Best movies of 2012, so far - The Explorer: Liven Up

Best movies of 2012, so far

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Shane Weinstein

Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 4:00 am | Updated: 9:35 am, Thu Jul 19, 2012.

Although I usually only write one full-length movie review per week, this week’s article is going to be a little bit different.  Unfortunately, due to my schedule, I was unable to go to the movies this week.  However, when I looked at the calendar to take a look at upcoming releases, I had an idea.  Now that we are more than halfway through July, I started thinking about all of the films I have seen so far this year.  When I realized just how many of them there were, I decided to compile them into my top 10 of the year so far.  So, without further delay, here are my personal 10 favorite films to be released thus far in 2012. 

10. Goats

Back in January, the Loft was lucky enough to be one of only 10 theatres in the country to have a film sent to them from the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.  In Tucson, the film screened was “Goats”, a film which was partially shot here in the Old Pueblo.  “Goats” stars Graham Phillips as Ellis, a teenager preparing to leave life in the foothills of Tucson and begin his freshman year at an east-coast prep school.  Vera Farmiga plays his mother Wendy, a quirky, new age hippy and David Duchovny plays Ellis’ father figure, a goat herder whose name is Goat Man.  The film is an adaptation of Mark Poirier’s who wrote the 2001 screenplay based on the novel of the same name, and is clever, funny, and at times dramatic.  It opens for a longer run at the Loft on Aug. 24.  It’s definitely worth checking out.

9. Haywire

Haywire was one of the most pleasant surprises I have seen so far this year.  January is typically seen as a dump month for movies, however, the film’s Jan. 20 release date certainly didn’t seem to hurt director Stephen Soderbergh’s espionage thriller.  MMA star Gina Carano made a solid big-screen debut and held her own well on screen against Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, and Antonio Banderas.  Although the film may have been overshadowed by the September release of Soderbergh’s “Contagion,” fans of the director and action films alike will find plenty to enjoy here.

8. Chronicle

“Chronicle” did what many films fail to do:  be a solid, enjoyable entry in the “found footage” genre.  The film about teens who discover they have super powers was a fresh, unique take on a genre that is quickly becoming one of the most overdone in Hollywood.  The special effects were incredibly well done, but more so was the way that director Josh Trank managed to find ways to make his shots seem organic rather than forced as many of the films in the same genre do.  

7. 21 Jump Street

Yet another pleasant surprise from the first half of the year was “21 Jump Street”.  When the project was first announced, I was not enthused about it.  I had seen

several episodes of the show and knew that Johnny Depp starred in it, but all I could think about were awful television adaptations like “I-Spy.”  Much to my surprise, the film was quite enjoyable.  Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum were fantastic as the leading men, and the idea to have them play new characters rather than those from the television show was brilliant.  Although the movie was ridiculous at times, it was also extremely funny.  It even made my mom laugh, and that is no easy feat. 

6. The Raid: Redemption

This Indonesian film turned out to be one of the best action flicks I have seen in a long time.  The story centers on a SWAT team raiding an apartment building to extract a notorious drug dealer.  Through several twists and a lot of breathtaking Kung-Fu, down the road, “The Raid” will surely become a modern staple in the action genre.

5. Bernie

Based on a bizarre true story, this comedy stars Jack Black as a funeral parlor director convicted of murder.  The problem is, Bernie is so popular in his town of  Carthage, Texas, the townspeople refuse to accept that he is guilty.  Interestingly, the film is based on a true story and it is only after the credits begin rolling that the audience realizes that the townsfolk interviewed in the films documentary portion are real people, not actors, talking about an event that actually happened.  The film is odd, yet it is incredibly funny and is a must see for any fan of Black’s.

4. God Bless America

Possibly one of the funniest films that will be released all year, writer/director Bobcat Goldthwait’s latest film is a biting satire of modern society.  The film centers on a man who becomes so fed up with the fact that today’s society is addicted to their phones and that they look up to people such as the Real Housewives or the Kardashians, that once he is diagnosed with a life-threatening condition, he decides to spend the rest of his days killing reality tv show stars in order to restore today’s society.  The satire is sharp and witty and the comedy is just as amusing.  

3. Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson’s latest film is one of the most charming films I have ever seen.  It follows two 12- year-olds (Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward) who fall in love and run away together much to the dismay of her parents and his camp counselor.  Bill Murray, Francis McDormand, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton, Edward Norton, and Jason Schwartzman round out the cast.  The script is clever and funny and features plenty of Anderson’s signature humor.  While the film certainly isn’t for everyone, fans of Anderson’s previous work will surely love it.

2. The Cabin in the Woods

Joss Whedon has done it again.  The man behind such television Series as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly has written one of the most unique horror movies of all time.  Directed by Drew Goddard (of Cloverfield fame), The Cabin in the Woods is an incredibly self-referential horror film that makes fun of all the over used clichés of slasher flicks.  It’s hard to go into detail without spoiling the whole thing, but it’s absolutely bizarre and brilliantly written.  Not only did it make me love horror films more than I already do, it made my appreciation of Whedon grow as well.  And speaking of Joss Whedon…..

1. The Avengers

After “Cabin in the Woods”, I didn’t think it was possible to love Joss Whedon any more than I already did.  Well, turns out I was completely wrong.  The director managed to bring my childhood to life in the best way possible when he brought together Marvel’s mightiest heroes in “The Avengers.” Seeing Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, Thor,  Nick Fury, Black Widow, and Hawkeye on screen together was just about the greatest thing a comic book geek like me could ask for.  The film was accurate to the comics in the character’s bickering and the film managed not to lose the characters to the spectacle.  It was everything I could have asked for, and then some.  

So there it is, my top 10 of 2012 so far.  Hopefully the rest of the year will continue to be a successful one for movies!

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