Patrick Dane writes for Bleeding Cool.
Throughout the last year, you may have noticed my name popping up here and there around the Bleeding Cool film stories, and it was a great year to get involved with such a site.
Geek culture has been through such highs and lows this year, nowhere more so than on the movie side of things. In a summer that promised so much for us, sometimes we got the Avengers and sometimes we got…well, Prometheus.
I missed plenty of films that could break into this top 5, so this is by no means a complete list, but it is my list.
Feel free to berate me in the comment section.
5. Titanic 3D
Perhaps I am cheating here. Many could argue that rereleases should not be on an ‘End of Year’ list, but 2012 saw a ton of films we back in the cinema – and many of them had been altered in some way or another. Raiders of the Lost Arc, Gremlins, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (remember that?), Lawrence of Arabia. The list goes on.
But Titanic 3D stood above the rest for one simple reason: it used the new technology available today to really improve the cinematic experience delivered by the movie. Using 3D to enhance the story in a smart and considered way, this is the best showcase of post-conversion 3D around. Yes, post conversion is a viable option, and yes, it can be as good as natively shot footage.
Titanic is still over long and sometimes heavy handed, but it is really spectacular cinema. What’s more, it’s rare that we get love stories on this scale anymore, so it was a welcome return to the cinema for James Cameron’s most romantic story.
4. Killer Joe
Killer Joe is something else. And that’s meant as the highest praise as I can give it.
Though while I enjoyed it immensely, it was also very easily one of the most uncomfortable times I had in a cinema this year. This film was awarded an NC17 in the US and I can understand how.
It’s very nice to see William Friedkin back on form, and with Killer Joe he delivered something that was not only deeply twisted but deeply funny.
The whole film is centered around a career-reviving turn from Matthew McConaughey but there’s a sublime supporting cast, easily one of the best ensembles this year. I never knew quite what to think of any of the characters from one moment to the next or whether I should be laughing or disgusted. I left the cinema feeling like I had been kicked in the stomach, in the best possible way.
Ben Affleck has been on the up and up since the release of Gone, Baby Gone, his work proves that he has been paying attention to some of the directors he’s worked with over the years. Still, Argo is his first truly great film.
This is a tale of the CIA creating a fake sci-fi movie to rescue hostages. It’s a true story that blends the comedy of its outrageous concept with the real terror of the situation, sometimes changing tone from one cut to another.
Smartly written, well-acted and handsomely put together, Argo really grabbed me by the collar and refused to let go until its conclusion – which impresses particularly as one knows exactly how it is all going to end right throughout.
2. The Avengers
2012 was supposed to be the summer of the geeks. We were promised the end of the Dark Knight trilogy, Ridley Scott returning to the Alien franchise and the reboot of the Spiderman franchise.
While some of those aren’t exactly bad movies, The Avengers was the one that (Hulk) smashed it out of the park.
Besting a task that many had thought long impossible, Joss Whedon brought together the various strands of the Marvel Movieverse in a loving adaption that was just about the most fun you could have in a cinema last year.
Perhaps more surprising was that Whedon was able to paint some of the best versions of these characters on screen. While many worried each character would be drowned out by the team up, instead each character stood out more because of the team up, benefiting from the contrasts.
The Avengers is a blockbuster classic that showcases great writing, great directing and great editing.
1. Ruby Sparks
This may leave some of you scratching your head, but if you missed this one at the cinema, make sure you catch it as soon as you can. Not enough people saw this movie and too many who did seem to have missed the point entirely.
Finally following up Little Miss Sunshine, directors Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton returned on top form. Zoe Kazan’s script uses a familiar ‘magic typewriter’ set-up, but Ruby Sparks sets itself apart due to the spotlessly witty writing, a career best performance from Paul Dano, great directing and many thoughtful observations.
Twisting around the trope of a ‘manic pixie dream girl’ to shine a light on her creator, Kazan, Faris and Dayton have nailed modern movies’ gender politics to the wall. It’s just a shame too many people ended up criticising the film for its apparent faults, when they were actually the very reason that it was so good. She’s supposed to be a stereotype, constrained by the point of view of her male creator.
Ruby Sparks was my favourite film of 2012.
Other honourable mentions would include The Descendants, Ted, Cabin in the Woods, Reality, Chronicle and Lawrence of Arabia in 4K, while John Carter and The Amazing Spiderman share the “Nowhere near as bad as some people has suggested” award.