Skip these titles: Stolen, Hit and Run, Possession, The Paperboy, To Rome with Love.
Burn These Titles from Your Memory: Won’t Back Down, House at the End of the Street.
These are the movies that will be worth your time, in ascending order.
7. InBetweeners Movie — I include this movie only if you’re a fan of the British series, and only if your’e a completist. As I wrote in my review: “If you haven’t seen the television series — and you should — there’s not much reason to check out the movie. Save for the attachment the audience has with those characters, The Inbetweeners Movie offers little more than a generic teenage gross-out movie. There are some amusing moments, to be sure, but multiplex screens are too big a platform for a television show about the small and awkward humiliations associated with trying to get laid as a teenager.”
6. Cosmopolis — Cosmpolis slipped into a few Best of 2012 lists last month, and Caspar speaks highly of it as well, specifically Robert Pattinson’s laudable performance. “The film is as polished and great-looking as can be expected. Cronenberg responds well to his main actor, fitting him out in a suit that becomes a little wrecked by the end, and filming him in close-ups with harsh lighting. There are plenty of great shots — Pattinson in close-up, lit by the fluorescent white tracking light of a gun, for instance. The cinematography excellently captures the sense of modern alienation, showing the city in all of its strangeness and dehumanizing state. All of the sets are beautifully designed, from the interior of Pattinson’s limo to the grim cityscape in the last few scenes.”
5. Dredd — Like TK, I was a big fan of Dredd, although I wish I had not seen it so closely to The Raid: Redemption because the storylines were so similar. “For you fans of the comic, I’m delighted to say you can now wash the bitter, acrid taste of Stallone’s Judge Dredd from your mouth. In fact, you can wipe if from your memory wholesale, because Dredd, directed by Pete Travis (Endgame, Vantage Point), stars Karl Urban as the Judge Dredd you’ve been waiting for. And better yet, it’s a damn good movie. Not perfect, but still thoroughly enjoyable.
4. The Imposter — This documentary was off-the-batsh*t-hook. Crazy. If you didn’t know it was true, there’s no way you’d believe it could be true. As Seth wrote: “This is one of those instances when the good and bad of the filmmaking just really don’t matter. This is simply a story that you have to see to believe and, at the end of the day, Layton shows us this story. You may not know what to think about it, what to believe, or what “the truth” is, but you will sure as hell enjoy the journey.”
3. Fat Kid Rules the World — The film directed by Matthew Lillard (yes, that Matthew Lillard) never got a proper theatrical release, but those who have seen it have gone nuts for it, including Seth and Dan, who wrote in his review: “It would be so easy for Fat Kid Rules the World to take the easy way out. The film deals with high school terror, loneliness, and the frustrating way that caring for someone means giving them the power to break your heart: in other words, everything you’ve seen probably hundreds of times over. But Matthew Lillard, in his first turn as a director, taps into real pain and genuine joy in a deft exploration of the awkward relationship forged by two people who had given up on ever finding anything good in the world. What makes the film so wonderful is precisely the way it takes those old dramedy tropes and grounds them in utterly believable characters. These people are not archetypes, or examples. They come alive like the best film characters do, and you ache and celebrate with them at every turn. The script from Michael M.B. Galvin and Peter Speakman, based on the novel by K.L. Going, is hilarious and touching in equal measure, and the film thoroughly earns its uplifting ending.”
2. End of Watch — I think End of Watch was maybe the best movie of 2012 that practically no one talked about. Dan was a huge fan, too. “Beyond all its modern style, though, End of Watch is a strong, gripping police drama. It’s almost an inversion of typical cop thrillers: It’s slow where another movie might be fast, sad where another might only want victory. It favors silence over explosions, worry over certainty, character over spectacle. There’s a pulse and texture to the film that’s become rare in the genre, and so the found footage winds up being anything but distracting. In fact, it does what it’s always been designed to do: it makes every moment feel totally real. You forget you’re watching a movie.”
1. Looper — One of only three films that landed in our Best Films of 2012 and our Most Rewatchable Films of 2012 lists, Looper is the real dead. ” 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.