The Best Films Of 2012February 1, 2013
Metal Arcade takes a look back at the best films of 2012.
We’re taking a look back at the best films of 2012. Here, a few of our writers recall the movies that stood out from the rest last year. Don’t forget to vote in our poll at the end!
It saddens me when people say that The Dark Knight Rises is a mediocre film at best. However, there is truth to their claims about an unexpectedly slow first hour and egregious plot holes, and so I do not think that the final act in The Dark Knight trilogy is the best film of 2012. However, no other movie moved me, excited me, and above all made me jump out of my seat and applaud quite like this one did. Not only is it a hopeful, emotionally resonant comic book film, it is one of the greatest examples of how to bring a trilogy to a satisfying conclusion. Most comic book films have failed to bring such closure to their respective series, but not this one. A massively ambitious blend of brilliant action scenes, a great storyline, bold direction and the greatest performances in the series (aside from Heath Ledger’s untouchable Joker), The Dark Knight Rises is a fantastic film that continues to impress the fanboy in me upon every viewing. There were better films released in the past year, but the ending to Christopher Nolan’s legendary trilogy is the one I’ll remember most fondly.
2012 was not, for me, a particularly good year for cinema. I felt Hollywood was torn between trying too hard and not trying hard enough, filling the screen with movies that either attempted to be deeper than they were meant to be, or failing miserably to live up to hype of past successes. For that reason I reached across the pond, choosing the Indonesian hit The Raid: Redemption as my top film of 2012, a film completely unabashed about its content. There are literally only moments of exposition splashed across a landscape of genius cinematic carnage as one fight scene bleeds into another, becoming almost a dance of death and destruction the whole way through. The film’s story, such as it is, revolves around a SWAT team sent to a building they’d later learn housed, on all its floors, every seedy thug trope one could hope for. One man in particular ends up leading the men when their superior goes down, floor by floor, each one harder than the last. The Raid: Redemption does not attempt to be more than it is, a purely action film meant only to entertain, and as such is able to focus on said action and create some of the most intense, well-choreographed moments in martial arts history. One not to miss for lovers of foreign film and martial arts alike!
Runner up 1: Django Unchained
Subject matter aside, an intense and enjoyable film, though perhaps a bit overrated. The acting is superb, but the narrative is riddled with quirks that make it difficult to see the story as more than tacked-on at times. Still, one to own.
Runner up 2: Magic Mike
WAIT! I know you’re reading this thinking “WTF?” but, really, this movie broke serious ground. Granted, the plot was as good as the acting (read: terrible) but the surplus of man-flesh, while perhaps not a comfortable topic for all, took a giant leap toward some semblance of sexual equality in cinema. Still a ways to go, but by both having the balls (punny!) to have A-grade actors drop trow and be as successful as it was, the movie proved if nothing else that men are not the only ones going to the movies. Magic Mike gets a thumbs up from me not for what it is, but for what it did to further the cracks in an overly prudish and often misogynous society.
Looking back at 2012, one can certainly say there wasn’t any kind of shortage in terms of film diversity. More so than in most years, audiences were treated to everything from spectacular superhero flicks to gripping Civil War era dramas. And while I still haven’t seen every blockbuster that came to fruition in 2012, I did view enough of last years films to come up with a few favorites.
On top of my list, as admittedly most Wachowski sibling movies usually are, is Cloud Atlas. Cloud Atlas is the kind of film that leaves you unsure of your opinions and emotions, forcing you to stew on the subject matter until you come to some sort of concrete decision regarding whether you loved or hated the movie. I fell into the former category, as I was swept away in the film’s complex, millennia-spanning narrative, and perfectly executed performances by the likes of Tom Hanks and Halle Barry. As a matter of fact, one of my favorite aspects of Cloud Atlas was just how amazingly different each character was, especially considering that every actor performed multiple roles! And adding to an already great film is a beautiful score, which serves as its own kind of storyteller as its melody carries on through Cloud Atlas’ ages.
But however good all the other elements of Cloud Atlas are, the most powerful one the film puts forth is its underlying message: everyone, throughout all space and time, is connected, and the choices that we make on a day-to-day basis have consequences that echo throughout eternity. While I’m quite not sure what that theme implies about my own life, it’s heavy enough to provoke some pretty great thought. And hey, when any movie does that, it’s got to be good, right?
Continuing, while Cloud Atlas was probably my favorite film from last year, there were without a doubt some other gems to hit the silver screen in 2012. Among these are Django Unchained, a superb Tarantino joint with the director’s usual flair, and of course the conclusion to Nolan’s spectacular Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises.
While I haven’t seen every big film this year (I even missed a few from some of the above writers’ lists), I thought that overall it was quite a strong year for cinema. Being a comic fan, I absolutely loved The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man. I thought that the James Bond franchise saw a triumphant return with Skyfall. The Raid: Redemption was one of the best martial arts films in recent years. If I had to pick a favorite out of all these, I’d have to go with the one I’ve re-watched the most: The Avengers. As I said in my review, it’s just an exceedingly fun movie, and every character is perfectly represented. The chemistry between the cast was on point, the computer graphics were fantastic, and The Hulk finally got his due. Here’s hoping that 2013 provides as many interesting films as 2012 did.
What was your favorite film of 2012? Vote in our poll below!