Like every year, the end of December is a time of
What books did I read this year?
What television shows did I love this year?
What movies rocked my world?
When I approach my “best movies” list – it’s important to
note that it’s more of a “favorite movies” list.
I don’t have the time – or the inclination really – to see
every movie that’s released throughout the year. I aim for what I’m already
interested in and am either happy or disappointed with the outcome.
This year, I found I had a lot to choose from.
The movie I thought would be my favorite going into the year
ended up on the list – but not in the top spot.
Also, it’s important to note, I suspect ‘Zero Dark Thirty’
would have made this list – but I didn’t get a chance to see it before the end
of the year. It’s definitely on my list for viewing in the upcoming weeks – I just
haven’t had a chance yet.
Here we go. This year’s most entertaining movies were:
10. The Expendables 2: Yes, I know, everyone is rolling
their eyes and disregarding this list almost instantaneously. I can’t help it.
I love these movies. I was 10 in 1985 – and I grew up on ‘Rocky,’ ‘The
Terminator,’ ‘Predator,’ ‘Universal Soldier,’ and ‘Rambo.’ ‘The Expendables 2’
is not going to win any awards. The actors aren’t going to earn any accolades.
Still, I love an R-rated action film with over-the-top battles and ridiculous
scenarios. Sylvester Stallone is the heart of the movie, but Jason Statham is
the anchor and Dolph Lundgren is a lot of the laughs. This isn’t a great film.
It is absolutely entertaining, though.
9. Moonrise Kingdom: This probably has the best cast of any
film this year. Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Ed Norton and
Tilda Swinton combined for a surreal ride – and one of the weirdest (yet
endearing) romance movies I’ve ever seen. Wes Anderson is the king of the
kitsch – and ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ doesn’t disappoint. The movie is set in 1965
and has an idyllic feel to it – but the comedy isn’t at all tired or out of
date. This is one of those films that people either love – or don’t get. The
humor isn’t for everyone – but it is for those that like to think outside the
8. Cabin in the Woods: This is the only “horror” movie that
I can even possibly recommend to anyone this year. Everything else in the genre
was pretty much a steaming pile of crap. ‘Cabin in the Woods’ is a lot more
than just a horror movie, though. It’s a satire, adventure, comedy, and
apocalyptic thriller – all wrapped up into one entertaining movie. Chris Hemsworth stars – but this
was filmed long before his Thor days. Joss Whedon co-wrote the film, and his
trademark touch is all over it – complete with a few ‘Buffy’ cameos. The movie
is not for those that don’t understand the horror genre – but it is important
to note that this is so much more than a slasher movie. There is a message here
– and there are a lot of laughs, too.
7. Ted: This movie is not for whiny people. It’s not for
politically correct people. It’s not for people that don’t have a sense of
humor. ‘Ted’ is unapologetically raunchy and inappropriate on just about every
level. It’s also warm-hearted and hilarious. I know it’s not supposed to be
funny – but a grown man wishing Lou Gehrig’s disease on another man is actually
kind of funny (at least the way it’s phrased). The ‘Flash Gordon’ obsession –
and subsequent hilarity – is also delightful. ‘Ted’ is not a movie that’s going
to be able to hold up forever – it will hold up for the foreseeable future,
6. Seven Psychopaths: Colin Farrell should only be in
indies. He’s good in whatever he does, mind you, but he shines in indie movies.
His three greatest performances come in ‘In Bruges,’ ‘Tigerland’ and ‘Seven
Psychopaths.’ Why he insists on making crap like ‘Total Recall’ is beyond me.
Still, ‘Seven Psychopaths’ isn’t all about Farrell. While the Irish lothario
shines, it’s Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson that actually
steal this flick. The movie is not for the faint of heart. It’s entirely
obnoxious and totally vulgar. It’s also all kinds of fun.
5. Lincoln: I thought this movie would be good – but boring –
when I went into it. It was definitely good – but it wasn’t boring. Instead of
being a straight biopic, ‘Lincoln’ focuses on the time period before
emancipation. Daniel Day Lewis is mesmerizing as the central character, but it’s
actually Tommy Lee Jones who steals the show. Lincoln is an interesting and
beloved historical figure. He’s also a great movie figure. Given the political
standings of our country today, ‘Lincoln’ actually manages to be current – even
though it’s covering a period hundreds of years ago.
4. Silver Linings Playbook: I’m not a big fan of Bradley
Cooper. I just want to get that out of the way. I have nothing against him. I
just don’t think he’s all that. He’s always going to be Sydney’s lame friend
Will from ‘Alias’ to me. Still, I think Cooper’s best work to date was in ‘Silver
Linings Playbook.’ While Cooper is supposed to drive the story in the film, it’s
actually Jennifer Lawrence (stealing every scene she’s in) that lends the movie
a certain amount of gravitas. Robert De Niro also shines as the father of a son
he just can’t quite understand. I get sick of “by the book” romances – like ‘The
Vow’ – so ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ was definitely a nice change of pace. If we
didn’t know it before, we definitely do now: Lawrence is going to earn at least
three Oscars during her career.
3. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: At the beginning of
the year, I thought this would be my favorite movie of the year. That was
before Peter Jackson announced he was splitting the book up into three movies,
though. After that I was leery. I loved the ‘Lord of the Rings,’ don’t get me
wrong, but separating the movies sounded like a shameless money grab to me. I
have to say that I loved the movie – despite the fact that it was too long.
And, yes, it was too long. Peter Jackson is a master of casting – and this
movie is no different. He does drag certain scenes out too long. However, the
things he does right are done so well that magical Middle Earth cannot be
denied. It still should have only been two films.
2. The Hunger Games: I know some fans were not happy with
this adaptation. I happened to love it, though. I don’t think there’s a better
young actress working today than Jennifer Lawrence. She manages to imbue
Katniss with the strength and general obliviousness that marks the character so
well in the books. The Hunger Games is more poignant than your standard teenage
fare. It’s about survival, redemption and the fight to overcome your
circumstances. Sure, I’m sure a lot of teenage girls tuned in for the eye candy
– but they stayed for a strong heroine that is everything that Bella of ‘Twilight’
1. The Avengers: You really couldn’t have asked for a better
comic book movie. The film was long – and yet it was entertaining throughout.
The cast clicked from the very beginning – and even characters that weren’t “super
human” – like Hawkeye and Black Widow – managed to be engaging. Robert Downey
Jr.’s Ironman may have been the centerpiece of the film – but no character was
given short shrift. I think the greatest feat for ‘The Avengers’ was that
everyone had at least one comedic moment and one heroic moment. No one “stole
the show.” The action sequences were breathtaking, the dialogue was poignant
and hilarious and, well, the Hulk was finally realized in an awesome way on the
big screen. For a lot of fans, this was the moment they realized Joss Whedon
was a genius. I’ve known since his ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ days – but it’s
nice to see him finally get the recognition he deserves. Bring on the sequel. I’m
Honorable mentions go to ‘Prometheus,’ ‘Brave,’ ‘Looper,’
and ‘The Grey.’
What do you think? What were the most entertaining movies of