With 2012 drawing to an end, it’s time for my second annual year end awards. Just like last year, I have not had time to fully delve into all the films released this year to the degree I would like to, so I once again focus on what I saw this year, no matter when it was released.
Thus, I’m happy to present A Swede Talks Movies’ The Films I Watched In 2012 Awards!
I saw 204 movies this year (not counting rewatches), which is a slight step down from last year’s 229. This is fine, and expected. In matters not movie-related, this year was busier than the last one for me. I still got a lot of good watching done, knocking off some long-standing entries from my List of Shame, starting to explore new directors like Buster Keaton and Ingmar Bergman, venturing into Iranian cinema for the first time, and much more.
So without further ado, here are some
random silly highly prestigious categories, and their respective victors!
I’m sure mine wasn’t the only theater in the world to erupt with laughter when Hulk went to town on Loki. I could hardly breathe myself due to laughing so hard. Unexpected, brutal, and hilarious. Surely one of the greatest moments in 2012 film.
Walken Award for Best Show-Stealing Performance In A Bad Film
Winner: Malcolm McDowell – Silent Night
Silent Night was quite the run-of-the-mill slasher flick, with nothing remarkable taking place throughout its running time. Nothing, that is, except for Malcolm McDowell as grumpy and in-charge Sheriff James Cooper. He is wildly off-key compared to the rest of the cast, chewing the scenery at every turn, and the writers seem to have expected this, as they’ve given him way funnier lines than anyone else in the film. “Big mistake: bringing a flamethrower to a gun fight!” If there is a reason to see the movie – and to be perfectly frank, there isn’t really – it’s McDowell.
I would say that Goodfellas and Jaws are the two movies I’ve gotten the most “You haven’t seen that one!?” comments about these last few years. It feels good to have finally gotten around to them, especially since both turned out to be pretty great films. Goodfellas is the richer of the two in my eyes, but it’s a close call. Prediction: If this category returns next year, I’d say Schindler’s List might be a potential frontrunner.
I’m surprised any copies still remain of Out of Sight, because the chemistry between J-Lo and G-Clo should rightly have scorched the celluloid to ashes. Every scene between them is sizzling. Where is this Lopez nowadays?
What is it about fingernails that makes injuries to them so cringe-inducing? There wasn’t much I really dug about this portrait of schizophrenia, but the part where Peter Greene cuts a fingernail loose from his finger had me curled up in a ball on my sofa.
The Devil’s Rejects is an unrelenting, gruesome, dirty and crazy ride all the way through, and there is no better way for it to conclude than the strangely touching and epic ending we got, set to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s magnum opus.
Sorry, Scorsese. The famous Goodfellas scene with Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco entering a night club is really cool, and more visually impressive than my winner here. The long take in Hunger is just Michael Fassbender and Liam Cunningham talking for 17 minutes. No camera movements, no action, no nothing. Just two people talking. And it is riveting regardless.
Everything Vince Vaughn’s character Ricky Slade does in Made is a disaster. He talks when he shouldn’t, spends money he can’t afford to spend, brings guns when no guns are allowed, and constantly puts his friend Bobby (Jon Favreau) in trouble. I watched the film with two friends of mine, and I lost count of how many times we uttered “What the hell are you doing!?” at the screen. It’s tremendous writing, and Vaughn does a great job with the part.
“Why Did I Watch This?” Award for When I Should Have Known Better
Winner: American Pie Presents – The Book of Love
Of course the last direct-to-DVD American Pie film was going to be terrible. I knew that, and yet I watched it anyway. I wasn’t going to, honestly. I had seen the first six films in the franchise – for stupid reasons – but the direct-to-DVD ones were terrible, and I was happy to call it quits with the series and not bother with The Book of Love. And then American Reunion came out. And then I heard that there was nothing in it that contradicted the direct-to-DVD titles, and that it in fact built on some plot elements first introduced in them. Which means that these terrible films were actually canon. Since American Reunion was getting some good word, I wanted to see it. But how could I do that without first seeing The Book of Love? I couldn’t. I watched it. And it was a steaming pile of shit.
The first time Dean Lennox Kelly somewhat drunkenly dances around crooning “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, it’s one of those really great scenes where you can’t help but laugh even thought nothing overtly funny is going on. But then there’s an encore later on with him and his friends Chris O’Dowd and Marc Wootton, and that’s when it becomes truly tremendous.
“What’s The Big Deal?” Award for A Beloved Film That Left Me Underwhelmed
Winner: An American Werewolf in London
England is doing well in this category. Last year, British cult comedy Withnail & I was the runner-up for this award. This year, England-set An American Werewolf in London takes the crown. Save for the great transformation scene, the film is just dull and plodding. Neither funny nor scary, and I do wonder where all the love is coming from.
“It Makes Sense In Context” Award for Film That Spawned The Weirdest Thought In My Brain
“Hmm, my water boiler is gray. It must be a virgin.”
The Day was a pretty terrible post-apocalypse movie, and I’m not even sure I’d call Sossamon’s performance the best part of it, but whatever! Big congratulations to Sossamon for picking up her second consecutive victory in this category! Here’s to hoping she shows up in better films next year.
Nicolas Cage Award for Best Nicolas Cage Performance
Winner: John Cusack – The Raven
Runner-up: Nicolas Cage – Fast Times at Ridgemont High
I knew something felt off about 2012! It turns out that I haven’t seen any new film with Nicolas Cage in it, except for his debut Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and that’s just a tiny background part. Fortunately, John Cusack stepped up to the plate and delivered a spot-on Cage impression in The Raven. From the sudden shouting to the Vampire’s Kiss-esque flowery vernacular to the ridiculous hair, there is nothing about his performance that doesn’t scream Cage.
The playground. God damn. The playground.
Tom Cruise could have won many awards this year through his performance as Stacee Jaxx. Best Male Supporting Actor, Best Kiss, Best Sex Scene, Best Song Performance – for either “Wanted Dead or Alive” or “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, mind you – Best Character Introducing Scene, Most Charisma, and so forth. This award should be taken as a catch-all for everything he did. This remains one of my very favorite performances from any 2012 film, and ranks among Cruise’s best work on screen ever. Haters are welcome.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I sat down to watch The Grey. I had heard mixed reactions to it, with some calling it one of the year’s best while others referred to it as a massive disappointment. As it turns out, the former camp was right. The Grey is an amazingly visceral experience, where I felt in my bones every hardship the group of survivors went through. It’s a powerful movie that’s on the surface about the will to survive, but with enough layers about spirituality and mortality to give it real weight. I was mesmerized by this movie, and don’t hesitate for a second to call it the best film I’ve seen from 2012 at this point. If something I see later on trumps it, I’ll consider myself lucky indeed to witness more such greatness.
Imagine trying to have a conversation with Guy Pearce‘s character in this movie. Every single damn thing he says is either snarky wise-assery or some lame action movie one-liner. Spending more than two minutes with a guy like this in real life would be tiresome at best. In Lockout, we get to pal around with him for 95 minutes while he stumbles around a space prison trying to rescue a hostage or something. It gets old really damn fast, as the action is pedestrian and the characters are either non-existent or lazy caricatures. Lockout isn’t so fantastically awful that I rule out the possibility of something worse from 2012 coming along somewhere down the road, but it’s still pretty damn bad.
“Persona might well turn out to be the most significant movie-watching I do this entire year.” That’s what I said in my mini-review of it back in March, and I’d say that remains a fair assessment. No other movie has ever made me see the light in terms of black & white beauty like this one did. It turned Ingmar Bergman from “guy I guess I should watch more stuff by” into a true master. It introduced me to Liv Ullman and Bibi Andersson. And it told a spellbinding story in a way that had me in a daze for the rest of the day. Or week. Or month. Or indeed year. With all due respect to Gabriela Pichler‘s powerful debut Eat Sleep Die – to date the only movie I’ve ever watched twice in theater – nothing I saw from Sweden was even close to Persona for me this year.
Worst Film Seen By Me In 2012 Award
Winner: In the Name of the King 2: Two Worlds
Runner-up: The Prophecy II
The first In the Name of the King movie ripped off the plot of Lord of the Rings, filled the cast with recognizable faces, threw a bunch of money into the mix and still ended up a really lame movie. The sequel had no budget, Dolph Lundgren as its only star, and ripped off the plot of The Matrix infused with time travel. It was even worse than the first one. I watched the two films on the same day. It was not a very invigorating experience.
Not only was Persona the best Swedish film I saw this year; it was also the best movie I saw in all of 2012, period. This wasn’t originally how I thought it would go. At first draft of this post, when I just picked out the categories and jotted down the winners, I had The Remains of the Day at the gold medal place here. It’s an amazing film, I reasoned, and it’s nice to spread the wealth around, so Persona got the runner-up spot. But then I started doing write-ups for the different categories, and while writing about Persona for the Best Swedish Film Award, I remembered just how much it rocked my world. I tried to evoke the same degree of feelings for Remains, and I realized it wasn’t quite there. Persona ruled 2012 for me. All hail the Bergman, the Nykvist, the Ullman, and the Andersson.