Monday, January 28, 2013

The InSneider's Top 10 of 2012 ... and more

Overall, I think 2012 was a pretty good year for movies. 

Sundance set the tone, starting the year off strong with "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "The Sessions," "Safety Not Guaranteed," "Compliance" and "The Imposter." 

We saw teenagers finally get the movies they deserve, with "Project X" and "21 Jump Street" adding a memorable laugh track to the drama of "Chronicle" and "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," not to mention "Moonrise Kingdom," which featured the sweetest teenage romance in years. 

We saw two Roberts -- De Niro and Zemeckis -- do the best work they've done in years with "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Flight."

We saw time-tested subjects such as mental illness ("Silver Linings Playbook"), marriage ("This Is 40") and time travel ("Looper") explored in exciting new ways.

We saw people survive shipwrecks ("Life of Pi"), plane crashes ("The Grey"), car accidents ("Frankenweenie"), natural disasters ("The Impossible"), the justice system ("West of Memphis") and perhaps most impressively, slavery ("Django Unchained").  

We saw lots of sex including surrogate sex ("The Sessions"), phone sex ("For a Good Time, Call...), simulated sex ("Holy Motors"), drunk sex ("The Master"), grandparent sex ("Hope Springs"), best friend sex ("Savages"), Russian sex ("Anna Karenina"),  alien baby-making sex ("Prometheus"), finger-lickin' chicken sex ("Killer Joe"), too much sex ("Thanks For Sharing"), Batman sex ("The Dark Knight Really Rises"), Robert Pattinson limo sex ("Cosmopolis") and Kristen Stewart car sex ("On the Road"). Is it getting hot in here or is it just me?

I really struggled with the order of this year's Top 10 list. I realize I'm cheating a bit with my top choice, but it'd be boring if I moved it to 2013 and became the millionth person to declare "Zero Dark Thirty" the best movie of the year, which it probably is. 

You know the drill, this is my ever-evolving personal list of favorites, not a list of "the best" of the year. It's certainly not set in stone, as an earlier post points out 100 movies, including "Amour," that I failed to see in 2012 and hope to catch up with soon. As much as I'd like to, it's impossible to see everything because there are so many hours in a day and some of those are reserved for HBO's "Girls." Yes, I'm drinking that show's Kool-Aid, back off!

I realize I'm rambling now, so without further ado... please enjoy my Top 10 Movies of 2012, with a bonus list of the Worst 10 Movies of 2012 just beneath it. While comments and tweets are welcome, spare me actual hate mail. I never open it...


1. THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES - What can I say? I fell for Derek Cianfrance's follow-up to "Blue Valentine" from its very first frames, a tracking shot that perfectly sets the tone that follows. One of the finest American films I've seen in years, this multi-generational crime drama is a shot in the arm for a genre that has grown complacent. Courageous performances anchor this heartbreaking story about desperate fathers and the sons who must pay for their sins. Don't miss it come March!

2. ZERO DARK THIRTY - An incredibly well-researched procedural as masterful a film as that other tale of obsession, "Zodiac." Another brave piece of filmmaking from the talented team of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal. When she's allowed to act human, Jessica Chastain is an absolute firecracker. 

3. THE IMPOSSIBLE - The movie I cried at the most this year. I called my family after seeing it in Toronto. We watched it together over Thanksgiving and it was equally devastating. Call it manipulative all you want, but I go to the movies hoping to be manipulated, wanting to feel something. No 2012 film accomplished that better.

4. THE RAID - The year's best action movie, no contest, as well as the best foreign film of the year. Amazing fight choreography set to a great score by Linkin Park. Pure balls-to-the-wall adrenaline, I couldn't have asked for more from this intense experience.

5. THE SESSIONS - Director Ben Lewin deftly balances comedic and dramatic tones in this heartbreaking true tale of poet Mark O'Brien. John Hawkes and Helen Hunt deliver two of the year's best performances in this surprising crowdpleaser that had me laughing and crying.

6. MOONRISE KINGDOM - The best depiction of young love in years. Only Wes Anderson could pull off the tone achieved here -- a sweetness that's sadly missing from most American movies lately. 

7. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK - This throwback to the madcap comedies of Preston Sturgess was a star-crossed romance like no other, featuring two winning turns from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, giving the best female performance of the year. Cooper shows off more range than he's ever had the chance and even Robert De Niro is on his game. David O. Russell is one of the most unique and necessary voices making movies today.

8. THE GREY - More than just your average man vs. beast or man vs. nature tale, this was a fairly profound survival story about man vs. himself. Some won't be able to see it as anything more than 'Neeson With Wolves,' but there's more going on here than meets the eye, which is why it has stuck with me since its January premiere.

9. COMPLIANCE - I haven't been able to stop thinking about it since I saw it divide audiences at Sundance. Craig Zobel's thrilling docudrama balances such a careful, natural tone, it's easy to see how this actually happened in real life. A true conversation piece, impossible to forget.

10. RUST AND BONE - Jacques Audiard's searing drama features two dynamite performances from Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts in one of the year's most unlikely but refreshing romances.

As for the WORST 10 MOVIES OF 2012, I've decided to limit myself to one-sentence descriptions. While there may be a 2013 release atop my Top 10 of 2012, this is my list and I make the rules, so I can make them as inconsistent as I want. Thus, I'll spare a pair of upcoming horror movies I saw in Toronto and keep them in mind for next year's Worst Of list. Apologies in advance...


10. LAY THE FAVORITE - A disappointing effort all around, I have no clue how this laugh-free "comedy" was directed by the same bloke behind "The Queen."

9. JOHN CARTER - Not since "Lost in Space" have I been so bored with an expensive sci-fi epic.

8. DAMSELS IN DISTRESS - Set in a completely unrecognizable world, this pretentious dance craze just wasn't for me.

7. THE DICTATOR - Funny for a few minutes before the joke got old and I wanted the grating Admiral General Aladeen to sentence me to death. 

6. ON THE ROAD - A meandering movie that nearly had me on the road back home after the first hour.

5. COSMOPOLIS - A disappointing, aimless film of false profundity that seems to resent its own audience.

4. ATM - Another pointless contained thriller that wears out its welcome in a hurry thanks to characters that are so unlikable, it's a wonder they don't put the audience out of its misery and kill each other early on. 

3. SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN - The less said, the better. Let's move on...

2. TAKEN 2 - A lazy sequel that repeated the same beats as the original, wasting all the goodwill it earned. 

1. DETENTION - Ridiculous to the point of absurdity, this experimental stew of hyperkinetic nonsense was more or less unwatchable despite the good intentions of its director, who I enjoy following on Twitter.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

2012 MOVIE LIST -- The Top 153 So Far

THE STANDOUTS (21) - This should go without saying, but these are all must-sees.

The Place Beyond the Pines ***1/2
Zero Dark Thirty ***1/2
The Impossible ***1/2
The Raid ***1/2
The Sessions (fka The Surrogate) ***1/2
Moonrise Kingdom ***1/2
Silver Linings Playbook ***1/2
The Grey ***
Compliance ***
Rust and Bone ***
End of Watch ***
Argo ***
Beasts of the Southern Wild ***
Life of Pi ***
Django Unchained ***
Game Change (HBO) ***
The Imposter ***
Chronicle ***
The Perks of Being a Wallflower ***
Project X ***
21 Jump Street ***

THE GOOD (41) - These represent quality filmmaking all-around.

Flight ***
Safety Not Guaranteed ***
Looper ****
Arbitrage ***
West of Memphis ***
Skyfall ***
Michael ***
Easy Money (Snabba Cash) ***
Jack Reacher ***
Ruby Sparks ***
Ted ***
Frankenweenie ***
This Is 40 ***
Lincoln ***
Pusher ***
A Hijacking ***
Promised Land ***
Bullhead ***
Take This Waltz ***
Your Sister's Sister ***
Sleepwalk With Me ***
Smashed ***
That's My Boy ***
The Do-Deca-Pentathlon ***
Act of Valor ***
Killer Joe ***
God Bless America ***
The Five-Year Engagement ***
Hope Springs ***
Friends With Kids ***
Haywire ***
Sleepless Night ***
Room 237 ***
Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope ***
Hit and Run ***
Goon ***
Shut Up and Play the Hits ***
Robot and Frank ***
Celeste and Jesse Forever ***
Save the Date **1/2
Side By Side **1/2

THE GOOD... BUT SHOULD'VE BEEN BETTERS (23) - Why weren't these good movies better? I don't really know. But they should've been. Hence, the name of this section.

The Dark Knight Rises ***
The Master ***
Magic Mike ***
Wreck-It Ralph ***
Killing Them Softly ***
The Hobbit **1/2
American Reunion **1/2
ParaNorman **1/2
Thanks for Sharing **1/2
The Company You Keep **1/2
Disconnect **1/2
Dark Shadows **1/2
The Hunger Games **1/2
Cabin in the Woods **1/2
The Avengers **1/2
Seven Psychopaths **1/2
Bachelorette **1/2
V/H/S **1/2
Lawless **1/2
Man on a Ledge **1/2
Seeking a Friend For the End of the World **1/2
The Woman In Black **1/2
The Words **1/2

THE GUILTY PLEASURES (18) - These are movies that I shouldn't like but I do, for one reason or another. I only feel ashamed because the Internet tells me I'm supposed to.

Dredd 3D ***
Pitch Perfect ***
Get the Gringo ***
What To Expect When You're Expecting ***
For a Good Time, Call... ***
Fun Size **1/2
Sushi Girl **1/2
Bindlestiffs **1/2
The Bay **1/2
Wanderlust **1/2
The Paperboy **1/2
No One Lives **1/2
Piranha 3DD **1/2
High School **1/2
This Means War **1/2
The Babymakers **
John Dies at the End **
Mirror Mirror **

THE UNDERWHELMING DISAPPOINTMENTS (38) - Chalk it up to expectations but these movies just didn't cut it for me.

Prometheus **1/2
The Amazing Spider-Man **1/2
Cloud Atlas **1/2
Contraband **1/2
Savages **1/2
Sinister **1/2
Safe House **
Premium Rush **
Liberal Arts **
Deadfall **
Not Fade Away **
Men in Black 3 **
Total Recall **
Alex Cross **
10 Years **
Holy Motors **
Les Miserables **
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter **
The Bourne Legacy **
The Campaign **
Rise of the Guardians **
The End of Love **
Nobody Walks **
To Rome With Love **
Nature Calls **
The Collection **
Silent House **
Chernobyl Diaries **
Anna Karenina *1/2
Battleship *1/2
Excision *1/2
Aftershock *1/2
Simon Killer *1/2
The Raven *1/2
The Watch *1/2
The Innkeepers *
Red Lights (Sundance cut) *
Apartment 143*

THE BAD (12) - For better or worse, I just don't know what these movies were thinking.

Lay the Favorite *
John Carter *
Damsels in Distress *
The Lords of Salem *
The Dictator *
On the Road *
Cosmopolis *
Snow White and the Huntsman *
Taken 2 *
Detention 1/2*
The ABC's of Death 1/2*

OOPS, I MISSED (63): 2 Days in New York, Alps, The Apparition, Being Flynn, Brave, Bully, Casa de mi Padre, Chasing Ice, Chasing Mavericks, Crazy Horse, Dark Tide, The Deep, Deep Blue Sea, Detachment, The Devil Inside, Don't Go In the Woods, The Expendables 2, The Flowers of War, Footnote, The FP, Gone, The Guilt Trip, Headhunters, Here Comes the Boom, House at the End of the Street, The InBetweeners Movie, In Darkness, Intruders, The Island President, Jesus Henry Christ, Juan of the Dead, Kid With a Bike, Klown, Lockout, Lola Versus, Loosies, The Lorax, Meeting Evil, Middle of Nowhere, Newlyweds, The Odd Life of Timothy Green, On the Ice, Paranormal Activity 4, Parental Guidance, People Like Us, Perfect Sense, Playing For Keeps, Polisse, The Possession, Red Hook Summer, Red Tails, Return, Roadie, Rock of Ages, Salmon Fishing In the Yemen, The Samaritan, Scenes of a Crime, Sparkle, Thin Ice, This Is Not a Film, Turn Me On, Dammit!, Undefeated, The Vow

COMING SOON (6): Amour, Hotel Transylvania, Hyde Park on Hudson, The Intouchables, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Trouble With the Curve

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The InSneider's Annual Last-Minute OSCAR Nomination... Things

T-minus 7 hours, so I'd better get these on the record quick! I didn't play The Alternate Game last year so I decided against it this year despite the temptation with such a wide-open field. There are some categories that are really tough to call this year, and the trickiest question of all isn't which films will be nominated, but rather, how many. Thanks to all the bloggers I've enjoyed reading this awards season including but certainly not limited to Jeff Wells, Steve Pond, Kris Tapley, David Poland and MCN's Gurus O' Gold, Scott Feinberg, Sasha Stone, Anne Thompson, Pete Hammond, Nathaniel Rogers, Gregory Ellwood, Guy Lodge, Dave Karger, his worthy successor Anthony Breznican, the fine folks at The Playlist and especially Variety's own Jon Weisman, a relative newcomer to the glamorous beat who handled it with all the class the envious position requires. I'd call this a work-in-progress but fortunately, we've run out of time and these will have to do. Good luck to all the contenders, and I look forward to speaking with some of the nominees tomorrow!


1. Lincoln
2. Zero Dark Thirty
3. Argo
4. Les Miserables
5. Life of Pi
6. Silver Linings Playbook
7. Amour
8. Django Unchained
9. Beasts of the Southern Wild


1. Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
2. Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty
3. Ben Affleck, Argo
4. Ang Lee, Life of Pi
5. David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook


1. Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
2. Denzel Washington, Flight
3. John Hawkes, The Sessions
4. Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
5. Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables


1. Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
2. Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
3. Marion Cotillard, Rust and Bone
4. Naomi Watts, The Impossible
5. Emmanuelle Riva, Amour


1. Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
2. Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
3. Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
4. Alan Arkin, Argo
5. Javier Bardem, Skyfall


1. Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
2. Sally Field, Lincoln
3. Helen Hunt, The Sessions
4. Amy Adams, The Master
5. Maggie Smith, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel


1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. Django Unchained
3. Moonrise Kingdom
4. Amour
5. The Master


1. Argo
2. Lincoln
3. Silver Linings Playbook
4. Beasts of the Southern Wild
5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Top 100 Movies of 2012 That I Regret NOT Seeing

I saw more than 150 new movies in 2012, but even with the access my job affords me, it's impossible to see everything.

The following 100 films are presented in alphabetical order since I haven't seen them yet, although the five titles I'm REALLY kicking myself for missing are Amour, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, Keep the Lights On, The Loneliest Planet and Oslo, August 31st.

If there's anything not listed that you REALLY think I should see, let me know in the comments section or on Twitter, and I'll let you know if it was ever under consideration. Also, if there are any release date issues or inaccuracies below, please cut me some slack, as it's impossible to know what's really eligible without an established set of criteria, which I don't hold myself to.

Please note that I plan to see movies such as The Attack, The Gatekeepers, Ginger & Rosa, Kon-Tiki, Mud, No, Reality, Shadow Dancer, Stories We Tell and To the Wonder in theaters in 2013. Some have appeared on others' Best/Worst lists because they screened at film festivals, but I managed to miss all of these despite attending both Sundance and Toronto.

Here's to catching up with these movies in 2013!

1. 2 Days in New York
2. 5 Broken Cameras
3. 28 Hotel Rooms
4. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
5. Alps
6. Amour
7. Bad 25
8. Barbara
9. Being Flynn
10. Beloved
11. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
12. Beware of Mr. Baker
13. Beyond the Black Rainbow
14. Brave
15. Bully
16. Call Me Kuchu
17. Captive
18. The Central Park Five
19. Chasing Ice
20. Chico & Rita
21. The Color Wheel
22. The Comedy
23. Crazy Horse
24. Dark Horse
25. Declaration of War
26. The Deep
27. The Deep Blue Sea
28. Detachment
29. Detropia
30. Elena
31. Everybody In Our Family
32. Extraterrestrial
33. The Final Member
34. First Winter
35. The Flowers of War
36. Footnote
37. The Forgiveness of Blood
38. The FP
39. Francine
40. Goodbye First Love
41. Green
42. A Gun In Each Hand
43. Headhunters
44. How to Survive a Plague
45. Hyde Park on Hudson
46. In Darkness
47. Indie Game: The Movie
48. In the Family
49. The Intouchables
50. The Island President
51. It's Such a Beautiful Day
52. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
53. Juan of the Dead
54. Keep the Lights On
55. The Kid With a Bike
56. King Kelly
57. Klown
58. A Late Quartet
59. Like Someone In Love
60. Lola Versus
61. The Loneliest Planet
62. Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present
63. Marvin, Seth and Stanley
64. Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God
65. Miami Connection
66. Middle of Nowhere
67. Neighboring Sounds
68. Norwegian Wood
69. Now, Forager
70. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
71. On Death Row
72. Only the Young
73. On the Ice
74. Oslo, August 31st
75. The Patience Stone
76. People Like Us
77. Perfect Sense
78. Polisse
79. Quartet
80. Queen of Versailles
81. Red Hook Summer
82. Red Tails
83. Return
84. A Royal Affair
85. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
86. Samsara
87. Scenes of a Crime
88. Searching For Sugar Man
89. Sleep Tight
90. Sound of Noise
91. Starlet
92. Tabu
93. Tchoupitoulas
94. This Is Not a Film
95. Trouble With the Curve
96. The Turin Horse
97. Turn Me On, Dammit!
98. Undefeated
99. The Wise Kids
100. Wuthering Heights