Thursday, January 10, 2013

Erika's 10 Favorite Movies of 2012

The few readers who saw my list last year (or who have ever heard me talk about lists) know that I have an extremely difficult time ranking things - especially art. Favorite song? Why pick one? Love song? Rock song? New wave? Folk thrash? Who could choose just one?

Sometimes, I see a movie that seems to be written, directed, and filmed JUST FOR ME. It's about a subject that moves me, it features characters I can relate to, and it FEELS right. I connect to it in some indescribable way.

Side note: as I type this, the trailer for Gangster Squad has just come on the TV. I am totally distracted. Can we just talk about Ryan Gosling for a bit?

We are discussing top ten lists. Right. Let's just call mine "Movies That I Can't Stop Thinking About: 2012" (please don't be mad at me). I will number them, but please know that in my heart, many of these are tied.

10. Moonrise Kingdom/The House I Live In/The Invisible War/The Queen of Versailles - The kind, smart man who runs this site said I can't have a four-way tie at number ten. But I'm making my own rules! If you are reading this list, and only one movie is left in the number ten spot, you'll know I was edited. Message me. I'll tell you all four movies that deserve to be here.

9. Magic Mike/Haywire - It's a tie! Soderbergh's signature style is all over both of his 2012 films.

8. The Central Park Five - I've talked about this Ken Burns documentary every single day since seeing it. While the film is maddening, depressing, and disheartening (and reminiscent of the West Memphis Three story), it's a must-see for anyone who cares about justice/correcting injustice in any way. PLEASE SEE THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE.
 7. Sleepwalk With Me - I LOVED this movie and want to meet Mike Birbiglia. I thought the script was uncommonly honest, and his natural performance hooked me from the start. While telling his own life story, he is incredibly honest about relationships in a way that most fiction movies aren't. And he sleepwalks out of a window. It's fascinating stuff.

6. Looper - I really enjoyed Looper when I saw it in theaters, and then a month later, images from the film kept popping into my mind, begging me to re-watch. Looper took me by surprise. I love its "slickness"; every second felt new and engaging.

5. The Cabin in the Woods - Have you seen it yet? If not, get thee to a video store! I think there are two left in each state, maybe.

4. Cloud Atlas - I feel like a broken record with this list, but I guess that is normal, since these movies all made it for a reason - and the biggest reason is that they all captivated me and moved me in some way. Even when Cloud Atlas was confusing, it was still interesting. Interesting to watch, interesting to think about, and interesting to FEEL. It's ambitious and layered, and it never wastes a minute of screen time.

3. Argo - Ben Affleck can do no wrong (anymore). His hair and beard in this film deserve the top spot on the list, by the way.

2. Safety Not Guaranteed - I'm happy that I saw this in the theaters right away without knowing much about it or even knowing anyone else who had seen it. It felt like my little secret. But I'm glad that it grew an audience and that others really loved it too; we need to remind Hollywood that there needs to be more of these types of movies. I've been thinking about the characters and the ending of the movie since I saw it. Also, what is with Mark Duplass? He and his career fascinate me.
1. Django Unchained - It was fun, shocking, and clever. Has any other director ever made a spaghetti western slave revenge fantasy with comedy -- in the style of Quentin Tarantino? The only problem with Django Unchained is that it reminds me that QT does not make movies often enough.

Honorable Mentions:

The Sessions - Based on an incredible true story featuring sharp, honest performances. Wow.

The Master - I really loved it when I saw it, but it has not stuck with me in the way these others have.

Seeking a Friend for the End of the World - Despite some of the Keira Knightley characters's manic pixie characteristics that I am so, so over in movies, I really liked this flick. Sad, warm, sweet, moving. Thinking about Steve Carell's character seeing his dad en route to trying to help Keira Knightley's character get home makes me need to take a deep breath -- and leads me to wonder if I should re-watch this and move it higher.

Beasts of the Southern Wild - I was sick when I watched this. A second, proper viewing might move it up. Can I re-post this whole list in February?

Jack Reacher - Yes, Jack Reacher. Did you see it? I don't care if it wasn't exactly true to the book. It was dark and moody and Tom Cruise kicked lots of ass. I recently re-watched Ghost Protocol; between that and Jack Reacher, Tom Cruise is the coolest ass-kicker of recent years.

The Avengers - Let's get some Shawarma! This movie was soooo much fun.                                               


  1. I want to see Erika's Top 10 Beard List of 2012. And of all time.

  2. I'm looking forward (is that the right phrase?) to watching Central Park Five on demand. I'm woefully behind in documentaries this year.

    I completely agree with you on Sleepwalk with Me. I felt like this was a pretty spot on portrayal of a comic starting out and how awkward it can be. Plus, good Rebhorn.

  3. Hi Adam! Yes! I am glad to find more MB and SWM fans (sorry for the abreviations - I am running short on time!).

    I felt really behind in documentaries this year, too. Just in December I got to see The Queen of Versailles, The Invisible War, The Central Park Five, The Hollywood Complex (also worth seeing, but for different reasons), and the one about homemade haunted houses out east (Patrick will remember the title faster than I can google right now)... I think I am forgetting some. BUT... I still have not seen most nominated for the Oscars. Let's find copies and have a documentary party.

    1. Hell House? Is it Hell House? It's Hell House right? Great documentary - I just figured out how to get Netflix USA and I AM LOVING IT. Canada may have America beat when it comes to hockey (World Juniors aside - boy is my face red) and beaver pelt production, but you sure got us on Netflix selection. Been loving the documentaries!

    2. Hell House is great, but the movie she's talking about is actually The American Scream, which is about homemade haunted houses. Less religious craziness, but still very interesting and sweet. Also available on Netflix (USA).

    3. Awesome, I'll check it out soon. I've been going back and reading all the Netflix recommendations you guys posted and it's great - not sure if this one was ever mentioned but I'll add it to my list!

    4. I also love HELL HOUSE! Did you ever see JESUS CAMP, Sol?

    5. I did and loved it as well. For some reason I love documentaries about religion - I am not remotely a religious person, philosophically I'm almost anti-religious, but I certainly do not dismiss religious people as uninteresting. If anything, because we are so unalike, they're the most interesting to me because I have so much difficulty getting in their headspace.

  4. Oh also, wanted to give some more Mike Birbiglia love. Saw his one man show "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend" in the fall, and it was awesome.

  5. Erika, this one's for you (and this time I don't think Patrick will mind). My new-to-me movie for today:

    Christopher McQuarrie's JACK REACHER (2012) in theaters.

    Holy crap, this is not the movie that TV ads and the trailers were selling... at all. Yes, it's a Tom Cruise star vehicle and, as with "Knight and Day," you wonder why Tom can't take a break from Ethan Hunt in-between "Mission: Impossible" paychecks. With Christopher "Usual Suspects" McQuarrie writing/directing though (from what I'm told by the resident Lee Child reader in my office is strong source material) and cherry-picked strong supporting players (particularly David Oyelowo, Robert Duvall enjoying himself and Werner Herzog taking one for the team :-P) carrying the slack when Cruise/Reacher smugness comes dangerously close to putting you off the character, the movie is constantly moving and genuinely entertaining. But the story, mystery and police procedural elements of "Jack Reacher" are what seal the deal for me because, even if you can predict some of the twists (mostly from watching too much procedural TV), the actors and direction commit to making the most out of its premise.

    It's not perfect (every woman, except Rosamund Pike's deere-caught-in-headlights wide eyes, literally swoons for Cruise... in every got damn scene with females in his presence!) but I sincerely hope if Cruise doesn't want to do more "Jack Reacher" movies (the character is too good to go to waste because the movie underperformed at the box office) they'll switch actors and keep going.

    My 7-word review of "Jack Reacher": Renner, forget "M:I," wanna 'Reacher'ound better stuff?

  6. First off I'm always willing to talk about Ryan Gosling. Can't help but notice no one else is manning up for that around here so I'll volunteer! As far as "Gangster Squad" goes why does Sean Penn need the prosthetic? This is a legitimate question because if I am this distracted now how much worse will it be during the actual movie?

    Anyhoo I had to agree with you about Jack Reacher. It was a lot of fun and I'd never read the book so my enjoyment was probably a little more than someone who did, from what I understand?

  7. Beasts of the Southern Wild! Wow, a hard call to make for a sick person. Because it's visually confusing in itself. It's an emotional movie I liken to Where the Wild Things Are. And it makes me wonder if there is/will be a trend of this kind to come, and if this is a good trend to have. And WHY there's such an audience for this now.

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