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.