Words: Rob DeStefano

The Cabin in the Woods

the cabin in the woods

Log Line: During a getaway to a remote cabin, a group of friends are terrorized by mysterious scientists’ horrific manipulations.

This is one of those “the less you know, the better” scenarios, which might have been the reason why so many passed on it, despite its positive critical reception. The screenplay has an incredible sense of humor that Whedon and Goddard seamlessly integrate with homages to decades worth of genre tropes. For horror fans, or for people who just enjoy entertainment, The Cabin in the Woods has an unsurpassed originality that is a must see for 2012.

Cloud Atlas


Log Line: Six different stories are all connected by recurring motifs.

Loved by some, hated by others, seen by no one. Cloud Atlas might be sharing a cell with John Carter, but that’s not keeping the sweeping adaptation of David Mitchell’s novel off our list. This is a monster of a movie, spanning from the 1800s to a post-apocalyptic earth, all brought to fruition by the help of extensive CGI, unfathomable production design, and far too convincing makeup. The film sometimes cuts between its stories as frequently as every thirty seconds: this sounds disorienting in theory, but rather the editing is something to marvel at as it compresses the three hour runtime into a constantly engaging and solid thematic whole. And as far as the score is concerned, I haven’t been able to shake “The Cloud Atlas Sextet.” Kudos, to The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer.

Rust and Bone

rust and bone

Log Line: Alain van Versch, a street fighting father, forms a relationship with Stephanie, a killer whale trainer who becomes a double leg amputee.

In the hands of Hollywood, this would have been an overly sentimental, tear-grabbing cash-in. In the hands of French director Jacques Audiard (A Prophet), it became something fully realized, physically arresting yet deeply humanistic. Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts give two of the year’s most mesmerizing performances.

The Avengers

the avengers 2

Log Line: Superheros.

This year completely transformed action film standards. Both The Dark Knight Rises and Skyfall are phenomenal examples, but it’s Joss Whedon’s epic depiction of the Marvel Universe that was 2012’s most groundbreaking spectacle. Whedon took on the nearly inconceivable task of melding the five previous films and the handful of heroes they offered into one superbly coherent and well-crafted blockbuster. Surpassing all of our expectations, The Avengers sets the precedent for all ensuing Marvel installments, while ranking among the best films of the year.

Moonrise Kingdom

moonrise kingdom

Log Line: Taken over by first love, Sam and Suzy elope, causing a brigade of parents, scout leaders, and police to pursue.

To keep consistent with our year-end hyperboles, this is not only one of 2012’s top films, but quite possibly my favorite from Wes Anderson’s canon. His fastidious control over cinematography and music is at its finest. Newcomer Jared Gilman steals the show as the intoxicated Sam, but the entire ensemble – Kara Hayward, Edward Norton, Bruce Willis, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton – plays perfectly in Anderson and Roman Coppola’s eccentric yet poignant tale.

Interlude: Bonus Awards

Thought You Would Suck, But You Rocked: Chronicle
Thought You Would Rock, But You Sucked: The Bourne Legacy
What Was The Buzz All About?: The Bay
Most Disturbing Film: Tie between Kill List and Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie
Best Unintentional Comedy: The Lucky One
Should Have Just Shut It Off: The Loneliest Planet
Best Film You Might Not Have Heard Of: The Taiwan Oyster
What Was The Point?: The Amazing Spider-Man
Best Use Of Channing Tatum: 21 Jump Street
Best REDBOX Selection: The Loved Ones
Most Likely To Give Movies A Bad Rap: Alex Cross
Most Overrated Award Bait: Life of Pi
Great Movie, But Not Looking Forward To Revisiting: Amour
Would Rather Drink Urine Than Revisit: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Zero Dark Thirty

zero dark thirty

Log Line: Maya’s decade long quest to take out Osama bin Laden.

It’s tense. It’s provocative. It’s relevant. It’s my favorite film of the year. Kathryn Bigelow’s dramatization of the hunt for bin Laden functions not only as an important historical account but also as a personal story of revenge (and its cost). From Mark Boal’s screenplay to Jessica Chastain’s focused performance, Zero Dark Thirty is an absolute masterpiece.

But let’s make some room, because here comes…2013!

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