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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Aaron's Odds & Ends of 2012: The Top 11-20 and Other Special Mentions


I had a lot to go through when putting together my year end Top Ten list, which will be the next in line, as far as these "Top Ten of 2012" posts go.  I am quite satisfied with my final top ten films, but at the same time, there were a lot of films that I wanted to receive some kind of recognition from me, as I truly did do a lot of work to narrow everything down.  So I have created this list of "Odds & Ends", which makes special mentions for various documentaries, independent, foreign, and more mainstream films that I saw and really enjoyed.  I have also listed what I would my consider my Top 11-20 films of the year, which could easily be someone else's complete Top Ten list.  So without further ado, here's is a big mix of films from 2012 that, while not a part of my final Top Ten, I also really found to be worthwhile.


Documentary Love:  


There were a few really good documentaries that I was able to see this year that are definitely worth your time and I wanted to be sure to make mention of them somewhere.


The most impressive thing about this documentary was how it plays like a thriller in a lot of ways and feels like the kind of documentary I would recommend to people that do not generally enjoy watching documentaries.  It has a number of twists and turns, which have a mix of surprise and dark humor, but the whole thing still feels like a compelling piece of work.
 



I feel like too many people are swayed away from this film because it runs for two and a half hours, but I found this documentary about Bob Marley to be incredibly fascinating and utterly absorbing.  Yes, it is long, but it has so much information about who this man was, how he became popular, and what his views were, that it is impressive to have been able to have found such a clear balance between these various topics.  It also helps that I became emotionally invested and wrapped up with how it finally concluded itself.


If I wanted to include documentaries in my "Top Ten Films" list, all of these would be quite close, but Searing for Sugarman would most likely get in.  This is a wonderful film that goes over a mysterious figure who became popular in the most unlikely of ways.  It is a film for people who appreciate music, sure, but also for those who like a good story with a little bit of mystery at its core.  Without spoiling too much of the plot, it knows how to present its topic, but where the filmmakers end up heading brings an amazing kind of joy to the viewer when all is said and done.
 

Indies and Foreign Films:   

Lots of good independent and foreign features come out all of the time.  Here is a batch of honorable mentions that I really enjoyed and deserved year-end consideration.



For General Movie Goers:  
 
In terms of mainstream fun, there were plenty of very solid films that hit theaters everywhere this past year, so here is a list of some more honorable mentions that fell into that category.



11-20 (In Alphabetical Order): 



The amazing thing about this following list of films is that they could easily make up a perfectly acceptable top ten list themselves.  This set of films is basically just as good as the set of films in my final top ten list, I just had to torture myself in an effort to provide some kind of order.



Argo - This film was a great example of fine, adult filmmaking.  It has the tone of a 70s type thriller and incorporates the world of Hollywood into a political drama in entertaining fashion.  It succeeds because the story is presented efficiently and knows how to craft great tension out of what it was able to introduce and play off of.  A nice ensemble cast and solid direction from Ben Affleck make it clear to me why the film is one of the year's frontrunners for the award season.


Beasts of the Southern Wild - Still what I would call the most unique film of the year.  There is so much that I love about this film, which made it hard to not have in my final top ten.  The performances from both leads are fantastic and worthy of awards.  The soundtrack is one of the year's best.  And the cinematography is so interesting.  There is a gritty ambition here that I admire greatly and hope it is seen by many more people. 




Cloud Atlas - What is great about this film is how it could have been such a narrative mess, but because of assured direction and editing, the film is able to succeeding in having its viewers follow what has been presented.  Whether or not all of the stories worked is another topic for discussion and why I ultimately did not rank this film higher, but it is another incredibly ambitious film from this year, with a lot of great things in it.



The Dark Knight Rises - Honestly, once I took director Christopher Nolan's final entry in the Batman franchise out of my top ten, it became a much easier list to shape.  Yes, I am quite obsessive in my love for the character and universe of Batman, but this epic conclusion was no Dark Knight.  It has its share of problems that I can acknowledge, but I still think it is a fine example of comic book fiction come to life, even as it skews towards the dour side of things. 




Killer Joe - I have no shame for loving this trailer trash neo-noir.  It is essentially the dirtiest film the Coen brothers never made, with some great comedic moments, some rather unsettling ones, and a great sense of how to make the most out of inept criminals.  The icing on top is the dark side of Matthew McConaughey's charisma taking a strong hold of this film and showing audiences that this man is full of talent beyond his normal swagger.





Killing Them Softly - For whatever reason audiences did not want to give this film a chance, but I was completely taken in by Andrew Dominik's crime thriller/dark comedy.  The superb cast and deliberate stylized choices made for a film that was quite compelling.  The fact that the "subtext" of the film was quite literally "text" is the only real drawback, as subtlety was not in this film's eye-line, but regardless, Killing Them Softly was well-scripted and deserving of more.





Life of Pi - While I was not in love with this film the same way I am with Hugo, it certainly gave me a similar vibe, as I was compelled by the story, but also really engaged by watching a veteran director utilize the 3D format so effectively.  But even without that aspect, the film is a thing of beauty in terms of cinematography.  And I really was taken in by where the story went in terms of having a character go on a spiritual and emotional journey.





Robot and Frank - Here's a movie that I would do all I can to support, because practically no one has seen it.  It has a wonderful performance from Frank Langella, a simple story that is fun to see develop, and a nice sort of setup involving a man and a robot, which makes it a surprisingly heartfelt buddy film, with a bit of a heist element to boot.





Rust and Bone - Here is an emotionally involving story with two great lead performances from Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts.  It has all sorts of elements that could push this film into the realm of melodrama, but the film wisely moves in less conventional ways, while still crafting a really strong and involving story, that has a great cinematic touch as well.





Silver Linings Playbook - I was a big fan of this film, as I think David O. Russell has a great handle on manic, conversational dialogue, whether it applies to comedic scenes, or ones focused on arguments.  The fact that the great performances from Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro elevate the film further makes it fall in with the other great films of the year for me.  A highly enjoyable and unconventional romantic comedy is certainly a nice thing to see.



And that is it for now.  Tune in for the Top Ten Films of 2012, coming soon to The Code Is Zeek.



Aaron is a writer/reviewer for WhySoBlu.com.  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS3.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
Out Now with Aaron and Abe, available via iTunes or at HHWLOD.com.

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