Not since 1994, the year of “Pulp Fiction”, “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Forrest Gump”, have I seen a year of cinema with this many great films. This year was filled with more proof that great ideas still exist in Hollywood. Over the years, with the exception of 2010 (“Inception”, “The Social Network”), I’ve noticed a steady decline in original, thought-provoking and just plain BAD-ASS movies. This year stands out like non-other with multiple films in those categories. Whether it be the best action film in years with “The Raid” or the jaw-dropping game-changer with “The Cabin in the Woods” or Tarantino creating the most violent, brutal yet most romantic film of 2012 with “Django Unchained”, this year will go down in the record books. When it comes to thought-provoking original filmmaking, Rian Johnson proved EVERYONE wrong with “Looper”, showing that new ideas and original filmmaking still exist in Hollywood.
As a film fan and self-proclaimed geek/nerd, it has always been an honor to review movies for an audience. The fact that I get to watch a movie and then geek out about it on The Junkies (CBS RADIO) or on FOX 5 (WTTG-TV) here in DC, still blows my mind. But it’s years like 2012 that really help me appreciate the joys and wonders of the greatest art form in the world. Since I was 8 years old and first saw “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” after bribing my parents to let me see if after a good report card, I’ve been obsessed with cinema. It truly is the air that I breath.
Do yourself a favor and CONTINUE going to the actual cinema instead of just waiting for the movies to hit DVD and Blu-Ray. Sure, the prices are high but I make it a point in my reviews to make sure you spend the right money and know if you are seeing a film in fake 3D or fake IMAX. As much as I loved Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit” in digital 48 Frames Per Second 3D, I will always be a 35mm film fan. I just love a good cigarette burn!
Cheers and thanks for checking NerdTears.com!
10. 21 Jump Street
The best comedy I’ve seen since “The Hangover”. Much like “The Hangover”, this film blended brilliant story-telling, great action/mystery and hilarious performances. The performances in “21 Jump Street” actually have great characters arcs. The score is absolutely fantastic and the action is well-directed. “21 Jump Street” is a film that gets better every time I watch it and I love that I can call it one of the best of 2012.
9. The Raid: Redemption
Since I was in high school, I’ve been obsessed with John Woo flicks. It all started with “Face/Off” and then I went back and watched “Hard Boiled” and “The Killer”. I haven’t seen an action film reach that caliber of epicness until I saw “The Raid: Redemption”. The film has an amazing emotional back-story mixed in with the most jaw-dropping action I’ve seen in years. I honestly was crying Nerd Tears throughout the entire film.
8. The Grey
I really hope this film gets some recognition at the Oscars (even though I know it won’t). Joe Carnahan (who directed the awesome flick “Narc”) has crafted one of the most intense films of the year with a plane crash sequence that had me digging my nails in to my chair. I just loved the use of breath in the film as a good/bad character. The score is incredible and Liam Neeson gives an Oscar-worthy performance.
Original, thought-provoking cinema still exists in Hollywood today! Thanks to Rian Johnson (“Brick”) for developing one of the more interesting and clever films of 2012. Joseph Gordon-Levitt perfectly INTERPRETS, rather than imitates Bruce Willis, in one of the most underrated performances of the year. The film is gorgeously shot on 35mm film with anamorphic lenses. The lens flares are beautiful and Emily Blunt gives an INSANELY great performance. I just love how she says “I will cut you the f*** in half!”
Give Roger Deakins the Academy Award RIGHT NOW! What a beautiful film. The sequence where Bond is fighting the bad guy in Shanghai with the blue lights creating the silhouettes of their characters, is insane! The film is essentially “The Dark Knight Trilogy” wrapped up in to one film but I absolutely loved it. Javier Bardem is incredible and deserves to be the first Bond actor to be nominated for an Academy Award. “Skyfall” is so darn good that it essentially eliminates “Quantum of Solace”. The way I look at it is “Casino Royale” was the first Daniel Craig James Bond flick and now “Skyfall” is the second.
“Argo” is one of those films that is perfectly crafted and just extremely well-done. It’s an interesting thought-process though because you can FEEL the 3-act structure that Ben Affleck created, while you are watching the movie. I would almost say it’s a bit cookie-cutter. It was as if Affleck read a manual on how to make the perfect movie because you can actually feel the filmmaking process. That being said, I was BEYOND entertained by this picture. The airport sequence, while mostly fiction, is one of the most intense sequences of 2012. In reality, the airport sequence was “smooth as silk”, according to a piece Tony Mendez wrote for the CIA website. That means that all the intense sequences created in “Argo” were fictional elements. Some of them do feel a bit Hollywood, especially the phone ringing and being answered at the exact moment.
4. Zero Dark Thirty
Jessica Chastain delivers the best performance from an actress this year. Besides Hugh Jackman’s character in “Les Miserables”, no other character this year had this much of a fantastic character arc. We follow Chastain’s character over a 10-year period and watching her character change is just mind-blowing. From the first we see her on-screen to the last we see her, you meet a completely different person. The sequences shot at night when the Navy Seals storm Osama Bin Laden’s compound are some of the best I’ve seen this year. The fact that we were able to understand everything going on in the dark in those sequences is all a testament to the brilliant cinematography. Director Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”) put us right there with the Seals!
3. Moonrise Kingdom
What a film! Wes Anderson is one of the few directors who can allow you to appreciate the art of filmmaking while appreciating his story. Most directors will tell you they do not want you to think you are watching a movie. Once the light goes down, they only want you to only be engulfed in the story. I agree with that element but if you can find a balance where the audience can watch the story and also appreciate the work behind the camera, you have created a genius formula. As I watched “Moonrise Kingdom”, I loved the characters but I also loved the camera movements, i.e. the long tracking shots, the structure of each shot looking like an art print. I honestly felt like EVERY SINGLE FRAME was an art print!
2. The Cabin in the Woods
A modern day masterpiece. “The Cabin in the Woods” is hands down the most jaw-dropping flick of 2012. Much like “Scream”, the film is a game-changer for the horror genre. The last thirty minutes are some of the most fun you will ever have watching a movie. The best way to experience the film is to know NOTHING about it. Stay away from all trailers and reviews. Just experience the awesomeness!
1. Django Unchained
Easily Quentin Tarantino’s best film since “Pulp Fiction” and his most romantic since “True Romance.” The brilliance of Tarantino is that underneath all this horrific violence and profanity, you’ll find the most romantic film of 2012. At the core of the film is a love story about Django’s relentless devotion to finding and rescuing his wife. Tarantino just happens to be the only director who direct the most violent film of 2012 and have it be the most romantic as well. With clever dialogue and an incredible soundtrack, Tarantino has created another masterpiece. Tarantino’s soundtracks have always been leading characters in his films and as any fan will tell you, when you hear a song used in a Tarantino film, outside of the movie, you will automatically think of the scene he included it in. Anytime I hear “Stuck in the Middle With You”, I always think of ear scene in “Reservoir Dogs” or when I hear “Across 110th Street”, I think of “Jackie Brown”. “Django Unchained” is not only the best film of 2012 but it’s the best film in years. It’s perfectly balanced, intense as hell, horrifying, funny and extremely entertaining. One minute you’ll have your hands over your eyes in shock, the next you’ll be laughing and the next you’ll be doing geeky back flips because of how bad-ass the flick is! There are so many little moments that reminded me of the classic Tarantino films, whether it be shots that EXACTLY matched “From Dusk Til Dawn” (characters walking away from an explosion), or a shot of multiple bad guys pouring in to fight the lead character (“Kill Bill”), or the “Tasty Beverage” reference (“Pulp Fiction”), etc. The list goes on! Also, for years, I’ve thought the greatest dialogue EVER written was Walken/Hopper scene in “True Romance”. To me, that is the greatest dialogue scene in the history of cinema. While Tarantino came very close to matching it with the opening of “Inglourious Basterds”, I feel that he finally matched it with the skull dialogue delivered by Leonardo DiCaprio in “Django Unchained”!
2) The Hunger Games
3) The Hobbit
5) End of Watch