My top ten favorite films of 2012 are underway, but first a few favorites that missed the cut:
ARGO- Ben Affleck's crisply entertaining docudrama of the outrageous mission to save
young Americans during the Iranian Hostage Crisis is a tale so
incredible not to be true. Intelligently written by Chris Terrio, Argo
is big, immense Hollywood drama in the truest sense, harkening back to
glory days of 1970s while remaining quintessential entertainment.
Affleck, in his third time in the directors chair keeps a sturdy hand,
maintaining the potent mixture of gloss and reality that evolves in a
third act that ranks as one of the strongest and nerviest of the year.
Hyperbole aside, he gets better and more assured with each outing.
CABIN IN THE WOODS-
Drew Goddard's insanely clever meta horror show, aided with a script
co-written by Joss Whedon, was the best B-movie ride of 2012-- a twisty
and enticing unraveling and subversive display of wit and showmanship. A
horror flick playing on the tracks of both parody and homage with a
gleeful sense of humor and menacing pace of terror-- it's perhaps the
best episode never aired of The Twilight Zone, as it extracts the
archetypes and past times of the horror staple, upending it with a zest
and control. The delirious and diabolical conclusion ranks as one of
the nuttiest and niftiest slights of hands in modern horror filmmaking.
JEFF, WHO LIVES AT HOME- Perhaps 2012's most underrated film. A Homeric odyssey re-imagined as an indie slacker tale. Sadly released without much conviction and left to near rust, Jeff, Who Lives at Home,
from the Duplass Brothers deserved better and far more richer returns
as it maneuvered through an improbable, but utterly hopeful, day of
chance and circumstance as seen through the eyes of it's sad man-child
leading character, played with a perfect mixture of flightiness and
inquisitiveness by Jason Segal. The great surprise from this quietly
playful comedy-drama was how it movingly sneaks into your heart with the
slightest of fanfare.
PARANORMAN- The wizards of Laika Animation, the same that brought us the wonderfully rich view of lonely childhood in 2009's Coraline do the very same with ParaNorman, an unsuspecting stop motion riff on monster movie channeled into a clever and incisive coming of age tale of a lost young boy with a peculiar gift. The great gleeful surprise of ParaNorman is its generosity of humor (the film features quite possibly the most hopefully positive gay joke in cinematic history-- perhaps an easy feat), richness of animation and wonderfully lived-in characterization of a lonely, smart as a whip young man whose peculiarities in the end save the day.
YOUR SISTER'S SISTER- Unassuming would be a perfect word to describe Your Sister's Sister, a deftly nimble performance piece indie drama that takes place nearly exclusively in a rustic cabin populated by three actors, all of whom are at the top of their game. Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt and Rosemarie DeWitt mark an incredible triptych in Lynn Shelton's incisive and sensitively written talk-fest. In the spirit of quiet offerings, Your Sister's Sister was the loudest attraction in barely noticed art house movie houses in all of the summer of 2012.