|"Hey Groggy, your Best & Worst list is a week late!"|
With fewer films, my movie habits naturally became less varied. While I unearthed a few obscure gems, you'll note few foreign language movies and only a handful of theatrical releases. Still, I hope there's enough variety to keep your attention. Certainly some choices will be controversial, though Groggy's never shied away from pissing people off.
With one exception, I restrict both lists to first-time viewings only.
Best Viewings of 2012:
10. The Avengers (2012, Joss Whedon)
Dark Knight Rises and lame-o Spider-Man reboot.
9. Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975, Peter Weir)
Peter Weir's eerie think piece registered much stronger on a re-watch. It's undeniably a frustrating film, from its thinly-sketched characters to its elliptical storyline with its unresolved conclusion. But the unique aesthetics, from the ethereal photography and dreamy score to Weir's indescribable frisson of supernatural menace, are indescribably seductive.
8. That Hamilton Woman (1941, Alexander Korda)
Winston Churchill's favorite movie remains a top-notch melodrama. Alexander Korda perfectly couches the doomed romance of Admiral Nelson and Lady Hamilton within the Napoleonic Wars, crafting each angle with due respect. Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh parlay their real-life marriage into one of cinema's most glamorous couples.
7. Serpico (1973, Sidney Lumet)
Dog Day Afternoon, Equus and The Pawnbroker are all superb. I chose Serpico for its mix of righteous anger and rich characterization. Al Pacino is an eccentric cop who loves ballet and dresses like a hippie, yet proves the straightest arrow in a hopelessly corrupt NYPD. You'll be rooting for him even in a seemingly-lost cause.
6. Sunday, Bloody Sunday (1971, John Schlesinger)
5. Westward the Women (1951, William Wellman)
Battleground, depicting a wagon party's westward passage as an attritional battle against the elements, Indians and each other. It scores points, too, for its mostly female cast, with Denise Darcel, Hope Emerson and Julie Bishop (among others) proving hardy, unglamorous frontier gals.
4. Victim (1961, Basil Dearden)
3. Mountains of the Moon (1990, Bob Rafaelson)
2. A Matter of Life and Death (1946, Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger)
1. Lincoln (2012, Steven Spielberg)
Honorable mentions: Anatomy of a Murder, Captain Blood, Dog Day Afternoon, Elizabeth I, The Lady Vanishes (1938), Midnight Cowboy, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Quiz Show, The Small Back Room, The Taking of Pelham 123 (1974)
Worst Viewings of 2012
I watched some abominable crap this year, yet some bad movies are just ordinarily bad. Where's the fun in picking on Leprechaun Back 2 Tha Hood or Grizzly? No, we'll go after films that are offensively, audaciously bad, egregiously rubbing their failings in your face.
10. Orca (1977, Michael Anderson)
Grizzly at least knows it's a chintzy Jaws knock-off. Producer Dino De Laurentiis seriously thought he could top Steven Spielberg's fish tale. Not with weeping orca eyes, bloody whale fetuses and cetaceans blowing up an entire town he can't. All that plus Richard Harris at his hammiest! Yet it's not the worst post-Jaws creature feature on this list...
9. Scorpio (1973, Michael Winner)
8. Farewell to the King (1989, John Milius)
The Wind and the Lion. Yet even the Raisuli couldn't save Farewell to the King, which plays like Lord Jim re-envisioned by a 14 year old. Besides shamelessly cribbing from Lawrence of Arabia and penning laughably overwrought dialogue (LEOROYD AM I!!!!), Milius encourages Nick Nolte to engulf scenery like a famished Gary Busey. No wonder Nigel Havers and James Fox seem like they'd rather be in another movie - any other movie.
7. The Ides of March (2011, George Clooney)
6. Batman Forever (1995, Joel Schumacher)
5. The Four Feathers (2002, Shekhar Kapur)
1939 Four Feathers is an all-time great adventure movie, still enjoyable for its thrilling battle scenes and glorious Technicolor. Shekhar Kapur's revisionist take is Exhibit A of why people hate remakes. A.E.W. Mason's tale of colonial derringdo becomes a stentorian P.C. whine fest, featuring Heath Ledger as a simpering git who wanders aimlessly into the Sudanese desert and achieves nothing. Two hours cleaning the litter box would be better spent.
4. Hanna (2011, Joe Wright)
3. Prophecy (1979, John Frankenheimer)
2. Anonymous (2011, Roland Emmerich)
1. American Beauty (1999, Sam Mendes)
After 9/11, three Middle Eastern wars and economic collapse, late '90s angst films (Fight Club, Magnolia) now seem like narcissistic whining. Sam Mendes's American Beauty with its Best Picture Oscar takes the cake. Ostensibly a satire of middle class America, its forthright onanism proves insufferable. What's more offensive: celebrating loathsome creeps as embodiments of personal expression; pedophilia postulated as sexual awakening; or an empty paper bag framed as profundity? Either this movie's aged terribly or was never good in the first place. It's definitely infuriating garbage.
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Thanks to my loyal readers for another year of great blogging! New reviews coming soon.