I know, I know, this isn’t about cars. But hey, everyone loves movies, right?
I didn’t get to see all the big movies this year, but of the ones I did, these are worth mentioning.
I struggled to remember many good movies this year, until I scanned down the list of releases. Turns out there were quite a few blinders after all. In approximate increasing order of awesomeness:
- Safety Not Guaranteed – a quiet movie about a social misfit who advertises for a time-travelling companion, billed as a comedy but it really isn’t. A slow-burner. Feels Australian for some reason.
- The Raid: Redemption – the only action movie to make my cut, which I’ve included just because it achieved the impossible by being pure fighty action and ending up not being shit. Indonesian with subtitles (yes, really).
- Ted – foul-mouthed teddy bear, from Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) with Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis. And Flash Gordon.
- Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – Just another British rom-com, but nicely done. Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt figure out how to … well, the clue’s in the title.
- Brave – Pixar’s latest, that’s all you need to know. As brilliant as they all are.
- Skyfall – Oh wait, this is another action movie that’s made the cut! Well blow me. I loved this – typical James Bond fare (i.e. implausible) and really, really good fun. Only tarnished by the trailer giving too much away.
- Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – Another quiet one, this time featuring the unlikely pairing of Keira Knightley and Steve Carell keeping each other company as Armageddon looms. Really touching and very effective.
My top three of the year keep rearranging themselves – if you ask me again next week they’ll be in a different order – but for what it’s worth, this is how they stand at this precise moment:
- The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! (released as The Pirates! Band of Misfits in some countries) – Aardman’s latest claymation masterpiece is as wonderful as Wallace & Gromit. Undeservedly overlooked and completely fabulous.
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel – Old farts retire to India. Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson, Bill Nighy, Penelope Wilton – how can it be anything other than magical. Judi Dench’s scene in the call centre is one of the finest I’ve ever seen, anywhere.
- Chronicle – Feel a bit bad putting this above the other two as it’s clearly not as good as them – but I still enjoyed it enormously and so it’s my number one, today at least. Don’t read anything about it, don’t seek out the trailer, just watch it. The less you know, the better.
Remembering bad movies seems a lot easier … when I’ve paid 8 quid to spend two hours doing something rather less enjoyable than sandpapering my scrotum, it tends to stick. Here are the worst offenders of 2012.
- Keith Lemon The Movie – Now to be fair, this isn’t actually terrible enough to be in this list – I did titter a few times. It’s the disappointment that secures its inclusion. Keith Lemon’s TV show Celebrity Juice is very funny, so there’s no excuse for this to be a tired by-the-numbers production-line yawnfest with probably the worst script of the year. Such a missed opportunity.
- Battleship – Awful. Just awful.
- John Carter – Overblown muddled horrible mess.
- Wrath of the Titans – Just stop, please. How are we as a species spending tens of millions on this kind of crap when cancer still exists?
- Snow White and the Huntsman – Oh god just kill me now, please. You can’t keep making the same film over and over again and expect people to keep paying to see it. Oh you can? Oh shit. We’re doomed.
And the worst film of the year, by a COUNTRY MILE – the film that had me in the cinema with my eyes closed within ten minutes of the start, desperately trying to go somewhere else in my head rather than endure any more of this achingly pestilent crap. That disease-ridden carbuncle is: The Expendables 2. Somebody please stop Sylvester Stallone before he makes the third one. For the good of humanity. What if aliens invade and judge human achievement on this turd? We’re all DOOMED I tells ya.
Oh god, I feel sick all over again. I PAID to see that. Eurgh, I feel so dirty.
And the rest
Now I’ve had a shower and am feeling a little better, there’s just enough time to say a few words on some other 2012 films that were noteworthy for various reasons:
- The Bourne Legacy – Surprisingly not bad despite the story not following Matt Damon’s Bourne at all. Jeremy Renner makes a splendid alternative lead man, and the ladies love him so you can take your date to it Not nearly as sharp as the first 3 Bourne movies but as a new direction it still has legs.
- Men in Black 3 – Noteworthy for not being rubbish. Ludicrous, of course, but great fun.
- The Dark Knight Rises – I’d've liked this so much more if it wasn’t for one thing: The Dark Knight. It’s too similar to the previous film, and this one doesn’t have The Joker in it. Meh.
- Cabin in the Woods – From Buffy writer Joss Whedon, on the surface it’s a group of teenagers getting shocked in the woods, just like a million other movies. But watch it. It isn’t. And it’s rather good because of that.
- Marvel Avengers Assemble – (simply The Avengers in some countries). Somehow less than the sum of its parts. Yes, it’s fun having all the superheroes getting together but it all feels a bit undercooked. And I don’t find Mark Ruffalo at all convincing (in anything). Despite that, somehow it’s now the third highest grossing movie of all time, behind Avatar and Titanic (?!?!?!)
- Prometheus – Pretty good, but room for improvement. The premise seems intentionally confusing (so there’s wiggle-room for other films to explain it) and there are some properly smart ideas that are sadly under-explored in favour of silly action nonsense. In all, it isn’t the film it could’ve been. Maybe it needs a Blade-Runner-style Director’s Cut. Maybe that was Ridley Scott’s plan all along…
- Piranha 3DD – This film got an absolute hammering by the critics, but I think they missed the point. It’s a spoof. The clue’s in the name – Piranha 3-double-D – and if you take it at that level (taking the mick out of its own predecessor Piranha 3D), then it’s really rather funny. Not great, I grant you, but not terrible either.
- Iron Sky – Worth a mention just for the Nazis-have-been-hiding-on-the-moon-for-half-a-century plot. Nothing more than a curio really – it’s only an average film – but it’s good to see someone trying something different, and it’s certainly something to talk about.
- Killer Joe – Holy shit, Matthew McConaughey’s made a movie in which he ISN’T AWFUL! I never thought I’d see the day. Not a bad movie either. Definitely one for the grown-ups though – nudity and violence abound… but that gives the wrong impression. It isn’t your usual horror titillation. It’s much darker than that.
And that’s the end of that.
The Oscars are just round the corner – I might put up my predictions if I have any strong feelings one way or the other. Pretty safe to say not many of my picks will be in the list of nominees…
Happy New Year everyone!