2012: My year in Film & preview to the Academy Awards
Not to miss on the unique excitement produced by the Academy Awards, I decided I needed to share my thoughts on films from last year and, not to be out of fashion, share my predictions on who is likely to win the awards and who should, in my modest opinion, take an Oscar home.
Like 2011, I thought 2012 was a pretty decent year for the film industry. My judgement is, of course, based on quality and not on finances. We had a pretty decent collection of outstanding productions that were almost as impressive as the year prior. I will insist, however, that my final assessment continues to recognize the poor average quality of the film industry, which is still pretty unreliable and inconsistent when compared to other lucrative transnational industries. In fact, weeks can sometimes go by without getting a single good film release, which is certainly unacceptable. When will the Hollywood moguls understand than Netflix, Redbox, Apple TV, On Demand services and Itunes are only part of the problem? Attendance will continue to be sluggish if Hollywood doesn’t put out good products week in and week out.
If 2011 gave us a bunch of spiritual and deeply personal films about very specific individual and family struggles (The Separation, Tree of Life, Moneyball, Young Adult, Shame, etc) and the occasional apocalyptic film shrouded in sorrow, paranoia and anger (Melancholia, Bellflower, Take Shelter, Contagion, etc); some of the best films of 2012 seem to continue on the same note, but perhaps reaching much more positive conclusions, giving us a sense of final gratification and self-realization that was hard to come by on years prior. Films like Silver Linings Playbook, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Brave, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Flight and many others, introduced us to individuals who grow as the films progress, slowly turning into heroes on their own merits, finding themselves and realizing a thing or two about what life is all about. 2012 was also filled with adventure of different scales and ambition, where characters start at Point A, to go through a hell of a lot to finally arrive at Point B as substantially more mature people.
My favorite film so far: Looper
A gratifying surprise for me. Looper was all that a sci-fi film needs to be without relying on special effects and epic sensory spectacles. Looper was cool. Looper was entertaining. Looper had surprise, suspense and great characterization, not to mention an interesting sci-fi concept. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was phenomenal in its interpretation of a younger and troubled Bruce Willis.
My favorite moment: Life of Pi
Ang Lee‘s latest film is a cinematic spectacle for the senses, especially if experienced in the theater and in 3d.
The specific moment I’m talking about comes about half-way through our main character’s ordeal to survive as a cast away. It is a sequence of breathtaking beauty where the only thing separating the sky from the sea is the one single life boat populated by a young boy and a beautiful Bengal tiger. The colors are so vivid as the stars twinkle in the skies and the sea life shines a luminous combination of blues and greens. Words don’t do it justice. Simply a moment of absolute artistic sublimity.
If only the film as a whole had been as beautiful as that one moment, I would probably be talking about one of my favorite films ever.
The biggest surprise: Killer Joe
A star that I thought had been lost forever came back to form this year: Mathew McCougnaughey. After all of the ridiculous obsession with working out and being seen without his shirt on in public, the actor finally settled down and got back to the business of acting. McCoughnaughey delivered a good performance in Magic Mike and a simply astounding one in Killer Joe, which is the best the actor has offered in his entire career. One hell of a film altogether.
The biggest let-down: Take This Waltz
A total bore. Inconsequential and less transcendental than it thinks it is. Michelle Williams has been incredibly “adept” at picking films that strike a similar tone in recent years. I recall other disappointments like Meek’s Cutoff, My Week with Marilyn or the overrated Blue Valentine. Lets hope she starts getting/selecting better films even as her own performances in these subpar projects have been the highlights of each.
Mainstream garbage: This Means War
Three talented actors in one horrible film about a woman struggling to decide which of two men (CIA officers) to be with. Unfunny, poorly made and utterly ridiculous. Complete garbage!
Most exhilarating experience: The Raid: Redemption
I never reviewed this explosive, action-packed and hyper-intense cinematic extravaganza (and perhaps I should get to fixing that). By far the most action I’ve seen in a film last year and probably ever. If this is how action films are going to be in the future, please sign me up!
Some of the fight scenes left me breathless and completely in awe. Sure, the plot is razor thin, but who cares? It wasn’t about that at all, and the concept was very much in tune with the delivery.
2012 was the year of The Weinstein Company:
They were behind some of the best films of the year (again) including three Best Picture Academy Awards nominees (Silver Linings Playbook, Django Unchained and The Master), along with some other critically celebrated works like Killing Them Softly and The Intouchables. This is not to mention that the Weinstein Company, which is usually a haven for smaller critically celebrated releases, posted one of their most profitable years, with Django and Silver Linings Playbook leading the pack with strong box-office returns.
The film I related to the most: The Perks of Being a Wallflower
I have been out of high school for about 10 years now (with a couple of degrees obtained after that). However, those years still hold a significant weight on how I am today and how I see myself in others and how I think others perceive me. There’s a little bit of my angst, my loneliness and my alienation from those years contained within all of the main characters in The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Charlie (Logan Lerman), Patrick (Ezra Miller) and even Sam (Emma Watson) shared traits with the teenager version of me. Personally, this film made me realize I wish I had made better friends then, that I wish I had been a little less immature and more sociable. Above all, it made me appreciate the awesome family I have been lucky to have who has supported me through the highs and lows.
Favorite performance by an actor: Daniel-Day Lewis
Probably the best actor of the last twenty some years deserves every bit of praise he gets. He’s the #1 candidate to take home a record-breaking third acting Oscar for a male with good reason. His role as Lincoln deconstructed the mythical figure of the President who changed the country for the better. The image of the actor disappears in the character he plays, becoming one with him and demystifying his legacy by turning into a pragmatic man with very personal struggles.
Favorite performance by an actress: Jennifer Lawrence
This year I happen to be subscribing to the mainstream train of thought. My pick as best performance by an actress will likely coincide with the eventual winner of the Academy Award, even as Naomi Watts for The Impossible and Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty are two possible contenders.
This girl simply has it all. Looks, talent, youth, mass appeal and a seemingly down to earth personality. It will be no surprise if she goes on to become an iconic actress in just a few years. Her role in Silver Linings Playbook is a multi-layered tour-de-force of a character who is so different and yet, so likeable and approachable.
NOW IT’S TIME FOR PREDICTIONS AND MY OWN FAVORITES TO WIN THE ACADEMY AWARD…
Category/Eventual Winner/My pick
Best Picture: Argo/Django Unchained
Best Director: Steven Spielberg/ Michael Haneke
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel-Day Lewis/ Daniel-Day Lewis
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Jennifer Lawrence/ Jennifer Lawrence
Best Actor in a Supporting Role: Tommy Lee Jones/ Cristoph Waltz
Best Actress in a Supporting Role: Anne Hathaway/ Amy Adams
Best Cinematography: Life of Pi/ Life of Pi
Best Adapted Screenplay: Argo/ Argo
Best Original Screenplay: Amour/ Django Unchained
Animated Feature (I haven’t seen half of these, so I reserve judgement)
Foreign Language (I haven’t seen 4 out of 5 yet, so I reserve my judgement again)
AND I CLOSE WITH SOME STATISTICS FOR THE YEAR…
I have barely scratched the surface when it comes to the films of 2012. I have still a lot more to see and my judgements are reserved and somewhat limited due to the many good films I still haven’t gotten to. Having said that, I’ve seen 49 films released in 2012, with an average score of 2.9 out of 5, and no films earning a 5/5 (so far!), though 5 of them are considered “candidates” to my much-delayed Blog of Big Ideas Top 250 films ever.
Statistically speaking, 2012 is pretty much even with 2011. From then I’ve seen 86 films, with an average score of 2.99 out of 5, with one film earning the elusive 5/5 (A Separation).