- Film Festival
The month of February celebrates a number of things for different groups of people. In the United States and Canada, it’s Black History Month. In the UK, it’s LGBT History Month. For fans of the NFL, it marks the end of their season as the two top teams in the NFL battle it out in the Super Bowl. Finally, for cinefiles all over the world, this February is all about Hollywood looking back at the past year’s praiseworthy films in order to honor them at the 85th Academy Awards.
However, I have a confession to make: I’m not too huge on award shows, especially the Academy Awards. It’s a really long rant, and I don’t feel like getting into it, but the bottom line is that I’m not really a fan. What I am a fan of, however, is acknowledging the merits of films that I like, which isn’t exactly a huge surprise since I’m a movie reviewer. (:cough:shamelessplug:cough:) So, instead of giving my predictions for winners at the ceremony on February 24th, I’m going to give you guys a top five list of my favorite films from 2012. I know that that’s usually the sort of thing that people do around the New Year (like everyone else in the PFS office), but I figured that I’d be different this year.
In total, I saw around 150 movies that were new to me last year. Of those, about 60% of those films were released last year. It’s true. I did the math. So to pick only five of my favorites was a laborious task, but it was a labor of love in order to present them to you, Philadelphia Film Society. Now, without further delay, here are Blogger Ben’s Top Films of 2012.
5. Les Miserables
As a huge fan of the musical, I was skeptical of ‘Les Miserables’ becoming a film because some movie musicals don’t capture the same essence that the stage performance does. However, I was pleasantly surprised and blown away even by the massive amount of talent that was put into Tom Hooper’s adaptation. While it had a few hiccups here and there, it was overall a great film with great performances and wonderful musical numbers thanks to the amazing cast and the live singing. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway gave phenomenal performances, and they deserve the Oscar nominations, but in my opinion the breakout star of the film was Samantha Barks, who played Eponine. It’s a shame that she didn’t receive more awards for her stellar performance. If I had my way, she’d be the one getting Best Supporting Actress buzz. Regardless of who gets what award, ‘Les Mis’ might be one of my favorite movie musicals ever on a variety of levels.
4. Silver Linings Playbook
Being born and raised in Philadelphia where I watched a lot of movies and television growing up, I never really got to see my hometown depicted in a more faithful way onscreen than in ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ (Not even ‘Boy Meets World’!). It managed to capture the personality of the city perfectly while providing a compelling romantic comedy with standout performances from Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, and Robert DeNiro, who was very convincing as an Eagles fan despite actually being from New York. That David O. Russell sure did a great job on this one.
3. Ruby Sparks
This film might actually be the most underrated film of the 2012. I don’t even remember it getting a theatrical release. Maybe it just wasn’t advertised the way it should have been, but everyone should have heard about this movie. Inspired by the myth of Pygmalion, ‘Ruby Sparks’ is about a writer who creates this perfect girl in a project that he’s writing that comes to life one day and becomes his actual girlfriend. It was mystical, quirky, funny, touching, disturbing, and truthful all at the same time. Zoe Kazan, who both wrote the script and starred as Ruby, created something very special with this movie that should resonate with this generation’s 20-somethings who are looking for love (which is pretty much all of them no matter what they tell you). Not only did this film make it onto my best of the year, but I think ‘Ruby Sparks’ may be one of my favorites ever.
2. The Avengers
I’ve seen a lot of comic book movies as I consider myself to be a huge fan of comics and movies based on them, but to be blunt, ‘The Avengers’ is the best superhero movie ever. (Yeah, I said it.) Joss Whedon really captured the feel of a Marvel comic and translated in a way that it connected to both the long-time comic-reading fanboy audience and the average moviegoer. It was a massive task to take all these characters from different franchises and bring them together in an exciting way, and Whedon got it spot on. Now, I like Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy as much as the next guy, but those films were based on reality. They didn’t feel like superhero movies. They were great, but after I walked out of ‘The Avengers’ (after multiple viewings), I just had the feeling that that’s what a superhero movie should feel like. In one word, I’d say that it was “fun”. While I praise the hell out of it here, I did have a few problems with the film, but I’ll leave those in my review over at ScienceFiction.com. For right now, I just want to say again that ‘The Avengers’ is awesome and I can’t wait to see what Marvel does in Phase Two.
1. The Woman In The Septic Tank
For a while, I thought that ‘The Avengers’ was going to have this spot on my list, but when I stumbled across this movie in last year’s Philadelphia Film Festival, I fell in love. Imported from the Philippines, ‘The Woman In The Septic Tank’ (or 'Ang Babae Sa Septic Tank') is an indie comedy that has great commentary about the state of filmmaking, specifically the sort of thing that’s generated in the Filipino entertainment industry. This genre-jumping film follows a group of filmmakers who are trying to create a film that’s suitable for all the big festivals around the world and their journey to make it in a manner that will get them major success and awards. My favorite way to describe it is a cinematic mixtape as it jumps from a tear-jerking drama to a musical to a slapstick comedy and more. ‘The Woman In The Septic Tank’ definitely falls into that category of “It’s funny because it’s true” and that certainly made it all the more enjoyable.
What did you think of my list? Do you agree with my picks? Do you think I’m off my rocker? If you’d like to comment on this blog post, be sure to tweet the Philadelphia Film Society at @PhillyFilmSoc or leave us a comment on our Facebook page with your reactions!