This is, uh…late. Absurdly late. I normally finish this by the end of December, so I’m almost exactly 7 months late. The lists were made before the year ended, it’s just the commentary I’m adding now. Enjoy!
Peter’s Top 6 Films of 2012:
- Perks of Being A Wallflower: This movie absolutely blew me away. I saw it two or three times in the week, and talked about it for months afterward. It’s an amazingly put-together film: the acting, the script, the story…but above all, the way it deals with its central theme. I’m afraid that saying anything more would spoil it, but if you haven’t yet, go and see this – an easy pick for my number one.
- The Muppets: Obviously. Although, honestly, the first time I saw this…I wasn’t impressed. It may have been my mood, or perhaps it’s just a film that grows on you: whatever the reason, I was extremely un-wowed. And then I saw it again, and everything that had disappointed me the first time was gone. The jokes were funnier, the character arcs were more clear, and to my mind, this film was absolutely everything that a Muppet revival needed to be. Incredible.
- Wreck-It Ralph: This film has perhaps the worst title I’ve ever seen. There’s just absolutely nothing about that title which draws you in, and the posters weren’t much better, but I heard enough buzz about this one to check it out, and I’m glad I did. Ever since Disney and Pixar merged, Disney’s 3D department has been putting out hit after hit, while Pixar has been…well, you’ll notice a distinct lack of “Brave” on this list.
- Cabin in the Woods: Gavin had to forcibly sit me down and make me watch this one, while simultaneously refusing to tell me anything about it. An admirable effort, and one which paid off – I think I’ve shown two or three people this film since then, watched them work out the twists and turns at the same rate as I did (or, in my fiancee’s case, much faster.) This is a film that manages to contain every other film of a genre, which is a bizarre accomplishment. If you haven’t watched this yet, do so soon.
- The Avengers: Everyone has been raving about this for months, and for good reason. It’s better than any of the films building up to it, masterfully helmed by Whedon (the second of his films on the list this year) and there’s no need to do what I did and watch all of the build-up films. Check out Captain America and maybe Iron Man – give Thor and Iron Man 2 a miss (unless, unlike me, you adored the first one) and you can still enjoy Avengers.
- The Dark Knight Rises: No, it wasn’t perfect. It certainly wasn’t The Dark Knight. But it was fun, and a worthy ending to the trilogy.
- Les Mis: This had the chance to overtake The Dark Knight Rises, if it wasn’t for it’s incredible length…god this was long! I think I saw Les Mis, The Hobbit and Thor all in the same week, and by the end of it I was begging for a director who understood how to edit a film down to a reasonable length. Fun, good singing and acting and all that, but far too loooong…
- I Am Eleven: This was an indie doco that my fiancee dragged me along to, and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It suffered from a lack of focus – the concept was “Interview a heap of 11-year olds”, and while it certainly did that, it also didn’t do anything more. Well put-together, but I’d have preferred a stronger starting point.
- Katy Perry: Part Of Me – Another film that I certainly wouldn’t have seen if not for my fiancee, but this ended up being absolutely fascinating…largely because it was produced by Katy Perry herself. It was an utter puff piece, with every scene and every shot making sure to focus on how great Katy Perry was. The climax of the film was “Katy doesn’t really feel like going on stage but OH MY GOD she’s going on anyway!” and while they presented it well, the character arc was still “She’s great but she didn’t feel like being great for like two seconds.” It nicely skipped over the details of her Russell Brand break-up, sort of vaguely portraying him as a bad guy…as you can see, I had a lot of thoughts on this film. Instead of going on, I’ll make two small points:
- I loved the stage stuff, particularly the “15 costume changes” dance. I learned a heap about Katy Perry, and especially enjoyed meeting her family, and her older sister who just travels with her full-time. (and obviously her Nan stole the show)
- All throughout the movie, they rave about Katy Perry’s lyrical ability. As I said, it was a puff piece, but not knowing Katy Perry music I walked out thinking that her music must have some hidden depths, double meanings and the like. It wasn’t until the third time I listened to “Teenage Dream” that I realised it wasn’t a clever tale about an older woman wanting to feel wanted (like she had as a teenager), it’s about…a teenager. They are some of the most shallow lyrics I’ve ever heard, and I was genuinely disappointed when I worked that out.
- Any Questions for Ben: From the makers of The Dish and The Castle, I was looking forward to this, but it turned out to be an utterly forgettable commercial for Melbourne.
- The Sapphires: So, so many people raved about this piece of shit. Other than the music, which was half-decent, I genuinely don’t know what people got out of this. Utter rubbish.
- Skyfall: Apparently I’m never going to be much of a Bond fan – my first Bond flick was Casino Royale, and anything sillier than that causes me to lose interest pretty fast. This wasn’t terrible – I liked the opening song – but it tried to seriously answer the question of “Does the Bond program make sense?”, to which the answer is an overwhelming “No!”. The Bond program makes no sense – it’s a fantasy, and lamp-shading the ridiculousness of it was a pretty silly move by the producers.
- MIB 3: Nonsensical plot, trying too hard to be old-school MIB without any of the charm or substance. Better than the second one, but only slightly, and the second one wasn’t even as good as the thoroughly mediocre Cars.
- Brave: I had enough problems with this film to fill several thousand words, but to summarise: It was clearly a group of men trying to write a female character for the first time (which means a plot of “HEY LOOK I’M A FEMALE ISN’T IT WEIRD HOW I WANT TO DO GUY STUFF”) and then to add insult to injury, the only autonomous move she makes in the whole film (“I am going to compete for my OWN hand!”) is immediately cancelled, and she spends the rest of the film literally being told what to do by the plot – any time there’s a second of “What do I do now?” the plot appears in the form of floating lights to lead her to the next plot point. Infuriating and completely non-Pixar-worthy. My tip to dudes trying to write a strong female character for the first time is always this: write a male character and then swap the gender. It worked for Alien and Dory (of Finding Nemo), it can work for you!
- The Lorax: I barely remember this, but I recall being annoyed by all the white folk (in an animated film! They can be any colour you like…they can be blue, for fuck’s sake! Why does everyone have to be white?). Apparently this was the year that representation started being a big deal to me.
- Mirror Mirror: Julia Roberts was fun as a villainess, but again…that’s all I remember of this film. It wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t anything to write home about.
- The Hobbit: Too long by about an hour and a half. And three films?? The Hobbit is a perfectly structured story – make one film, cut out the LotR cameos, and you’ll have a classic film that people will remember forever. As it is, they had Gandalf deus exing the whole film.
- The Five-Year Engagement: By the makers of one of my favourite films of all time, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, this was another forgettable “good but not great” flick. I’ll probably watch it again, just because I love Jason Segel so much (and the beard stuff was funny) but you can safely miss this unless you’re a huge fan of the genre.
- Amazing Spider-Man: Made to hold onto Spidey’s rights, and apparently showed: I didn’t hear nearly enough good stuff about this one to go see it.
- John Carter: I like the director, and there are actually some people who loved this film so I’ll probably check it out eventually, but the only reason I heard about this was because it’s one of the biggest flops in history. Despite that, there’s actually some sequel rumours going around, which would be amazing to see.
- The Hunger Games: My friends-who-had-never-read-the-books saw this, came home and said “It’s good, but it’s clearly the first part of a trilogy.” I really hate seeing first-parts-of-trilogies (I only saw The Hobbit because there was nothing else on) – when I see a film, I want to see afilm, not one third of a three-parter – and so I’ll check this out when all three parts have been released.
- The Pirates: All the reviews suggested this was as bland as bland could be, so despite my love of Aardman, I gave it a miss.
- Battleship: Wow. I can’t believe this got made. My dad apparently quite liked it, but I’ve never yet enjoyed a big dumb action flick, and I didn’t really expect this to be the first to break that trend.
- Snow White and the Huntsman, American Reunion, Prometheus, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Ted, Total Recall, Frankenweenie, Lincoln: I would have seen any and all of these had they been on at the right time, but…well, they weren’t! Right now, for instance, I’m keen to go see a film but there’s nothing on – any of these films would have been a no-brainer to check out if they were on at the moment. Timing, timing, timing.
- Tangled: I first saw this at the start of 2011, and commented that if I’d seen it at the end of 2010, it would have been a challenger for “Movie of the year”. Then I saw it on home video a few times, and fell out of love with it. Well, that’s reversed once more – I’m back in love with this delightfully charming film, and it actually challenges The Little Mermaid as my top Disney film of all time!
So that was 2012 in film! There were a few films that I wanted to see in 2012 but ended up seeing early this year – Looper, Life of Pi, Cloud Atlas – but they’ll be discussed in my 2013 list (which will, hopefully, actually come out in 2013…)
(Editor’s note: It didn’t.)