By John Delia
While I recently released my pop culture top 10 movies for 2012, after finally viewing several films that were not available to me prior to this week, the following are my artistic choices for best movies of 2012. The diverse selection of films fit into a year filled with challenges, changes and future choices. I hope you will enjoy seeing the movies selected below and be sure to give me your comments.
Number 1- ARGO- Bringing Argo to the screen in the face of the recent murder of an American Ambassador abroad in Benghazi, Libya was not expected for the filmmakers yet adds realism to the film’s presence in today’s conflicted world. Ben Affleck directs and stars in this intricate attempt to create an escape plan for USA Embassy workers out of Tehran, Iran during the uprising leading to 1980’s Iranian Revolution. Based on the real event the movie gets so tense at times, especially when Affleck’s character has to walk the escaping group around the city as a rouse to convince the government that they are part of a film crew. It was so fearful that it had me white knuckling my theater arm rests. Acting all around should be commended on the fine production that should be in the list of Oscar Nominees for Best Film.
Number 2. SILVER LINING PLAYBOOK: An excellent film with amazing performances by the whole cast. Nicely filmed and directed the movie flows through its script giving the audience an uninhibited look at the psychological effects that two young people experience involving relationships. The film stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence with direction by David O. Russell.
Number 3. THE IMPOSSIBLE- The acting, directing and cinematography are all in sync showing how one family survived a terrifying tsunami. The film pulled me into the action, emotionally turning me upside down and had me grasping for air. The film has excellent performances by Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and newcomer Tom Holland.
Number 4- BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD- The film with a big heart takes place in Louisiana in an area called The Bathtub starting a day before and two weeks after Hurricane Katrina hit the area with a devastating blow. Living with her ailing father in a flooded area of the Bayou 6-year-old Hushpuppy has to deal with what has been handed to her, a life wrought in toil and an insurmountable apprehension of a dismal future. I am amazed at the fine acting by the unknown cast, especially 5-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis in the lead role. But, the star of the film is really writer/director Benh Zeitlin who’s first attempt at a full feature film turns out to be an award worthy piece that didn’t fall through the cracks. His ability to get star worthy performances from amateur talent, create an atmosphere of heart wrenching disarray, and show the results of a catastrophe far more shocking than most of us want to believe, certainly stands head and shoulders above most of the 2012 releases. It would not surprise me if Quvenzhané Wallis was nominated for an Oscar.
Number 5- ZERO DARK THIRTY- This step-by-step insight into how the CIA found Osama Bin Laden and then blew him away is nicely produced, directed and acted. I found the film involving, intriguing and then startling, playing out like a news story happening before your eyes. Even though you know the story from the media, you will be shocked with the finale of this nearly 3-hour suspense filled movie. It’s definitely worthy of being an Oscar contender with accolades in writing and direction. A fine performance by Jane Chastain keeps the movie believable and compelling.
Number 6- THE SESSIONS- Although it didn’t have major distribution, this inspirational film involving a polio victim who wants to have sex for the first time, delivers amazing performances in the well written The Sessions. Both John Hawkes as debilitated poet Mark O’Brien and Helen Hunt as Cheryl his surrogate sex partner are moving, sensual together and incredibly believable in their roles. Based on a true story, the film delves into the intricate life of O’Brien and his inspiring persistence to accomplish a goal that jump starts his life including his lifelong dream of marriage.
Number 7- DJANGO UNCHAINED- Quentin Tarantino pulls off another one of his up in your face films with no holds barred. Much like his Inglourous Basterds where he offers up a heap of whoop ass on the Nazis in World War II, Tarantino puts slavery in his dubious spotlight with a movie that grabs you where it hurts, twists them till their blue and chews the subject matter a new…. Well you get the idea. Being one of Tarantino’s ardent fans helps as I’m a believer that there’s not a filmmaker like him, except for possibly Sam Peckinpah. The movie features marvelous performances by Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio in remarkably divergent roles.
Number 8 SKYFALL- Probably the best James Bond in the series, Skyfall shows what a filmmaker can do with an excellent cast, an exciting storyline and the proper film crew. The movie takes off with an action sequence that equals the excitement of Fast Five’s ‘safe swap’ scene and works its way though some tight encounters up to its very creative final conflict. The third largest moneymaker worldwide in 2012, this film guarantees a continuation of a franchise that almost collapsed. Good acting all around by the whole cast.
Number 9. THE MASTER- This drama has it all, fine direction, and a creative story that shows the evils of society brought on by those who wish to control others for their ill gotten gain. It’s good to see Joaquim Phoenix back on his game with a brilliant performance that’s scary and deliciously evil. Look for possible acting award nominations for Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix and Amy Adams.
Number 10 FLIGHT- The acting in this film coupled with the fine directing carry this film into the top ten. The intricate plot involving a pilot with an alcohol problem who has to face his biggest fears when the commercial airliner he’s piloting experiences a mechanical problem causing the plane to crash, had me on the edge of my seat and provides a stage for Denzel Washington’s convincing performance.