Wednesday, December 19, 2012

What are the most entertaining movies of the year?

Like every year, the end of December is a time of reflection.

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 The movie is set in 1965 and has an idyllic feel to it – but the comedy isn’t at all tired or out of date.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 box.

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, though.

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’ is not.

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 ready.

Honorable mentions go to ‘Prometheus,’ ‘Brave,’ ‘Looper,’ and ‘The Grey.’ 

What do you think? What were the most entertaining movies of the year?


Blogger A. L. Jambor said...

The Expendables are one of my guilty pleasures. I can't argue with your list, and now I have to see Ted.

December 20, 2012 at 8:33 AM 

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