A list of the most notable films I watched in 2012. I first watched in 2012, not released in 2012.
Despite feeling like I hardly saw any, I watched 46 films in 2012, 35 of them for the first time.
Everyone loved Drive except me. I found it dull, more stylish than memorable. I’ve no idea what you’re all seeing that I’m not.
I didn’t have high expectations for Prometheus, so the first hour was a wonderful surprise. Then the wheels came off and it all went tits up, to mix my metaphors. Logic broke down, the film tried too hard to please fans of Aliens, and all the early promise went unfulfilled.
Dark Knight Rises was a very good and fitting end to Nolan’s Gotham trilogy, yet simultaneously showing Nolan had stretched this universe as far as it could go. He got a lot of mileage out Bruce Wayne’s gruff, serious alter-ego, and the strain was starting to show. Still, DKR is a thoroughly enjoyable film.
Warrior came highly recommended, but at first all I could see was another derivative sports film. But the heart of Warrior showed through and I could see why men admit to welling up watching it. Not me of course. Definitely not me.
Despite my dislike of Jonah Hill and cynicism towards Channing Tatum doing comedy, I found 21 Jump St hilarious. Jump St was the first film since Drag Me To Hell where I publicly embarrassed myself laughing. I watched the film on a plane and had to pause it and lean away from the person sitting next to me because my face was going crooked from trying to stifle laughter. It relies too heavily on awkward conversation for humour, but is great fun regardless.
The Avengers (or whatever ridiculous name it ended up with in the UK) was surprisingly enjoyable. Surprising in the sense that, after a strong opening, the film spent half an hour paying fan service and having heroes fight each other when it was clear neither would get injured. Soon, however, the action found some proper stakes and Avengers became much more engaging. As with Thor, superhero films now have available the budgets and technology to illustrate the fantastical worlds of these comics. No genre is benefitting more from increasingly good special effects.
I finally got around to watching Glengarry Glen Ross, which was very good. I was surprised at how devoid of plot it was, but it’s an acting masterclass with a brilliant cast.
Nazi-zombie-fest Dead Snow was great mindless fun.
Taken 2 was unintentionally hilarious. It takes a bold man to submit a script containing the nonsense that somehow made it to the screen.
Buckaroo Banzai (I’m not using the full name) was tremendously entertaining. Soon after watching it through Lovefilm I added it to my Amazon wishlist. As of Christmas I now have a copy and will watch it again soon. Banzai is just so brilliantly mental, pulpy and fun.
Incredibly, Final Destination 5 was one of my favourite film experiences of the year. Despite the brilliant Tom Bissell’s essay on the film, I couldn’t fully wrap my head around the idea of that franchise finally laughing at its own ridiculous concept. But laugh it does (as did I) as people die in the most preposterous and hilarious ways. Like 21 Jump St, FD5 provided strained abdominal muscles from laughing too hard. Of the 35 films I first saw in 2012, I’ve probably spent more time talking about this one than any of the others. For that reason it might be my film of the year. If you’ve never seen of this series, force yourself to watch the first film to grasp its conventions. Then watch the fifth to see the best way to treat this concept.