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08.30.2012by: JimmyO

My Top 10 Favorite Movies from Summer 2012 (JimmyO)

The hype for the 2012 summer movie season was massive. Ridley Scott was returning to a world in which he helped create. The Dark Knight was about to rise and face a brand new enemy. And of course the Marvel Universe was ready to collide into one gigantic production. The excitement was almost excruciating. However as good as many of these films were, very few lived up to audiences expectations. Many were downright angry at the disappointment this blockbuster season held. Thus, the challenge of putting together a list of the ten best summer movies was much more difficult than I’d expected.

While looking back at the last few months, most of the films that I had been looking forward to failed to really stand out. SAVAGES looked like it could have been a return to form for Oliver Stone. With a strong cast and a nice concept, it had moments that were near brilliant yet it suffered from a terrible ending and unnecessary narration. Many other features were only mildly amusing including THE DICTATOR or MEN IN BLACK 3. As for horror, one of the highlights was the ho hum CHERNOBYL DIARIES - which featured another lousy ending. Mostly, this past summer left many audiences at home watching "Breaking Bad" and avoiding theatres all-together.

To be fair, there are a few flicks that might have made my best of list that I missed. The beauty of having more than one reviewer for the site is also an occasional curse in that you may miss out on some amazing flicks during their original release. KILLER JOE, MOONRISE KINGDOM and BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD escaped my theatrical viewing experience so I’ll most assuredly be playing catch-up further on down the year. Until then, the following is a list of the flicks that struck a chord with me this summer and made the movie going experience a pleasant one.

Worst of Summer 2012: BATTLESHIP

Mr. Bumbray was right on the money with this one. Believe it or not, for the first few minutes it seemed as if BATTLESHIP may become a guilty pleasure. Yet as the movie played on I realized that was simply wishful thinking. Watching this over-bloated “epic” quickly became a tedious affair. It certainly wasn’t the fault of most of the actors involved. No matter how good you are you could not possibly make the idiotic dialogue work. What could have been a mindless summer flick was really just a loud, obnoxious and empty waste of two hours. They could have at least had Liam Neeson say “You sunk my battleship!” but no, we didn’t even get that minimal pleasure. Other dishonorable mentions include the sequel without bite, PIRANHA 3DD and the unfunny THE WATCH, which sadly nobody did. And finally, I wasn't expecting much from WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU'RE EXPECTING and that is what I got. What summer movies were a hit or a miss for you?

10. COSMOPOLIS

Cronenberg bitches, nuff said! Many may not find this audacious filmmakers’ recent work as tantalizing as his earlier films, yet I disagree. Watching this strangely appealing feature, I was struck with the same feeling I had watching NAKED LUNCH. It is very rare that a director can offer up so many despicable characters, yet still capture them in some sort of oddly intriguing way. Only David Cronenberg could make Robert Pattison driving around in a limo looking to get a haircut fascinating.

9. TED

Seth MacFarlane accomplishes quite a bit with his feature film debut. He extensively took what should have been a one note joke and quite ably created a very funny movie about friendship and growing up. Mark Wahlberg is an especially strong choice for a leading man in a comedy of this sort. His relationship with childhood buddy who happens to be a talking teddy bear is oftentimes hilarious yet it has a ton of heart. It also helps that Mila Kunis is the romantic lead and the chemistry between the actors is absolutely fantastic. With a funny script and a couple of brilliant cameos, this was certainly one of funniest films so far this year.

8. CRAIGSLIST JOE

There is nothing like the positivity of relying on the kindness of strangers, right? That is exactly what documentary filmmaker Joseph Garner was hoping for when he set out on a adventure with no money, no place to go, only a cameraman and a connection to the popular website Craigslist – a sort of online community center. His journey is often inspiring, especially if you feel just as shocked so many people would open their homes and hearts to him. It sure seems as if CRAIGSLIST JOE had been in serious trouble, he could have easily stopped the whole experiment, but he didn’t. This is a movie filled with hope for a generation that seemingly has lost the ability to really connect. Thankfully, Joe attempts to prove that human interaction has not disappeared in the shadow of social media.

7. THE BEST EXOTIC MARIGOLD HOTEL

You really can’t put together a better ensemble of actors than the amazing talent in this charmingly modest film. Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Maggie Smith among others… Are you kidding me? This was a hugely entertaining little film that came out of nowhere and left audiences feeling a whole lot of warm and fuzzy. The brilliant cast helps accentuate this heartwarming story of a group of British retirees rediscovering themselves far from home at a small hotel in India. It is hard to resist this sweetly engaging story of lost loves and the ones you leave behind.

6. THE EXPENDABLES 2

“Rip Roaring” is right! THE EXPENDABLES 2 improves on the original film in every possible way – although it still features a few moments of questionable CGI. While it might not seem like a movie destined to be on a “best of” list, there is something refreshing about a movie that accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. The first film did not. And with Jean-Claude Van Damme and Chuck Norris joining in the fun, you’d be hard pressed to find a bloodier and more ridiculously great time going to the movies than you would with these gruff n’ tough action heroes.

5. PROMETHEUS

I get it. Yeah, the scientists in this flick may have made some questionable judgments. And it was pretty impressive that Noomi Rapace could go through a procedure like what she did here and still kick some ass in order to save her life. However it didn’t stand in the way of my enthrallment of one of the most visually impressive films this year. It may not be the prequel to ALIEN that audiences were expecting, which subsequently helped lead to the film’s backlash. This is nevertheless a movie that is worth reinvesting in as a second viewing may be enlightening for some. Ridley Scott has officially amped up my anticipation to see where he goes from here.

4. PARANORMAN

As a fan of horror, PARANORMAN was a trick and a treat! This loving tribute to zombies, ghost, ghouls and witches manages to create an animated movie that actually manages a couple of scares. With the HALLOWEEN ringtone or the RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD references, this animated fable is loaded with genre goodness. Much like CORALINE before, the animation is fantastic and the voice actors are perfectly well chosen to bring these characters to life. It is especially appealing considering what a wonderfully positive story the film offers. This was a simply an incredible film and for me personally, this will most certainly become a regular viewing every October from here on out.

3. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

Like nearly every tentpole movie this summer, there are those that seem to despise THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. After Heath Ledger’s legendary performance in THE DARK KNIGHT, it was near impossible for Christopher Nolan’s final chapter in his Dark Knight series to fully live up to its expectations. That said the final film is a fitting end to the trilogy. Christian Bale gives what is arguably his best performance as Bruce Wayne here and Michael Caine is simply mesmerizing. As far as the new characters are concerned, Anne Hathaway makes for a cat-tastic Catwoman and while I could have done without Bane’s strange “Sean Connery” inflected voice, Tom Hardy is plenty threatening as the film’s baddie.

2. LAWLESS

Ultra violent and drenched in Depression-Era atmosphere, this gangster/western is this summer’s most exciting new entry. Director John Hillcoat once again proves to be a master at moody cinematic narrative. He and his collaborator, musician Nick Cave, offer up a striking film that manages to be an action movie and an intense character drama all while adding a little humor to lighten the mood. The music here is especially addictive and gives LAWLESS authenticity along with the impressive production design. Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Jason Clarke are all terrific and then there is Guy Pearce who portrays a sadistic government official with a gleefully evil charm. Simply put, LAWLESS is a stunner.

1. THE AVENGERS

I had my doubts, but Joss Whedon came through yet again. One of the biggest battles this summer (that wasn’t political) was which superhero flick was the one to beat. And between this and TDKR, I have to say that THE AVENGERS may not have the deepest of meanings, but it was simply more fun. Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johannson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner and especially Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk made for one hell of a team under Whedon’s direction. This massive project had it all, a clever script, a talented cast and the perfect ringleader to make it all run smoothly. And is it just me, or is Tom Hiddleston one of the most charismatic big bads around?

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