Welcome to the Screen-Connections official ‘Best Of 2012’ section featuring our official selections for the best Films of the year 2012.
*Please note that the titles on this list are not in any specific order.
Every now and then an action movie comes along that regardless of how high your expectations are it still manages to blow your mind. Enter ‘Dredd’. I had high hopes for this film after the trailers and hearing some very positive early reviews, but it still managed to surpass my expectations. The film really stays true to the character of Judge Dredd as well as the gritty and brutal nature of the comics, and they couldn’t of selected a better person than Karl Urban to portray the role of the iconic Judge. Karl Urban is Judge Dredd in every way. He has the vibe, the irritated look and the gruff voice we’d all imagine the character having from the comics. Lena Heady (Laid To Rest, Game of Thrones) does an amazing job as the villain Ma-ma and executes the role with such eery perfection you can’t help but feel intimidated by her presence whenever she’s on the screen. The film’s tone is even more brutal than we could of hoped for, bringing the level of bloody violence very near horror level while maintaining a slick and cool feel throughout. The Slo-mo scenes are breathtaking, and look exceptionally beautiful in 3D. It’s a shame the film did so poorly in theaters because I would of really loved to see where the series went if they were given the opportunity to continue, but with the poor box office intake the chances of more films in the series is looking pretty grim. ‘Dredd’ was definitely a winner in my book and my favorite film of 2012.
The Cabin In The Woods (Lionsgate)
Now this is the kind of film that us hardcore horror nerds dream of. It manages to bring in all the elements of our favorite films, and then out of it all evolves something beyond which we only dreamed of seeing come to life. For those who still haven’t seen this film, I am going to keep this one short so as not to ruin anything crucial to the plot. This is definitely one of those films it is far better to go into not knowing anything, thought the repeat value of this film is remarkably great as well. I saw the film in theaters when first released, watched the BluRay twice the first week I picked it up, and was already excited to view it again days after. If you are a horror fan and haven’t seen this film yet, you should probably close your internet browser now and get on it.
The Dark Knight Rises (Warner Bros)
OK, I know some of you are either rolling your eyes or shaking your head right now, but I felt the final chapter in Christopher Nolans ‘Batman’ Trilogy was absolutely amazing. He managed to make a Batman film that really delved into the affect of The Batman’s influence on Gotham as opposed to focusing solely on the characters exploits. Sure Bruce Wayne is still our key focus, but I felt the film was really more about what The Batman had brought to Gotham as opposed to what he was doing. It had some pretty fantastic action sequences, and great performances all around. Anne Hathaway blew me away with her portrayal of Catwoman/Selina Kyle. I would go so far as to say she nailed the role far better than I’ve ever seen another actress do previously. While I know many were not fond of Tom Hardy as Bane I thought he was great. He really managed to keep us feeling the fire and intensity of the character with only his eyes visible, and that takes some serious talent. While some may have been disappointed, I know there are still many others who will agree with me that this was a truly remarkable end to a truly remarkable trilogy, and the best live action interpretation of Batman I’ve ever seen hit the screen.
The Divide (Anchor Bay)
I know this one was on a number of lists last year but unfortunately not all of us were fortunate enough to have the pleasure of viewing the film at that time. The theatrical run earlier this year was so limited that many who had been anticipating this film for years already (such as myself) were forced to wait until the BluRay hit stores to check it out. In short, it was well worth the wait. This is one of those films that just manages to make you uncomfortable and feel just flat out dirty throughout while watching. The score is mesmerizing, and I truly don’t think this film would of been nearly as affective as it was without the truly remarkable score that it had. The majority of the lines in the film were improvised by the actors as well, basically only using the script as a guide. The actors all stayed in this room for the duration of filming in order to truly get into the roles and even had a dietician on set to keep things safe as the actors had to drop weight drastically, and the outcome even resulted with numerous cast members hating each other on set, which i think truly helps to really drive home the believability and just flat out rawness that this film displays. While I am a fan of Xavier Gem’s previous film ‘Frontiere(s)’ this film is truly a step forward for him as a filmmaker. If he continues on this path he will be a force to be reckoned with.
Killer Joe (LD Entertainment)
First off, let me start by saying that I would in no way consider myself a fan of Matthew McConaughey. I have nothing against his acting, I have just never found that most films with him I’ve seen have ever really benefited from his contributions aside from a select few such as Frailty. Well, that opinion officially changed when I finished the truly remarkable and unsettling ‘Killer Joe.’ This film manages to execute everything it tries to flawlessly and the performances are top caliber all around. While McConaughey may have stolen the show, a few others certainly were not left unnoticed. Thomas Haden Church does a tremendous job and is almost as great as McConaughey. Juno Temple, Gina Gershon and Emile Hirsch are all spot on in their performances. Gina Gershon executes her role with such perfection that it took me over half the film to even recognize it was her and I am quite familiar with her as an actr1ess. This was one of those films where there was no question that it would be on my list and is definitely one of my favorites of the year. I would highly recommend it to everyone.
Sinister is one of those films that takes some common and quite overrused ideas and actually manages to wring something truly fresh out of them. The idea is so basic and overdone it can make you question if the film is really worth your time. My advice, definitely check it out. The film manages to maintain an exceedingly calm tone throughout while managing to have an unsettling undertone that continues to creep and build throughout the film until the very end. It never really picks up quickly into any scenarios, everything is done slowly and methodically enough to make you feel uneasy. If you enjoy those kind of films such as I do and are looking for an unsettling and creepy thriller that is brilliantly constructed and executed you can’t go wrong in giving this one a shot.
Django Unchained (The Weinstein Company)
Quentin Tarantino delivers once again with a phenomenal film that truly utilizes Tarantino’s writing and directing ability to the extreme. This is the type of film that if anyone else had been behind it I most likely wouldn’t be the least bit interested, but if there is one thing you can say about me, it’s that certain filmmakers like Tarantino, no matter what type of films they do, it’s impossible for me not to check them out. This film very possibly has the wittiest dialogue and the most humor of any of Tarantino’s films to date. The casting couldn’t be more phenomenal. Waltz, Foxx, Dicaprio, Jackson and pretty much everyone else couldn’t be more on mark. If you are a fan of Tarantino’s work and haven’t checked this one out yet, you are definitely going to want to do so, regardless of how you may normally feel about this genre of film.
Prometheus (20th Century Fox)
There has certainly been a lot of mixed feelings from people regarding this film, and I am really quite shocked that so many people disliked it, and with such passion. I thought the film did a fantastic job of lightly bringing in elements of a series we all know and love while still being it’s own film in every way. I get the feeling a number of people badmouthing the film were upset due to it’s lack of Aliens and what they expected to be a full blown Alien prequel, while I feel that is actually one of the reasons the film is so strong. Regardless of how so many others feel about the film, i thought it was brilliantly accomplished and definitely one of the best films of the year.
Detention (Samuel Goldwyn Films/Sony)
Here is one of those films that only a very specific group of people will appreciate. If you happen to fit into that group (such as I do) then chances are you absolutely loved the kooky madness that was ‘Detention.’ Everything about this film was so off to top, cliche and just flat out weird, yet somehow it was done in a way that absolutely mastered the direction intended with flying colors and had me loving every minute of it. This is a film you can’t even categorize properly as it covers what seems like the majority of the major film genres and themes of our time into one carefully constructed collage. I would highly recommend checking out this film, but I know as many people (or quite possibly more) will hate the film as much as the rest of us loved it.
Wreck It Ralph (Disney)
Now this was a film that brought back memories. This film took on the video game world in a way I never could of never imagined possible. The film brings in characters you have known and loved for years, combining elements from everything from Pac Man to Street Fighter, all the way to Sonic The Hedgehog, and it does it with some serious style too. I have always been a fan of cartoons and animation, but the bundle of CGi films that come out every year now leave me finding a small few I truly enjoy, and it has been years since a film like this has come around in my opinion. The film keeps up a surprisingly hilarious array of events that will have you laughing more than half of the comedy’s you’ve seen this year, some really impressive action and races, while at the same time really displaying some true heart and employing morals of friendship and one’s place in life without causing them to feel like they are being hammered into your brain. If you are looking for a film to watch with the whole family, then I can’t recommend this one highly enough.
The Barrens (Anchor Bay)
After the mess that was 11-11-11 I know many had some serious doubts about Darren Lynn Bousmans next film outing ‘The Barrens’ and while I’m sure a number of people despised the film and are sure to give me some grief over this selection, I absolutely loved this film. Bousman takes on this film with a completely different style than we have ever seen from him previously. While even the trailers for this film may make it appear to be a straight out horror film, the case is it’s actually not a horror film in any way. If I had to relate this film to other works in cinema previously I think the most proper comparison would be to Hitchcock thrillers. The film makes an effort to stay away from the gore and deaths, and focus on the struggles of an already unhappy family as they try to make it through a camping trip gone wrong. When the father starts to act strangely and people start to show up dead, nobody if he has lost his mind or if it’s someone or something else murdering these people. This film does an excellent job of building up questions and tension and continually making you continually wonder what really is going on here. Stephen Moyer (True Blood) is not someone I am usually overly fond of, but he does a phenomenal job in the lead role and really makes you feel the characters struggle.
Citadel (Cinedigm/New Video)
Citadel was one of those films that if done even mildly different and by anyone without personal experience in such matters would of been something completely different. The fact that the film was written and directed by Ciaran Foy who made this film partly to help himself get over his own extreme case of agoraphobia helps mold this into a film with true heart and a surprisingly strong emotional overtone, as well as being something truly terrifying. This is a truly breathtaking film and well worth a watch.
The Collection (LD Entertainment)
The Collection is one of those rare sequels that completely changes the formula from the original film and yet still manages to succeed in every form. The film plays out as more of a balls out action film than a horror film, but it pulls it off with style. It is one of those sequels I will be watching repeatedly for years to come and that I’m pretty sure will still bring a smile to my fave two years and 20 views later. Josh Stewart has managed to really bring the character of anti-hero Arkin to a point where I can’t help but love him and am cheering for him throughout (which is a rare feat for a leading role in a horror film.) If you were a fan of the first film ‘The Collector’ then you definitely need to check this one out, chances are you won’t regret it.
John Dies At The End (Magnet Releasing)
This is one film I had trouble deciding how I felt about due to my attachment to the book which is probably one of my favorite novels to date. Don Coscarelli manages to brilliantly capture the tone of the book and you can tell that he is a huge fan of the novel as well. The first half of the film is spot on with the book, in fact the opening scene with the ax is pretty much word for word with the novel. The second half of the film is where I find issues with the direction. Without giving away too much, let’s just say they manage to completely change things, kill characters that are key to the sequel novel (This Book Is Full Of Spiders) as well as remove a HUGE side plot from the story which results in a mind blowing ending that is the one reason the title is so fantastic. To remove what I felt were probably the most important elements of the novel and the huge mind blowing twist which makes the title so damn great is just wrong in my opinion. Regardless of my feelings on the direction taken, I still cannot say this film was anything short of fantastic in the way that it was achieved, and probably no filmmaker other than Coscarelli could have possibly done such a wonderful job of bringing this amazingly bizarre novel to life. No matter my issues with it, it is most definitely a must see film.
Argo (Warner Bros)
For anyone who has seen the previous two films Ben Affleck has directed (Gone Baby Gone, The Town) you already know what a talented filmmaker the man truly is, and in my opinion directing is definitely his calling and I hope he sticks with it. Argo is quite a different film from his other two, but not any less breathtaking and amazing, if anything it’s possibly his best film yet. The intensity, heart and tone of the film is flat out amazing. The choices for casting (which are compared to the real life people during the end credits) is phenomenal and couldn’t of been any better. I can’t even go into everything that makes this film so truly wonderful without writing an article on it alone, so I will just say that this is a truly amazing film and should definitely be on everyone’s to see list if you haven’t already checked it out.