Nick Valdez likes chick flicks, kid flicks, dick flicks, and skin flicks. Also musicals (Glee!). One time, he wrote a 15 page thesis on the training montage's effect on the hero's journey in Rocky. His favorite film is Zoolander or Machete. If he could mix the two and create Zoochete, he would in a heartbeat. One day he wishes to travel across the United States "David Banner" style while dragging around a player piano or that orangutan from Every Which Way But Loose.
Seriously you guys, 2012 was awesome. There may have been a few duds, but overall it was nothing but the good stuff. Now you may or may not have read my list of the nine best hero films of last year, but as much as I enjoyed those films, there were a few standouts that go beyond the "hero" genre.
With that said, some of the items in this list may be repeats (with good reason), but when taking all of the films released last year into account, my favorite film was actually quite different. So, if you care to, read on for more.
As I explained in the hero list, ParaNorman was a story about me. It took an awkward, misunderstood kid and made him a badass by the end of his story. What I forgot to mention was that Norman wasn't a badass in the conventional sense. He was victorious through his kindness rather than physical strength or skill. The awesome lesson of "be kind to others and be a true hero" is one that's rarely seen in this day and age. Also, it's totes stop motion animation, and Laika needs all the support they can get. THEY NEED TO MAKE MORE MOVIES.
4. Django Unchained
Django Unchained was f***ing brilliant. As you'll hear in the Flixist Movie Club, most of us loved the hell out of it. I for one loved the dance between subtly and exploitation. And the truly best films are the ones that stick with you weeks after you've seen it. Thinking back on it, I've discovered things that I didn't notice before. Like the juxtaposed opening and contrasting tones in scenes, to foreshadowing lines of dialogue, to little things in the directorial work which make the film substantially better. While it's not my favorite Tarantino film (that honor goes Jackie Brown), it's damn well one of my favorite films ever. It's cracked that top 10.
3. Cabin in the Woods
Cabin in the Woods both revitalized and recreated the horror genre. I've thought more about the effects and canon of this film within the genre than any other film. Because of its ties to horror culture, the very nature of the film can justify every super bad horror sequel. It explains why Jason attacks the same kind of folks in the same way thirteen times, it explains why awful reboots (I'm looking at you Elm Street) don't breathe new life into their franchises at all, and it took the boring, patiche nature of horror franchises and made them interesting again. It can all be attributed to the events of Cabin in the Woods. If the horror genre is responsible for Cabin in the Woods, Cabin in the Woods is therefore responsible for every film in the horror genre.
While Sunny technically released in Korea two years ago, it didn't come to Netflix until last year (as Alec pointed out in his awesome list). That shouldn't matter since time is an illusion with Sunny. It is a beautiful, bittersweet, seemingly effortless film of seven young girls who vow to stay friends forever. From the seamless shifts between the past and the present, to the lack of evidence of a certain time period to make it seemingly timeless, to the wonderfully acted story of women that truly seemed to "click" with one another. None of Sunny seems fake, and none of it seems tied down. Save for a few story flaws, it's damn near perfect.
1. End of Watch
David Ayer is one of my favorite writers. I friggin' loved Training Day, and I was instantly interested the second I heard about End of Watch. Ayer excels at smaller character moments between loud explosive scenes, and I wanted to see him tackle to cops in Los Angeles. And I was right. While the found footage aspects were lacking in some areas, the genre itself allows for quieter moments that would normally break the pace of other types of films. Somehow the film avoids glorifying the crime world (as most Police films do) and focuses on the main relationship between Taylor and Zavala. They don't go looking for trouble, they just unfortunately find it. After End of Watch released, I didn't hear much buzz about it from people. I hope it wasn't ignored. When it releases on DVD in a couple of weeks from now, you owe it to yourself to give it watch. It's a story that finely balances intimacy, heart wrenching sorrow, action, and even a little bit of bittersweet comedy.
And for all of that, End of Watch is my favorite film of 2012.