Best Films of 2012: Jake's personal picks

On December 6, 2012

This time last fall, I categorized the best films of 2011 by genre. I'm not ready to offer my top 10 films of the year because there are still many films yet to be released. Nevertheless,I'll provide this list to steer you in the right direction.


Best action film: Skyfall

Skyfall is not only one of the best James Bond films ever made but also one of the best films of the year. Director Sam Mendes (Away We Go) has elevated and evolved the iconic Bond entity in a similar fashion that Christopher Nolan, who redeveloped Batman in his Dark Knight trilogy. Watching Skyfall is more than an occurrence; it's a hyperventilating experience with endless energy and completely preposterous, but masterfully crafted, action sequences.


Best animated film: Wreck-It Ralph

Pixar made its worst film yet with Brave, giving the floor to Disney with the galactic videogame world presented in Wreck-It Ralph. The film effortlessly absorbs our attention and gives us something to talk about and cherish. Wreck-It Ralph makes me anticipate the inevitable sequel, where the arcade universe hopefully expands to its fullest potential.


Best fantasy:Life of Pi

This is the most beautiful film of the year. Director Ang Lee (Taking Woodstock) successfully uses his wondrous images as storytelling devices. One shot to note is when Lee captures a wide shot of Pi (Suraj Sharma) in his raft with the sea perfectly mirroring the sunny sky above. The raft isn't shown as something randomly floating adrift but existing in relation to the universe around it.


Best foreign film: Táo Jiě (A Simple Life)

This film has the genuineness of an old family photo album. With some of the best natural acting I've ever seen, A Simple Life shows the candid aging of an old maid, Ah Tao (Deannie Yip, Queen of Kowloon), spending the rest of her days in a retirement home. Yip never overacts, portraying a believable person exhausted from a life in the working class.


Funniest movie: Seven Psychopaths

This category went down to the wire, in a year that flourished with wall-to-wall hilarious comedies. However, I award the prize to Seven Psychopaths - one of the best written films of recent years. It pays off with a perfect cast and inspiring plot; it's a movie about a guy writing a movie while in another movie.


Scariest movie: The Grey

The Grey is an intensely original survival thriller, which carries its weight with nauseating suspense. Seven survivors of a plane crash in Alaska find their situations buried in desperation when a pack of wolves prey on the group. These predators attack at the most random, unsuspecting moments, and are wrenchingly terrifying. This film haunts me in the best way possible.


Best sci-fi movie: Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas is a nearly three-hour-long zealous enigma, encompassing various experiences about life, death, existence, love, courage, eternity and the universe. The film portrays six separate generations of mankind by intertwining lives throughout the years. This complex story seems impossible to make, but it remains sturdy enough to illuminate all of its messages.


Best superhero movie: The Amazing Spider-Man

Most moviegoers automatically think of The Dark Knight Rises and The Avengers. But director Marc Webb ((500) Days of summer) has made a flawless extravaganza of special effects and stunt work, while the other two films had minor weaknesses in characterization. Rhys Ifans (The Five-Year Engagement), as The Lizard, embodies a man consumed by desperation rather than another off-the-shelf corny villain.


Worst film of 2012: Lay the Favorite

Regular Spectrum readers will expect me to nominate Paranormal Activity 4 after my daunting review a few months prior. But I was unfortunate enough to witness an early screening of Lay the Favorite, which premieres this Friday. After watching it, I shuffled away in stupefied agony, contemplating why anyone with an attached head would approve the making of this trash. It is cancerous to brain cells and humanity. The reel of this film should be melted and made into toothpicks. 


Best film of 2012: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Although there are still some great films to be released, this is my temporary choice. Beasts of the Southern Wild isn't for everybody; it's a grief-stricken tragedy that's remindful of the victims of Hurricane Katrina who survived but never recovered their lives. We learn to sympathize with these characters instead of pity them. This film has the powerful authenticity of a documentary and is a rude awakening on a harsh subject.



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