Top Films of 2012
I never wrote any type of film review before because I’m not a film critic and I rarely see films in theaters. Actual film critics normally review the top ten films at the end of each year; however, I doubt I’ve seen ten films total in 2012. So my “top films” are really just films I bothered seeing.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK: A romantic comedy that flawlessly and exactingly portrays people who suffer from a devastating and incurable disease that destroys millions of American lives every year. I’m referring of course to Philadelphia Eagles fandom. De Niro is especially brilliant as the bookmaker dad banned from Eagles games for life for beating up fans of other teams, as is Jacki Weaver as his devoted, peacemaking wife (wearing a Kevin Kolb jersey, no less—yes, Philadelphia fans, 2008 was, like, ten billion years ago). The manic depression theme, on the other hand, enjoys typical Hollywood treatment: with the exception of a few token midnight screaming sessions early on, the serious drama quickly degenerates into the worst, most tired formulas of the past 100 years of cinema, as rather than take lithium or Zoloft, the Adorable White Couple just learns how to dance (and eventually love) from the Trusted Black Sidekick. And hey, he’s an Eagles fan, too!
TED: A cruder but less dark film in the “nasty talking animal” genre than HOWARD THE DUCK (sleazy alcoholic duck) or the French BAXTER (a homicidal bull terrier); here we’re just dealing with a foul-mouthed pot-smoking teddy bear. Relentlessly male humor as well; the only woman I know willing to sit through this film is Mila Kunis, and she’s IN it.
HOLY MOTORS: Within the two hour running time of this offbeat, compelling, at times disturbing, experimental French film, Denis Lavant as the cinematically-named “Monsieur Oscar” plays, in the words of IMDB, a “captain of industry, assassin, beggar, monster, family man…” Some of you may also remember this description from reports of the Romney campaign.
MOONRISE KINGDOM: More of the usual from hipster god Wes Anderson: the saturated 1970s glow, the Hank Williams soundtrack, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand. My writer friend in Iowa wrote me: “Saw it with a small late Sunday crowd. Everyone looked sorta mystified filing out.” I saw it at Ritz East in Old City Philadelphia surrounded by hipsters who nonetheless weren’t nearly as amused by a deadpan, shirtless Bill Murray clutching a bottle of wine as he headed outdoors to chop down a tree as I was.
THE MASTER: Less fantastical than MAGNOLIA (i.e. no deluge of frogs from the heavens), more haunting (I think) than THERE WILL BE BLOOD, THE MASTER is probably Paul Thomas Anderson’s best film as well as the best film I saw in 2012. If you’re still not sure whether Joaquin Phoenix’s recent “breakdown” wasn’t real, his intense, explosive Academy-worthy performance in this film won’t help. Philip Seymour Hoffman in turn is even more deserving of an Oscar here than he was in 2006, when his Truman Capote beat Phoenix’s Johnny Cash (who should have won, in my opinion). In the words of Public Enemy: “If you don’t own THE MASTER, then THE MASTER owns you.”