Because there’s a part of all of us that never really escaped high school — I have this thing for superlatives. (Cutest Couple, Prettiest Eyes, Most Likely to Have A Baby in a Trailer, etc.) I had only planned to focus on my assigned horror movies — like I did last year with science fiction movies — but because I failed so godamned miserably, I have decided to extend these awards to any movie that meets these two conditions:
A. I saw it for the first time this year, regardless of when the movie was actually made.
B. I wrote a review of it.
And so . . . here are your winners. (Um, there are a lot of them. I had fun.)
DISCLAIMER: I’ve tried to keep the spoilers fairly light, but there are a few in there, so, sorry.
BEST JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT:
John Blake – The Dark Knight Rises
I came close to choosing Gordon-Levitt’s work in Looper, considering how uncanny his mimicry of Bruce Willis really was, but ultimately I decided that his simmering rage and ability to almost sell me on some of the worst Heart Knowledge I’ve ever seen made John Blake JGL’s best role of the year.
Speaking of which . . .
WORST HEART KNOWLEDGE:
“Right when I saw you, I knew who you really were. I’d seen that look on your face before. It was the same one I taught myself.” – The Dark Knight Rises
It’s probably self-evident, but since I don’t believe I’ve ever bothered to actually write it out — Heart Knowledge is when a character just KNOWS something because he or she FEELS it, and never mind the fact that they have no reason to actually know it. Admittedly, this particular example is technically Eye Knowledge, but I consider EK a subset of HK, and considering it’s so particularly ridiculous . . . I feel pretty confident with this one. John Blake identifying with Bruce Wayne, sure. John Blake seeing BATMAN in Bruce’s eyes? Please.
(I think this scene especially pisses me off because — excepting the heart knowledge — it’s a really good scene, so this moment of stupid drives me up the fucking wall. Why, Nolan, why? You’re so much smarter than this!)
BEST UTTERLY RIDICULOUS TALENT:
Camouflage Frosting – The Hunger Games
I mean, seriously. Why the HELL didn’t I become a cake decorator? Dammit.
Biggz – Attack the Block
Some of you might be thinking Peeta deserves this award, but despite his cake decorating mastery, he still needs Katniss to save his ass by (possibly?) pretending to love him. Biggz, on the other hand, survives the alien attack by spending most of the movie hidden in a dumpster . . . AND GOD BLESS HIM FOR IT.
I salute you, Biggz. You are my hero.
WORST WASTE OF AN ACTOR’S CONSIDERABLE TALENT:
Brendan Gleeson – The Raven
Mr. Gleeson, you are so much better than this movie. You’re certainly better than this thankless, one-dimensional part. I know everyone needs money, but you can get better work than this. Hell, you can even get better campy horror movie work than this. My hand to God, you can.
Ving Rhames – Mission Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol
I had a couple of runners-up here: Sigourney Weaver was an awesome surprise in Cabin in the Woods — hey, I said there would be light spoilers — and casting Dee Wallace was just the icing on the 80’s homage cake that was The House of the Devil.
But this bit where Rhames popped up in MI4 just completely cracked me up. I desperately needed someone to mock Ethan Hunt for saying, “Mission . . . accomplished!” and Rhames did! Good on you, Mr. Rhames.
BEST BOO-YAH MOMENT:
I don’t know if I’ve ever laughed so hard in theater as I laughed at this. Hulk, I love you. Hiddleston, I love you too.
Buried alive – The Serpent and the Rainbow
Bill Pullman ends up in a coffin a couple of times in this movie, although the picture above — while creepy in its own right — doesn’t actually show the scene I’m talking about. No, the creepiest moment in all the movies I watched this year was when Bill Pullman, dosed with paralytic voodoo powder, is buried alive with a godamn tarantula crawling over his face.
Considering that I’m both mildly claustrophobic and arachnophobic . . . Jesusfuck.
Sudden Dismemberment – Looper
The Serpent and the Rainbow came close — I’m a girl, and even I hurt a little watching Bill Pullman get a giant ass nail hammered through his scrotum — but this scene from Looper totally had me squirming in my seat. (Which, awesome.) Point is, if you come back into the past when people want to kill you, make absolutely sure that your younger self gets the fuck out of dodge too. Otherwise, when he gets captured and people start cutting pieces off him — well, guess what just happened to your fingers. And your feet. And your tongue.
John Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe – The Raven
Now, there were a lot of contenders for this award: Logan Lehrman was a spectacularly bad d’Artagnan (The Three Musketeers), Ben Affleck was ridiculous as an ex-FBI agent turned sheriff (Phantoms), and Tara Reid played a scientist (Alone in the Dark) so, you know, HA. And if you’re thinking, “Who could ever be worse than Tara Reid as scientist,” well, you’re right. But despite the obvious absurdity of that casting, I still went with John Cusack here for a few reasons:
1. Casting Cusack as Edgar Allan Poe in the first place was almost as absurd as casting Reid as a scientist. While he’s clearly a much better actor, Cusack has a certain range, and that range seems pretty limited to this century. When I first heard about Cusack playing Poe solving crime, I was like, oh no.
2. Alone in the Dark is a Uwe Boll film. No one expects Uwe Boll to make good decisions.
3. John Cusack’s role was more important than Tara Reid’s. If Alone in the Dark hadn’t been so terrible in every single aspect, it could have at least somewhat overcome Tara Reid’s awful performance, because really, she’s just the love interest and not that crucial to the rest of the film. It’s a lot harder to overcome the ridiculously hammy performance of your chief protagonist than it is to ignore the girl that’s clearly only there for eye candy.
David Straitharn as Edward R. Murrow – Good Night, and Good Luck
This could have easily gone to a couple of superheroes (or antiheroes) actually — Anne Hathaway surprised everyone by her sheer awesomeness as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Returns, and Mark Ruffalo’s sharp, fidgety Bruce Banner made me care about a character that (prior to watching The Avengers) I didn’t give a shit about — but ultimately, I had to give it to David Straitharn as Edward R. Murrow. It’s sometimes hard to cast actors to play real-life people, but George Clooney made a smart choice here, and Mr. Straitharn earned his Best Actor nod. His presence and line deliveries are just excellent.
BEST DYNAMIC DUO:
Sitterson and Hadley – The Cabin in the Woods
Because these guys owned this movie. I mean, the movie’s great anyway — good performances by everyone involved, awesome story, terrific ending — but Richard Jenkins and Bradley Whitford cracked me up so hard here. (They were also on the short list for best casting.) They’re terrific actors, and if there was some kind of, I don’t know, prequel spinoff with them in it? I’d watch it in a heartbeat. So much love for these two.
Richard – Chronicle
He’s an abusive alcoholic. He blames his kid, Andrew, for his wife dying alone. And he pretty much single-handedly turns Andrew evil — which, amusingly, is its own superlative — Best Example of How Awful Parents Turn Their Kids Crazy. So, yeah. Richard (Michael Kelly) wins both of these.
(Poor Michael Kelly. He’s in a long list of actors who seem destined to always play The Schmuck. I wonder what that does to a person’s self-esteem, in the long run.)
Loki – The Avengers
There are lots of ways to play a villain — creepy, sociopathic, sympathetic — but evil grandstanding is actually pretty hard to pull off right. There’s a balance you have to hit between being funny and just being ridiculous. Tom Hiddleston hits that balance just right. He’s so much fun as Loki, and he deserves a lot of the credit for making that character as awesome as he is.
Perret – Tango and Cash
Of course, on the other side of over-the-top is Jack Palance and his mouse-fondling, scene-chewing performance in Tango & Cash. Perret is more annoying than villainous, and I spent most of the movie wanting to slap him. Especially when he shows up at the prison to torture Tango and Cash personally. Other than that whole scene just being ridiculous — when will villains learn that they have henchmen for a reason?! Honestly.
Peeta – The Hunger Games
There was a lot of bad hair this year. Logan Lehrman’s hair in The Three Musketeers? Pretty frightening. Tom Hardy in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy? Yeah, some men aren’t meant to be blond. But no one proved that quite as well as Josh Hutcherson in The Hunger Games. I mean, good God. Just look at it. I feel sorry for this poor kid. (I mean, not a lot. He has a flourishing film career and probably a shitload of money. Still. At least I don’t have hideously bleached eyebrows.)
MOST FABULOUS FASHION:
Lord Rochester’s Purple Hat – Plunkett & Macleane
There were some other alternatives — Wes Bentley’s beard in The Hunger Games is pretty impressive, and if I could afford a replica of Loki’s helmet, I’d buy it in a heartbeat — but this shade of purple is so ridiculously bold that only Alan Cumming could pull it off, and boy, does he. God, I love him in that movie.
Caleb and Mae – Near Dark
Seriously, let me sum this up:
Caleb: You’re so hot I’m going to ignore the fact that you’re clearly crazy and refuse to take you home until you make out with me.
Mae: Well, you’re so hot that I’ll turn you into a vampire against your will and let my psycho hillbilly vampire family kidnap you. Oh, and they’ll kill you if you don’t become a psycho hillbilly vampire yourself fast enough.
Caleb: Well, somehow this behavior inexplicably makes me love you entirely, so I’ll abandon my own family just to be close to you.
Oh yes. This is love.
Never-Ending Text Scroll – Alone in the Dark
Friday the 13th, Part III was pretty bad — to catch you up on the events of the last film, they just started with a ten minute clip of the last movie with no kind of narrative framing device at all — but nothing quite beats this text scroll that just goes on and on and on. I have never before seen a text scroll that has lasted anywhere near this long. And it still didn’t tell you everything you needed to know because Christian Slater had a terrible voiceover too!
Bill Pullman – The Serpent and the Rainbow
As bad as Christian Slater’s voiceover is, though, Bill Pullman gives Kevin Costner a run for his money for Flattest Delivery Ever in The Serpent and the Rainbow. His actual performance in the movie itself is fine, but that voiceover, man . . . no inflection, none of any kind whatsoever. And at some points — like when you’re finding dead, maggoty pilots, talking about evil supernatural forces, or recounting your own genital torture — you probably shouldn’t sound like you’re reciting a fucking grocery list.
MOST RIDICULOUS TAGLINE:
“Beware the stare that will paralyze the will of the world” – Village of the Damned
“Titans . . . will . . . clash!” will always be my very favorite tagline, of course, but this one’s pretty good too. (Runner Up? “You’ve made it through Halloween. Now try and survive Christmas.” – Silent Night, Deadly Night.)
Becoming a Werewolf – Dog Soldiers
How much control do you have when you turn into a werewolf? A couple of theories:
“Maybe it’s like when you need to take a piss or something. I don’t know. When you gotta go, you gotta go.”
“Yeah, well, maybe it’s more like needing a shite. Just cause you need one doesn’t mean you drop your kegs and pinch one off.”
I almost picked Hans Zimmer’s score for The Dark Knight Rises, but ultimately I had to go with the weirdness that is Suspiria’s soundtrack. I probably wouldn’t listen to most of these songs on their own, but the score is just such an integral part of the movie, and the theme song is one of the first things that comes to mind when I think of Suspiria.
Mission Impossible IV: Ghost Protocol
I know — some of you are freaking out right now. “You picked Mission Impossible IV over The Dark Knight FUCKING RISES!” And yes, I did. Because as much as I enjoyed TDKR (or TDKFR), it definitely had a few problems. And while MI IV might not have been as ambitious of a film, it was an extremely solid, completely entertaining action movie that made the series worth watching again. God love Simon Pegg and Jeremy Renner.
BEST WTF MOVIE:
This is one of the craziest damn movies I’ve ever seen, but I totally loved it against all expectation. And I can’t really tell you why I loved it without going into spoilers, but this fast-talking, genre-mashing, high school horror comedy defies all logic by being totally batshit insane and also, somehow, making sense. I figured it was a shoe-in for being the weirdest thing I would see all year, but then I saw this . . .
WORST WTF MOVIE:
I really wanted to like this one — parts of it were actually pretty funny — but this bizarre series of vignettes didn’t come together for me at all, and the ending made so little sense, even Stanley Kubrick wanted to know what the fuck was going on.
BEST MOVIE ABOUT EVIL SANTA:
Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale
Personally, I love that I saw more than one movie about Evil Santa Claus this year. Rare Exports was easily the superior film. It’s also just a very fun movie with a little bit of gore and a great sense of humor — just what every holiday film should have.
And of course that leads into . . .
BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE:
Silent Night, Deadly Night
Mostly because I had a hell of a good time watching this in theater. It was ridiculous and terrible, and when you’re in the right mood, that’s a great combination.
MOST DISAPPOINTING MOVIE:
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
This was far from the worst movie I saw in 2012, but I did have high hopes going in, and those hopes were let down considerably by this particular incarnation. (It also proved to be my least favorite movie I saw in theaters — I saw a lot of good stuff at the movie theater this year.) Despite the talent of this cast, this movie failed for me on a lot of different levels. The story is still interesting, though, so I might try reading the book sometime or checking out the miniseries, which was probably the appropriate length for the amount of material involved.
FAVORITE HORROR MOVIE:
The Cabin in the Woods
While it wasn’t a particularly scary movie itself, The Cabin in the Woods was an incredibly smart look at the horror genre in general and played around with a lot of fun ideas. Great writing, directing, and acting all around. Plus that ending — best ending of 2012. (Runners up, by the way, were Dog Soldiers and Suspiria. Oh, and Detention too, although that also wasn’t particularly scary. Funny as hell, though.)
LEAST FAVORITE MOVIE OF THE YEAR:
Gingerdead Man 3: Saturday Night Cleaver
I know it seems like a waste to give this to some low-budget horror parody, but hey, I like bad horror movies, and even with friends, this film was more painful than anything else. There were things in this movie that I never needed to see. Ever. In fact, I’m still scarred. My eyes. My eyes!
FAVORITE MOVIE OF 2012 (AND ALSO FAVORITE SUPERHERO MOVIE AND FAVORITE MOVIE I SAW IN THEATERS):
Because, hands down, this was the most fun I’ve had in the theater since Star Trek came out in 2009. I hoped I would like it, but even with a talented cast and Joss Whedon at the helm, I figured there was a good chance it would fall apart. I mean, it almost seemed doomed to. But, man, I loved this movie — it was so much better than anything I could have anticipated — and I can’t wait for the sequel. Only, what, two or three years to go, right?
And . . . I guess that’s it for 2012. We’ve got a lot of fun stuff coming to us in 2013: Star Trek Into Darkness, Iron Man 3, Ender’s Game, Warm Bodies, Thor 2, Kick-Ass 2, The Hunger Games 2, and even the long-awaited sequel to Sin City.
SO . . . MOST ANTICIPATED MOVIE OF 2013?
Star Trek Into Darkness
Please, PLEASE let it be good.