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Archive for January, 2013

2012films

Three films that almost cracked the top 10: (left to right) Quvenzhané Wallis in Beasts of the Southern Wild, Matthew McConaughey in Magic Mike, and Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea.

And so another year comes to an end. 2012 was host to a number of messy, masterful films; indeed, ambition and excess seemed to be the name of the game this year. Were my own fear of excess not to get in the way, I could have easily extended this list to include such remarkable features as The Deep Blue Sea, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Killer Joe, Magic Mike, Les Miserables, The Avengers, or Skyfall. Regardless, the following collection will have to do. I give you my take on the 10 best films of 2012. I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments.

Note: I was tempted to define “released in 2012” liberally to include the extended cut of Margaret on this list. That film would take the #1 spot here without question. Though Margaret debuted in 2011, the extended cut didn’t surface until 2012. I always find it obnoxious when critics shoehorn re-releases into their best-of lists, however, so I’ll simply use this real estate to once again suggest you seek out the extended cut of Kenneth Lonnergan’s seismic coming-of-age story.

Let’s start with an honorable mention…

Honorable Mention: Django Unchained

django-unchained

Django Unchained is an act of pure movie provocation. Who else would reduce America’s original sin to a cartoonish wish-fulfillment fantasy, let alone one littered with graphic images of “mandingo fighting,” a thing that never actually happened outside ’70s exploitation movies? Who else would troll the public with dubious use of the word “nigger” or an Uncle Tom character who makes the slave masters in a slavery film look downright benign? Who else would wade into the subject of slavery and race-relations with a movie that’s seemingly calibrated to bait conservatives and liberals, whites and blacks? Quentin Tarantino has made a sloppy, at times incoherent film — one with none of the formal precision of Inglourious Basterds — but one with a mischievous glee that’s very much contagious. At this point in his career, Tarantino makes films with zero connection to the real world or its problems. To enjoy a film like Django Unchained, you’ll have to divorce the movie wholesale from your adult feelings about slavery and race. Some people can’t or won’t do that. For others, Tarantino’s Candieland offers its own set of perverse pleasures. (more…)

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