In mere hours, it’ll be the end of 2012 as we know it. This is a year that started off slowly in terms of film, not offering some of the best, in my opinion, until the last half of the year. But it was still a year that will be remembered for much renewed discussion on slavery and what it means to be human in our eyes and in the eyes of others, our historical past and not too distant memories of high school, the quest for power and the consequences of it, and the bonds between groups of people that are created. Here is what I considered to be the best in film for 2012, and therefore great film suggestions, depending what movie genre(s) you most gravitate to:
Best Film of the Year: Argo
Ben Affleck has done it again, giving us another one of the best directed films in contemporary cinema (see: Gone Baby Gone and The Town). Affleck has never been an exciting actor to me, but he has impressed me greatly with his talents as a filmmaker of movies with an effective mix of drama, suspense, and action. This one, a fictional tale of a true life yet unbelievable CIA mission during the Iranian hostage crisis, gives us a glimpse into the social and political attitudes of the 70s and reminds us just how much we don’t know about government operations being conducted in secret.
Best Drama (which presented the moral ambiguity of politics and made you want to open a history book): Lincoln
The last movie I watched in 2012 was one of my favorites (you still got it Spielberg!). The movie represents a portrait of a historical figure who we all know of but few really know, intertwining his political and moral motivations for his involvement in the abolition of slavery with his personal relationships with wife, sons and colleagues. Where historical dramas are usually dry and boring, this one warms the heart. Through moving monologues and a physical transformation that was so very much like the man himself, Daniel Day Lewis transfixes us and inspires in a way that makes you want to clap aloud in the theater. Outside the “radical” nature of the Republican party, we also see just how little American politics have change in all these years - back room deals, political maneuvering and politicians saying what others want to hear all in the name of moving the country forward. The movie boasts great cameos from some of the best established actors (Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones, James Spader, John Hawkes, Jackie Earle Harly, Jared Harris, S. Epatha Merkerson) and cameos from great up-and-coming ones (Dane DaHaan, David Oyelowo, Adam Driver) in the industry.
Best Comedy (which reminded you to say ‘no’ to drugs and ‘yes’ to buddy comedies): 21 Jump Street
I’m not really one for most of the comedies that are released, which I usually find mindless, banal, and unoriginal. However, there is usually one I latch onto that pushes the boundaries of what is funny. Last year, it was with the ladies of Bridesmaids, this year it was the Jonah Hill/Channing Tatum duo that I did not realize would be oh so hilarious. Sure, it’s based on the late 80’s TV show, but the movie showed just how much times have changed in its portrayal of what is now high school cool.
Best Dramedy (which redefined the complexity of love triangles): Your Sister’s Sister
Hooray for indie film and its uncanny way to bring to life seemingly conventional rom-com storylines with character-driven observations and dialogue. This one, about the relationship dynamics of sisters, best friends, and lovers, is sweet and endearing at times, awkward at other times but represents a great mix of carefully crafted moments that oscillate between comedy and drama. Standout performances for the trio of Rosemarie DeWitt, Emily Blunt, and the 2012 prince of indies Mark Duplass.
… or “How I got them in before I jumped on a plane”
Man, how I’ve been busy lately. Pretty much too busy to do much blogging with my regular day job, some new freelance projects on the side (starting a new business!), celebrating BDays (apparently everyone I know was born at the beginning of Aug) and, you know, alittle bit of sleep inbetween. To add to that, I just hopped on a plane to go to Shanghai (in route now! pictures to come!) But I always seem to be able to get some movies in somehow and someway. Here is what I squeezed in last week:
Ruby Sparks. This movie is one of those great ones that is even more than what you think it will get. The trailer sets you up for a whimsical, date-night appropriate indie romantic-comedy but by the end you discussing symbolism and relationship dynamics with anyone who would listen. The all too real cute romantic sequences between the real-life couple, Kazan and Dano do add the lovey factor needed to make you smile but it delves so much deeper. The film was a smart, perspective look at a man who is going to great lengths to avoid everything he can’t control in his life - his family, his genius, and the perception of himself by other people. What that leaves him with is a lonely existence in a stark white apartment with only his dog as his only friend. In steps Ruby Sparks, literally straight out of his imagination with her purple tight, bright dresses and messy life. She is something else he tries to control with disastrous and intriguing consequences.
The Bourne Legacy. I had been anticipating this film for awhile, mainly because the Bourne series is by far my favorite trilogy of all time (…the thinking man’s action movie for those like me who don’t like action movies) and also because I love me some Jeremy Renner. I had been alittle apprehensive of them continuing the series (sans Matt Damon), but I was open to it since I loved the idea of this one paralleling the events of The Bourne Ultimatum. I planned to watch a marathon of all the films before seeing this but wasn’t able to unfortunately. I have to say, I thought this was the weakest of all the movies, with the only thing really tying it to the original series being a couple of Jason Bourne name drops and some catch up time with some of the major Treadstone players. It had the backbone of the original but without the smartness and sharpness I have come to associate with the name Bourne. Also, what I loved most about Jason Bourne was that he was just a man that just so happen to be a highly skilled assassin. I think making Aaron Cross a lab experiment with superhuman abilities stemming from fringe science did the series an injustice. I did find Edward Norton great in this and thought his no nonsense character was the most interesting part of the movie; I’m glad to see him back in the spotlight in great form.
Pop-Culture Randomness (Premiere-edition):
… ‘cuz Jeremy Renner’s got a gun.
Previous blog posts on the upcoming film The Bourne Legacy and actor Jeremy Renner:
- Watch this: First trailer for The Bourne Legacy
- Read this: My top five favorite Jeremy Renner films
- Live this: My Marvel mini-movie marathon experience which includes The Avengers
- Note this: Where the theatrical release of The Bourne Legacy falls amid blockbuster summer releases and smaller independent films
And the list continues…
41. Some people go farther than I ever would in the name of friendship. [4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days]
42. Radio can be a great medium for social change. Plus, the 60s were a cooler decade than I thought, ya dig? [Talk To Me]
43. A person who does bad things may not be at his core a bad person. [The Woodsman]
44. Any person taking a job as a secretary should pack a whip with their lunch just in case. [Secretary]
45. Weddings are a great occasion for family secrets to come out. Also, no matter how hard you fight against it, your sister is going to find a way into your wedding. [Rachel Getting Married]
46. Compassion can be found in the most unlikely places. [Sin Nombre]
47. Sometime it becomes necessary for a guy to just keep his girlfriend away from his brother. [The Vicious Kind]
48. The most brilliant people lack basic common sense. [Smart People]
49. My fear of needles is justified. And its possible for a man in suspenders and no shirt to be sexy. [Puncture]
50. It is easier than you think to go from despair to rage to forgiveness. [Take]
I’m halfway done! Check back in a few weeks for more….
…or “How Marvel got alot my time and money”
Let’s just say I was determined to watch the movies in the Marvel-verse that I hadn’t already seen before enjoying The Avengers. I had already seen both of the Hulk movies (the Edward Norton version definitely coming out on top), Captain American (which was pretty damn good), and the first Iron Man (blah). I just had to finish the movies out…
Thor (Friday, 5:30 pm). One of the best movies I never wanted to see. I attribute it all to Chris Hemsworth’s charming appeal.
Iron Man 2 (Friday, 7:30pm). A franchise that continues to cater to the role Robert Downey Jr was born to play. He has mastered the art of snarky and makes it oh so funny, yet just I still can’t really get into the movies for whatever reason.
The Avengers (Friday, 10:00pm). A little slow out of the gate and not enough Jeremy Renner, but a super-fun movie with a cast of characters that are great to watch whether they are playing nice or at each other’s throats. Ruffalo is definitely my favorite onscreen Hulk to date, Pine cracked me up with the red boots he sported in every screen, loved the on-screen bromance between Hulk and Iron Man, and (dare I say it) Black Widow had me intrigued.
Pop Culture Randomness (Marvel edition):
To me, Jeremy Renner is just plain exceptional. I first took notice of him in a couple of independent movies only a few years ago, but already he has joined the ranks of Leo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Ryan Gosling as one of my favorite actors of my time. I think that’s saying alot for a man who has struggled in the acting game for so long and has only just began to have his big break in Hollywood around the age of 40. He’s comes across so intense, so focused, and so consumed with his characters that you get lost in them too. He has consistently churned out some many really powerful performances in such a short time, it’s incredible. He is definitely one my list of actors I hope to meet one day. I only hope that he doesn’t get too “Hollywood” and stick close to the independent roots that have served him so well. So here’s to Jeremy Renner and his many great futures performances I’m anticipating (Bourne Legacy!). I give you my top five favorite Jeremy Renner performances to date. I highly suggest anyone of these movies for your viewing pleasure.
#5: The Avengers (2012)
I just saw this movie this weekend, and while it can be said that Renner didn’t have a big role as Hawkeye in this box office giant, he was credible as a loner and trained assassin, intensely determined, and created for his enigmatic character enough intrigue that I wouldn’t mind seeing in a Hawkeye (and Black Widow) sequel (or maybe more aptly, a prequel).
#4: Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol (2010)
Enter semi-suave Jeremy Renner as an IMF agent initially posing as an mild-mannered analyst. He was a great on-screen match for Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt, holding his own against this iconic character. For me, he brought the cool and the ease that balanced out the group dynamic and was probably the best thing the film had going for it.
Surprise, surprise. It has been announced that Joss Whedon’s The Avengers will be screened on closing night of the Tribeca Film Festival on April 28th, ahead of its May 4th theatrical opening. As a tribute to “local heroes”, the festival has invited some of NYC’s finest - police officers, firemen, first responders, and military personnel - to attend the screening as special guests and have a change to meet the cast.
With the choice of the Judd Apatow comedy The Five-Year Engagement opening the festival and this latest move by the festival programming to secure of the most anticipated summer blockbusters for the closing, this year’s festival will be sure to get more press than in past years. As you may know, movies like The Avengers isn’t the usual fare for Tribeca but with the movie in the hands of Joss Whedon (Buffy, Firefly) it may be an interesting match. Joss Whedon, for the most part, always finds ways to connect to his indie fan base so big ups to him though I’m sure he is reaping the benefits of all the exposure.This should be one of the hottest tickets in town come April, folks, so plan on getting one if you can.
The Bourne Legacy/The new trailer for the upcoming movie was just released and I’m so excited, I can’t even stand it. I have to say, I’m not a big fan of action movies but Ithink The Bourne Identity series is one of the best trilogies ever made to date (I think it’s the spy thriller genre I’m more into). I was alittle hesitate about yet another one in the series (Hollywood does have a way of messing good things up, don’t they?). Especially since this one is sans Matt Damon, but once I heard Jeremy Renner was taking the reins, well, my fears were assuaged. I think he’s a really dynamic and intense actor, which all makes for a great heir to Jason Bourne. The movie appears to welcome some new faces to the mix, especially one Edward Norton (where have you been? missed you!). The trailer gives a great hint into how Renner fits into the Bourne universe (Treadstone! of course! “there was never just one” - great tagline), a great mystery to his beginnings (how did they find him? where did he come from? what are his motivations for entering the program?), and just enough to intrigue us on where he stands in the program (is he still an agent? will he still be one or does he also go rogue?). I love the look of the trailer and the matching poster. All in all, they have sold me thus far.