. I already talked about Pirates!, but we also saw the exceptionally quirky Frankenweenie, which I actually enjoyed a lot, and we also got this movie. This movie was the best animated movie I saw this year for a lot of reasons. I loved the animation in the movie a lot. It was very fluid and interesting. And very VERY detailed. There are so many visual gags within the background and with ghosts. I also really liked the characters in this. Norman was the kind of kid I was, obsessed with horror movies and such, plus he just so happens to be able to see ghosts. Whoever played the voice of him was great. The crazy uncle voiced by John Goodman was great. But really I liked the bully Alvin a lot. I know so many kids like him and I was bullied by a lot of kids like him! Most movies never seem to get the bully archetype right and this movie surprisingly does. I really liked the whole salem witch trials aspect of the storyline. Yeah other movies have done it, but not like this. The zombies in this movie are adorable, and that is not an easy thing to do. There are also a fair amount of scares in this as well. I like how it didn’t pander towards kids, aside from a few jokes the fat kid makes. Overall this was a fun movie and did so many things right and I just loved it and it had a great message too.

9. Zero Dark Thirty

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Well this was the movie that kept me from posting my list and I gotta say it was one intense journey. I don’t know who the real Maya is, but she better be a millionare right now. The first five minutes alone really set the tone of the movie. You want them to find that bastard Osama right now and make him pay for what he did to us. It is really incredible everything that these people went through to actually get bin laden. I’ve read that the script was finished before we caught bin laden and was originally going to have more of a somber ending, and in parts of the movie this kind of shows through. Maya has to put up with a lot of resistance on her quest to slay the beast. I know they probably dramatized some aspects of the movie, but for the most part it feels like the story matches up exactly with what happened. I highly recommend you check it out if you can. Jessica Chastain is absolutely stunning in this movie. There is no doubt in my mind she will win best actress this year at the Oscars. She deserves it. Kathryn Bigelow shows again she know how to film military for lack of a better word “stuff” and make it look fascinating.

8: Lincoln

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I don’t know how Daniel Day Lewis does it sometimes. I don’t know how he can play so many different roles and still excel at all of them. I read this was a project that Spielberg had on the backburner for so long and he finally made it. And there was nobody better to play the part than Lewis. He will win the Oscar this year for this movie. Although I would give it to a nominee who is higher up on this list, I really have no problems with it. He is so damn charming in this movie that it hurts sometimes. I really don’t know how historically accurate the story was (although DDL was in it, so its gotta at least be as accurate to how he acted minus his supposed squeaky voice) but there were a lot of heavy things. Lincoln did a lot of crazy stuff to try and save our union and keep us together. Oh and can someone tell Tommy Lee Jones to stop being so damn charming too? He might take the Oscar away from Leo (but more on that later). Overall, I really liked this movie, and if it wins a lot of awards, I will understand, even though I feel like there are better movies.

7. Looper

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Rian Johnson needs to make more movies. I am a huge fan of his first movie Brick (seriously, its in my top 10 favorite movies of all time. Go watch it if you haven’t seein it already). And this movie shows that he knows how to make a great narrative. I always love stories that involve time travel and I really like this movie. The time travel narrative at times can seem a bit confusing and contradictory, but one line from Bruce Willis and we don’t think twice about it. Joseph Gordon Levitt is quickly becoming one of my favorite actors in Hollywood today. I enjoyed Premium Rush and he was pretty good in that movie that I hate and don’t want to talk about, but I think he is getting better every movie he is in. He has such a strong screen presence and he is so damn charming, and he does a mean bruce willis impersonation. The two of them together is just so much fun to watch on screen. Overall I really liked this movie, and I plan to buy it on dvd when it comes out and watch it again.

6: Skyfall

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I am so glad this movie was good. I really wasn’t too big of a fan of the past 2 bond films. As you recall if you listen to our weekly podcast, Casino Royale doesn’t even rank in my top 10 bond films. And Quantum of Solace was absolutely terrible and ranked among the worst of the series. And after all the money trouble that MGM went through in the past few years its surprising that this movie got made at all, and that it was one of my favorite bond movie is saying something. I finally think that Daniel Craig has finally found his balance as Bond. He isn’t pining over his dead wife being a killing machine; he is just being a badass and doing major action sequences. This movie felt more like a bond movie than a bourne movie. For the first time, it really put James Bond in the 21st century and we can see how he is kind of outdated in the age of cyberterrorism and he is getting older but he isn’t obsolete. I like the motif and how it plays out in the movie. I have to hand it to director Sam Mendes for doing a fantastic job directing some great action setpieces. Plus a guy gets eaten by a komodo dragon. How much more could you really ask for? Plus the end really brings everything full circle, and makes me really really excited for what comes next for the Bond franchise. This movie breathed life into the 50 year old franchise and shows that it can adapt to the times. Did I mention a guy gets eaten by a komodo dragon?

5: Cloud Atlas

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This movie was incredible. Just judging by the premise alone, the fact that this movie even got made, by a major movie studio and starred such high profile actors is a miracle. It was basically 6 different time periods of movies in one 3 hour epic. But the magical part about this movie is that the 6 stories are told with the same small cast of actors wearing some fantastic makeup and prosthetics and are interwoven together. Basically it boiled down to Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Hugo Weaving, Jim Broadbent, Ben Wishaw and Keith David. These actors played different roles in different time periods and they did amazing jobs showing their acting range. Although some of the stories were hit and miss (I didn’t really care for the post-apocalyptic one myself. It didn’t really flow right for me and the dialogue was weird), but the movie was better than the sum of its parts. It has some amazing sequences and beautiful CGI and the emotional messages and meaning that you can pull out of this film mean a lot. This movie took some serious balls to make (and Lara Wachowski even gave up her balls during the promotion of it. She probably had to make a sacrifice to the cinema gods) and the fact that this movie worked on just about every level was amazing. I will warn you if you haven’t seen it. It is very long, and it does sag a bit in some places, but it was a truly magical movie, and really unique. This certainly isn’t a movie for everyone, but I loved the hell out of it.\

4: Django Unchained

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Ah Django. One of the last movies I saw of the year, and it was just so awesome. Now I can’t talk about this movie without saying how I felt about Inglorious Basterds. I really didn’t enjoy most of that movie. It was a slow burn kind of a movie with a few moments of awesome thrown in for good measure. I kind of thought that Tarantino was finished. But boy was I proven wrong. This is definitely one of his best movies. The casting choices were spot on amazing. Christoph Waltz playing the German bounty hunter was a treat to watch on screen. He is just given so much meaty dialogue to work with that he becomes just so charming and fun to watch. Jamie Foxx as the quiet “man without a name” Django is perfect for the role. I’m not usually a big Jamie Foxx fan, other than Ray, but he really does a good job in this. But by far my favorite character (and most surprising role) was Leonardo Dicaprio as Calvin Candie, the white plantation owner (whose plantation is called Candieland and I find that funny too). This is without a doubt the best role I’ve ever seen him in. He goes back and forth between chewing scenery and being genuinely scary. He has a speech near the end of the second act that it so scary. If he has ever really deserved an Oscar it’s for best supporting actor in this movie. But even small surprising roles like Samuel L Jackson’s part as a house slave who is very loyal to white people and Jonah Hill’s bit part in one particular funny sequence. Over the top violence and some deep emotional moments really make this one a winner.

3: Cabin in the Woods

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I know people have heard me say this before, but I can’t emphasize it enough. Joss Whedon is god. This movie was so amazing that I don’t want to spoil it. This is one movie that I went in not knowing anything about it other than Joss wrote the screenplay and my mind was blown like a nuclear bomb. I felt like a giddy school girl the last 30 minutes of the movie. Without spoiling it, it is an entire genre deconstruction of all horror movies and subgenres. It will change the way you look at horror movies past and future. There are some super funny moments in this too that I was laughing quite often. Unlike most horror movies, I could connect with the characters which allows me to emphasize with them when bad shit starts to happen to them. I genuinely root for the protagonists to survive and live on. I really loved the twist and the last 30 minutes I felt like I was in nirvana. It’s one hell of a movie and I can watch it over and over and never get tired of it.

2: The Avengers

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Joss just felt like showing off in 2012. He was tired of all of his stuff getting cancelled by major networks so finally he just say “WELL IM GOING TO MAKE THE HIGHEST SELLING MOVIE OF THE YEAR SO YALL CAN SUCK IT”. This movie could have been awful. It could have been a train wreck from start to finish trying to cram too much into it. But instead Disney marvel played it smart from the beginning. 5 years of planning and introductions went into this movie, and honestly I don’t think this movie would have succeeded at all without Captain America, Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 1&2, and Thor. We for the first time have a movie franchise that spans multiple characters and such. ENTIRE MOVIES! Big studio productions. And we get 1 or 2 of them a year. But that’s about those movies. Joss applied all of his knowledge of TV and continuity to create a juggernaut of a movie. Anybody could have made this movie, but Joss knocked it out of the park and into the stratosphere. He nailed every character’s interaction with one another and made the dialogue quick and snappy while still applying what makes his writing and directing so likeable. He knows how to treat characters right and makes them connect. Yeah this movie isn’t perfect. Hawkeye was a bad guy for a good 30 minutes of the movie and I wish they could have handled the whole Loki mind controlling people better, but we got a damn good movie which was the best movie watching experience I had all year. I was smiling the whole time and I left the movie theater weak out of happiness. You can’t ask for more than that in a movie.

WHAT COULD POSSIBLY BEAT THE AVENGERS?

1: The Dark Knight Rises

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BAHAHAHAHA JUST KIDDING

1: Moonrise Kingdom

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Wes Anderson knows exactly how to push my buttons. I feel like its programmed somewhere in my genetic code that I just have some predisposition to just love everything that Wes Anderson puts out. And this movie is one of his finest works. I have loved it ever since I saw the trailer for it. I saw the movie itself and I loved it even more. There is just something so pure and innocent about this movie that you just don’t see any more in modern movies. Plus I don’t know where he found the kids in this movie, but he is a wizard at getting the best out of his child actors. Everybody in this movie gives amazing performances, but my hat goes off to the two leads. They are entirely believable. And sure at times their dialogue may seem to be a bit out of their age range, I just look at it as a metaphoric growing up too quickly. The only part about this movie I really didn’t like was the narrator. I felt like he was intrusive and just awkward at times. Everything else was perfect, from Edward Norton’s scout master, to Bruce Willis’s police chief, to Bill Murray being Bill Murray. Gosh Bill Murray and Frances McDormand’s plot about their marriage being in trouble could have been an entire movie by itself, and its juxtaposition against the budding relationship between Sam and Suzy’s relationship. And damn, I just found out Kara Howard who played Suzy that this was the first movie she ever acted in. Holy shit. So much talent in this movie. I could gush on and on for days about the lush and dreamy cinematography and the tiny attention to details and the fact that Jason Swartzman deserved a bigger part and I would pay to see an entire movie about his character in this movie. But yeah, it was my favorite movie I saw in 2012.

Well, there you have it! My favorite movies. I hope you enjoyed my analysis, and as always if you disagree with my opinions COME AT ME BRO! @AdamTheGreat

Also we should resume regular content posting soon, so look out for that!

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2 thoughts on “Adam’s Top 20 Movies of 2012

  1. The thing I appreciated more of Django is the fact that Tarantino made a western movie without distorting the genre: Django has all the traditional western themes (male friendship, revenge, a hero with a mission and so on) + the irony and the clever stage tricks you abitually find in Tarantino’s movies. He was respectful of the western movies’ tradition, but also tried to say something new. And he did achieve this objective.
    2 years ago I started reading western novels, and since then I’ve been reading a lot of them. You may think they are boredom at its purest form, but I assure you that, generally speaking, they have a very intriguing plot. For example, “Gun Smoke at Dawn” by Norman A. Fox and “Night of the Gunmen” by Steven C. Lawrence definitely are among the most thrilling novels I’ve ever read. But, if you ever decide to read a western novel, the ideal starting point would be “From Where the Sun Now Stands” by Will Henry. It is one of my favorite novels, along with “The Power of the Dog” by Don Winslow.

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