With the Oscars just around the corner about to prove once
again how irrelevant they are by making some strange movie picks, the time has
come to look back on 2012 cinema and choose the ten best films the year had to
offer. It’s important to note that I didn’t have the luxury of seeing
absolutely everything that came out this year, so an omission from this list is
not necessarily an indication that I won’t love it.
I will say that there are several films this year that,
judging by critical consensus, I expected to be head-over-heels for but ended
up only tolerating (Holy Motors, Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln). There are also a multitude of others that I enjoyed very
much, but had trouble committing to putting them in my top ten (Bernie, ParaNorman, The Sessions).
Limiting myself to a top ten was no easy task. This really
was one hell of a year for movies, and the completion was stiff. Without
further ado, here are the best motion pictures of 2012:
Get ready to laugh with nostalgic joy if you’re planning to play Retro City Rampage, a game that pretty much sells itself completely on pop culture and video game references from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Yes, there is an open world 8-bit style game here that’s inspired by Grand Theft Auto, but the true value of Retro City Rampage comes from the presentation and humor.
The screen looks like an old arcade machine, featuring a 4:3 display surrounded by a generic-looking cabinet skin. The menus, the title screen, the characters, the art design – everything seems ripped right from gaming’s golden age, and the result is a fantastic walk down memory lane. Retro City Rampage is an ode to video games and, while the core gameplay leaves much to be desired, you’re going to be glad you played it.
The streets of Retro City are pure chaos.
Complimenting the presentation are appropriate graphics and sound design for something pretending to be from the NES era. Even the in-game cinematics are done in classic 8-bit style, featuring barely-animated stills and witty text-based dialogue. There’s no doubt in my mind that a lot of thought went into this game, and the love definitely shows in the final product.
Django Unchained is brutal, sickly comical, and often hard to
watch. That being said, it’s also a smart film about racism and slavery, masterfully
crafted by talented filmmaker Quentin Tarantino. A late arrival during 2012, Django Unchained should be in the
conversation for best picture of the year, if critics can get past the
excessive gore and racist language. Tarantino crosses the boundaries of what is
comfortable in order to shock, amuse, and drive home a powerful message into
your brain – and he succeeds completely on all counts.
This satirical revival of the Blaxploitation genre tells the
story of a bounty-hunting dentist who frees a slave named Django (Jamie Foxx)
in order to help him track down his latest reward. Feeling responsible for the
man he freed, Dr. King Schultz (Christopher Waltz) teaches Django how to shoot,
read, and even promises to help him free the woman he loves from a rich slaver,
Calvin J. Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).
The romance between Django and his bride, Broomhilda Von
Shaft (Kerry Washington), is one of the weaker aspects of the narrative.
However, the relationship between Django and Dr. Schultz is
surprisingly deep for a Tarantino movie; their mutual growth serves to push the
The story unfolds in a series of episodic acts, each feeling
like its own stand-alone arc. This approach is something fans of Tarantino are
likely accustomed to, though I will add that it works better here than in Inglourious Basterds.