My Favorite Movies of 2012

It’s that time of the year, when everybody lists out their favorite movies. Here’s what I’ve seen this year, in order of how much I enjoyed them, and a list of films I’d like to see at some time.

Moonrise Kingdom. This film set off a Wes Anderson filmfest in my house for the weeks after we saw this: The Royal Tanenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, even (god help us) The Life Aquatic. We couldn’t find Rushmore for rent, which is a shame, because I liked that one best of all. Anyway, from the dollhouse intro to a great turn by Ed Norton as the scout leader (LOVED that tree house), to all that love-among-the-misfits-but-wait-the-misfits-are-us  fun, it was a pure joy. I dread what Anderson does next.

Silver Linings Playbook. Wasn’t a perfect movie and, honestly, this isn’t an Eagles pick, but I found the whole thing very winning. I could watch Jennifer Lawrence all day long (though I have not seen Hunger Games, though I listened to the books) and Bradley Cooper goes from a schlub to a movie star at the end, which Virginia loved. The dance was great, DeNiro was fun, and I didn’t even remember that Chris Tucker used to be, well, Chris Tucker. I’d watch it again.

Beasts of the Southern Wild. If you haven’t seen, you should. Quvenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry are unbelievably compelling as a daughter-and-dad living in the Bathtub of Bayou Louisiana.

Lincoln. Daniel Day-Lewis basically inhabits the 16th president of the United States in an amazing performance. The movie was OK—I mean, honestly, it was about how to push through legislation nobody thinks possible, but Day-Lewis and Sally Field were great. Recently read John Meacham’s bio of Thomas Jefferson, and Jefferson’s unwillingness to tackle a practice he absolutely knew was wrong (and compounded then by enslaving his own children) brought Lincoln’s courage and greatness in sharp relief.

Argo. You go, Ben Affleck. Why he’s playing somebody named Tony Mendez, I don’t get, but he directed a taut, fun political thriller.

Anna Karenina. Keira Knightley is luminous in this re-telling of Tolstoy’s masterpiece. Joe Wright plays up the artifice of 19th century Russian society by staging large parts of this on, well, a stage. It doesn’t take a whole lot of thinking to get his point, but, hey, it’s his movie, he did it splendidly, and it didn’t take away from Knightley. My one complaint: the cavalry officer she throws it all away for was a rather unattractive mess. Ah, love.

Prometheus. Did it make a lot of sense? No. But people, it’s a horror movie. THEY NEVER MAKE SENSE! Ridley Scott can sure create a world. Dunno if I’ll go catch the sequel, though.

Hitchcock: I liked it, but I also thought the movie missed out on Hitch’s glib humor. What I remember of his old TV show, he was way funnier than Anthony Hopkins. Scarlett Johansson and Jessica Biel were gorgeous, and Johansson did a very credible Janet Leigh. The idea of a lecherous director and Johansson makes me think of … of …

To Rome with Love. Just glad that Woody Allen now lets somebody a half-century younger get the girl. And frankly, you can have Ellen Page.

The Impossible. If Naomi Watts wins an Academy Award for this film, I’m out of the Oscar forecasting business. I thought she was OK, and the effects were amazing, but the film’s (non)treatment of the deaths of 140,000 brown people was pretty appalling. And the dad’s decision to abandon his surviving kids to blindly search for his wife and son was just maddening. By some dumb luck, it all worked out, and I’m thankful—for them. But I pretty much never want to hear a word about this film again.

Jeff Who Lives at Home. It’s been six months and I still have to say, the worst movie I have seen in years. Appallingly, embarrassingly bad. Ed Helms, Susan Sarandon and Jason Segal should have returned their paychecks and the Duplass brothers should be banned from making movies. I mean, forever.

What I would still like to see:

  • Skyfall
  • Django Unchained
  • The Hunger Games
  • The Dark Knight Also Rises
  • The Master
  • Life of Pi
  • Looper
  • Seven Psychopaths
  • Flight
  • Hitchcock
  • Zero Dark Thirty
  • Brave

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