Remember when we thought that 2012 was going to be such an amazing year for cinema? That Prometheus was going to be the return of smart sci-fi, that The Dark Knight Rises was going to be the best trilogy capper of all time, that Brave was going to be Pixar’s triumphant return? Oh how little we knew.
2012 was a great year for film, but not for the reasons we thought it would be. So one year from now, when I look back at this list, maybe I’ll be shaking my head at how silly it looks. Hopefully, though, I won’t be.
#19: White House Down
#17: Dark Skies
#16: Dead Man Down
#15: Man of Steel
#14: The Fifth Estate
#13: The Great Gatsby
#11: The World’s End
And the Top 10 are…
#10: Iron Man 3
Even after the tremendous letdown of Iron Man 2, I can’t help but be psyched up about this film. I like the idea of a superhero threequel that isn’t trying desperately to wrap up the story in an absurdly bombastic way. The trailer indicates that this film will take a darker turn, setting the stage for a more serious, personal Phase 2 for the Marvel universe. I know that some people are sick of “dark and gritty” superheroes, but I can’t wait to see what they’ve come up with for Tony Stark to battle, externally or internally.
#9: Side Effects
This is supposedly going to be Stephen Soderbergh’s final theatrical film, so of course I’m going to be there opening day. Soderbergh is a vital filmmaker, and his career has been more varied than perhaps any other director in history. One year he’s doing yet another Ocean’s movie, the next he’s doing a four-hour biopic of Che Guevara. Side Effects seems to be a stylistic successor to Contagion, which I thought was great, and I’m glad to see Rooney Mara’s career blossoming.
#8: The Place Beyond the Pines
I love Ryan Gosling, even if he seems to play a slight variation on the same character in every film. He’s a really solid actor, and this film from the director of Blue Valentine looks like an introspective drama about fathers and sons, a theme which can’t help but be resonant no matter where it occurs. This is a small film that I think is going to blow up big in film buff circles.
#7: Pacific Rim
Sure, it looks like a Transformers ripoff of epic proportions, but it’s Guillermo del Toro! He’s got plenty of art-house cred, so I don’t feel guilty at all about being incredibly excited for this film. It just looks so damn cool! What more do you want from me?
#6: Much Ado About Nothing
This is far from my favorite Shakespeare play. The banter is top-notch, but I never got all that into the plot. However, the fact that Joss Whedon directed it makes that irrelevant. He shot it at his house with his friends in the starring roles; friends you may recognize from his other productions, like Nathan Fillion, Clark Gregg, and Fran Kranz. It’s such an interesting direction for him to take following The Avengers, and I’m really curious to see what he did.
I didn’t know that this movie was coming out until last week, but it instantly jumped up the list. From the director of Take Shelter, one of my favorite movies of 2011, this film seems to be a deep South answer to Super 8, minus any science fiction elements. It’s about young boys becoming adults due to dark circumstances. This is a director that I’m keeping an eye on, and his new film looks just plain great.
Speaking of director’s I’m keeping an eye on, this follow up to District 9 is perhaps the most secretive film of the year. Besides one or two pictures of a bald Matt Damon, the plot of this film is tightly under wraps. I have some problems with the construction of District 9, but there’s no denying its originality, so a new film from this director is an intriguing prospect to say the least.
#3: Star Trek into Darkness
This is basically cheating, I know, but I can’t help myself. It just looks like so much fun! I know that diehard Trekkies have their quibbles with the 2009 reboot, but for my money there have been few examples of pop cinema to surpass it in pure entertainment value in the past fifteen years or so. This sequel looks to deliver more of what made the original such a blast, and the prologue which played in front of The Hobbit was more thrilling than most of The Hobbit itself. Safe to say that this is a film I’ll be lining up for.
#2: Upstream Color
The plot synopsis of this film alone is impenetrably complex and vague, and what else should we expect from Shane Carruth, the writer/director of Primer, one of the most brilliant time-travel movies of all time? Primer is infamous for its dense narrative, which is difficult to understand on first viewing. The film is one thing, but I really can’t wait for the discussions people are going to have after the film comes out about what it all means.
This film was supposed to be released last year, but was pushed back indefinitely before landing in a late 2013 spot. I know that nerds can be cynical and nitpicky, but I don’t know what there is not to get excited about here. From Alfonso Cuaron’s direction, rumors of his bold choices when it comes to extended shot length, the vast loneliness of the cosmos on full display in IMAX 3D, Sandra Bullock and George Clooney starring; it just sounds amazing.