December 28, 2012 – I’m pretty darned pleased with myself.
After adding up the number of movies I saw in the theater in 2012, I came to a solid 24. That’s a fine number for a major movie fan – averaging out to about one movie every two weeks – but it’s not over the top enough to call me crazy or obsessed.
I’ve rated them from worst to first, but that doesn’t necessary mean the movies that appear higher on the list are bad. It was an incredible year for movies, and I managed to avoid most of the rotten ones.
24. People Like Us – Touted as the feel good movie of the year, the trailer was intriguing enough to lure me to the theater over the summer, but I didn’t like this movie about family dysfunction and setting things straight after you die. Not even the acting skills of Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks and Michelle Pfeiffer could save this silly film.
23. Dark Shadows – Campy fun with Johnny Depp in the lead role as Barnabas Collins, but as a fan from the gothic soap from the late 1960s, which had me rushing home from elementary school to watch, it was a little disappointing and didn’t live up to the Tim Burton trademark.
22. Not Fade Away – I saw this movie as part of the Philadelphia Film Festival in October, and it was good. It’s in theaters now, and I’ll admit the trailer wouldn’t have pulled me in on its own. David Chase followed his stint as creator and writer of “The Sopranos” with this film about guys in a North Jersey neighborhood forming a band in the 1960s.
21. The Guilt Trip – Barbara Streisand Seth Rogen are funny as mother and son in this road trip comedy, and as a mother of a grown son I thought most of the humor was spot on. However, “The Guilt Trip” will most likely appeal to older audiences though, and I can attest to being the youngest in the theater when I saw it.
20. Anna Karenina – Classic literature usually makes for interesting film adaptations. This version of Tolstoy’s sad story of an aristocrat wife (Keira Knightly) from an arranged marriage to an affluent military officer (Jude Law) and her fall into adultery, however, was beautifully filmed, but it didn’t hold my attention the way the way the 1948 version with Vivian Leigh did.
19. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World – Unlike other movies dealing with asteroids, such as “Deep Impact” or “Armageddon”, this film starring Steve Carell and Keira Knightly deals with the human emotions and the regular people, instead of the super heroes who save the world from doom. Most critics panned it, but I thought it was kind of interesting.
18. Hope Springs – This odd romantic comedy starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell dealt with a couple married for 30 something years trying to recapture the magic. It was charming and had some funny moments, but like “The Guilt Trip”, it appealed to an older audience. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
17. Ruby Sparks – “Ruby Sparks” immediately grabbed my attention because I’m always drawn to stories about writers. It also had an interesting twist that I haven’t seen since the days of Charlie Kaufman’s “Adaptation”. Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan star in this quirky comedy about a writer who creates a character and she becomes part of his “real” life.
16. The Bourne Legacy – Jeremy Renner stars as a new character in the Bourne series, but out Jason Bourne. Still, It was an adventurous ride for the two hours and fifteen minutes it played out on screen. It didn’t have the same impact as the previous films, but I was never bored.
15. To Rome with Love – Here’s another one that critics didn’t like much, but I thought was enjoyable. Woody Allen’s “To Rome with Love” tells four stories, all sprinkled with love and humor. I love that Allen allowed each imaginative story to breath on its own, and didn’t intertwine them neatly together at the end of the movie.
14. Hitchcock – Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren were superb in this bio movie about Mr. & Mrs. Hitchcock, and the making of “Psycho”. It was interesting to learn the behind the scenes story of Hitchcock’s most popular film.
13. The Master – This odd little number from the mind of Paul Thomas Anderson and based on Scientology is the epitome of a character driven story. It also shined a light on the fantastic acting skills of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams.
12. This is Forty – Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann head a very funny cast in this reverse coming of age comedy that is billed as the “sort of” sequel to Apatow’s 2007 “Knocked Up”. Funny stuff, but it may be a bit too crude to appeal to a wide audience.
11. Jeff Who Lives at Home – I thoroughly enjoyed this film about a jobless, 30-year-old stoner, who is obsessed with the movie “Signs” and lives in his mother’s basement. Jason Segal and Ed Helms star as brothers, with Susan Sarandon as their mother.
10. Hyde Park on Hudson – Bill Murray shines and FDR in this dramedy about a weekend spent at the President’s family home in upstate New York during the King and Queen of England’s only visit to America. Too bad for him there are so many wonderful actors that came through this year. It might cost him an Oscar nomination, but he truly deserves it.
9. Argo – Even though we all know how this one ended, it was a great thrill ride just the same. Ben Affleck’s Argo is an on the edge of your seat drama based on the true story of the Iran Embassy crisis during the late 1970s.
8. Moonrise Kingdom – Wes Anderson’s films are always a crazy trip. Not only did the talented writer/director give us one of the most original stories of the year, it also had an amazing soundtrack. It’s another Bill Murray performance gem.
7. Bernie – It may be unorthodox to call a movie about a real life murder delightful and charming, but there is no other way to describe this film that tells the story of Bernie Tiede, who was sentenced to life in prison after admitting he murdered Marjorie Nugent, a wealthy widow, played on screen by Jack Black and Shirley McLaine.
6. Your Sister’s Sister – This little Indy film proves that you don’t need a big budget to make a compelling movie. Emily Blunt and Mark Duplass star in this story about a man who is still struggling with his brother’s recent death. It’s touching and sweet and certainly not your typical romcom.
5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower – A well-written story with Emma Watson and Ezra Miller in the lead roles, along with a of wonderful young actors. It actually surprised me, and I witnessed a heartfelt and often funny coming of age story, and one with a main character that can hold a candle to Holden Caulfield.
4. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – “Salmon Fishing in Yemen” is a rare find. The refreshingly witty film that tells the story of a billionaire sheik that wants to bring Salmon fishing to Yemen. The British romcom stars Emily Blunt and Ewan McGregor.
3. Lincoln – Perhaps one of the most talked about movies of the year, “Lincoln” stars Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field, as the President and Mrs. Lincoln, along a huge supporting cast. The Civil War is entering its fourth year, the nation is weary, and Lincoln is trying to pass the 13th Amendment that will abolish slavery.
2. Safety Not Guaranteed – Here’s another Indy film that I absolutely loved because of its originality. I’ve never been a sci-fi fan, and pretty much stay away from movies that feature time travel because it’s been done to the extreme. Still, “Safety Not Guaranteed” combines both sci-fi and time travel elements, but with a major dose of quirky, and that’s what won me over.
1. Silver Linings Playbook – By far my favorite movie of the year, this film starring Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro is wrought with serious undertones, such as family dysfunction, mental illness and the harsh reality of life changing traumatic events. Yet, “Silver Linings Playbook” is thoroughly charming, funny and honest, and it has you rooting for its troubled and wounded characters from start to finish.