You know a list like this is coming.   I'm finally finished with all of the potential contenders... I will admit, there is one contender I have intentionally not seen, that being Zero Dark Thirty.   I have read the script, and frankly, I have dismissed it in light of that.  

I recognize that there are many who will put it very highly in their lists, but for me, it's not even worth contention so it's probably the first one that will create debate in any lists.   Some may rank it very high.

My worsts, obviously, will be different also.   I'm not looking for Razzie level worst - a film that people expected to be bad that was bad.   Those are obvious; if I went after those, I would be putting Piranaha 38DD and the like in my list.   I view films as "worst" based on the difference between expectations and results.   So, if a film had high expectations and really failed, that would be a worse film than one with very low expectations that failed.    

In light of that, HERE we go.

1. The Master

The Master is one of those films that as I watched it I kept thinking.. a lot of people are going to hate this.   Not somewhat hate it, they will hate it with a passion.  The film for me though is one of the most effective films I've ever seen at delving inside the minds of egomaniacs, religious zealots, and followers.  What is it that makes people want to believe lunacy?   How is it that people open their homes and checkbooks to frauds?   The most interesting angle to me was that you slowly came to understand that a tipping point was being blown by.. and now The Master was just a slave to keeping his yarn of bullshit going.   Every role in this was very well played.  

2.  Amour

Beautiful.   Devestating.  Sad and heart wrenching.   People somehow felt comforted by a film like "The Notebook" but Armour tackles the real results of illness and loss in such a brave and tough way that it stands out.  Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva deliver performances that will make this a film that five years from now people will remember.

3.  The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I had mixed expectations for this film, and yet, almost with Armour, it was a film that absolutely had me weep in a theater.   There is something fantastic about the direction of Perks of Being a Wallflower.  It's pacing is dead on and the actors so effectively play their characters that you rarely doubt them in their roles.   This is a film that could so easily move into "Look at me!  I'm an actor!"  But it never does, it manages to ring true and moves so effectively between joy and sorrow.  Fantastic.

4.  Safety Not Guaranteed

A film that caught me completely off guard.   Is the guy real?   What story do you want to believe?   If you really could change the flow of time, would you?   I thought the end was not quite as effective as the rest of the film, but this film worked for me as a quirky comedy romance, and give it a while it will get a bit of a cult following.

5.  Holy Motors.

I don't know how to really describe Holy Motors except that it's a zany, brilliant, at times unbelievably funny effort that left me rolling.

6.  Beasts of the Southern Wild

A few years ago, I told my wife that Children of Men was one of the best Sci-Fi movies I'd seen in years and she turned to me and said "it's Science Fiction?".   That's Beasts of the Southern Wild.   Melding a science fiction storyline and a setup of the day to day life of it's people it's a well rounded epic that absolutely works.

7.  Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

"Everything will be alright in the end, and it's it's not alright, it's not the end."

A lot of people pass on stories like this because they don't view them as worthy of a top ten list.   Oh, it's a simple story.   But frankly some of the best and worst stories are simple - it's in the telling that sets them apart.   Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is rewarding, heartwarming, funny, well paced, incredibly well acted and a film a lot of people are going to buy and put in their library or watch repeatedly.  

8.  Argo

Argo isn't a perfect film.  And it's not perfectly historically accurate.   So why a film like Argo and not Zero Dark Thirty?   Because part of the point of film, in my view has always been to get the "sense of truth" as well as to provide the audience with a feel.  If you're fiction you are flat out fiction, if you're truth you take creative license where necessary to tell the story as long as the principle is not compromised.   Interviews and excerpts with those involved, provided as part of the film during credits round out a well done action vehicle that is one of the most suspenseful films I've seen in a theater in years.   Great fun, and well directed.

9.  Django Unchained

You either love or hate Tarrintino.  Django Unchained, like Inglorius Basterds, is a revisionist history story.  It's violent, bold, profane, bitter and yet it uses comical sentiment to point out how irrational an entire period of history is.   Revisionist history tales are a tricky thing, people an either accept them for a zany concept of vengence ex-post-facto or view them as just offensive uses of violence.   I can accept those who dismiss Django, but the cinematography and script move so fast and fluently it has to get a place on this list.

10.  The Sessions

The sex life of a quadrapalegic is a tricky matter.   Should a grown man who is physically unable of movement feel ashamed of the fact that he still has a sex drive, desire and needs?  The Sessions is a gutsy, frank and funny film that challenges our thoughts about sex and desire.   It's brilliant and deserves to be seen.

Noted Only 11-15

11:  Lincoln
12:  The Avengers
13:  Skyfall
14:  Les Mis
15:  Cabin in the Woods

The WORST films of 2012.

1.   The Sitter

Have you ever had a film with heavy marketing with tons of dirty jokes, an Academy Award nominee and then figure out: the script is horrible, the jokes are unfunny and by 25 minutes in you may want to demand your money back?   Welcome to "The Sitter"

2.  This Means War

Two CIA agents fight to the near death to be the first to bed Reece Witherspoon.   I would say more, but if that isn't enough to get you to run for the hills, I'm too late.  The plot makes no sense and challenges everything you know about the rights of the government to invade your privacy while being amazingly unfunny.

3.  What to Expect When You're Expecting

How do you take a 400 page book with absolutely no plot line that is mostly a self-help and tip book for women who are dealing with pregnancy?   Well, the basic answer is: you don't.   Next?  The phone book as a movie.

4.   October Baby

A fictional survivor of a failed abortion at 24 weeks old, a young girl battling depression, mental disorders, disabilities and joint problems moves to find Jesus in some way or.. look, I checked out early on into this.  The confluence of events in this film is so wildy improbable that it's an offense to even people on the pro-life side of the argument.

5.  The Vow

Take "Armour" above, and assume it was written by a person who normally writes snickers commercials.

6.  Good Deeds

It amazes me that Tyler Perry trots out films like Good Deeds - which features at moments some wildly racist assertions about what it means to be "black" as well as the way the world works that I just roll my eyes.   For those that need a surprise: in the end, when given plane tickets and 3 hours notice to travel to africa, it turns out the homeless mother and daughter have up to date passports.   One of those things they managed to keep while living in a car.

7.  Seeking Justice

Nicholas Cage apparently still owes the IRS.   ZOMG.  

8.  Taken 2

Here's the worst part.   I liked the first one.

9.  That's my Boy

Even with using the metric that says: low expectations make it less likely to get on this list, That's my Boy is offensive in ways I couldn't imagine.  If it wasn't for low expectations, this would be #1.   A film which pokes fun at sexual abuse of boys, molestation, incest and then goes on to suggest that sexual abuse of young boys is "awesome" is so offensive that if I saw Adam Sandler I might have to punch him.  

10.  John Carter of Mars

Fans of science fiction everywhere are thanking the director for basically abusing their childhood.   A mess of bad special effects, disjointed script and terrible acting this film never recovered.

Honorable Mentions:   The Words, A Thousand Words, Gone, Battleship

So, what do you think?

Originally posted to tmservo433 on Fri Dec 28, 2012 at 07:43 PM PST.

Also republished by What are you watching?.

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