Film critics often compile “Best of/Worst of” lists at year’s end, and “Sellouts” joins the tradition this year.
Our lists cover action, comedy, drama and even horror film. Our hope is the reader will discover a new favorite within the list. Unfortunately, we’re lowly college film critics and have not seen “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Les Miserables,” or “Django Unchained” yet, so placement may shift, but the lists already show Hollywood’s strongest points in a very successful year.
Karsten Burgstahler: 2012 was a film treasure trove, and this is clear when one looks at Oscar talk. Last year, the Academy narrowed the victor to either “The Artist” or “The Descendants,” both worthy movies but representative of a year that otherwise lagged. The race is much closer this year with as many as seven movies that could claim the top prize.
“Flight” is this year’s best movie. Outwardly, the film follows a pilot who struggles to clear his name after his commercial airplane crashes mid-flight. But “Flight” means something else entirely — it’s Denzel Washington’s character’s flight though his alcohol and drug addiction denial. Washington’s performance is masterwork, and he holds the viewer’s attention every moment. I’ll be sorely disappointed if Washington doesn’t win Best Actor.
“Argo” is a thrilling studio flick, and Affleck deserves a Best Director Oscar. “Silver Linings Playbook” features great chemistry, and “Skyfall” revitalizes James Bond. “Looper” is a unique time travel thriller, and “Frankenweenie” is Tim Burton’s return to form. “The Cabin in the Woods” is a different beast. “Woods” is a wildly inventive horror dialogue, as it forces audiences to look at how stereotypical horror movies have become. “Ted” proves Seth McFarlane as a box office draw and “The Dark Knight Rises” is a Batman trilogy high point. “Robot and Frank” is a quirky and original indie comedy.
Austin Flynn: You list a few movies I haven’t seen, but the movies you picked interest me. I’ll start with your five worst picks.
“That’s My Boy,” though a little too raunchy at times, was a breath of fresh air after Sandler movies such as “Grown Ups” and “Jack and Jill.” I’m not saying it was the best thing to happen to cinema, but there were definitely worse films this year. Have you seen “The Devil Inside?” Clearly not.
As for your top 10 list, I agree with most of what you said except where you placed “The Dark Knight Rises.” The movie might not have been as good as its predecessor, but it was still a great film to end the “Batman” series well. The performances, cinematography and soundtrack were all great aspects and added a nice touch to the finale. To place “The Dark Knight Rises” after “Ted” and “Frankenweenie” is a slap in the face if you ask me, but to each their own.
Both movie buffs and casual viewers found something to like this year. For someone such as myself, who is somewhere in between, it was incredible. From cinema’s low point (my exposure to the “Twilight” series) and the newest Paranormal Activity to Hollywood hits such as “Skyfall” and “Argo,” this year initiated many film conversations. As a reviewer, I couldn’t have asked for much more.
“Argo” follows an FBI agent who helps four U.S. Embassy employees escape Iran during the Iranian hostage crisis. The film is both tense and well paced, which is a difficult feat when one considers how many characters and locations the movie jumps between. Ben Affleck delivers both impressive acting and excellent directing. I would say he deserves a reward.
“Moonrise Kingdom” is easily my favorite movie this year, and it deserves the praise critics have given it. “Kingdom” is a low-key Wes Anderson gem that follows two young children’s summertime debauchery. Despite its limited release, everything a moviegoer could ask for in a film was present. The film is topped off with an interesting Bruce Willis performance that showed the actor’s different — but good — side. I know “Moonrise Kingdom” likely won’t get the Oscar recognition it deserves, but I urge people to see the charming screen treat.
I know many readers might think “Avengers” shouldn’t be a worst list pick, but I put it there because the plot was lackluster, the acting wasn’t memorable and the main villain was recycled from “Thor.” Loki had an alien army, but the producers treated the aliens like an afterthought. The sequel should be interesting because I know the “Avengers” can be a much better movie.
KB: I enjoyed “Avengers” a bit more than you. The film’s focus is the superhero banter, and Whedon wrote the dialogue well. I’m not sure “Avengers” belongs on the worst list, but I can see your reasoning.
I’m glad “Argo” topped your list because the decision between “Flight” and “Argo” was difficult. “Argo” certainly received the honor it deserves. I’m disappointed you haven’t seen “Flight” because I think you’d have the same dilemma. However, I haven’t seen “Moonrise Kingdom” so I suppose we’re even.
I forgot about ““Life of Pi” when I made my list. While it is certainly a monumental achievement, the fact that I forgot speaks for itself. I obviously didn’t like it enough to remember it come list time. The graphics were more moving than the story.
It doesn’t surprise me we both have “The Cabin in the Woods” listed. I think most film academics love “Cabin” because of the horror film stereotypes it examines. “Cabin” is devilishly wonderful.
Finally, I understand why “Twilight” is on your worst list, but “Twilight” wasn’t the worst this year. At least the movie has a decent final battle, even if the battle isn’t exactly real. “Red Dawn,” my worst pick, was an action mess composed of spliced-together fight scenes and poor character development. Stay as far away from the film as humanly possible.