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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.