Sequel? Prequel? Adaptation? ALL OF THE ABOVE?!
2012 was a huge year for the film industry. The year followed 2011's trend of having the top three films grossing more than $1b worldwide, with Marvel/Disney's The Avengers grossing more than $1.5b alone. In fact, nine out of the top ten grossing films of 2012 were all sequels or prequels. Could this be chalked up to laziness on Hollywood's part, or audiences eating up more of what they like?
Whatever the case may be, I struggled to break the year down into a list that consists of my personal top five favorite wide release films of the year. While there may or may not be other films I saw that I loved more, I've decided to focus on the films that had wide releases so I wouldn't be ranting on about a film not many people saw. However, as much as I may like lists, I'm not a total fan of putting importance or numbers to them. Instead, I'll just be listing them in alphabetical order. Are you ready, true believers?
2012 was a huge year for comic book films, but especially for Marvel's The Avengers. Serving as the final piece in Marvel's "Phase One" film project, The Avengers was the culmination of the previous four years of Marvel films that included Iron Man, Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, and Thor. Admit it: we all had our doubts about how a superhero team movie would work, regardless of the talent involved (both amongst the cast and director Joss Whedon). Yet, the end result proved both critically and commercially successful. Marvel raised the bar with The Avengers, and it'll be fun to see how they plan on building their universe with "Phase Two."
You can read our review of The Avengers here.
The Cabin in the Woods
The Cabin in the Woods was very divisive amongst viewers. Some people thought the film was too cliche or predictable, while others appreciated the obvious manipulation of cabin horror film tropes. Whichever camp you ultimately fell into, The Cabin in the Woods had people talking. Directed by Drew Goddard, who also co-wrote the script with Joss Whedon, the film took every horror genre convention and twisted them around to create an original, wholly satisfying film. It's postmodern, it's metafictional, and above all else, it's extremely entertaining.
You can read our review of The Cabin in the Woods here.
You can listen to our Flixist Movie Club podcast of The Cabin in the Woods here.
Quentin Tarantino snuck Django Unchained at the end of the year as the perfect way to cap off an amazing 2012. The film has everything that made Tarantino into the celebrated director that he is: quippy dialogue, comedic scenes of unfortunate events, stylistic, over-the-top violence, and strong performances by the cast. Sure, the subject matter might be racy for some (see what I did there?), but damned if Tarantino couldn't make antebellum America, and Jamie Foxx in the process, look so damned badass.
You can read our review of Django Unchained here.
It's no secret that the Flixist staff, both old and new, are huge fans of Rian Johnson. Brick is honestly one of my favorite films ever, both for Johnson's magnificent directing, the stylistic dialogue, the throwback to film noir, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt's performance. Johnson and JGL reunited for Looper, the director's take on a genre/time travel film. With Bruce Willis and Emily Blunt co-starring, Looper quickly became one of my most anticipated films for 2012, and it did not disappoint. During a short vacation to Los Angeles, I took a detour from my explorations, bought a ticket at ArcLight Hollywood, and simply enjoyed the romp into the near future. While it's not as good as Brick, Looper demonstrated just how creative Johnson really can be.
You can read our review of Looper here.
You can listen to our Flixist Movie Club podcast of Looper here.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Perks of Being a Wallflower was one of those books that a lot of my friends in high school praised and adored; I, on the other hand, didn't bother to read it. "Wallflower? More like wallfarter," I used to say. I actually never said that, but the point is I never really got caught in the hype until this past year when the first trailers began to emerge. Before long, I bought and read through the book in a matter of days. While it left much to be desired, what with being a bit too old for the target audience, the film adaptation, which was also written and directed by the book's author, Stephen Chbosky, was better than the book itself. With a change of narrative direction and breakout performances by the trio of Emma Watson, Logan Lerman, and Ezra Miller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower adaptation was a huge surprise.
You can read our review of The Perks of Being a Wallflower here.
You can read my interview with The Perks of Being a Wallflower star Logan Lerman here.