Starr's List of Best Films of 2012....so far


  1. tjstarr007
  2. Travis

This is my picks for the best films of 2012. Sure, there are plenty of films I have not yet seen like "Amour". But after everything I've seen, from "Les Miserables" to "Holy Motors" here's my list. Still subject to change.

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1
Argo 2012,  R)
Argo
In the wake of two previous successful directorial features, "Gone Baby Gone", and "The Town". Ben Affleck was already proving he was on his way to something cinematically monumental. "Argo" is that result, and what a result it is. Back in 2005, Steven Spielberg "Munich" was a bold picture with a beautiful representation of it's time period. Like Spielberg, and along with studying this film, Affleck perfectly uses very ounce of talent in capturing the look, and feel of 1979-1980. "Argo" is not as deep of a film as "Munich", it's something else. It's a perfect straight story about something the world was watching, and yet did not know the measures taken in how it all really happened. I remember a time when hearing Ben Affleck was in a film or making a film, was not exciting at all. Now I am hooked for whatever he directs next.

"Argo" opens with a powerhouse of a scene, the siege of the US embassy in Iran, where 52 Americans were captured and held hostage. However, six managed to slip away and found refuge in the home of the Canadian ambassador, in the hopes to escape Iran before found and executed. The opening scene is executed in a fashion true to the real events and sights which unfolded that day of November 4, 1979. This is also where the film's gripping suspense begins and very very rarely quits. Ben Affleck plays CIA specialist Tony Mendez who after hearing numerous bad ideas of how to get the six out of Iran, including a six with bicycles and make them bike 350 miles to the border. In the wake of Hollywood sic-fi films like "Star Wars", "Star Trek", and "The Planet of The Apes", Mendez comes up with "the best bad idea" of pretending to film a sci-fi film in Iran called "Argo" as the cover for the six Americans being there and then flying them out on a commercial flight. In order to prove it can be done, Mendez looks to Hollywood Oscar winning make-up artist John Chambers (John Goodman) to help set up Black Op mission by pretending to make a fake film with a real cast, a real script, a real studio, and a real producer. They turn to Lester Siegel (Alan Arkin) to put up his own money for the movie in order to save the six Americans. In a film filled with pulse pounding suspense, the Hollywood scenes add a lot of humor and relaxation to the film. Goodman and Arkin are perfect as the film's comic relief, but the comedy isn't based on slapstick, it's based on the way Hollywood works. The film is quick in it's energetic pace and soaking with great old fashion cinematic suspense. Affleck wisely uses every inch of research and resource he had to make this picture right, and get the story right. This day and age most directors would of neglected the little details of the story thinking they're not important. Affleck is on a completely different level of masterful filmmaking with "Argo". He is not only showing history, he's got the edge to show history to the world for the first time. The Argo operation stayed top secret until Clinton declassified it in 1997.

Simply put, "Argo" is the best film I have seen in the theater since "Inception" , which goes all the way back to summer of 2010! I urge people to see this film, even if you know the outcome. It is just like "Apollo 13" where you may know the outcome, but the telling of the suspenseful events leading to it's dramatic end make the film a must-see. Believe me "Argo" is probably the first film since "Apollo 13" to have the same overall feeling in the end as "Apollo 13" had. Unlike a period piece, this is a rare modern film which never for a minute feels modern at all. "Argo" is a incredbly smart and bold film that has Affleck in line for a best director nomination and best picture nomination. The story is real, the people are real, the events happened. This is how Black Ops are carried out. In most Hollywood films, an armed group of Special Forces, like "The Expendables", would've been sent in to save the hostages in heavy gun fire and explosions. "Argo" is way too smart to be that kind of a film, and to all those films I have to say, 'Argo fuck yourself'.
2
Beasts of the Southern Wild 2012,  PG-13)
Beasts of the Southern Wild
So far........probably the best film of 2012. A wonderful and magical invitation to a very sacred and special place that if we saw it in real life we would never understand this lifestyle at all, most would consider it barbaric. Only through a movie like this can we truly understand the lives of these characters.
3
Skyfall 2012,  PG-13)
Skyfall
James Bond, the killer, the thriller, and sometimes tragedy, is back! The 23rd entry of the 50 year running series, and this time it's a masterful and epic triumph of the legendary character. Back in 2006 when Daniel Craig and company rebooted the Bond series, it breathed new life and originality back into the series. They transformed James Bond from a good and entertaining character series into a remarkable story structure of it's great and sometimes reckless character. One of the greatest highlights of "Casino Royale" in 2006 was being a huge departure from the routines of the previous James Bond pictures. "Skyfall" continues this new style of Bond, and yet somehow brilliantly fills in the modern gaps with a lot of classic Bond substance. Such as the film's choice of Bond car.
Q: "What were you expecting? An exploding pen? We don't really go for that these days."

The previous film, "Quantum of Solace" picked up exactly where "Casino Royale" ended, "Skyfall" does not play off of any of the previous Daniel Craig Bond films. All you need to know is that Bond is completely over Vesper and he is now the character we remember all the way back to "Dr. No". And yet Daniel Craig is still able to bring so much more to the Bond character than anyone else ever did, even Connery. "Skyfall" very rightly so takes it's place as one of the top two best Bond films ever!

The story beings with Bond chasing down a hired gunman who has stolen a list revealing all the undercover MI6 field agents. After an pulse riffling opening chase sequence, involving once again less CGI and more physical stunt work, the mission fails when Bond is accidentally shot on top a highspeed train. He falls hundreds of feet into a steam and is pronounced dead. 3 months later Bond resurfaces after hearing MI6 was bombed by the mysterious man with the list of undercover agents in his possession. Bond resumes command and takes the mission to uncover this villain, and to retrieve the list before MI6 agents are revealed and killed. Javier Bardem turns up as the very devilish Bond villain in "Skyfall" and not only steals his scenes, but very easily becomes the best Bond villain ever. Yes, better than Mr. Goldfinger. It is truly an Oscar caliber performance. Bond discovers his true mission and target, which is to kill M.

My interest with "Skyfall" grew more and more when the film's title was revealed. Based upon previous Bond films, you could easily assume Skyfall was the name of a mission, or the name of the satellite with a giant laser capable of melting entire cities.
Q: "We don't really go for that these days."
The greatest accomplishment with this particular film is that title refers to a part of Bond, which isn't revealed until it's third Act, a part of Bond we've never been able to explorer before. On the film's opening night, as I was driving to the theater, I was thinking about all the things which were revealed about Bond in "Casino Royale". One reason for loving "Casino Royale" is that we understand so much about why Bond is the way he is, and we see why he has issues with trusting certain people. So what was left to explore? When Bond meets Vesper on the train she calls him out as being a orphan, and to her surprise Bond admits it. I was thinking it would be interesting to know more about that side of Bond. And with that I can't say anything more, except see "Skyfall"! There is so much more style, character, and story here than there was in all the Roger Moore films combined.

Director Sam Mendes ("American Beauty", "Road To Perdition", "Revolutionary Road") has never directed an action/adventure picture before, and I sure hope he does again. Whether "Skyfall" is or is not be the greatest Bond film is up for debate. In my opinion it is the best directed Bond film. The action scenes are exhilarating, and just plain rock! The cinematography is gorgeous, especially the scenes in Scotland. I especially loved the fight scene in the Shanghai skyscraper between Bond and a hired gunman. I was sad to hear that David Arnold would not be composing the score for "Skyfall", as I was so impressed with his music style which clearly honors John Barry. Thomas Newman, who also isn't known for action scores, steps up with a score that is sure to get him an Oscar nomination and maybe even his first win. What amazes me more and more is that there are still the Bond girls James seduces to get closer to his real target, but in "Skyfall" there is a different kind of Bond girl we never witnessed before. I'm referring to M (Judi Dench), she is the real Bond girl of the film, and is the girl Bond will fight to the death to protect. Another reason why "Skyfall" and "Casino Royale" are my two favorites, the Bond girls were not the typical and casual Bond girls from the past. Even the film's song, "Skyfall" is actually about James and M, and that is way more meaningful than just having Adele sing from the point of view of the sexy dancing girl. As for Daniel Craig, not much as changed of him from what I originally stated in my review for "Casino Royale" back in 2006, he is the best James Bond ever!

I can see people comparing the structure of this film to "The Dark Knight", but so what? It's a structure that works, and no one is ripping off a great film like "The Dark Knight" here. I loved this film! It's not every day we get a new Bond film which ends up easily being contender for Best Picture. My favorite Bond film still remains "Casino Royale" for the scenes between James and Vesper alone. However, "Skyfall" now ranks as my second favorite Bond film, besting out the classic "Goldfinger". "Skyfall" proves that James Bond is now more unpredictable than ever before, there's no telling where or what these films will tackle or throw at us, and that's the beauty of this franchise's rebirth. This James Bond is one of the top five best films of 2012!
4
The Dark Knight Rises 2012,  PG-13)
5
Lincoln 2012,  PG-13)
6
Django Unchained 2012,  R)
7
The Perks of Being a Wallflower 2012,  PG-13)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The year's biggest surprise breakout film.
8
Life of Pi 2012,  PG)
Life of Pi
A remarkable story and wonderfully genuine journey into the heart and soul of the human spirit.
9
The Impossible 2012,  PG-13)
10
Prometheus 2012,  R)
11
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 2012,  PG-13)
12
Flight 2012,  R)
13
Ted 2012,  R)
14
Looper 2012,  R)
15
Zero Dark Thirty 2013,  R)
16
Cloud Atlas 2012,  R)
17
Marley 2012,  PG-13)
18
The Queen of Versailles 2012,  PG)
19
Silver Linings Playbook 2012,  R)
Silver Linings Playbook
Probably the best David O. Russel film since "Three Kings", just no where as great as "Three Kings". Filled with powerhouse performances. Jennifer Lawrence steals the show, with Oscar nominee written all over the screen. Bradley Cooper finally proves to me he is really good outside of his usual character persona. In the end the performers are pretty much what makes this film worth while. While the film turns out to be predictable and completely different than what we saw 3/4 of the way through, starting as a "Ordinary People" film and then suddenly becoming a "Bridget Jones" picture. The film and it's story still does not fail to charm and delight it's audience.

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