These were supposed to be announced during the live broadcast of the Oscar nominations, but there was some snafu in accounting and my interns are all ON NOTICE! In any event, I hope you all can take something from this list. I truly do do it because I love recommending movies to my friends. Obviously, this is MY list of favorite films from the year, so I really don't expect everyone to like all of these. Hell, I'd be surprised if someone liked half of the list. But if you find out about even one title that you previously were unaware of, and end up loving it, then I've done my duty. It should also be noted that this isn't a comprehensive list of all the good movies from 2012. There were plenty of others that were great fun, but I gotta stop somewhere.
- The Master – Many valid criticisms have, and will continue to be leveled at this film, and I can probably agree with most of them on a certain level. But no other film EVER, let alone just this year, has made me feel like I am REQUIRED to watch it a second time to even partially digest it. And I mean that as the most sincere compliment. If you haven’t seen this, and are on the fence about it, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say DON’T WATCH IT. And why would I recommend you not watch my favorite film of the year? Cause anyone who is on the fence about watching a new P.T. Anderson film shot in gorgeous 70mm, instead of chomping at the fuckin' bit, is probably not part of the intended audience. That sounds elitist, I know, and I’m sure there are some exceptions, but this is not a film to be casually enjoyed. It wants to make you work for it. And frankly, most people don’t want to work for their entertainment. Which is completely understandable, and I don’t blame them! But there are a million other movies that can better fill that slot than this hypnotic fever-dream of a film experience. My love for it only grows as more time passes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJ1O1vb9AUU
- The Cabin in the Woods - Most fun I had at any movie this year. Even if you don't like the genre, I would still say give it a shot. I can't remember the last time a sequence in a movie had me uncontrollably smiling ear to ear like the "Purge" scene. All horror films will now be regarded as Pre or Post Cabin. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Itzujv4JwU
- Killing Them Softly - Unfairly dismissed for God knows why (probably cause it was marketed as a typical mobster movie when its anything but), this is neck and neck with the Master as best shot movie of the year. Andrew Dominik directed the shit out of this movie on all levels (even sound design?! even sound design) and I ate it up. Is it a bit on the unsubtle side when it comes to the political allegories? Absolutely. But it just gives more to chew on! So as long as you adjust your expectations for a slower "mobster" movie that’s rife with subtext, this might hit the spot. Or you may hate it, who knows. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDyaNnrgdp4
- Indie Game: The Movie - I was originally just going to put all the best documentaries in their own category, but this was just too good to be sidelined. The best "pure" documentary I saw this year, that came completely out of left field to choke me up like nothing has since Edward Scissorhands. I highly recommend this to anyone with a creative drive or for anyone who wants to better understand what makes an "artist" sacrifice everything for their passion. On Netflix Instant. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dINgx0y4GqM
- The Raid - Leave it to an Indonesian production that cost less than the protein shake budget of The Expendables to show America how to make an action movie. "Simple" would be a generous word to describe the plot, but who cares when the bloody carnage is this entertaining. I gladly welcome the sequel, which I'm sure will be a lot of the same. Which is perfect! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMmFN4k04JI
- Zero Dark Thirty – Homeland could take a cue from this absorbing and seemingly very honest retelling of one woman’s personal hunt for Bin Laden. No bullshit melodramatics to be seen here. Just honest characters and spot-on story telling. Two and a half hours flew by. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAtWcvCxPhc
- Antiviral – Speculative-fiction with a mean dash of social satire that hit all the right body-horror notes for me. Being David Cronenberg’s son, director Brandon Cronenberg had quite the heritage to live up to. But the proof is in the genetically modified human pudding here, and I will certainly be keeping an eye out for what he has brewing next. (Should be in theaters in the U.S. soon) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XIZb50HiBCo
- Kill List – This is a tough one. Many will find this slow, then disturbing, confounding, disgusting, and ultimately revolting. I loved it. It’s stuck with me since February, burrowing into my brain and keeping me up at night. I’ve read for hours about different theories of what is actually going on by the end of the film, and I’m still mulling it over. All I can say is, it is a nightmare, and fucking intense. Not for the squeamish. Oh, and use subtitles, helps immensely. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqkqF--v1tg
- Seven Psychopaths – A violent meta-comedy on screenwriting starring Sam Rockwell?! This shit was practically tailor-made for me. Doesn’t stop it from being pretty god damned weird and unconventional though. Not that I’m trying to warn anyone away from it, just a heads up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tygJCY9vX-s
- Looper – Best Sci-Fi outing of the year, AND one of the most purely entertaining films. Thank God for Rian Johnson for bringing at least a modicum of intelligence to a big studio feature, and for having a child actor who I didn’t want to throttle for their horrible precociousness. Plus, said child was responsible for the best (Akira-indebted) kill-scene this year. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2iQuhsmtfHw
- Samsara – Next to The Master, the second best example of why FILM is still king in my book. This is a film that begs to be experienced on the big screen, but will easily become your favorite new Bluray (came out last Tuesday!) to show off that fancy high def TV of yours. HIGH-ly (horrible) recommend herbal remedies to compliment the transcendent imagery. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qp967YAAdNk
- Snabba Cash - I'm always a sucker for Scandinavian crime dramas, and Snabba Cash (aka Easy Money) easily ranks right up there with the Pusher trilogy and Headhunters. Might be hard to find, but should be on DVD eventually, and is definitely worth seeking out. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guuiDfwulc4
- Bullhead – A methodically paced, but fully engrossing character study set in the illegal bovine-hormone market of Belgium. I know most of you are rushing out to buy this right this minute, just based off the description. But if you need more convincing, I will say that actor Matthias Schoenaerts (also great in Rust & Bone) knocks this out of the park, with a Deniro/Raging Bull level of acting. Just Google his headshot compared to how he looks in this. On Netflix Instant. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7fTx89BTIVg
- Holy Motors - If you thought The Master was hard to decipher, you probably won't make it 5 minutes into this. Without a doubt the weirdest title to make the list, and as of 3 weeks ago, probably wouldn't have made the list at all. But something about this giant fuck you to conventional cinema worms its way into your head and demands respect. Be prepared for gremlin boners. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NWu9WjEcdbk
- Chronicle – I think we’re all pretty sick of the found footage gimmick by this point, but the format was perfect in this case. I really wasn’t expecting to like this movie as much as I did, but what can I say? I’ve always had daydreams of gaining super powers! And not the powers of a fucking spider. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-M5Qx57_UU
- Rust and Bone – Jacques Audiard had a monumental task in following up the modern classic that is A Prophet, so my expectations were a little on the high side. But he still came through with this unconventional “love story” between a whale trainer and a vagabond street fighter. Beautifully filmed and expertly acted by Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jg7skcyYolU
- The Imposter – One of those perfect examples of “truth is stranger than fiction”. The story would literally be unbelievable in any other context if this weren’t a documentary. It’s always a sign of a good story when as soon as it ends, all you want to do is research what happened next. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2LuFOX0Sy_o
- Django Unchained – Gonna be honest, I felt like this was Tarantino’s slightest and most one-note film to date (not including Death Proof, cause that was just kind of a shitty after thought). That being said, there’s still plenty fun to be had. If it were 30 minutes shorter, probably would’ve hopped 5 spots. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B5sks1-EGfw
- Sleep Tight – Creep City, population: this dude. That sounds a little too much like I’m talking about myself, but whatever. Super effective and suspenseful little diddy from one of the directors of REC. I will forever be suspicious of all doormen now. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xEgzNNn0XUo
- Spring Breakers – For James Franco’s insane performance alone, this makes it on the list. But it helps that it’s wrapped in Harmony Korine’s typically twisted sensibility. The truest representation of what Florida is really like. I’m guessing, of course, cause no self-respecting Californian has any need to step foot in Florida. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IO0RPZcHDe4
Other Great Docs:
Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles - Got me hook line and sinker. A fascinating mystery. On Netflix Instant http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VIWpJ5Jl4fE
Room 237 - Uncovering the mysteries and conspiracy theories that lie within Kubrick's The Shining. Look for it later this year. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sJr7TEVvjqw
Last Days Here - Wanna watch a heroin junkie from the 70’s metal band Pentagram try and get his shit together? Sure you do! On Netflix Instant. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwaYcp2uYLU
Jiro Dreams of Sushi - I'm not a big sushi fan, but this is still a great film on many levels. On Netflix Instant. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hbV6knbeUFE
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry - Ai Weiwei is just a big ol badass artist with balls of steel. Big inspiration. On Netflix Instant. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0MYFOzP6Xns
The Queen of Versailles - A riches to rags story that alternately makes you feel glad to see the 1% suffer, but still manages to make you empathize for them by the end... to an extent. On Netflix Instant. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AdJYzgJ4CwI
Urbanized – A great end to Gary Hustwit’s trilogy of design films. Plus, more great El Ten Eleven songs. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jpN8kI0-pY
*Project Nim - This is more of an addendum to last years list, as it came out in 2011, and had I seen it then, it definitely would've placed highly. Loved it so much, I stole the disc from Netflix! Great double feature with last years Planet of the Apes too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_vha0FI0j8
Breaking Bad - Without contest, the best show of any year.
Adventure Time - Pound for pound, the most jubilantly fun show ever.
Black Mirror - Only 3 self contained episodes, that play like cautionary Twilight Zone episodes for future tech set.
Louie - The greatest comedian of our generation makes a TV show, why would you not watch that? Oh, you don't like the occasional dramatic episode? I don't like you, shut up.
Portlandia - Fred Armisen just kills me.
The Amazing Race - I'm addicted to this show. Makes my Sunday night.
Total Black Out/Killer Karaoke - These two shows may be the perfect example that we as a society are heading toward a Running Man/Idiocracy future, but God do they make me laugh.
Steal Like an Artist - HIGHLY recommend this book to any and all of my creative friends. Super inspirational and motivating.
John Dies At The End/This Book Is Full of Spiders - J.D.A.T.E. came out a while ago, but I read it this year, and its sequel (T.B.I.F.O.S) came out last October, so I'm putting them both on. Where John was a great crazy intro to the world of paranormal slackers Dave and John, Spiders just turns that shit to 11. I can't even begin to explain what they are about, but I love them.
Saga - Oh, you’re too cool/mature for comics? Fuck you, this series is fantastic. Will it surpass Vaughn’s previous series Y The Last Man as my favorite comic? Time will tell.
John Mulaney - New In Town
Hannibal Buress - Animal Furnace
Kyle Kinane - Whiskey Icarus