PG Cooper: Top Ten Films of 2012

Posted: January 26, 2013 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in Lists, PGCMAs

PGCMA 2012

*The above image represents 2011’s PGCMA Best Picture winner; Drive.

2012 was another great year and I had a lot of fun with the PGCMAs. As always, I’ll be closing the awards with my top ten films of the year. Consider the top five films my nominees for Best Director and Best Picture and my number one film the winner of both.

10. The Raid

the-raid-poster

Written by: Gareth Evans

Directed by: Gareth Evans

Number of PGCMA Nominations: 4 (Best Fight, Best Shootout, Best Editing, and Best Action Film)

Number of PGCMA Wins: 1 (Best Fight)

A powerful crime lord has held himself up n an apartment complex with his own personal army. A S.W.A.T team has been sent in to take him out, but they’ll have to fight through hell first.

The Raid is not a film mainstream audiences are familiar with nor is it one the various awards bodies have chosen to acknowledge. But to the internet film fan, The Raid is one of the most satisfying films of 2012. The film is a constant barrage of action and badassery, aided by real stunts and extremely tight editing and directing from Gareth Evans. There’s also just enough story and character beats placed throughout to keep audiences invested. Some may dismiss the film for its simplicity, but to do that would be to miss the point.

“Pulling the trigger is like ordering take out.”

9. The Avengers

Avengers

Written by: Joss Whedon

Directed by: Joss Whedon

Number of PGCMA Nominations: 9 (Best Fight, Best Set-Piece, Best Visual Effects, Best Hero-Robert Downey Jr., Best Villain-Tom Hiddleston, Best Cameo-Harry Dean Stanton, Best Action Film, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Cast)

Number of PGCMA Wins: 2 (Best Set-Piece and Best Hero)

After years of build up, Earth’s mightiest heroes must band together in order to stop Loki from conquering the planet.

While I’m not as in love with The Avengers as I once was, it’s still a great film which remains entertaining throughout the two hour runtime. The action scenes are truly fantastic and there are at least four top notch set pieces. What really makes the film though is the characters and the interaction they share. I could watch this team share the screen all day and I can’t wait to see where the story goes next.

“If it’s all the same to you, I think I’ll have that drink now.”

8. Django Unchained

Django-Unchained-character-posters

Written by: Quentin Tarantino

Directed by: Quentin Tarantino

Number of PGCMA Nominations: 6 (Best Shootout, Best Costume Design, Best Villain-Leonardo DiCaprio, Best Trailer, Best Supporting Actor-Samuel Jackson, and Best Original Screenplay)

Number of PGCMA Wins: 0

Former slave Django is freed by bounty hunter King Schultz. The two become a bounty hunting team and eventually set out to rescue Django’s wife from the vile Calvin Candie.

Django Unchained has a lot one could criticize. The film is too long, there’s a horrid cameo, and the theme of revenge was analyzed much better in Tarantino’s Kill Bill saga and Inglorious Basterds. And yet, the film is so entertaining that these issues don’t bring it down nearly as much as one would expect. Quentin Tarantino still crafts some great dialogue, makes some very tense scenes, the violence is gloriously over the top, and the acting is great from almost everyone. If nothing else, the film proves that Tarantino makes great films even on a bad day.

“The ‘D’ is silent.”

7. Prometheus

Prometheus-Movie-Poster

Written by: John Spaihts and Damon Lindelof

Directed by: Ridely Scott

Number of PGCMA Nominations: 10 (Best Set-Piece, Best Art Direction, Best Make-Up, Best Visual Effects, Best Score, Best Trailer, Best Horror Film, Most Underrated/Unappreciated Film, Best Actress-Noomi Rapace, and Best Actor-Michael Fassbender)

Number of PGCMA Wins: 4 (Best Art Direction, Best Visual Effects, Best Trailer, and Most Underrated/Unappreciated Film)

A group of scientists discover evidence that links human origins to beyond our solar system. A crew is sent to a far off planet to investigate and find more than they bargained for.

Prometheus is a film I love in spite of itself. Certain character moments don’t make sense, the film has a lot of plot holes, and at times it feels rushed. And yet the film’s successes are so many that I can overlook a lot of the issues. There’s some great acting for example, mainly from Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender. Ridley Scott also brings his talent for great effects and technical details. I also love the connections to the Alien universe. Most importantly though, Prometheus features an abundance of ambition. One could even argue it’s the most ambitious film of 2012. So maybe it doesn’t hit every beat it aimed to, at least it had the balls to try.

“Big things have small beginnings.”

6. Skyfall

skyfall-poster

Written by: John Logan, Robert Wade, and Neal Purvis

Directed by: Sam Mendes

Number of PGCMA Nominations: 14 (Best Fight, Best Shootout, Best Chase, Best Set-Piece, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Use of Source Music, Best Score, Best Hero-Daniel Craig, Best Villain-Javier Bardem, Best Supporting Actress-Judi Dench, Best Supporting Actor-Javier Bardem, Best Action Film, and Best Adapted Screenplay)

Number of PGCMA Wins: 3 (Best Cinematography, Best Villain-Javier Bardem, and Best Action Film)

A foe from M’s past has returned to challenge MI6. The timing couldn’t be worse as Bond is struggling to recapture his old talent.

James Bond and Sam Mendes returned to form in epic fashion with Skyfall. This is the perfect mix of an old-school Bond adventure and a modern Bond film. We get the thrills, set-pieces, and excitement one could want from an escapist adventure, while maintaining the commentary on character and setting the previous Craig films have had. A lot of care is put into the story and characters but the film still features great action scenes. Overall, Skyfall is one of Bond’s strongest outings and the best blockbuster of 2012.

“Think On Your Sins”

5. Argo

argo-poster

Written by: Chris Terrio

Directed by: Ben Affleck

Number of PGCMA Nominations: 8 (Best Costume Design, Best Editing, Best Use of Source Music, Best Hero-Ben Affleck, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cast, Best Director, and Best Picture)

Number of PGCMA Wins: 2 (Best Editing and Best Use of Source Music)

In the 1970s, the American embassy in Iran was overrun and held hostage. A handful of Americans escaped by hiding in the Canadian embassy. CIA operative Tony Mendez hatched a plan to break them out by creating a fake movie production.

With Argo, Ben Affleck has established himself as a great director. Stepping away from his Boston crime roots, Affleck tackles a bigger story and in the process has made his best film yet. Affleck tells the story masterfully, weaving from drama to genuinely funny comedy. The fact that both elements of the film work so well is almost miraculous. Affleck is also able to build a remarkable amount of tension and there are several scenes which show this skill off. Also worth acknowledging are the performances which are all quite strong. Argo may not have the same level of depth as a thriller like Munich, the film is so well made it doesn’t really matter.

“Argo fuck yourself.”

4. Zero Dark Thirty

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Written by: Mark Boal

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow

Number of PGCMA Nominations: 7 (Best Shootout, Best Editing, Best Poster, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress-Jessica Chastain, Best Director, and Best Picture)

Number of PGCMA Wins: 2 (Best Shootout and Best Actress-Jessica Chastain)

The film chronicles the ten year manhunt for Osama Bin Laiden through the eyes of a CIA operative named Maya.

Kathryn Bigelow surprised a lot of people in 2009 with The Hurt Locker. Bigelow, who had previously been most notable as the director of Point Break, would go on to win a Best Director Oscar and The Hurt Locker would win Best Picture. Zero Dark Thirty is her return to film making and she proves beyond a shadow of a doubt The Hurt Locker was no fluke. Zero Dark Thirty is an engrossing picture which sucks the viewer in from the get go. Bigelow’s direction is bang on and she creates some great scenes. The film also does a great job bringing the viewer through the manhunt while still being firmly rooted in Maya. Speaking of Maya, Jessica Chastain’s performance is phenomenal and her best work yet. She is able to evoke so much with so little dialogue one can’t help but be impressed. And for all the talk of the film’s political agenda, the fact is Zero Dark Thirty is very objective. The film merely presents the events which unfolded and lets the audience decide how they feel.

“I’m the motherfucker that found this place.”

3. Moonrise Kingdom

moonrise

Written by: Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola

Directed by: Wes Anderson

Number of PGCMA Nominations: 14 (Best Chase, Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Use of Source Music, Best Score, Best Supporting Actor-Edward Norton, Best Comedy, Best Breakthrough Performance-Jared Gilman, Best Breakthrough Performance-Kara Hayward, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actress-Kara Hayward, Best Cast, Best Director, and Best Picture)

Number of PGCMA Wins: 3 (Best Chase, Best Costume Design, and Best Original Screenplay)

Two troubled kids run away from home to live together in the woods. A search party goes out led by a cop, a mildly depressed father, and an over enthusiastic cub scout master.

Moonrise Kingdom was the first great film I saw in 2012 and it has remained one of my favourite films throughout the year. Perhaps the film’s biggest strength is how it is full of themes and imagery but is also constantly entertaining and accessible. This is in large part thanks to a great script from Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola who keep the story interesting and give the characters great dialogue. There’s also a lot of great performances from veterans like Bruce Willis, Ed Norton, and Bill Murray, but also from newcomers Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. Really though, the whole cast is great. Wes Anderson’s unorthodox style also adds a lot to the film and helps craft a truly delightful and poignant tale.

“What kind of bird are you?”

2. Silver Linings Playbook

silver-linings-poster

Written by: David O. Russell

Directed by: David O. Russell

Number of PGCMA Nominations: 8 (Best Supporting Actor-Robert De Niro, Best Comedy, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actress-Jennifer Lawrence, Best Actor-Bradley Cooper, Best Cast, Best Director, and Best Picture)

Number of PGCMA Wins: 3 (Best Comedy, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Cast)

After spending a year in a mental institiute for assault, Patrick is finally being released and returned to his family. Patrick still has some issues to work through but finds himself entangled in the life of Tiffany who, like Patrick, has mental health issues of her own.

The romantic comedy is a genre generally considered to be one of the worst. And while a majority of romcoms released each year are crap, Silver Linings Playbook reminds audiences that, like any genre, romantic comedies can produce great films. The way the film twists the usual genre cliches is fun to see, but the real pleasure of the film comes from the characters. I genuinely fell in love with the people in this film and the performances that brought them to life, especially Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert De Niro. The film is funny, sad, intense, light, fun, frustrating, unpleasant, likable, cynical, and hopeful all at the same time. Like real life, it’s a mixture of every emotion. The film captures reality extraordinairly well, a testament to the talent of David O. Russell as both a writer and director. As much as I love dark and cynical films I also love a brighter look that says people can find happy endings if they work hard enough. Silver Linings Playbook is a film that earns its optimism and I can honestly say I would recommend this to anybody. A perfect crowd pleaser.

“When life reaches out with a moment like this it’s a sin if you don’t reach back.”

1. The Master

the-master-poster1

 

Written by: Paul Thomas Anderson

Directed by: Paul Thomas Anderson

Number of PGCMA Nominations: 12 (Best Costume Design, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Score, Best Trailer, Best Supporting Actress-Amy Adams, Best Supporting Actor-Philip Seymour Hoffman, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor-Joaquin Phoenix, Best Cast, Best Director, and Best Picture)

Number of PGCMA Wins: 6 (Best Score, Best Supporting Actress-Amy Adams, Best Supporting Actor-Philip Seymour Hoffman, Best Actor-Joaquin Phoenix, Best Director, and Best Picture)

World War II veteran Freddie Quell is drifting through life aimlessly. One evening, he drunkenly stumbles across Lancaster Dodd, the leader of a group called “The Cause”. Dodd takes Quell in and attempts to cure him.

As the years go by, The Master will be the 2012 film I’ll go back to the most. No other film had me ponder so many different ideas and themes. I still think about what writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson wanted to say and also think about what the film means to me. I’m not sure if I can fully breakdown the thematic currents which run through the film, but I look forward to studying the film again through the years. Even if one ignores the thematic ideas, The Master is still a brilliantly well-made film. The visuals Anderson puts into the film are mesmerizing and complimented nicely by Johnny Greenwood’s score. I also love Anderson’s script which is unformulaic and unpredictable. The film also has some of the best performances I’ve seen in years. Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams are all unforgettably good in their respective roles. What’s also impressive is that all three are equally good in different ways and never over shadow each other. The “test” between Quell and Dodd early on is the best acting I’ve seen in any film all year.

Some people have been split by the film, admiring several elements but ultimately being left cold by the film. I never had this problem. I was thoroughly entertained by The Master and while few people would describe the film as “fun”, I had an amazing time watching it. To me, The Master is everything a great film should be. Made with excellent craftsmanship, superb acting, and bursting with ambition. The film is everything I wanted it to be and then some. Paul Thomas Anderson, you truly are The Master.

“I am a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist and a theoretical philosopher. But above all, I am a man, a hopelessly inquisitive man, just like you.”

Comments
  1. r361n4 says:

    Haven’t seen The Master and wasn’t the biggest fan of Prometheus, but otherwise I agree with this list 100%! Love that you included The Raid :D

    Great descriptions below btw

  2. Prometheus grabbed more PGCMAs than Skyfall huh?

  3. Ipodman says:

    Nice list! You are right that Prometheus was very ambitious, I thought the movie was ok. Maybe it will take multiple viewings to really appreciate this film (like Blade Runner)

  4. moviebuff801 says:

    You know that I disagree with you about The Master, I merely liked Moonrise Kingdom, and I haven’t yet seen The Raid, but otherwise, a VERY solid list, my friend. :)

    Nice work.

  5. Yay! Glad to see Prometheus on the list! As you know, many alien-humans, like myself, enjoyed the movie.

  6. Niejan says:

    Now.. I need to watch The Master! :D

  7. ianthecool says:

    Hmm, interesting list. I didn’t expect your top 3 at all.

    I haven’t seen the Master, but it’ll probably wait till video. I don’t have much desire to see Silver Linings despite hearing good things about it. But when I eventually make my list (which will probably be soon) most of your bottom 5 will likely show up in my top 5.

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