2012 Half-Time Top 10

July 2, 2012 — 16 Comments

It’s July, the seventh month of the year, which means we’re officially into the second half of 2012. WHAT A HALF-YEAR IT’S BEEN! Okay, enough of that. I’m not going to sit here and pretend that 2012 so far has been particularly good in film releases. It doesn’t help that things get confused as to whether a film is from 2012 or 2011. Anyway, there were some good ones, and supposedly it’s the job of film bloggers to list said good ones.

Let’s get this straight once more. I don’t like ranked lists. Reading them is fine, but I don’t like holding myself to them. I don’t like crafting them. But screw it, I’m doing it anyway! So here’s how it’s going to go: I’m going to present a list of ten movies, unranked, and you all will look at that list and see it in all its glory and come to your own conclusions about which film I liked more than another film. Deal? Good. On with the show!

Moonrise Kingdom

I lied. I do have one bit of ranking. Moonrise Kingdom is my favourite film of the year so far, and by a healthy margin. On the one hand the film should be somewhat inconsequential, but I love every little thing about it. Everything. Seriously. It’s all great. I’ve seen it twice and I’m in love with it. Maybe my favourite Wes Anderson film since Rushmore. So there. My #1 of 2012 so far.

Monsieur Lazhar

The Canadian entry for the recent Oscars, and deservedly nominated. It’s a deeply affecting story about a man taking over for an elementary school class in the wake of a horrific tragedy. Where the film succeeds is that it avoids any of the typical “inspirational teacher” tropes, instead focusing on the teacher and a few of the children as outsiders mourning great loss. It’s not so much about a teacher promoting the value of education as an adult connecting with kids in a very difficult time and everyone finding solace in that interaction. Beautiful film.

Brave

Step down compared to other Pixar classics? Maybe. Beautifully animated, emotionally engaging, intimate story about a mother and a daughter coming to terms with each other? Definitely. At first I simply liked the film a lot. A second viewing caused me to love it. I’m sure Brave will end up being one of my more watched Pixar Blu-rays, much like Cars has surprisingly become.

The Avengers

Fun fun fun fun fun. Yeah, okay, so The Avengers is a fun movie. It’s also a giant mess and 20 minutes too long and the big action sequence in the middle of the film kind of falls flat. Right. But the characters are perfectly written and the actors pull it all off wonderfully, and the final action set-piece is a total blast. It’s not quite Star Trek, but if you’re looking for a good time and nothing more, The Avengers is a solid choice.

Safety Not Guaranteed

A pretty low key movie, very reminiscent in mannered approach to last year’s Another Earth. The advantage Safety Not Guaranteed has it is takes itself a little less seriously. It’s a comedy as well as a drama, and within it the characters really work. I also liked that the film didn’t resolve many of its plots, choosing instead to let things hang in a moment in time, suggesting what the future may hold without needing to actually go there.

The Secret World of Arrietty

Ghibli. Good shtuff. Quiet and manic and beautiful animation and all that jazz. I mean, really, it’s a wonderful film. I don’t feel the need to say more.

21 Jump Street

I’m still laughing about stuff in 21 Jump Street. It’s got a couple plotting issues that keep it from being as good as Lord and Miller’s feature debut, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, but the absurdist approach to comedy still totally does it for me. Jonah Hill is pretty great in it. Channing Tatum is a revelation. The funniest movie of the year so far and if another manages to be funnier I’ll be amazed and ecstatic.

The Cabin in the Woods

Horror-comedy, comedy-horror, I forget which one means what, but Cabin in the Woods is a hilarious, satirical comedy which aims to revel in horror rather than actually scare you with it. Fine by me. A horror satire this well-written and conceived hasn’t been seen since Scream, and while it may not ever reach the heights of that film,Cabin in the Woods is a totally worthy entry in the genre.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Yeah, I liked this movie. A lot. Sue me. It’s well-shot, well-crafted fantasy. It unfortunately stars Kristen Stewart, but I think the rest of the cast and the deft writing of her character make of for that problem and then some. It was also very refreshing to see a movie like this that doesn’t purposely leave things hanging just to set up a sequel. As it should be done, the film was successful purely on its own merits and thus the studio has requested a sequel be crafted for it. Pay attention, Hollywood!

Magic Mike

The year of Channing Tatum got a little less Tatum-y when G.I. Joe: Retaliation was pushed to 2013, but at least we still got Magic Mike. Soderbergh brings to the mainstream a follow-up of sorts to the same explorations he did in The Girlfriend Experience. The difference here is that he’s given the film a lively charm the previous film didn’t have. People have been talking up Matthew McConaughey as the best part of the film, but I was particularly impressed by Tatum. His ability to tap into an unambitious character with untapped deeper ambitions is great. I buy that person, and I buy his world, and I love Soderbergh’s look at the vacuousness of selling yourself for easy money and a good time. Poignant stuff, but with a goofy charm nonetheless.

So, what are your favourite films of 2012 so far, and how does my list stack up? Let me know in the comments.

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16 responses to 2012 Half-Time Top 10

  1. 

    I always hate your tastes, so I knew this would be a miserable and useless list before I decided to click on it and read the whole thing, and now I know I was right. Why isn’t Chronicle on this list? The fact that you included 21 Jump Street makes it a total joke. I haven’t seen Magic Mike, but I’m really pretty sure it’s not as good as Haywire. Not one of these movies is as good as reading a book. Has anyone really cared about Wes Anderson since Rushmore? What’s wrong with you? No, seriously, what’s wrong with you? These Blow!

    Miss you, buddy. 🙂

    • 

      lol, you’re a funny guy.

      But joking aside: I liked Chronicle, but I didn’t think it was that good. 21 Jump Street is HILARIOUS, which makes the joke awesome. Magic Mike is a quality movie, though I expect it to drop off the list in after the second half of the year, and Haywire was neat, but not particularly good. Rushmore is my favourite Anderson, but I’d seriously loved every Anderson film since, plus, people really seemed to go in for Fantastic Mr. Fox. What’s wrong with me? I’m crazy. No, seriously, I’m crazy. The list is life.

      Come on my podcast some time!

  2. 

    hmmm

    I’ve only seen 4 of your list thusfar this year… my list I guess would be (not in order)

    THE AVENGERS
    THE FP (I think I can count it as 2012?)
    BRAVE
    TAKE THIS WALTZ
    HAYWIRE
    THE RAID: REDEMPTION
    JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME
    GOD BLESS AMERICA
    THE CABIN IN THE WOODS
    21 JUMP STREET

    • 

      Jeff, Who Lives at Home is one I saw at TIFF last year. I haven’t seen The FP, though I hear it’s great. As for The Raid, I cannot abide that film. One of my least favourites of the year, though not quite Cosmopolis bad.

  3. 

    I’m glad there’s at least some one paying respects to Snow White & the Huntsman….the most complete summer film this year.

  4. 

    I’m right with you on Moonrise Kingdom, which is also my favorite movie of the year so far. It was Damsels in Distress before that, though I know there aren’t too many in that corner. I also enjoyed The Avengers (obviously) and Cabin in the Woods, so those would definitely be there for me. I still need to check out a few of these on your list.

    • 

      I wasn’t too taken with Damsels, unfortunately. There are also still a bunch of films from earlier in the year I need to check out. Oh my, and then the Fall is sure to be stuffed with greatness.

  5. 

    You have Lazhar, a 2011 movie released in USA in 2012, but you don’t have I Wish or Jeff Who Lives At Home which were released in 2012, but you saw in 2011.

    I am confused?

    • 

      Well, Lazhar was only released in Toronto in 2012, so that’s when I saw it. I saw both I Wish and Jeff at TIFF in 2011, which was way before the year was over, so they feel like 2011 films to me. Plus, I included I Wish in my Top 10 for 2011, and Jeff just missed the cut on my Top 20.

  6. 

    I just don’t consider festival releases to be the actual release because only a select few get to see the film. I rather go with the majority on film releases so I go with the US release date for films most of the time. I don’t know about Oscar nominated films that don’t have any forseeable release date in the year it is in contention for. I just don’t know.

    My Top 10 So Far
    01- This is Not a Film
    02- The Kid with a Bike
    03- Jeff Who Lives At Home
    04- I Wish
    05- Moonrise Kingdom
    06- Faust
    07- This is Forty (I can’t say anything else about it though!)
    08- The Secret World of Arrietty
    09- 21 Jump Street
    10- John Carter

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