Favorite Older Movies First Seen in 2012, Part 3

This is an idea I first saw on @bobfreelander‘s blog. The idea is to list your favorite films from the past year that you saw for the first time, but exclude new releases. This allows much more variety and creates a lot of great suggestions if you read many of them.

Since I tracked these films much more closely this year my list grew long. I will occasionally combine selections by theme, but there is enough for five posts. These choices are in no particular order.

Enjoy!

Goobers! (fka Mystery Monsters) (1997)

Mystery Monster (1997, Full Moon)

And here comes a Charles Band that works. It’s the kind of title that really shouldn’t. The premise is silly, the production is low-rent, the acting sparse, but here there’s a brazen stick-to-itiveness and an over-the-top dedication that drives the comedy home above the mandatory tropes that must be dealt with.

If I wanted to get overly-specific I could formulate how often either Charles Band or Roger Corman produced and/or directed titles really work. My assumption is the latter has a higher success rate. However, I’m glad to have found more of Band’s movies lately and this one is absolutely ridiculous and works.

28 Up (1984)

28 Up (1984, Grenada Television)

Here is another somewhat representative choice. Prior to this year I had only seen thru 21 Up I believe. This year I await 56 Up. However, this past year I got current on the series. It’s hard to tell which of the series I enjoy most so I just selected the next in the series to be representative. It’s perhaps the most fascinating documentarian experience ever: every seven years people are interviewed and share their life and thoughts on various subjects. Clearly, there’s filtering but there’s a reflexive nature to it. As much as I adore the most recent Narnia installment this is Apted’s legacy.

Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (2008)

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008, Timescience Bloodclub)

Prior to The Avengers, and after having seen The Cabin in the Woods, I finally checked out this short demented film and loved it. I was not so well-versed in Joss Whedon’s work and wanted to see some more of it. It’s enjoyable and short so it should be seen if you, like me, are in the minority who have yet to see it.

The Life and Passion of Jesus (1905) and From the Manger to the Cross(1912)

The Life and Passion of Jesus Christ (1905)

Here’s one where I had to combine picks. These two films are packaged on DVD together. They’re silents that were filmed in the Holy Land and deal, as the titles indicate, with different parts of Christ’s life. It’s a pre-made double feature but a good one. Each fills in gaps the other leaves.

Coriolanus (2011)

Coriolanus (2012, The Weinstein Company)

This is the newest selection on this list and one I regret missing towards the end of 2011. This film confirms that I’m a sucker for modernized Shakespeare adaptations and that John Logan is a kick-ass screenwriter.

No Greater Glory (1934)

No Greater Glory (1934, Columbia)

There are a few interesting notes about this movie: first, it’s an adaptation of a classic Hungarian novel (Yes, a US Studio tackled it first), next it’s an overlooked Borzage war critique, and in my eyes a more effective one than A Farewell to Arms.

The Manster (1959)

The Manster (1959, Lopert Pictures)

Spinning off from No Greater Glory George Breakston, after his days as an actor, went on to be quite a prolific and successful B-Movie director and producer. At random I chose one of his titles the seemingly schlocky Manster and was quite impressed by it. It’s low-rent, there are downright mistakes in it, but most of the handling and the narrative is highly effective for what it’s attempting.

Only When I Dance and L’il A (2009)

Only When i Dance (2009, Film Movement)

I’ve written ad nauseum about how I like Film Movement’s movie club and how they pair films with shorts on their DVD. When I watched this dance doc, obviously the short was one too. They tackle different disciplines, ballet and hip hop, but are equally successful.

Island of Lost Souls (1932)

Island of Lost Souls (1934, Paramount)

If your only prior exposure to The Island of Dr. Moreau was through the 1996 version of the film, then you can guess what my reaction to Island of Lost Souls was: I absolutely fell in love with it. Yes, having Bela Lugosi involved does buoy the film but Charles Laughton owns this film entirely and without question – truly one of the greatest performances in the genre I’ve seen.

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BAM Awards: Best Actor Winners

Once again I am sticking to the “Live Era,” here (meaning I made my choices at year’s end). This is the third such article I’ve posted chronicling my choices in my personal awards (here are links to Best Actress and Best Picture).

2018 Kodi Smit-McPhee Alpha 

2017 James McAvoy Split

2016 Leonardo DiCaprio The Revenant

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2015 David Gulpilil Charlie’s Country

Charlie'sCountry (2013, Entertainment One Films)

2014 Brendan Gleeson Calvary

Calvary (2014, Fox Searchlight)

2013 Johan Heldenbergh The Broken Circle Breakdown

The Broken Circle Breakdown (2012, Tribeca Film)

2012 Daniel Day-Lewis Lincoln

Lincoln (2012, DreamWorks)

2011 Michael Shannon Take Shelter

2010 Bill Nighy Wild Target

2009 Colin Firth A Single Man

2008 Sean Penn Milk

2007 Leonardo DiCaprio The Departed

The Departed (2006, Warner Bros.)

2006 Nicholas Hoult Wah-Wah

2005 Philip Seymour Hoffman Capote

2004 Jim Caviezel The Passion of the Christ

The Passion of the Christ (2004, Newmarkey Releasing)

2003 Jeremy Sumpter Peter Pan

2002 Christian Bale Equilibrium

Equilibrium (2002, Dimension Films)

2001 Haley Joel Osment Artificial Intelligence: A.I.

2000 Kevin Spacey Pay it Forward

1999 Haley Joel Osment The Sixth Sense

1998 Jack Nicholson As Good as it Gets

1997 Billy Bob Thornton Sling Blade

1996 Nick Nolte Mulholland Falls
Mulholland Falls (1996, MGM)

Top 25 Films of 2012: 15-11

I try to keep my mind as open as possible during the year, and as you start assembling a list like this you see there could be perceived slights. The fact of the matter is making this list was brutal. More than once I had to consider if I can stick to a previously made proclamation, more than once I jotted down additional titles to see if they could slide into the top 25.

15. ParaNorman

ParaNorman (2012, Focus Features)

Here’s a situation wherein I have to buck what my genre ranking would seem to dictate. This film ranks as #6 on the horror list but that is due to its handling and effectiveness of the horror elements within compared to “pure” horror films who aren’t splitting time, attempting to change tone and do multiple things. The completeness of emotional range and the things this tale does brings it up higher on this list than it goes on the horror list.

14. Killer Joe

Killer Joe (2011, LD Entertainment)

This film falls into a very particular niche of being dramatic, horrific, crime drama, neo-noir, batshit that falls into my wheelhouse because it all makes sense and works. You never knows what’s coming but everything that happens, as crazy as it is, makes sense, is effective and has a ton of impact. It’s filled with tremendous performances including those of Matthew McConaughey, Gina Gershon and Juno Temple, all the elements and performances are expertly handled by William Friedkin.

13. Holy Motors

Holy Motors (2012, Indomina)

This was perhaps the most impossible film to place, and another film that came to mind when writing my brief intro to this list. The fact of the matter is once I had seen and digested this film a bit I knew it had to make it on the list I knew I enjoyed watching it and eventually came to love it, but how to quantify where on this list it falls was beyond me. Because the list is so varied it ended up landing where it did just on intangible gut feeling and exemplifies that making the list and being considered among the best is what matters.

12. Skyfall

Skyfall (2012, MGM)

There are some films that are on this list where you can argue fanboydom and I couldn’t really give too much of a fight, but I am a casual Bond observer at best, and I absolutely love this installment. That alone was enough for me (obviously), but many of the die hards I know were also very impressed with this film. However, this film goes far beyond being just a great Bond film and nearly shed the Bond facade altogether at times. It’s sumptuously filmed and has set pieces that lend it surreal beauty, it takes an archetypal character and has his demons be as much an antagonist as his literal enemy, it takes symbolic placeholder characters and rounds them, and is yet another testament to John Logan‘s brilliance. I could give it even more accolades but suffice it to say it’s a franchise installment that has myself, and the faithful, clamoring for more.

11. The Avengers

The Avengers (2012, Disney/Paramount)

As mentioned above my list is pretty disparate, there are few titles that even come close to being apples to apples. The Avengers is one of the best times I had at the movies this year and upon release seemed like it was going to stand alone atop the loft superhero peak of this year, alas that was not to be. Again, it’s not really about a failing here (as each film dealt with a similar climactic plot device) but rather what else another superhero film did. Last year X-Men was up in this spot as top ranking. This year it’s second in the subgenre.