I've Got the Magic In Me: The 10 Most Rewatchable Films of 2012
Each year we at Pajiba -- like most sites of our ilk -- feature a Best Films of the Year list. It's obligatory, and to be honest, it validates all of our movie-watching. But the thing about a Best Of list is that it doesn't often best reflect the movies that will eventually occupy space on our DVD bookshelf or our Storage Clouds. Lincoln was amazing, and some people believe that The Master is, as well, and one or both may make it on to our Best Films of 2012 list, but neither is a movie most of us will ever watch again. There's a substantial difference between the BEST movies and those that we'd prefer to spend our Friday nights with, wrapped up in a blanket, in our jammies, rocking a Big Carl wine glass.
To be sure, there's probably some crossover, but we wanted to create a list of movies that, while not necessarily the best in terms of acting, directing, or writing, were nevertheless the movies we'd be more likely to revisit, or to recommend to friends. They are our comfort movies. That is to say, when you're scanning through our archives later this year to look for great movies to watch over the weekend, maybe skip the Best Of Movies that will make you feel better about yourself and check out these 10 movies, which will just make you feel better.
The 10 Most Rewatchable Films of 2012
10. Lockout -- Lockout has only the barest sense of a coherent plot. It's haphazard and silly, and there are quite a few plot threads that simply never get resolved, Very Important Discoveries that clearly aren't that damn important since they're mentioned once and then forgotten. It's ten pounds of dumb in a wet five pound bag, practically bursting at the seams with stupid. But here's the thing -- Lockout? Kind of a shitload of fun. Oh, you're not going to like yourself afterwards, but damn if it doesn't manage to engage and entertain every now and then. We're left with a B-movie in the truest sense of its modern definition. It's cheap and dumb and clumsily written, less homage and more cinematic hustle job. It explodes all over the place, big scary dudes beat the fuck out of the good guy, and he beats just a little bit more fuck out of them. -- TK
9. Moonrise Kingdom -- There's almost nothing in Wes Anderson's latest film, Moonrise Kingdom, that isn't in his earlier ones, and that's not a bad thing. The movie is packed with whimsical details of a world not quite like ours; it's immaculately framed and shot by Robert D. Yeoman, who's worked on every one of Anderson's films; it's laced with dry wit, oddly hilarious turns of phrase, and awkward boys and girls trying to figure out how to escape becoming their parents. Maps are drawn. Records are played. You get the idea. Anderson is a writer and director who knows what he wants to do, and how he wants to do it, and he's spent most of the past two decades working toward a state of creative focus and grace that make themselves known in every frame of his most recent film. He's moved through the cockiness of youth and into a calmer, more measured approach without sacrificing any of the stylistic flair that defines him. In other words, for all his love of dysfunctional children, he's grown up. -- Daniel Carlson
8. Wreck-It Ralph -- Some villains are just 8-bit programmed that way, you know? Such is the case with the titular character of Wreck-It Ralph, a video-game baddie who is forced to hulk-smash during his professional life; yet when the lights go out, he yearns to be a hero. Disney did good here. They licensed some of the most important arcade-era characters, including Pac Man's ghosts, Q*Bert, and Sonic the Hedgehog, and parents will love this throwback to their youths. This movie isn't just a trip into nostalgia land for retro-video gamers. There's an actual story and some real feeling embedded within, and overall, the movie is a riveting adventure. Overall, this film features a good time for both boys and girls, and their parents will enjoy the heady trip into their own childhoods without ruining memories like Hollywood tends to do. Wreck-It Ralph not only features stellar visuals but also a shit ton of character development. -- Agent Bedhead
7. Goon -- Goon, written by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg and directed by Michael Dowse, is the unholy bastard child of Rocky and Slap Shot, with the dynamite mechanics of Major League thrown in for good measure. It's not so much a movie about hockey as about my favorite part of hockey, the enforcer. It's hilarious and violent, a sweet love story punched in the face with a knuckle dragging sports blowout, with profanity fountaining out like a shook-up soda can. From the opening shots of blood splattering ice as a tooth slowly tumbles to the rink, asskicking abounds, and from opening buzzer to final bloody dukeout, Goon pummels you with gleeful abandon and you're left dazed and smiling. Albeit short a few choppers. -- Brian Prisco
6. Looper -- It can be tempting to write off Rian Johnson as a writer-director who just likes mashing things up. His feature films -- Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and now Looper -- have shown remarkable skill at marrying two seemingly incongruous worlds and making them feel totally at home nested within each other. Brick wasn't just a high school drama masquerading as mystery, or vice versa; it was both at once. Yet he's able to pull this off because, as much as he loves mingling disparate genres, the mingling is never the point. He's more than just a gimmick. Johnson is profoundly interested in character and consequence, like good storytellers in every genre, and he's specifically drawn again and again to tales of people who buy and sell bullshit and whose biggest liability is believing their own hype. Joseph Gordon-Levitt anchored Brick as Brendan, a high schooler on the trail of a missing ex who twisted the truth as much as the people he was chasing, so it feels right for Gordon-Levitt to return for Looper, playing a man whose hunt for truth puts his own existence in jeopardy. Looper is many things -- a gripping action movie, an smart sci-fi story, a heartbreaking time-travel lullaby -- but most of all it's about a man watching himself go through a process most of us take for granted: he has to decide what he wants to believe, about the world and about himself, and then live with the consequences. -- Daniel Carlson
5. 21 Jump Street -- 21 Jump Street isn't really a remake of anything. It's not an adaptation, it's barely even an homage to the classic television series of the late '80s. If anything, it's a tongue-in-cheek parody of it, like a 100-minute Funny Or Die video that stumbled drunkenly into your multiplex. There's none of the seriousness, the welling teen angst and tastefully gritty drama that made the series so popular. Instead it's a goofy, profane, and decidedly not profound send up of not just "21 Jump Street," but of cop movies in general. Hill and Tatum have a surprisingly sweet chemistry together, and their well-meaning ignoramuses are actually quite enjoyable. In fact, what I was most stunned by was our man Charming Potato himself -- he's funny in this. I don't mean point-and-laugh funny; I mean he's got some genuine comedic timing and he plays off Hill with a mischievous sense of silliness that took me aback. It may well be that this is the niche Tatum belongs in -- that of a cute, sweet, but dumb-as-a-sack-of-gravel guy without pretense or, well, any real depth. -- TK
4. Safety Not Guaranteed -- Safety Not Guaranteed isn't what you'd expect it to be. It's a bittersweet comedy that flirts with time travel, but it's not straight science-fiction or rom-com. It resolutely refuses to tie up a couple of its plot lines, yet the story is still satisfying and full. Most rewardingly, it's a dramatic comedy built on relationships that feel earned, nuanced, occasionally uncomfortable, and completely relatable. Director Colin Trevorrow, in his first feature, mines a series of relationships for small-scale humor and poignancy, and the script from Derek Connolly (also his first feature) has some wonderful moments that reflect the awkwardness of young adulthood and the way we all eventually have to reckon with the choices that we make. The film is light and often breezy, but it's anything but insubstantial. -- Daniel Carlson
3. Pitch Perfect -- Pitch Perfect will draw inevitable comparisons to "Glee," and while some of the more enjoyable mash-ups and a particularly delightful "riff-off" may evoke the show's first, least problematic season, the better comparison would be to the you-don't-have-to-like-cheerleading-to-like-this classic, Bring It On. So let me promise you. Even if you don't like pop music or a cappella or sunshine, you can still have fun at Pitch Perfect. If, however, you do like those things, then the back to back to back musical numbers will delight you. This movie is packed to the gills with music and each number is somehow unencumbered by the cheese that smothered and killed "Glee." Director Jason Moore (Tony Award-winning director of "Avenue Q") deserves much of that credit as does the sharp script from "30 Rock" writer Kay Cannon. The film is also peppered throughout with fun cameos including co-producer Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins as a cappella color commenters and an older babershop quartet played by Joe Lo Truglio, Har Mar Superstar, Jason Jones, Donald Faison. That's right folks, there's some moderate Turk dancing. -- Joanna Robinson
2. The Avengers -- The Avengers is fun. It's genuinely enjoyable, engaging and frequently wickedly funny. Whedon's stamp is all over it -- sarcasm reigns, giggle-worthy peanut gallery commentary, and a couple of scenes which bordered on outright hysterical (featuring, surprisingly, the Hulk, who seems the least funny character) are spread generously throughout, to lighten up the gloom and doom of this pending apocalyptic invasion. It's got all the highs (and lows) of a Whedon project, but feels tighter and more focused, even in the wake of its inherent absurdity, than many of his previous endeavors. It's helped by the fact that each actor nails their roles, coming together to create a real sense of camaraderie. Even Johansson succeeds in showing more than pursed lips and cleavage, and gets her equal share of quips. More importantly, Whedon has clearly grown since his "Buffy" days, something we learned with "Firefly" and Serenity, but something that's on full display here. The humor is mature, fitting with the complexity of the interwoven characters, and one-liners are few, but when they're spoken, they don't feel artificial. -- TK
1. The Cabin in the Woods -- The first rule of The Cabin in the Woods is you don't talk about The Cabin in the Woods. Cabin in the Woods is a movie that you don't want to know much about, and I don't want to tell you much about it. Before the screening, co-writer/producer Joss Whedon told the crowd, "Enjoy it and then keep it to yourself." The first part was easy, because this is a fun movie, probably the most fun I've had in the theater since Drag Me to Hell. The second part, that's much trickier, because I have to tell you something more than "you'll dig it, trust me."
But you will dig it. Trust me. -- Seth Freilich