LISTFUL THINKING: 2012 Superlatives

1 01 2013

New Year’s Day always marks a very interesting balancing act, reflecting on the old while also ringing in the new.  So while people are still thinking about 2012, let me offer up the first annual Superlatives post for the films of 2012.  I’ve already weighed in with the best and worst 10 of 2012, but what about the other 80 movies of the year?  What about the performances?  What about all sorts of other things?  This is the post where I get all sorts of stuff floating in my mind out there.

For the sake of review, I’ll go ahead and re-list my 10 best and worst of 2012.

Top 10 of 2012

10 Best of 2012: “21 Jump Street,” “Argo,” “Hitchcock,” “Killing Them Softly,” “Looper,” “Bernie,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Les Misérables,” “The Master,” “The Queen of Versailles

Prometheus

Honorable Mentions: “Rust and Bone,” “Prometheus,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Wreck-It Ralph,” “End of Watch,” “Holy Motors

Worst 10 of 2012

10 Worst of 2012: “The Grey,” “The Bourne Legacy,” “John Carter,” “Gone,” “The Vow,” “Killer Joe,” “The Paperboy,” “The Deep Blue Sea,” “The Watch,” “Casa De Mi Padre

pitchperfect2

Honorable Mentions: “Pitch Perfect,” “Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap,” “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” “First Position,” “Keep the Lights On,” “Being Flynn

10 More 2012 Releases I Still Need to See: “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” “The Impossible,” “Promised Land,” “The Intouchables,” “Seven Psychopaths,” “Hyde Park on Hudson,” “Not Fade Away,” “Smashed,” “The House I Live In,” “Searching for Sugar Man”

Vanellope

5 Most Surprising Movies of 2012: “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Bernie,” “End of Watch,” “Hitchcock,” “21 Jump Street

Denzel Washington in Flight

5 Most Disappointing Movies of 2012: “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Django Unchained,” “Lincoln,” “Flight,” “The Bourne Legacy

Bachelorette

10 Most Forgettable Movies of 2012 (in alphabetical order): “Bachelorette,” “Hysteria,” “Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” “Lola Versus,” “Man on a Ledge,” “Men in Black III,” “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen,” “Seeking a Friend for the End of the World,” “Take This Waltz,” “Trouble with the Curve

Silver Linings Playbook

5 Most Rewatchable Movies of 2012: “21 Jump Street,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Wreck-It Ralph,” “Argo,” “Ted

Lincoln

5 Movies of 2012 I’m Glad I Saw But Will Never Watch Again: “Lincoln,” “Amour,” “The Invisible War,” “Compliance,” “ReGeneration

Killing Them Softly

5 Most Underrated Movies of 2012: “Killing Them Softly,” “Les Misérables,” “Prometheus,” “Safety Not Guaranteed,” “End of Watch

The Avengers

5 Most Overrated Movies of 2012: “The Sessions,” “Lincoln,” “Django Unchained,” “Life of Pi,” “The Avengers

PSH

5 Movies That Got Better with Distance and Time: “Killing Them Softly,” “Zero Dark Thirty,” “The Master,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Prometheus

Brave

5 Movies That Got Worse with Distance and Time: “Brave,” “Lincoln,” “Flight,” “The Sessions,” “The Dark Knight Rises

Argo

5 Movies That Felt Shorter Than Their Runtime: “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Les Misérables,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Argo,” “Django Unchained

Keira Knightley in "Anna Karenina"

5 Movies That Felt Longer Than Their Runtime: “Lincoln,” “Anna Karenina,” “This Is 40,” “Damsels in Distress,” The Five-Year Engagement

BOTSW

Breakout Performances: Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild,”  Eddie Redmayne in “Les Misérables,” Ezra Miller in “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” Garrett Hedlund in “On the Road,” Scoot McNairy in “Argo

Silver Linings Playbook

Breakthrough Performances: Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook,” Michael Pena in “End of Watch,” Jack Black in “Bernie,” Channing Tatum in “21 Jump Street,” Elizabeth Banks in “People Like Us

Best Exotic

Breakdown Performances: Anna Kendrick in “Pitch Perfect,” Salma Hayek in “Savages,” Tom Cruise in “Rock of Ages,” Emile Hirsch in “Killer Joe,” Dev Patel in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

frame 01021605R

Best Body of Work in 2012: (tie) Anne Hathaway in “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Les Misérables,” Jennifer Lawrence in “The Hunger Games” and “Silver Linings Playbook

The Deep Blue Sea

Worst Body of Work in 2012: (tie) Rachel Weisz in “The Bourne Legacy” and “The Deep Blue Sea,” Taylor Kitsch in “John Carter” and “Savages

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty

Best Heroes: Jessica Chastain as Maya in “Zero Dark Thirty,” Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk in “The Avengers,” Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean in “Les Misérables

John Carter

Worst Heroes: Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man in “The Amazing Spider-Man,” Taylor Kitsch as John Carter in “John Carter,” Jeremy Renner as Aaron Cross in “The Bourne Legacy

Catwoman

Best Villains: Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in “The Dark Knight Rises,” Russell Crowe as Javert in “Les Misérables,” Leonardo DiCaprio as Calvin Candie in “Django Unchained

Skyfall

Worst Villains: Tom Hardy as Bane in “The Dark Knight Rises,” Javier Bardem as Silva in “Skyfall,” Rhys Ifans as Lizard in “The Amazing Spider-Man

Joaquin

Best Possessed Performance: Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master

The Paperboy

Worst Possessed Performance: Nicole Kidman in “The Paperboy

Bernie

Best Comedic Performance: (tie) Jack Black in “Bernie,” Channing Tatum in “21 Jump Street

The Watch

Worst Comedic Performance: The cast of “The Watch

Uggie

Best Cameo: Uggie in “The Campaign

Ryan Reynolds

Worst Cameo: Ryan Reynolds in “Ted

Eddie Redmayne

Best Singing: Eddie Redmayne in “Les Misérables

Alec

Worst Singing: Alec Baldwin in “Rock of Ages

That’s about all I can come up with for now … may add to this later!  Happy 2013, everyone!

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REVIEW: The Five-Year Engagement

3 12 2012

Almost every comedy features a supporting cast of hilarious actors who can always be wheeled in front a camera to produce laughs.  Unlike the romantic leads, who have to undergo a journey and serve plot functions, these characters can literally be poorly developed and have little motivations of their own – and no one minds as long as they make us chortle in delight.

The Five-Year Engagement” does a very peculiar thing with its characters.  Tom and Violet, the betrothed played by Jason Segel and Emily Blunt doomed to suffer the titular delay, are the ones who suffer from the pratfalls of the supporting characters.  Sure, the two have chemistry and are fun to watch.  But it’s Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, both of whom could charm a dishwasher into marrying them!

I definitely enjoyed the two of them in their playful engagement bliss and when they got into tough arguments; however, they got upstaged, outdrawn, and outshown in a major way by the couple that was supposed to be a comic relief and foil.  Guess that means directors need to think twice before they cast the uproarious Chris Pratt (who steals every “Parks and Recreation” episode these days) and dynamic Alison Brie (who I’ve heard is just as good on “Community”).

Pratt plays Tom’s best friend Alex, who is of course the usual Pratt goofball (unless we are talking “Moneyball“).  At the engagement party, he meets Brie’s sharp-tongued Suzie … who also happens to be Violet’s sister.  The two have quite a night, and very quickly, a very different kind of wedding is on the horizon.  A shotgun wedding.

Alex and Suzie provide most of the humor for Nicholas Stoller’s “The Five-Year Engagement” because of Pratt and Brie’s immense comedic capabilities.  Yet they also carry most of the heart of the film, too.  As Stoller’s running commentary on how hard marriage really is no matter how long and hard you’ve worked on it, I started rooting for them and becoming more emotionally invested in the two of them.  Perhaps it’s because the marathon length of the film left me craving Alex or Suzie to get back on screen, but I think it was really just me wishing someone would make one of these movies with Chris Pratt as the leading man.  B





WTLFT: April 2012

12 03 2012

Hard to believe April is almost upon us.  It feels like 2012 has just begun, and now we’re in the vamp-up month for summer tentpole season!  Let’s see what this year’s crop looks like…

April 6

I would normally be skeptical of a four-quel that comes 9 years after the last installment and touts itself as a reunion … but “American Reunion” does look some kind of funny.  We’re all allowed some exceptions, right?

The weekend’s other big release is a re-release, “Titanic 3D.”  No thanks, James Cameron, unless you have an alternate ending planned … I’m still upset that Kate Winslet didn’t let Leo on the big door.

“Damsels in Distress,” starring the creepy babysitter/amateur pornographer from “Crazy Stupid Love,” looks like it has some potential to be funny.  That is, if mumblecore queen Greta Gerwig doesn’t sourpuss it all the way down to the core.

Looking to capitalize off of “The Hunger Games”-mania for Josh Hutcherson (hoping he will become the new Robert Pattinson or Taylor Lautner, I assume), his star-vehicle “Detention” hits theaters just two weeks later.  This SXSW 2011 horror-comedy looks like it might have some potential barring it isn’t stupid beyond belief.

April 13

I’ve never been a Joss Whedon fanboy, but I understand that there’s a significant portion of the Internet that is.  So they can rejoice at their appetizer for May’s “The Avengers,” his horror-comedy “The Cabin in the Woods.”  I, on the other hand, will still try to figure out what it is that has the Web so enamored with this man’s work.

Poor Guy Pearce needs to get his game face back on.  After bursting onto the scene with “L.A. Confidential” and “Memento,” he’s faded into obscurity.  He pops up here and there in Best Picture winners “The Hurt Locker” and “The King’s Speech” … and also in Adam Sandler’s “Bedtime Stories.”  Maybe “Lockout” will get him back on track.  But more likely not since any movie where you share the screen with Maggie Grace and Peter Stormare holds little promise.

The Farrelly Brothers need another “There’s Something About Mary” to revive their career because “Hall Pass” sure wasn’t going to do it. Maybe “The Three Stooges” will be better than the trailer, but from that, I’m sensing an epic disaster as two distinct comedy styles butt heads.

Word on the street is that Michelle Yeoh “coulda been a contendah” for the Oscar as Aung San Suu Kyi in “The Lady.”  Looks baity, no?  For a real Oscar nominee, see Best Foreign Film nominee “Monsieur Lazhar” from the exotic lands of Canada.

April 20

Think Like a Man” should be retitled “Tyler Perry’s All-Star Team Presents Steve Harvey’s Think Like a Man.”  Then I think it would outsell “The Hunger Games” for sure.

The Lucky One” should be retitled “An Actual Nicholas Sparks Adaptation: The Lucky One (Zac Efron Might Get Naked).”  Then it would double the receipts of “The Vow.”

Chimpanzee” should be retitled “The Real Planet of the Apes.”  Then it might stop the downward slide of DisneyNature movies off a box office cliff.

In other news, if you are interested to see just how far Diane Keaton can fall from “Annie Hall,” the answer awaits you in “Darling Companion.”

April 27

I have zero shame in saying that the April release I’m most excited for is “The Five-Year Engagement.”  It’s beyond guilty pleasure territory.  Jason Segel and Emily Blunt together in one movie, plus Chris Pratt, plus a very interesting concept that might actually move beyond the cliches?  Count me SO in.

There’s also an indie winner of the week, “Sound of My Voice.”  It stars Brit Marling, star of last year’s Sundance bust “Another Earth,” although she’s totally absent in this WTF-worthy trailer.  But rather than being turned off, I’m very intrigued.  This ought to be good.

Someone should have told Aardman that the pirates fad was over in 2007 … but since no one did, we get “The Pirates! Band of Misfits.”  And thanks to “The Raven,” Edgar Allen Poe just got a lot scarier than reading him in high school English.

Also, is it just me or is Jason Statham this decade’s Steven Seagal?  When the narrator for “Safe” said the most wanted girl was 12 years old, I just started bursting out laughing.  Now Statham is wading into straight-to-video territory, let’s all kick back and enjoy.

So, what are YOU looking forward to in April?  Sound off in the comments or vote in the poll!