2012 was an amazing year for movies. There were so many great movies that I had a hard time coming up with just 10. In fact, there a couple dozen movies I consider worthy of watching at least once if you haven't already. So instead of doling out a top 10, I'm offering up 9 Best Picture nominees (like the 9 nominated this year) that the Academy didn't and probably wouldn't even consider because they're all a bunch of grumpy old men. I'll then compile an actual top ten list that will include some Best Picture nominees that I thought were amazing. I figured this was the best way to compile all the great movies I've seen that came out last year!
But before we get to the first three nominees, I want to mention 9 (yes, 9!) other movies that deserve at least an honorable mention:
Jeff, Who Lives at Home - A sweet charmer of a movie, this is the Duplass brothers at their best. It's a short and fun movie that will have you laughing and maybe crying just a little bit.
Safety Not Guaranteed - Another indie darling - Safety Not Guaranteed was equally funny and touching. With great performances by Aubrey Plaza, Jake Johnson and Mark Duplass, this film hits all the right notes and doesn't wear out its adorkable charm.
Haywire - This one may have flown under everybody's radar, but it's another great Steven Soderberg vehicle that is heavy on the action and skimpy on dialogue. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, but Soderberg knows how to make a lot with less and Haywire is no exception. It's like an artistic and poetic Bourne movie.
Moonrise Kingdom - If you like Wes Anderson, you'll love this movie. It's quirky and charming and filled with a cast of characters that you'll either love or love to hate. Unlike most Anderson movies where nothing really happens - this movie does have some action involved and it's fun to see where the movie goes. A great looking movie that deserved at least another Oscar nomination for cinematography, Moonrise Kingdom is an outstanding achievement.
The Amazing Spider-Man - Who knew that this would end up being a better film than Sam Raimi's version? Don't get me wrong I love the original trilogy, but Marc Webb was able to reinvent Spider-Man and breathe new life into the character. The movie doesn't depart too much from the campiness of the comic books, but it does bring a more realistic approach to the franchise and the cast is simply phenomenal.
Pitch Perfect - This movie came out of nowhere to become one of the funniest movies all year. I loathe Glee and thought this was going to be another cheap cash-in for studios to ride that phenomenon, but instead this is a witty and extremely well-put together comedy. At its heart is an outstanding ensemble cast lead by Anna Kendrick, who's twitter feed is probably the best thing on the internet right now.
The Hunger Games - I thought the inventiveness and creativity they put into the film version of The Hunger Games is really what makes this movie shine. Instead of a dull narration by Katniss throughout the movie - we get glimpses from other perspective not shown in the book. And it's altogether a better movie because of that choice. I loved the movie's reality TV show-like depictions of a voyeuristic future where a government can easily slaughter its own citizens. Plus the film has Stanley Tucci and, by the power of The Tucci Effect, this movie is ten times better because of him.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - I was expecting to be disappointed with Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth. But Lord of the Rings and Gandalf have a powerful sway with my heart and I couldn't help but fall in love. It is a very long movie and it could have used some cuts, but that doesn't deter from the fact this was another great movie that is telling the best story out of all the books in the Middle Earth universe. I cannot wait to dive into the next installment because you know there's going to be some sweet dragon action. Yes!
Friends With Kids - A very smart and extremely funny movie about what it's like living with kids and without and the relationships that blossom or wither because of it. I heard good things about this movie when it hit the festival circuits, but I couldn't possibly know that this would be one of the funniest movies in 2012. I don't want to start making rash judgements, but what the hell - this is going down as the next When Harry Met Sally. I just have a feeling that this romantic comedy will be talked about years from now as a classic and it's all well-deserved.
Now! Onto the year's best flicks that did not get nominated by senile old white dudes!
9. The Dark Knight Rises
A fitting end to Nolan's trilogy, Rises does a great job at upping the ante from the previous film without sacrificing story or character. It's funny that this Batman movie barely features Batman at all - but when Wayne does don the mask to take out all the bad guys, it's immensely entertaining. This movie is so big that it's almost split into two parts - the second part being when all of Gotham gets shut down and taken over by Bane. There's a lot going on in this movie but Nolan reins it all in with great editing and pacing. The movie is over two and a half hours long, but you really won't notice. That's a great film and it's finally nice to see a third movie not follow the curse of most third movies and suck. This is great trilogy and will stand alongside Star Wars and Lord of the Rings as one of the best trilogies ever and it's extremely sad that the this movie didn't get a Best Picture nod because the Academy expanded that category to specifically address people's problem with not including The Dark Knight along with the other Best Picture nominees.
8. The Avengers
Possibly the complete opposite end of the spectrum in the superhero-verse, The Avengers is more fun and adventurous than The Dark Knight Rises. It's a simple marvel (pun intended for sure!) that the studio was able to pull this movie together by building up to it from five other movies. It's big, loud, fun and simply an amazing action movie. In fact, the action is some of the best I've seen - the last epic battle scene has its own three-part arc which is completely unheard of. But aside from the action, this movie offers up a great cast of superheros who have to rise together and do so without getting in each other's way. Joss Whedon has done an excellent job of creating a masterpiece. Everything about this movie is almost near-perfect: from the dialogue to the action to the casting - everything is blended so well that you never once feel a lull in the movie. It's a real shame that this didn't get nominated for Best Picture because we all know the academy is capable of nominating this kind of blockbuster movie (Avatar, Lord of the Rings).
Probably the best Bond movie yet, Skyfall successfully manages to blend the new, more modern Bond we've seen since Casino Royale with the more outrageous and campy version from previous installments. Plus Javier Bardem continues to assert his dominance as the best villain actor of our time. There's just something so right about this movie - from the cinematography, to the music to the acting. Not only that, but the movie delves deeply into MI6's past along with M's past and Bond's deeply troubled beginnings. The movie drags a little bit at the end, but the beautiful and haunting climax at Skyfall is not something to be missed. This is not only a real treat for Bond fans, but something everyone can enjoy and it's no wonder that it's the highest grossing Bond film to date (over $1 billion dollars worldwide!). I can't wait to see where they go next and it's a shame this one wasn't recognized by the Academy either. It's nice to see it got a lot of love for the technical aspects of the movie, but it deserves so much more - from the fantastic acting to the thrilling action, you can't ask for a better action movie.