I started keeping track of the films I watched last year, after not having done so since 2005. I think I watched more than usual in 2012, but without numbers from past years it’s hard to tell… As with my book ratings, the ratings reflect how much I enjoyed the film at the time, and not my judgment of the film’s merits.
I rated four films 90%: The Cabin in the Woods, The Guard, Moonrise Kingdom, and the 2003 director’s cut of Alien.
I have a soft spot for horror movies, but find many of them just too dumb to work—but The Cabin in the Woods was an extremely clever commentary on the genre, and can serve as a kind of meta-framework for just about all horror movies. It’s tough to discuss without giving too much away, but I did ^write about it last May^.
The Guard was a movie I initially passed over upon seeing the trailer. I thought it would be stage Oirishness for an American audience at worst, and a bad cop buddy movie at best. Irish friends persuaded me to watch it, and I’m very glad I did. It was extremely well-made, hilarious, and was a fantastic showcase for Brendan Gleeson.
Moonrise Kingdom is an amazingly quirky, visually striking film that I have a lot of trouble describing. I think it seems to capture important aspects of how children see the world, but I’m not sure if it actually does that or is simply good at convincing adults that that’s what it’s doing. Full of character, and a brilliant example of how skilled artists can take a fairly simple story and turn it into something amazing.
Alien remains a classic of both the horror and science fiction genres. It ages very well, with only the computer hardware and displays seeming quaint (although even without recent developments, it should have been apparent that if you could have artificial intelligence like androids, you would have a rather better computer interface than the ones represented in the movie). I’m still not sure about having an android “traitor” on the ship, although it does bring home the predicament that Ripley is in, fighting on two fronts against the Alien and the Company.
I enjoyed Aliens and Prometheus about equally when I watched them last year, but Aliens is a far better film, despite its shift over to action science fiction as opposed to horror science fiction. It’s a much less ambitious film than Prometheus, and that serves it well. I don’t think its narrative would have supported, for example, the weight of the question of humanity’s origins. Aliens is about a bunch of heavily armed marines fighting horrifying beings that use humans as incubators and have acid for blood, but under even cursory scrutiny Prometheus turns out to be the sillier movie.
Drive gets an honorable mention. Very stylish and very enjoyable, although also extremely violent, and my biggest problem with it is that the first 10 minutes are really a different movie, and I want to see that movie. The rest of Drive was good, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to see that other film that seemed promised from the start.
The Departed was another film I re-watched, and yet again I thought it was excellent.
The most disappointing movies of the year were Hellboy II: The Golden Army, which just didn’t work for me and which I’d heard many good things about, and The Dark Knight Rises, which seemed awfully sluggish and devoid of any sense of drama for a movie that so many people seem to love.
The most positively surprising movie was Dredd, which was excellent, captured the spirit of the comics extremely well, and which succeeded partly because it wasn’t trying to rise above itself—it didn’t insist on a globe- or city-threatening scenario, just a drug bust gone wrong in Mega-City One. I’m disappointed that it didn’t do well at the box office, because they did a great job with the atmosphere and I’d love to see more of their vision of that future.
- 2012-01-03; Drive; Nicholas Winding Refn; 2011; Rating: 85%;
- 2012-01-24; Haywire; Steven Soderbergh; 2011; Rating: 75%;
- 2012-01-31; True Grit; Joel & Ethan Coen; 2010; Rating: 70%;
- 2012-01-31; The Limey; Steven Soderbergh; 1999; Rating: 75%;
- 2012-01-31; Triangle; Christopher Smith; 2009; Rating: 80%;
- 2012-01-31; A Lonely Place to Die; Julian Gilbey; 2011; Rating: 75%;
- 2012-01-31; Ocean’s Twelve; Steve Soderbergh; 2004; Rating: 65%;
- 2012-02-01; Ocean’s Thirteen; Steve Soderbergh; 2007; Rating: 60%;
- 2012-02-01; Outrage; Takeshi Kitano; 2010; Rating: 80%;
- 2012-02-01; In the Loop; Armando Iannucci; 2009; Rating: 80%;
- 2012-02-02; Kill the Irishman; Jonathan Hensleigh; 2011; Rating: 65%;
- 2012-02-11; Cell 211; Daniel Monzón; 2009; Rating: 85%;
- 2012-02-19; The Big Bang; Tony Krantz; 2011; Rating: 70%;
- 2012-02-21; Harry Brown; Daniel Barber; 2009; Rating: 65%;
- 2012-02-28; Hellboy II: The Golden Army; Guillermo del Toro; 2008; Rating: 50%;
- 2012-03-26; The Boondock Saints; Troy Duffy; 1999; Rating: 50%;
- 2012-03-27; YellowBrickRoad; Jesse Holland & Andy Mitton; 2010; Rating: 75%;
- 2012-03-31; Kick-Ass; Matthew Vaughn; 2010; Rating: 70%;
- 2012-03-31; The Taking of Pelham One Two Three; Joseph Sargent; 1974; Rating: 80%;
- 2012-04-07; The Hunger Games; Gary Ross; 2012; Rating: 80%;
- 2012-04-28; Fearless; Ronny Yu; 2006; Rating: 70%;
- 2012-04-29; The Cabin in the Woods; Drew Goddard; 2012; Rating: 90%
- 2012-05-02; Election; Johnnie To; 2005; Rating: 70%;
- 2012-05-05; Election 2; Johnnie To; 2006; Rating: 80%;
- 2012-05-06; The Avengers; Joss Whedon; 2012; Rating: 75%;
- 2012-05-06; Chronicle; Josh Trank; 2012; Rating: 75%;
- 2012-05-26; Men In Black 3; Barry Sonnenfeld; 2012; Rating: 75%;
- 2012-05-27; The Fantastic Mr. Fox; Wes Anderson; 2009; Rating: 80%;
- 2012-05-28; Thief; Michael Mann; 1981; Rating: 80%;
- 2012-06-08; Prometheus; Ridley Scott; 2012; Rating: 85%;
- 2012-06-09; Hoop Dreams; Steve James; 1994; Rating: 75%;
- 2012-06-14; Snow White and the Huntsman; 2012; Rating: 70%;
- 2012-06-17; Alien; Ridley Scott; 1979 (2003 director’s cut); Rating: 90%;
- 2012-06-21; Aliens; James Cameron; 1986 (1992 Special Edition); Rating: 85%;
- 2012-06-24; Brave; Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman; 2012; Rating: 60%;
- 2012-07-07; Safe House; Daniel Espinosa; 2012; Rating: 60%;
- 2012-07-22; Shamrocracy; ; 2012; Rating: 70%;
- 2012-07-28; In Time; Andrew Niccol; 2012; Rating: 65%;
- 2012-07-28; Mission Impossible III; JJ Abrams; 2006; Rating: 60%;
- 2012-08-04; Moonrise Kingdom; Wes Anderson; 2012; Rating: 90%;
- 2012-08-11; Beasts of the Southern Wild; Benh Zeitlin; 2012; Rating: 70%;
- 2012-10-02; Dredd; Pete Travis; 2012; Rating: 80%;
- 2012-10-27; Mesrine: Public Enemy #1; 2008; Jean-François Richet; Rating: 75%;
- 2012-10-28; Margin Call; J.C. Chandor; 2011; Rating: 75%;
- 2012-10-28; The Lincoln Lawyer; Brad Furman; 2011; Rating: 80%;
- 2012-11-01; The Departed; Michael Scorsese; 2006; Rating: 85%;
- 2012-11-10; The Man with the Iron Fists; RZA; 2012; Rating: 70%;
- 2012-11-12; Dead Presidents; Albert Hughes and Allen Hughes; 1995; Rating: 65%;
- 2012-11-12; The Guard; John Michael McDonagh; 2011; Rating: 90%;
- 2012-11-13; Skyfall; Sam Mendes; 2012; Rating: 75%;
- 2012-11-18; The Silent Partner; Daryl Duke; 1978; Rating: 65%;
- 2012-11-20; The Adjustment Bureau; George Nolfi; 2011; Rating: 70%;
- 2012-11-20; Aliens; James Cameron; 1986 (1992 Special Edition); Rating: 85%;
- 2012-11-20; American Gangster; Ridley Scott; 2007; Rating: 65%;
- 2012-12-01; The Dark Knight Rises; Christopher Nolan; 2012; Rating; 60%;