by Coop Cooper
Minus “Life of Pi,” “Les Miserables,” “The Hobbit” and a few others, I’ve seen enough movies this year to determine a list of the best films of the year. While I always miss some I can recommend later, I feel these best represent the pinnacle of big-release, Hollywood cinema for 2012… So far.
10. “John Carter” – This unfairly maligned movie harkened back to the bombastic sci-fi fantasies like “Star Wars” and “Flash Gordon” which so many of us grew up with. If people would give it a chance, it might become a cult classic.
9. “Wreck-It Ralph” – The only children’s comedy and animated film in the group, “Ralph” executed its video game motif in a clever way. I would recommend it for a sequel and for anyone who has played video games from the late 70’s to present.
8. “Dredd” – The most popular comic book in Britain finally received a worthy film adaptation which delivered in the blood, bullets and octane category. I’m definitely holding out hope that “Dredd” will continue with sequels that might explore his dark, yet fascinating world.
7. “The Grey” – This grim and tense survival story pits Liam Neeson as a master hunter versus the elements. A close cousin to Jack London’s stories, “The Grey” shares the same “nature trumps man” theme but handles it with style and skill. Neeson may deserve an Oscar nod for this.
6. “The Hunger Games” – This film adaptation of the popular, post-apocalyptic young adult book series managed to appeal to adults as well as teens through fine acting and a well thought-out production. It didn’t baby its subject matter too much and set the franchise up for a couple of potentially exciting sequels.
5. “Skyfall” – One of the best Bond films next to “Casino Royale,” this film completes the Bond origin with Daniel Craig as the lead. It’s a study in why Bond is the kind of person we meet in the previous Connery, Moore, et al Bond films. Hopefully MGM will keep its financial house in order to avoid any delay in future Bond adventures.
4. “Cloud Atlas” – This box-office bomb may have frightened away audiences with its puzzle-like plot and lengthy running time, but in passing it up they may have missed the most emotionally satisfying film of the year. With multiple story-lines converging into an inspiring message, “Cloud Atlas” could become a film student favorite in the coming years, even if the Academy does not recognize it due to its poor box office numbers.
3. “The Avengers” – A film I’ve waited all my life to see, “Avengers” was handled by the best filmmakers in the business and the result was nothing short of spectacular. It is the platform from which many franchises will split and then re-assemble for more superhero action.
2. “The Dark Knight Rises” – Barely beating out “Avengers” for best superhero movie of the year, “Rises,” completes the origin of Batman in a way I could have never imagined. It’s an epic film which could end the franchise or send it into interesting, groundbreaking territory. Either way, I’m more than satisfied by this ambitious conclusion to the trilogy.
1. “Looper” – Destined to be a sci-fi classic of the highest degree, “Looper” is one of the most original and slickly-done films of the last few years. Hopefully it will be accepted as such but I also believe it could be an easy contender for “Best Picture” if the Academy is willing to give it some kudos.
While this list consists mostly of sci-fi and action fantasy films, I don’t feel any of the heavy dramas, comedies or historical biopics of the year had the impact (or were as entertaining) as these films. That might change as the year finishes up, but I’m encouraged to see there were so many quality genre films this year. Next week I’ll cover the year’s “Best Indie Films.”