Hello! It’s early 2013 which means lots of best of lists. The master post, with lots of excuses, can be found here.
One disclaimer here first -I haven’t seen Argo. I know, I know! Iim sorry! It just, somehow slipped through my fingers and now its barely in theaters and I missed it. I’m sure it was great. I’m sure I will see it, and love it. But it’s not on this list.
It was a good year! I saw less movies than in years past, but I also saw fewer shit movies than I had in years past, so I would say this is a positive development! For me, the movies that come first on the list are the ones that were the most fun, that filled me with the most joy, pure and simple, where being at the theater was just an experience of awe and delight. This year, many of those movies were big tentpole franchisey things, those usually derided. Which, again, I think is a positive development!
1. The Avengers
Guys, I just loved this movie. I mean, we all did. It made so much money. It sparked so many tumblrs and fandom and internet insanity. Everyone loved this movie. This movie was just so … lovable. There was so much to love: multiple lovable characters. Big action set pieces. Jokes! Friendship and love, conflict and resolution (in multiple senses of the word), big personalities rubbing against each other, ruthless efficiency and wild chaos. And, yknow, Tom Hiddleston. It was a movie that had everything; it was a movie that gave you what you wanted, and then gave you more and more and more. It was fun and fundamentally it was generous. Why be stingy with joy and pleasure? Why not pile more and more of it on top of itself until it’s 3 hours of laughter and fun and things exploding, unwieldy and threatening to collapse, at which point we’d just laugh and watch it again.
Admittedly, I am biased, because I have always loved James Bond. But Skyfall was such good Bond. Again, it was not stingy with it’s pleasures – we got Silva AND Q AND Eve, not to mention James himself, all quips and a solid face of muscle and those haunted eyes. And there was a scene in a glowing glass building, and on an abandoned island, and on boats and in planes and that killer car chase and then the final set piece (all three or four of them), and now here we are, set up for a whole new century of fantastic Bond movies, forever and ever, formulaic and expected and put together like clockwork, like a shiny car or a well-made watch, clicking smoothly into the future.
3. Cabin in the Woods
Hey kids, do you like violence? How about jokes? Surprises? Archetypes upended, meta-commentary on tropes and media references? How about apocalypses, mythology, bureaucracy, and the comic stylings of Bradley Whitford and Richard Jenkins? Also did I mention the jokes, and the sheer uproarious joy of having everything pulled out from under you exactly the way you expected it to? I won’t say any more, but this movie is best watched laughing and yelling with as many people as you can.
4. Magic Mike
A movie about Channing Tatum’s stripper days, directed by Steven Soderbergh. There was no way this could live up to its possibilities, and then it did. Funny and sad, gorgeous and also heartbreaking, with a real story as well as it’s incredible moments. Also if we were doing a “Best Two Minutes on Movie Screens of 2012,” the above wins IN A LANDSLIDE.
5. Zero Dark Thirty
I feel sort of similarly about this movie as I did about Hurt Locker – I watched it admiringly, noting how well made it was, how careful every detail was, every shot, every action, every actor, every moment. And yet. I haven’t thought about it since I saw it a few weeks ago. But it’s still a very good movie! If fairly fascistic, but that’s neither here nor there. Number 5. Let’s move on.
Again, a movie for me. Your results may vary. But I love Katy, and it was wonderful to see her perform, and watch her candy-coated world that she constructed to show us, and then watch it fall apart. Was it still fake? Of course. But her fakery has so many layers upon itself that it somehow becomes a truth, you know? A catchy, candy-coated truth in the perfect shade of lipstick.
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
A few months later, all I remember of this movie is images – the sparklers, the large boars, floating in the car, the rain and the birds, dancing with the women in the shack in the middle of the water, the people in the bar. It was a fairy tale, a folk tale, an expression of feeling and a dream, and let’s leave it at that.
Look, when our greatest director combines with our greatest actor and our greatest playwright to tackle one of our greatest subjects, the result is going to be immaculate and incredibly good. What do you want from me.
9. Safety Not Guaranteed
I walked out of this movie feeling vaguely unsatisfied by it, and now for the life of me I have no idea why. Everything I remember about was charming and shambolic and so perfectly itself, and there were enough ideas, unfulfilled and unused though they may have been, to power four or five other equally charming movies. As well as so many of my favorite actors. Now actually I want to see it again.
10. Project X
If you didn’t enjoy the total insanity and absurdity that this movie was, then I am never inviting you to another one of my parties again.
Also tied with Magic Mike for “immediately made me come home and start making playlists.”
10. The Dark Knight Rises
11. The Amazing Spiderman
12. Breaking Dawn Part 2
Look, this isn’t a great movie or anything, but the fake-out battle death scene towards the end was the single greatest moment of moviegoing of my entire freaking year.
13. Les Miserables
15. The Hunger Games
———————————- The Line of Good Conscience
17. Men In Black 3
I also saw Titanic 3D this year, which as great.