Michael Moran’s Top 5 Films Of 2012

Like any list of favourite movies, my Top 5 Movies of 2012 is subjective, unnecessary, and subject to whimsical change.

This list is flawed from the outset because I haven’t seen everything – I’m itching to see Lawless for example, and Life Of Pi too. But I missed the former at cinemas and the latter hasn’t come my way yet.

The list is flawed too because it’s a Top 5.  Is, say, Killer Joe a weaker film than the movies that made the cut? That’s debatable. And on another day Matthew McConaughey’s uncharacteristically shirted performance might have edged it.

But right now I’d say…

5: Dredd 3D

Karl Urban delivers a cartoonish, one-dimensional performance as Judge Joe Dredd, which is precisely what the character requires. If you want nuance, get thee to an arthouse. Dredd 3D is almost non-stop zarjaz action.

Dredd 3D had some of its thunder stolen by The Raid – which by coincidence had an almost identical premise. But only Dredd had Dredd. The slo-mo ‘3D showcase’ scenes are pretty, but not pivotal enough to prevent the film being an enjoyable watch on your home system. If you missed Dredd at the cinemas, do please rent or buy it as soon as the market allows. It’s scrotnig.

4: Chronicle

Found footage, as a framing device, is more or less played out post-Cloverfield. But I’d make an exception for this clever little superhero movie – more Misfits than Mystery Men – that explored the darker side of superpowers.

It’s a superhero flick that doesn’t splash CGI effects all over the screen, but when you need them, they’re there and they work well.

The two questions most often posed by superhero flicks are ‘what if superheroes were real?’ and ‘if I had superpowers, what would I do with them?’. Chronicle answers them better than most.

3: End Of Watch

Things I like about movies include; [1] A plot you can’t predict from the first five minutes. [2] Characters I care about. [3] Strong men in tights punching lumps out of one another. End Of Watch has at least two of those.

It has that same soapy police procedural magic that made Hill Street Blues one of the must-watch TV shows of the Eighties but it’s shot through with a dirty realism that even The Bill couldn’t match.

I’m joking of course.

David Ayer’s film is another one that flirts with the ‘found footage’ conceit. It would be just as good a movie without that though. What End Of Watch has, more than any other movie on my list, is heart.

2: The Dark Knight Rises

I’ve seen a lot of people pointing out plot holes. I’ve seen a lot of people saying it isn’t true to the Batman of the comics. I honestly don’t care.

There are a couple of moments where improbable things happen to keep the movie going – but this is a superhero story we’re talking about. I’m not sure that we’ve ever seen a superhero movie without one or two of those.

And true to the comics? The comics aren’t true to the comics. Besides, all the Batman movies should probably be considered as Elseworlds tales. They certainly aren’t in any continuity with the dozen or so Batman series currently in stores.

The point is that as long as you’re watching The Dark Knight Rises it’s great, pulse quickening entertainment. Sure, when you’re on the bus home you might start thinking “but how…? – and…who..?”. That isn’t the point. The Dark Knight Rises is fun. Slightly pretentious po-faced fun, but that’s the kind of fun I like to have.

1: Marvel’s Avengers Assemble

A predictable choice for Number One I’m afraid. Anything else would be perverse. Joss Whedon delivered a warm, funny, and satisfyingly action-packed finale to Marvel’s Phase One cycle of superhero flicks. As I said when the film was released:

The byplay between Tony Stark and Pepper Potts is pure screwball comedy, Some of Cap’s reactions to the 21st Century are priceless. Hulk delivers a sight-gag that I’m still chuckling about. Even Thor gets a terrific one-liner. And all this is seamlessly woven into the middle of an epic superhero fight that never once descends into that regrettable CGI phenomenon I like to call ‘Action Figure Smackdown™’

For my money – and looking at the box office charts for most other people’s money too – The Avengers is film of the year.

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