2012 Movie Awards

Favorite Films of 2012

2012 was a solid year for movies! Unlike last year, we got a full spectrum of movies, ranging from very good to truly great. 2010 was back-heavy (a horrible first half that year), but 2012 was pretty well stocked throughout the year, with great films peppered into even the doldrums of the year. Most years, I have difficulty filling the top 10 list. This year was also difficult, but only because I had too many movies that I wanted to sneak in…

The notion of finding a theme for the year in movies is perhaps unfair. It’s an attempt to condense the irreducible, but sometimes it can happen. 2010 had a clear theme of questioning reality, but 2011 was less cohesive. I am seeing something in 2012 though, and I think it could be best summarized by “the search for truth”. At least half of my top 10 fits that mold pretty well, and I could arguably include a few others, not to mention some of the honorable mentions. Some films are literally about a search (Zero Dark Thirty, Searching for Sugar Man), others feature a more metaphorical search for truth, such as the search for perfection (a word that could easily be substituted for truth) in Jiro Dreams of Sushi or the argumentative system of law in A Separation. You can come up with other forms of this theme, like objective reality versus subjective reality, or maybe science versus faith, and all would be pretty well representative of the year, even for bad movies like Prometheus (sorry, had to get in another dig)! Of course, that may just be because this is a pretty universal theme, but hey, work with me here.

As of this writing, I have seen 72 movies that would be considered a 2012 release. This is a distinct step down from the past few years, though perhaps the quality of this year’s crop means that I didn’t have to search as long and hard to fill out the below list. Is that a good thing? Who knows! In recent years, I’ve certainly been gravitating more towards making this a list of my favorite films, rather than some sort of “objective” list of “best” films (and thus that search for truth rears its head again, this time in a meta-context). I guess that’s a disclaimer of sorts, but in all honesty, my list of “favorite” films is more distinct and thus probably much more interesting than any sort of “objective” list. There were certainly films that I have a lot of respect for, but just could not connect with on a personal level, for whatever reason. They don’t appear below, though maybe I’ll reinstitute the conspicuously absent category. Anywho, that’s enough by way of introduction, let’s get this party started:

Top 10 Movies of 2012

* In roughly reverse order

  • A Separation – A movie about a couple attempting divorce in Iran? This was not a movie I was expecting to like. The near universal praise this movie garnered made me think it had to be critical groupthink, and as the film slowly unfurled, I found myself initially resistant. It eventually won me over, putting me in mind of the old boiling frog anecdote. It’s like I was placed in cold water that was slowly heated, and thus I did not perceive the danger and eventually found myself cooked alive. Hurm. Maybe that’s not the most convincing metaphor for the movie, but I found myself fully invested and captivated by the story’s portrayal of the oddly personal justice system employed in Iran. Give this movie a shot, it will surprise you.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • The Raid: Redemption – There’s a notion that top 10 movies need to be deep or Important (with capital I), but sometimes a movie makes it onto my list simply by virtue of being totally badass. There is a story here, about two brothers on opposing sides of the law, but that’s all just window-dressing for the main feature of non-stop action; visceral, intense, impeccably staged action. Sometimes, that’s enough!

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Winner of 1 Kaedrin Movie Award]

  • Looper – This was not the movie I was expecting it to be, but taking it on its own terms, it’s a fantastic film. The time travel aspects take a back seat to the heart of the story, a metaphor-rich conflict between the selfish, short-sighted Joe and an older version of himself. Oh sure, you’ve got some frightening consequences of the whole time travel process, but that’s all just setup for a story with twisting sympathies and an odd form of redemption. It also features the best booty call of the year, for whatever that’s worth.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Frankenweenie – A surprising return to form from Tim Burton, who has produced a loving homage to Frankenstein (amongst all the other Universal Horror monsters), tweaking and updating the story in just the right way to modernize the traditional caution against meddling themes of the original novel. There’s a stumble here or there, but the movie is ultimately very affecting and successful in its goals.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Capsule Review]

  • Searching for Sugar Man – Fascinating documentary about the search for and unexpected success of folk singer Rodriguez, whose music never caught on in the US, but became an important milestone in South Africa (completely unbeknownst to him). A reminder that popularity and success work in strange ways, and that information (both the music and stories of Rodriguez’s infamous onstage suicide) can sometimes travel far beyond where we’d expect.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Bernie – Richard Linklater’s small film based on a true story about a popular Texas mortician who befriends a wealthy widow, kills her, and covers up her murder… only to find community support once he’s caught. Not a direct search for truth movie, though it does raise some interesting ethical questions about that search for truth and the way a community will ignore said truth if it suits their needs. A really entertaining movie though, with a fantastic central performance from Jack Black of all people.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Detention – The most criminally underseen movie of the year. Director Joseph Kahn has made a movie calibrated for the information-overloaded internet and texting generation. Referential, manic, kinetic, goofy, this thing makes Scott Pilgrim look like an Ozu film. Perhaps not for everyone, not just because of its exhausting pace, but because of its relentless references to horror and science fiction. Still, for me, this is bold, adventurous filmmaking at its best.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Winner of 1 Kaedrin Movie Award] [Full Review]

  • The Cabin in the Woods – With this movie, writer Joss Whedon and director Drew Goddard have crafted a fascinating exploration of the horror genre, as well as the relationship between the creators and consumers of art in general. Plus, it’s just plain entertaining to watch! It takes an overused premise and somehow manages to make it feel fresh, all while creeping you out and making you laugh. It doesn’t quite stick the landing at the very end, but that’s a minor complaint, and this looms just as large in my mind now as it did when I first saw it. Great stuff.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Winner of 2 Kaedrin Movie Awards] [Full Review]

  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi – I’m fascinated by those who pursue perfection, such as the titular Jiro. He has the reputation for making the best sushi in the world, owning a tiny little restaurant (located in a subway!?) that you have to reserve months in advance. Of course, perfection is unattainable, but Jiro has done his best and this movie explores his methods. I also found the exploration of how Jiro’s success has impacted his family interesting, perhaps being partly a demonstration of Japanese social mores as well.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Django Unchained – Every time I hear about Quentin Tarantino’s latest project, I’m almost invariably disappointed by the premise. Then I actually go to see the movie, and am usually blown away. Django Unchained was no different, and I wound up enjoying this movie more than any other movie of the year. Memorable characters, terrifying villains, a brutal, unflinching depiction of a horrible time in US history, and a revenge fantasy to make up for it all.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Winner of 1 Kaedrin Movie Award]

  • Zero Dark Thirty – Despite all the controversy surrounding this film, director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal have made a superb movie. The search for Osama Bin Laden is something that cuts a little deep for us Americans, but few movies have explored this sort of thing in such a thoughtful manner. I don’t personally see the controversy here, because I like that Bigelow and Boal have allowed us to make up our own minds about the subject instead of making the didactic polemic critics of the film apparently wanted. I found this to be a superb, difficult film that is nevertheless a compelling watch.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

Honorable Mention

* In alphabetical order

  • Argo – Ben Affleck’s entertaining dramatization of a daring CIA rescue mission during the Iran hostage crisis in 1980 was very good, but also something that didn’t really stick with me after I saw it. In fact, I kept forgetting about it until it started making the rounds at all the awards shows, showing a surprisingly strong performance, perhaps even being a dark horse candidate for the best picture Oscar. Hollywood loves to pat itself on the back, and this is based on a true story where people were rescued by posing as a film crew, so there is that. I would totally recommend this to anyone, and I think it’s got some depth if you’re looking for it, but I never really got past its popcorny tendencies (which, as I mentioned above, isn’t necessarily a bad thing).

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • The Avengers – Another extremely entertaining popcorn film that I’d totally recommend, and that I was surprised turned out as well as it did, especially given the long leadup to this movie. It narrowly missed out on a top 10 slot, and I’m grateful that this movie made comic book movies fun again. Great performances, solid dialogue, and an impressive visual flair.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Winner of 1 Kaedrin Movie Award]

  • Brave – Pixar’s latest film seems to have taken a critical drubbing, but I actually really enjoyed this movie, which focuses on a Mother/Daughter relationship that you don’t see that often in films like this. It’s worth watching for the middle sections with Merida and the Bear alone, but I found the whole thing held together well enough. It’s certainly not at the very top of Pixar’s oeuvre, but it’s still a good film.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Full Review]

  • Cloud Atlas – I have to give this movie a lot of credit for the sheer audacity of attempting to interweave six separate stories and settings, and for the masterful job of editing that made that actually work. Unfortunately, the film’s didactic tendencies get in the way, and that just held it back for me. Still, it’s a visually arresting movie, and it never drags the way you might expect. Great pacing, which is very impressive for a film of this scope. Certainly worth a watch, but a little too on the nose for me.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Full Review]

  • The Dark Knight Rises – A fitting end to Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of Batman films, I didn’t find this one as transcendent as the previous entry in the series, but that’s a tough trick to pull twice in the same series, and things worked well enough here. Indeed, I saw this a second time and was shocked at how well it held up to the repeat viewing. I wouldn’t blame anyone for being disappointed by this movie, but it worked well for me.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon] [Full Review]

  • Dredd – One of the biggest surprises of the year, this is another underseen genre film that any comic book or science fiction movie fans should be checking out. The plot bears a similarity to the aforementioned The Raid: Redemption, but the setting is completely different, and honestly, this movie fares pretty well even in comparison to The Raid. Karl Urban puts in a pretty spectacular performance considering that he has to act with only the lower portion of his face! Lena Headey elevates a thankless villain role as well, and there’s a lot of other things to like about the movie as well. Definitely worth checking out.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • FDR: American Badass! – The most bonkers movie of the year, bar none. Even the manic insanity of Detention takes a backseat to this film’s glorious craziness. Certainly not a movie for everyone, this is an exercise in juvenile humor, but in the most ardent way possible. Just a boatload of fun.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Girl Walk // All Day – The notion of a feature-length dance music video isn’t something that seems like it would strike a chord with me, but I’ll be damned if this film didn’t just infect me with its enthusiastic nature. Financed through a Kickstarter campaign and set to mashup artist Girl Talk’s album All Day, the film follows three dancers as they rock their way through New York City. In particular, Anne Marsen’s exuberant attitude is infectious and it’s hard to not like this movie simply because of that…

    More Info: [IMDB] [Watch Online (free)]

  • Goon – Another small film that probably wasn’t seen by enough people, this is a hockey comedy with a heart, something that struck a nerve with me. Worth watching just for Seann William Scott’s amusing monologue (the one with E.T. in it) midway through the film. Scott actually plays this goon as such a lovable character, that it really anchors the entire film. Also, some of the funniest fist-fights of the year!

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • John Dies at the End – Another tiny indie film from Kaedrin fave director Don Coscarelli, this is a very strange film. It’s a wonderfully weird film, episodic but ultimately cohesive, streamlining its non sequitur tendencies while retaining its sense of playful ideas and manic humor. It’s a really fun, interesting movie, worth watching for fans of the horror genre.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Lincoln – This is a movie that should be right up my alley. I’m a sucker for movies that portray the excruciating details of something that seems like it should be straightforward. The devil is in the details, and this movie does hit those notes throughout, but I’m curiously soft on this movie for some reason. Perhaps it was the more biopic-like tendencies to go into Lincoln’s personal life and relationships with his wife and son, or that shmaltzy opening sequence, but even considering those, this is a film that I would expect to loom larger in my mind than it does. It’s something I’ll have to revisit at some point, and leave it as an honorable mention for now.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Magic Mike – Steven Soderbergh and Channing Tatum, a winning combination. Not a movie I was expecting to enjoy, er, at all, but it was surprisingly effective, even if a few aspects of the story never connected with me. Still, more entertaining than I’d expect, and while certainly a “chick-flick”, it’s not entirely uninteresting for us guys (plus, you know, Olivia Munn).

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Moonrise Kingdom – Director Wes Anderson’s return to his wheelhouse of quirky cinema was actually an assured and entertaining effort. It features a surprisingly tender love story between young characters (something rarely portrayed well on screen, even if this was quirky), and some great performances, not to mention Anderson’s always keen ear for music. Certainly a contender for the top 10, but it just missed the cut.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Sleepless Night – A French thriller that takes place mostly in a single setting (a swanky nightclub), I was surprised at how well this movie was able to wring tension out of a simple premise. An interesting, entertaining thriller, worth checking out if you’re not scared of subtitles.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Seven Psychopaths – I remember loving this movie when I saw it in the theater, but thinking back on it, very few things are really standing out for me. I just don’t have that much to say about it, which I think says something in itself. Certainly a fast paced, interesting movie with lots of action and snappy dialogue, but perhaps not as deep as it wants to be.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

  • Wreck-It Ralph – I had a lot of fun with this movie, and as a video game fan, it was a lot of fun spotting the references and tropes, though fortunately the movie doesn’t rely too heavily on them, instead leaning on its own creations, which are well done. Good voice work, but one absolutely perfect casting in Jack McBrayer as Fix-It Felix.

    More Info: [IMDB] [Amazon]

Just Missed the Cut:

But still worthwhile, in their own way. Presented without comment and in no particular order:

Should Have Seen:

Despite the fact that I’ve seen 72 of this year’s movies (and that this post features 30+ of my favorites), there were a few that got away… mostly because I’m lazy! Or something wasn’t available yet. Take your pick. I may or may not catch up with some of these…

Well that just about wraps up 2012 movies… Stay tuned next Sunday for the usual Oscar Liveblogging – previous installments here: [2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004]

Update: Uh oh! It looks like I miscounted and put 11 movies on my top 10. Dammit, I had a hard enough time narrowing down to 11! Let’s just call two of them a tie. Or something.

2012 Kaedrin Movie Awards: The Arbitrary Awards

As the normal awards have concluded, the abnormals begin. Sometimes I can’t think of enough nominees, other times, it just seems like a movie is doing something so weird that it deserves recognition. A few of these have become an annual tradition, but most are just random and, well, arbitrary. Let’s get to it, shall we:

  • The “You know what happens when a toad gets struck by lightning? The same thing that happens to everything else” Award for Worst Dialogue: Prometheus. I admit that I’m hard on this movie, but it’s just so relentlessly stupid that I can’t help myself. In terms of dialog, this movie has it all. Michael Fassbender actually does a heroic job with his dialog, and comes through mostly unscathed. Most other cast members aren’t so lucky. Two scenes of note: 1. When confronted with a space cobra, a scared scientist actually says “It’s okay baby. It’s okay.” as if this terrifying creature was a cute puppy. 2. The hackneyed way in which it’s revealed that Vickers is Weyland’s daughter. The way “, father” (the comma is important and is almost pronounced out loud) is just sorta tacked on to the scene is just mindblowingly dumb. So there’s probably a bunch of other lines that qualify, but the problem with this award is… who really wants to sit down and document all of that?
  • The Proximity to Jason Vorhees Award for Heroic Stupidity: The Woman in Black. I suppose there are some who like this movie, but I never really connected with it. It’s the typical haunted house trope where the protagonist discovers the house is haunted, but just kinda shrugs it off and continues to visit/stay there.
  • The Park Chan-Wook Award for Excessive Vengeance: Django Unchained. Fantastic movie, and as revenge fantasies go, a pretty darn good example.
  • Best Hero/Badass (Non-Human Edition): Bark Lee (a dog), from John Dies at the End. Gotta give some love to Kaedrin fave director, Don Coscarelli, and this bizarre little movie which managed to streamline some of the book’s more episodic non sequitur tendencies while retaining its sense of playful ideas and manic humor.
  • Best Villain/Badass (Non-Human Edition): The monsters, from The Cabin in the Woods. The traditional Best Villain/Badass award always has a disclaimer mentioning that non-individuals (like generic zombies or vampires or whatever) are exempt, but Cabin in the Woods features (or at least, implies) every class of horror monster imaginable, and they all escape onto the screen in one of the year’s best sequences, so I thought it deserved some recognition.
  • Best Computer Modeled Hair: Brave. For whatever reason, this movie hasn’t quite received the rapturous response of most Pixar releases (I enjoyed it more than most), but everyone at least acknowledges how amazing Merida’s animated hair looks.
  • Least Representative Marketing Campaign: The Grey. The trailer promises Liam Neeson: Wolf Puncher, what we get is decidedly more elegaic. But then, there is a good wolf punching scene at the end, so there’s that.
  • Best Opening Sequence: Detention. There are, perhaps, some more conventional choices, but I’m choosing Detention because it grabbed hold of me so immediately that I actually tweeted, “I have watched the first 6 minutes of Detention… Prediction: It will make my top 10 of the year list.” A prediction that will come true shortly. More thoughts on Detention.
  • Best Closing Shot: Zero Dark Thirty. A simple shot, to be sure, but it invites so much interpretation that it’s a kinda lightning rod for critics. Actually, this movie could have also easily taken the best opening sequence as well, but in the interest of variety, I’ll just award it for that great, ambiguous closing shot.

So that wraps up the awards, with the top 10 list coming in the next couple weeks or so.

2012 Kaedrin Movie Award Winners!

The nominations for the 2012 Kaedrin Movie Awards were announced last week. Today, I’ll be announcing the winners of said awards. Next week, I’ll cover less traditional categories in what we like to call the Arbitrary Awards, and at some point in the near future, I’ll post my top 10 of 2012 (this will most likely happen in mid-February, usually the week before the Oscars). So let’s get this party started:

  • Best Villain/Badass: (tie) Calvin Candie and Stephen, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained and The Zec, played by Werner Herzog in Jack Reacher. A total copout, but these two selections are hands down the best of the bunch, and their are tradeoffs for each. Django Unchained is clearly the better movie, but it’s already got a lot of attention (and will get more) and I actually nominated two different characters in one nomination (another cheat). Both characters are great, and both feature standout performances from their respective actors (both of whom have a tendency to be a bit samey with their choices, but not here). Herzog’s character, on the other hand, is singularly awesome, deeply abstruse, frightening, and totally the best part of Jack Reacher. Unfortunately, while I enjoy the movie and think it’s a bit underseen, it doesn’t really stand up to Django in terms of quality. Plus, Herzog’s only in the movie for a few minutes. Glorious minutes, though. I really couldn’t decide between the two, so they both win. The other nominees weren’t slouches, to be sure, but they just couldn’t compare. Special callouts to Lena Headey’s Ma Ma, who elevated a thankless part, and Javier Bardem’s Silva, which is probably more due to that utterly fantastic introduction than anything else.
  • Best Hero/Badass: The Hulk, played by Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers. This was a stronger category this year, so the decision as also more difficult. That being said, The Hulk/Bruce Banner is clearly a challenging character, as evidenced by the fact that no less than 2 other movies (and good ones too) have made the attempt over the past few years and pretty much failed. Both of those movies have their merits, I guess, but it’s not until you see The Avengers that you realize just how flawed those previous attempts were. Now, sure, The Hulk is but one part of a team, but he’s the clear standout of the movie, perhaps because he’s the biggest surprise.

    The Hulk

    No one really expected his character to be very good, but Ruffalo’s inherent charisma really shines through, even when in Hulk form. And The Hulk gets some of the best moments in the film, particularly the “Puny God” moment. Other standout nominees were Dr. King Schultz and Django, played by Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx in Django Unchained, who were absolutely brilliant. Barry Bostwick’s performance as Franklin Delano Roosevelt was fearless, a necessity for a movie as ridiculous as FDR: American Badass!. Jessica Chastain as Maya was great in Zero Dark Thirty, worth the nomination for the “I’m the motherfucker that found this place.” line alone. I seriously considered this as an offbeat choice, playing against the more ostentatious badassery by picking someone who spends the majority of the movie analyzing files and videos and whatnot. Alas, I went for the more obvious choice.

  • Best Comedic Performance: Channing Tatum in 21 Jump Street. This might be the most surprising movie of the year. I remember being perplexed when the initial good reviews came in, and even more flummoxed when I actually saw the movie, which was hilarious. Tatum, too, was a bit of a surprise, as he showed a goofy openness and magnetic personality that you just didn’t get when he was, say, Duke in G.I. Joe. Special mention, again, to Barry Bostwick’s fearless performance as FDR, and Seann William Scott in Goon (worth the nomination for the E.T. speech alone). I kinda hate Mark Wahlberg as an actor, but he was a good fit for Ted, and that scene you always here where he’s trying to guess Ted’s white-trash girlfriend’s name is brilliant.
  • Breakthrough Performance: Channing Tatum in Haywire, 21 Jump Street, and Magic Mike. Two wins for Tatum? Well, he had a very good year, and it was just so surprising coming from someone who seemed like a charismatic black hole before (not that I had much exposure to Tatum – not much of a fan of dance movies, either, so perhaps he showed some sense of life in those Step Up things). Next choice would have been Jessica Chastain, who was fantastic. Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey were both included because these were two actors that I’d totally written off this late in their careers, but who put in some great, unusual performances in 2012.
  • Most Visually Stunning: Prometheus. It’s a little depressing that most winners of this award are movies that I don’t particularly care for. Usually, there’s some element of artistic respect, but Prometheus is just not a very good movie. Visually, though, it’s spectacular.


    Runner up would have been Django Unchained (which I loved), or maybe The Master (which I didn’t). And a special callout to Detention for the most hyperactive visual sense. And that gorgeous red hair in Brave. And the landscapes in Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. And the highrise fight sequence in Skyfall. And ok, fine, maybe this category was harder to pick than I’m letting on.

  • Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film: The Cabin in the Woods. Ultimately a pretty tight race between that movie and Detention, both of which will receive further recognition, because they’re both pretty fantastic. All of the other nominees are worthwhile, and genre fans would do well to seek them out.
  • Best Sequel/Reboot: The Avengers. I suppose you could argue that this isn’t technically a “sequel”, but really, it is. And it was actually much better than I was expecting. Thrilling, exciting, and a return to just plain fun entertainment (as opposed to the grim and gritty direction comic book movies seemed to be moving in). I enjoyed all of the other nominees well enough, but The Avengers is the one I like the most. It’s also the only one I sought to revisit…
  • Biggest Disappointment: Prometheus. Aside from the visuals, this was possibly the worst movie I saw all year. It’s just so mindnumbingly, unforgivably stupid in so many ways. I wasn’t a big fan of any of the other nominees either, though they all were mildly enjoyable enough diversions, and none of them quite managed to anger me like Prometheus did. In truth, I had difficulty populating the nominees for this category, which is a sign of a pretty good year.
  • Best Action Sequences: The Raid: Redemption. Duh. This thing is pretty much wall-to-wall action. Exquisitely choreographed martial arts sequences, mixed with some weapon work and some just all around awesomeness. It shares some similarities with the underrated and underseen Dredd, and I have to wonder how I’d feel if I saw The Raid after Dredd… but I suspect I’d still respond more to The Raid. I also wanted to make special mention of Haywire, which had some of the most memorable action sequences of the year. The fights in that movie have this really raw sensibility that is striking, and the fact that Gina Carano is pretty badass out here in the real world (she’s apparently an MMA star) serves that film well. I also wanted to callout just how impressive The Dark Knight Rises was in IMAX. I saw the movie twice in theaters, and the action sequences were seemingly much more effective in that larger format. The other nominees were all rather good as well, and worth checking out for action junkies.
  • Best Plot Twist/Surprise: The Cabin in the Woods. Another category where Detention was a strong contender with Woods. Still, Cabin in the Woods was seemingly filled with twists, right from the very opening of the film, leading all the way to the button/elevator sequence, which was surprising in the most awesome way. Once again, all of the nominees are strong films, well worth seeking out.
  • Best High Concept Film: Detention. And finally, Detention manages to defeat The Cabin in the Woods. Manic, kinetic, exuberant, energetic, Detention is a movie that is all over the place, and you never know where it’s going to go next. It’s a movie made for the information overloaded, internet soaked generation, and it’s clearly calibrated for a younger audience when it comes to the way it presents information. And once again, the rest of the slate of nominees is really good, so check them out.
  • 2012’s 2011 Movie of the Year: Bobby Fischer Against the World. I had a rough time choosing the nominees for this, mostly because I didn’t see a lot of 2011 movies in 2012, but the winner was a pretty clear choice for me. I have a fascination with this type of story, the obsessive genius who pursues one subject to the detriment of pretty much everything else. We’ll see a flavor of this in my top ten for 2012 too, though it’s a little different. Anyway, the biggest surprise of the nominees was Fright Night, a movie that I was shocked to enjoy so much, even if it’s not exactly fine cinema!

So there you go. Round 1 of the awards is complete, stay tuned for the Arbitrary Awards and (eventually) the top 10 of 2012.

2012 Kaedrin Movie Awards

Welcome to the 7th Annual Kaedrin Movie Awards! As of right now, I’ve seen 68 movies that would be considered 2012 releases. No film festivals this year, so this is about par for the course, and I’ll probably end up somewhere in the mid 70s by the time I get to the top 10 in a few weeks. This post thus commences my end of the year recap, only a few weeks late! [Previous Installments here: 2006 | 2007 | 2008 | 2009 | 2010 | 2011] I’ll post the nominations now, and like last year, I’ll post all the winners next weekend.

2012 was a surprisingly solid year for movies. I don’t know that it’s the best year in recent memory or anything, but it was a lot of fun, and there were a lot of really good movies released, even in the typical early year doldrums and end of summer dumping period. There were a fair amount of disappointments, of course, and not being a real critic or anything, it’s not like I went out of my way to watch bad movies. I’m lucky like that. But even critics are gushing over the year in film, and there’s a lot to like about the year. I haven’t really started to compile my top 10 list, but I can already think of 5-8 definite inclusions off the top of my head, which is a pretty good sign. There are still a few things I want to catch up with before I post that list, but the awards can start now. One of the points of these awards is that they allow me to give some love to films that I like, but which aren’t necessarily great or are otherwise flawed (and thus the categories may seem a bit eclectic). Some of these movies will end up on my top 10, but the grand majority of them will not.

The rules for this are the same as last year: Nominated movies must have been released in 2012 (in the US) and I have to have seen the movie (and while I have seen a lot of movies, I don’t pretend to have seen a comprehensive selection – don’t let that stop you from suggesting something though). Also, I suppose I should mention the requisite disclaimer that these sorts of lists are inherently subjective and personal. But that’s all part of the fun, right? So here are the nominees for this year’s awards:

Best Villain/Badass

A mildly good year for villainy. Perhaps not as many nominations, but what’s here is all pretty quality stuff, though there are two pretty clear options that are ahead of the pack. As with previous years, my picks in this category are for individuals, not groups (i.e. no vampires or zombies as a group). There’s a kinda exception to this rule in the nominations, but I really just don’t want to split the vote on those two, you know what I mean?

Best Hero/Badass

Quite a heroic year, certainly outweighing the villainy, but not by a ton. Again limited to individuals and not groups. Similar to the villains category, there’s an exception here, but I put two characters together because I felt like it. Sue me.

Best Comedic Performance

I have to say, this wasn’t a particularly great year for comedic performances. There were a lot of movies that I couldn’t quite bring myself to nominate because they weren’t really straight comedies. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing for those movies, but it makes categories like this one hard to populate.

Breakthrough Performance

As with previous years, my main criteria for this category was if I watched a movie, then immediately looking up the actor/actress on IMDB to see what else they’ve done (or where they came from). This can sometimes even happen for a long established actor, and this year is particularly annoying in that case, as there are two extremely well known folks that I’m nominating here. Yes, the criteria is vague, but the fun of these awards is that they’re supposed to be idiosyncratic and weird, so I’m just going with it.

Most Visually Stunning

Sometimes even bad movies can look really great…

Best Sci-Fi or Horror Film

In case it’s not obvious, I’m a total genre hound, and these are movies that don’t tend to get a lot of attention, so I like to shine a light on them.

Best Sequel/Reboot

Typically a difficult category to populate, and this year was no exception, so I was a little liberal with the nominations.

Biggest Disappointment

Always a difficult award to figure out, as there are different ways in which a movie can disappoint. Usually, expectations play just as big a part of this as the actual quality of the film, and it’s possible that a good movie can win the award because of high expectations.

Best Action Sequences

We’ve got a solid, action packed year here. This award isn’t for individual action sequences, but rather an overall estimation of each film.

Best Plot Twist/Surprise

Well, I suppose even listing nominees here constitutes something of a spoiler, but it’s a risk we’ll have to take, right? A decent year for plot twists, though I don’t see a clear winner either… this is going to be a hard category to pick!

Best High Concept Film

This is always a strange category to populate because the concept is a bit nebulous, but nevertheless, there are always a few interesting choices…

2012’s 2011 Movie of the Year

I instituted this category a few years ago because I was always discovering movies from the previous year after the fact. Of course, since then, I’ve had difficulty populating this category. This is going to be a tough choice, as I have to say, I wasn’t really blown away by any of the nominees…

Anyone have any suggestions (for either category or nominations)? Comments, complaints and suggestions are welcome, as always.

Surprisingly, it’s looking like The Dark Knight Rises and Dredd (?!) are leading the way with 5 nominations. The Avengers, Detention, Django Unchained, and Skyfall all pulled down a respectable 4 nominations as well. Lots of films earned 3 nominations, and even more got 2 or 1 nominations. In total, 39 different films were nominated (a little less than last year, but more than previous years). So I’m going to let these nominations stew for a week, then announce the winners next Sunday, followed by the traditional Arbitrary Awards and eventually culminating in my top 10 of 2012 list (which may be a few weeks, though it will be before the Oscars, which are a little earlier than normal this year)…

Update: It’s actually the seventh annual awards. I’m a lazy moron.