05 February 2013

The 10 Best Films of 2012 (Part 2)

This is Part 2. Click here for Part 1.

6. Girl Walk // All Day (Jacob Krupnick)

Easily the most infectious film of the year, or maybe the last 10 years, Girl Walk // All Day is a paper thin narrative wrapped around dance sequences in New York City. I should hate this movie. I really should. Thing is, it's so much fun. They pretty clearly stole every single shot in the movie, filming all over New York, surrounded by confused extras everywhere they went. The music is great. The dancing reminds you of the world's greatest one person flash mob. It's a joy to watch. It might just become my default movie to watch when I'm having a bad day.

7. Argo (Ben Affleck)

For the record, I like Lincoln. It'd probably end up in the 11-15 range. Silver Linings Playbook is wildly overrated and Zero Dark Thirty is far too flawed to really consider. Les Mis is, well, one of the worst films I saw this year. That leaves Argo as the last Best Picture nominee standing. It's a riveting, compelling political drama that's probably a little hemmed in by it's "based on a True Story" credentials. There's nothing wrong with it, exactly, and Affleck does a superb job on both sides of the camera. It's just missing that spark a film needs for greatness. This…this is supremely well-crafted, but it's not great. Should it win Best Picture, it'd be a second-tier winner. I'm rooting for it.

8. Ruby Sparks (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris)

My expectations were low. I was at a Redbox kiosk and the pickings were slim. Really, really slim. And so I grabbed Ruby Sparks, thinking maybe it would help me fill out the actress category in my Muriels ballot, or maybe it'd have a cinematic moment I could cite. Sometimes it becomes a question of volume. I wasn't expecting something this clever, this inventive. Zoe Kazan did what every actor thinks they can do but almost none actually can: she wrote herself a showcase role and then she nailed that role. But beyond that, she wrote a very smart film about authorship. It's a really fantastic little romantic comedy.

9. Goon (Michael Dowse)

The list of awesome hockey movies is short. There's Slap Shot and, um, Mystery, Alaska and, um, that's about it. Which is weird, because hockey is colorful and visceral and violent. It's should translate better to film. Enter Goon, one of the better hockey films of all time, centered around the story of Doug, a bouncer who improbably becomes a hockey goon when he knocks out a player who climbs into the stands to fight him. Yeah, you read that right. It's one of those things you give the filmmakers because the rest of the film is just so much damned fun. Sean William Scott gives perhaps the performance of his career (which isn't saying much, I know), and Jay Baruchel steals every scene he's in with a manic obsession. It's bloody and it's violent, but so is hockey.

10. Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier)

Less fun is Joachim Trier's film about a day in the life of an addict as he visits his old stomping grounds. It's a very lived-in film, meaning it feels authentic, like maybe Trier just found a real guy, the way the Italian Neo-Realists would have. That alone will tell you something about the film's core performance by Anders Danielson Lie. It's a small film, melancholy down to the bones, and not all that much happens, exactly, but it grows on you. Honestly, I'm not entirely sure why, but I was riveted, just watching this guy fight his demons. But what greater, more universal battle is there? On some level, we've all been there.