The Best and Worst Films of 2012

2011 had its fair share of total duds in terms of films, but 2012 has reset the balance with a spectacle of impressive movies!
There were a lot from my favourite genres and several returning and recurring franchises that I have enjoyed, so I want to stress how tight the top fifty or so films really are! In fact, there are very few films this year I would qualify as bad (expect some of the “worst” to simply be “deliberately bad”) and so I’ve had to be strict with the higher levels! We are talking personal opinion and nitpicking galore here, and I know there are a couple that the general public would rage about!

It has been a year of high anticipation and gallons of hype what with Avengers, Skyfall, Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit and Prometheus, let’s see how it has resolved for Cinema Cocoa! The top ten and worst ten in descending order, along with the other seventy-seven films I have seen (both in the cinema and on DVD!) a total of ninety-seven films this year!

1. Skyfall

A defining moment in the franchise’s fifty year history! Sam Mendes directs one of the most stand-out, kinetic and character based Bond films ever! I cannot fault it; characters are well written, the action is tight and streamlined, soundtrack is solid, and it honors its traditions with delicacy!
Could the best of Bond continue into the future??

2. Avengers Assemble (2D)

They said it could not be done, that comic continuity and bizarro-combinations could not make the transition to the big screen. Yet director Joss Whedon finally gets the recognition he deserves as a writer and director! Marvel Studios (and Disney!) combine several years’ development and films together into a fun action romp!

3. Drive

I didn’t know how I would feel about Drive, after everyone raved about it, but at the end of the day I cannot shake the mood and tone of the film from my mind. Ryan Gosling plays it cool as a heist driver, while a retro soundtrack fills your ears and glossy, dark and neon visuals sweep over you. A great thriller.

4. Senna

It is hard to rate a documentary beside films like Drive and Skyfall, but in terms of capturing a sport such as Formula 1, you cannot go wrong with Senna. The social and political dramas that ensue are shown using entirely stock footage from the sport, overlaid with voice-overs. It is a compelling and emotionally charged piece of storytelling.

5. Chronicle

In a time of such over-saturation of comicbook superheroes and stories in the film industry, it is nice to see an independently made film become so successful! Chronicle from the outside may appear generic (American High School, you say?) but the payoff and where the film takes its characters is unbelievably intense!

6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (HFR 3D)

Looking at The Hobbit‘s sixth place honestly you can see this as a terrible loss. Following the jaw-dropping Lord of the Rings films with the same film-makers, The Hobbit should be at the very top! But while it is an extraordinary show of film making (and it should be seen!) and a visual feast, this first installment has split the crowd!

7. Looper

Like Chronicle, it is nice to see unique and non-franchise based science fiction getting some attention, and Looper is suitably up my alley in terms of themes, atmosphere and visuals! It uses time-travel in ways previously unexplored, and while it can never be perfect, I found it very convincing. Good to see old Bruce Willis can still pick his films well!

8. Dredd (3D)

A visual treat! Stunningly bloody, gory and oh-so violent, yet as it is often the case with these things, Dredd does not come off as cheap or phony; it becomes a piece of art. Much like the comics that it is based off, the film reeks of the 1990s grunge era, and it is so encased that you cannot help but admire its blood splattered, drug-abusing spectacle!

9. The Woman in Black

At last, a traditional horror/chiller movie that works. Daniel Radcliffe bounces easily away from the Potter franchise in this bump-in-the-night Haunted House movie by Hammer Studios. While some of the scares might be typical jump-scares, I was immersed, and I was also glad the film managed to shut up restless 12A teens in the audience!

10. Brave (2D)

My tenth place was extremely hard fought for. You could place any of the next four or five here, but… I don’t know, I enjoyed Pixar’s Brave a great deal. Yes, it is packed with Scottish stereotypes, but it has such a beautiful look; the atmosphere is thick with mysticism and… and damnit that hair! Just look at it!

The Artist
The Raid
Snow White & The Huntsman
The Dark Knight Rises
Prometheus (3D)
The Cabin in the Woods
Rise of the Guardians (2D)
Into the Wild
War Horse
John Carter
Super 8
Real Steel
Captain America: The First Avenger
Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
The Muppets
The Conversation
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Men in Black 3 (3D)
Puss in Boots (2D)
Ice Age 4: Continental Drift (2D)
Iron Sky
Fahrenheit 451
The Grey
The Expendables 2
The Amazing Spider-Man (2D)
The Guard
End of Watch
In Time
Another Earth
THX 1138 (2004 Director’s Cut)
Attack the Block
Win Win
Arthur Christmas
Fright Night
Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists
Everything Must Go
The Great Debaters
Tetsuo: The Iron Man
Chico & Rita
The Thing (2011)
Trick ‘r Treat
The Bourne Legacy
Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Hunter (3D)
Total Recall (2012)
Wrath of the Titans (3D)
Broken Embraces
Mirror Mirror
Conan the Barbarian (2011)
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2D)
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
A Christmas Carol 2D (2011)
The Hunger Games
The Town
I Am Number Four

10. The Rum Diary

Described as a comedy, yet lacking completely in humour, Johnny Depp’s return to Hunter S. Thompson’s material proves to be directionless and totally disengaging. A non-threatening antagonist, choppy editing and perhaps made more “tasteful” for general audiences unlike Fear and Loathing. This rum has no kick.

9. Red Lights

Three of my favourite actors in one place, a great setup for an intense thriller, and yet… so… so tedious. Red Lights suffers from an asinine script, moving from blatant exposition drawl to simply missing any and all good sense; the film has no identity, what genre does it want to be a part of?? Dialogue that is heavy on jargon does not help either.

8. Cars 2

Hello, Pixar. I’ve not seen you down here before. I liked Cars, I think I am one of the few who did, but no I didn’t think it needed a sequel. Here is the evidence! Cars 2 is an obnoxious waste of time. It is noisy, abrasive, frustrating and unintelligent, for some reason focusing on the character of Mater! Four words not associated with Pixar at all!!

7. Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Ugh. In light of recent events, could the Clone Wars movie actually be George Lucas’ film swansong of franchise ownership? If it is… I cannot think of anything more suitable. An uninspiring kiddie-friendly romp through the Star Wars universe, sticking safely and soundly with familiar faces and settings with mediocre to poor CGI animation.

6. Season of the Witch

With the potential combo of Ron Perlman and Nicolas Cage, the film somehow squanders its opportunity by becoming a predictable bore. Somehow the fun is sucked out of it. Watch Sorcerer’s Apprentice or Black Death instead! Uninspired and defused of excitement.

5. Species 4 – Awakening

Early in the year I went looking for a bad film, where better to look than the ludicrous Species series? While it is better than Species 3…. (that… isn’t saying much) Awakening still has none of the get-up-and-go silly hilarity of the first film, none of the 1990s lovable nonsense. Ultimately, it is (obviously) poor and irrelevant.

4. Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus

Something of a cult favourite, and it put The Asylum studios on the map, this film has to be this far down simply because… well… its really really bad. It is deliberately bad to the point it is funny, and if you haven’t seen Mega Shark attack an airborne plane yet I suggest you find it now on Youtube! Do it.

3. Insidious

Ugh… So, Insidious was stupid. Very stupid, to the point where it is laughable. I don’t think I once found this sideshow attraction the least bit scary! Predictable and with some of the worst secondary characters I have seen in a horror film that is trying to take itself seriously. I wish it wasn’t, but they are definitely playing this one straight!

2. The Machine Girl

A bit like Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus, The Machine Girl is a deliberate gore-fest involving a Japanese school girl with a machine gun for an arm. Now, I did watch this, and I expected more. It is just an hour of people with red paint squirting out of fake arm stumps. I was hoping for some decent gore, not student-level budget (even that is doing a disservice to student films…)

1. Devil

I won’t get these eighty minutes back. Thank god it was only eighty though. What a load of timid, blatant lack of scares. This is meant to be scary?? The idea could have been an intelligent look at humanity, but instead it is a ham-fisted attempt at a generic horror cliche. It has no intelligence, no merit. Yes, the Japanese school girl making red paint burst out of people was more compelling than this!

There you have it! I am sure there will be plenty of arguments today about how Devil is your favourite film of all time, or that Drive really wasn’t that good! But, this is my opinion, and I share it with you because it is entertaining to see the varying viewpoints of art.

Plus, this year has been surprisingly difficult with so many top quality films! Just because Dark Knight Rises didn’t make the top 10 doesn’t mean it is bad, it just means I felt it was missing that special something to elevate it as high as the others.

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