Oscar History

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Beau's 2012 Bests

Nathaniel's top ten hits this weekend but he's invited TFE correspondents to share their own, so here are my personal loves of the year. [Disclaimer: I have yet to see Holy Motors, Amour, Rust and Bone, and On the Road.]

honorable mentions...  

13) Arbitrage -Nicholas Jarecki's feature debut is a whopper, a palate cleanser for the John Grisham crowd and a showcase for Richard Gere's most effortless work in this thirty-five year career. Coupled with Zemeckis' Flight, you'd be hard pressed to find two more similar and dissimilar anti heroes who crowded the multiplexes this year. Charisma carries the Devil on its cape. You've never wanted the bad guy to win more.

12) Flight -The messiest of messes, a meditation on faith, humanity and temptation that true to form, sways and stumbles and remains standing, a loud, brash bombardment of the amoral and their blinding pain. Washington is Everyman to Goodman's Satan. And who the fuck is James Badge Dale? He pulls a Beatrice Straight and basically walks away with the film.

11) Ted -There is something deeply unlikeable about Seth McFarlane, an addictive toxicity that repulses you and engages you simultaneously. With 'Ted', his watermark (read: pissmark) on network television transfers over to the big screen with a spring in its step and a grenade in its pocket. Defaming the stunted lifestyle of men all the while celebrating its appeal, Ted made me laugh harder and feel worse about myself than anything else I saw this year. It establishes Macfarlane as the newest, crudest uncle of American comedy - you hate him when he's sober, but goddamn, there's nobody else you'd rather get hammered with.

top ten from 'Cloud' to 'Cabin' is after the jump...

10) Cabin in the Woods
Metaphysics matriculate and manifest in the unlikeliest of places. Joss Whedon's real success story of the year, Cabin takes such glee with its pronounced love and hatred for modern day horror that any affinity you carry for the genre lends itself to his interpretation. Accessible, interminable fun. The Stoner Is Always Right.

9) Magic Mike
Soderbergh's best film in over a decade, armed with one of the strongest ensembles of the year, his Cinderella-cum-Showgirl-cum-Bromance is that weirdest anomaly of mainstream filmmaking; a hypersexual meditation on and objectification of men, money, and macroeconomics. Sex Sells, and Sex Sells You.

8) Anna Karenina
Mannered, majestic and only intermittently successful, Joe Wright's theatrical version of Tolstoy's revered novel is like a Cliff's Notes for Brecht Bitches. The sweeping is under scope here, and the romance is tempered by an acute and astute observation of how our feelings about ourselves, our place in the world and in others drive us to the brink; Anna's sudden, violent fate is cautionary, a loud warning of our willingness to abandon everything in the hope of ascending towards... what? It's the most intellectually satisfying, curiously controversial film I've seen this year.


7) Take This Waltz
Bright, colorful and doused in sprinkles of sunshine melancholy, Sarah Polley's Take This Waltz is yet another showcase for the remarkable Michelle Williams, a loving and lucid look at the predatory nature of lust and the mundanities of happiness. Insightful and incisive, her scalpel cuts but leaves such lovely renderings after. You are always, always hungry. The loving are never fat enough. We always want more.

6) Moonrise Kingdom
Whimsical and quietly euphoric, this lovingly told tale of a Peter Pan& Wendy / Romeo & Juliet / Bonnie & Clyde who take New Penzance under their reign, and for a few blissful days acquire what the rest of us threw away. Anderson shoots like a genius and never wastes a frame. Nostalgia gets stripped down and given a pair of new clothes. You can see through to where it hurt, and where it still hurts.  Cuckoo, yes. But happily so.

5) Oslo, August 31st
The other Trier deserves to be as well known as his Danish counterpart. Taking place over twenty-four hours, Oslo, August 31st is as much a film about ghosts as anything else. The rattling chains replaced with shuffling feet and streaming tears. There's a quiet moment near the end of this film where an opportunity is afforded to our lead character, who is concurrently provided a look into what that life could be like. Dead ends plant themselves down and chain smoke in the interim. You can't go home again. There's just graves there.

4) Bachelorette
My little cause célèbre of the year, this is an angry, biting little film that fucking hates you and everything about you because, goddammit, you should be where I'm at. A modern look at the treachery and tenacity of friendship between women, it's a film about little girls who play dress up, stomp around, always impatiently waiting to fill their shoes. In the meantime, just give them some coke.

3) Zero Dark Thirty
Journalist objectivism coupled with  a thesis on determinism as vampirism, the labyrinthian nature of a question. Fatalism on the rampage. Less a war film, more a film about chess. The Pawn Always Leads to the King. Chastain is an absolute marvel. 

2) Lincoln
Spielberg steps back and lets Kushner do the work. And as a result, he gets the best film he's made since A.I. This quiet chamber play of a towering giant is everything you thought it wouldn't be, including 'brilliant'. (Sans the sappy bookends, natch.) Kushner is an American treasure. Incorporating his vast knowledge of all things, he still hasn't forgotten twenty plus years on that Politics is People, and in this highly theatrical setting where the stage is the speaking floor, your part is always your purpose. Daniel Day-Lewis is a King of Kings. There will never be another.

1) Cloud Atlas
The most divisive, ambitious and, yes, overwhelming film of the year is also the best. Taking cues from everything from Blade Runner to Mark Twain, from Star Wars to Brief Encounter, from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest to Wizard of Oz, this wildly off-the-rails picture is a dazzling exhibition of structural juggling and communal self-efficacy in order to provide a 'monobrow' experience that satisfies and salivates all at once. I've never wanted to see a movie twice on the same day before. I did with Cloud Atlas. It's a behemoth with the brawn of a fighter and the heart of a child. I love it with all of me.



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Reader Comments (25)

Hehe, I love how different you are from Nathaniel. Cloud Atlas at #1!

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

Glad to see Anna Karenina get some props here. Some people had an issue with Joe Wright's mannered filmmaking but I found the first 20 minutes to be incredibly refreshing and it's the kind of thing that makes me want to see movies, listen to music, go to the theater and then be creative myself. I watched with my mouth agape and giddy as a little kid.

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlejandro

I was still holding out hope that Doona Bae would make it in one of these award shows for Cloud Atlas...I thought she was brilliant.

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBia

Did you not see Alps, Beau?

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Dang, Beau is kinda hot :-)

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterChelsea

@4rtful: Nay, I have not.

@Chelsea: Aww, shucks!

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

I totally second that, Chelsea. I LOVE this list. It has been a great year for movies, so I am glad everyone's list can be so diverse and rewarding.

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoey

Beau, a wonderfully entertaining piece as usual. Can't wait to see Zero Dark Thirty. Late to the party as usual, I just now got around to experiencing Jessica Chastain for the first time, in The Help. Of course, she won me over.

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

Cloud Atlas! Ballsy choice, sir.

ALPS is really good, btw.

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Love your write-up of Anna Karenina. Thought provoking indeed.

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJoseph

Great list! Agree with commenter above that I'm digging this year full of great movies that everybody is pretty diverse in their choosing...

Also, I just checked out Netflix to see if any of these were added, and Oslo & Take this Waltz are on instant watch. Score! I loved Trier's "Reprise," looking forward to this!

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJessica Maria

And the thing is, I genuinely feel that way about Cloud Atlas. It's not even a provocation for Nat. ;)

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

Yes, i have October text-based proof on my phone that this was going to be Beau's #1 long before I declared it WORST ;)

January 3, 2013 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

@Chelsea - yeah you are right! Beau looks uber hot and so as his choices!!!

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterequinox

Does Beau have a blog? I'm in love. Hahaha :)

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIan

I'm still baffled that Nat loathed it that much, but that's the nature of subjectivity. Variety is the spice of life. :)

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

Alright, I can't get on board with Cloud Atlas as earning the title of Best Film of the Year... Perhaps I was just impermeable to the spell it seems to have cast on Beau, but to me, it was six short films, none particularly interesting or exciting, all containing the same simplistic message of We Are All Connected. But it is certainly striking on a visual level, and the film represents a true labor of love by the Wackowskis.

I'm also curious as to how Argo and The Master were left off of the list, but... Bachelorette... managed a fairly-high spot. I gotta see Olso and Anna Karenina... maybe if they were playing somewhere! My personal number one for the year is Lincoln... Like Beau stated, Spielberg abandoned his traditional manipulative messaging, and trusted the actors, and Kushner's words, to speak for themselves. Enjoy Oscar #3, DDL!

Otherwise, enjoyed the list and you're always fun to read, Beau! Would love to talk cinema sometime with you...

January 3, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJohnny M.

Ballsy choices always make my day. Your number 1 is perfect, although I'm not sure it'd make my own top ten I think it's the most pleasant surprise I had last year. I was ready to hate it as much as I hated "Speed Racer" or be as indifferent to it as I was with all the Matrixes and Perfume and I ended up completely elated instead.

PS: your unseen trilogy of Holy Motors, Amour & Rust and Bone are my top 3.
PSS: LOVE that beanie.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJose

My top three, in order, are Cloud Atlas, Moonrise Kingdom and The Master. Am baffled by the vitriol being chucked by critics en masse at the Tykwer / Wachowski project -- every person I know who has seen it either loved it to the point of inexplicable devotion, found it unsettling and curious enough to see twice in the cinema, or found much about it that was marvelous in the midst of much that didn't work. Even my best friend, a film blogger whose favorite novel is Cloud Atlas, while vastly disappointed in the Wachowski sections, loved nearly everything about Tywer's sections. It's unfortunate how, too often, both hatred and adulation become viral phenomena in the film geek world -- bandwagons drive past, and we hop aboard, or we grow hellbent on getting bandwagons of our own making out of the mechanics' shop and onto the road.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJason Cooper

I don't know how I feel about The Master, being perfectly honest. It elicited such a strange response that I still haven't been able to make heads or tails of since I've seen it, but no strong desire to revisit it again. It's definitely a singular work, but I also feel it's being propped up by PTA apologists; I just understand that I may not understand it and that's fine too. It may take time, it may never happen.

Sometimes it's not that you didn't get the film, but that the film didn't get you.

But it's certainly something.

Bachelorette is biting, vicious, dark, and true.
Doesn't shy away from what we love and hate about ourselves.
I thought it was fantastic.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

James Badge Dale is the effing man! You clearly haven't seen his television work yet.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterIan

Beau -- that's how i'm feeling about The Master too. very well said.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Beau, I have such contempt for PTA's latest that maybe I just can't find any objectivity. I was insulted by its preening pretentiousness. The Master affected me in much the same way I presume the title character affected his sheep: It was almost as if Anderson was processing me, and I didn't enjoy it. In the film, the cult leader's son said his dad was making it all up as he went along. That's how the film felt to me. For me, The Master was a classic example of the emperor's new clothes.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

brookesboy -- ooh, interesting. I can totally see this. the film as PT's processing. Also it's worth noting that the processing scenes (which I thought was superb) raises all kind of alarm bells specifically because there are so many ways in for the cult (or any religion or belief system) to fill any space that they create by making their victim uneasy and bringing up very universal but very vague notions like "happiness". i thought that scene was brilliant but i do agree that with a lot of the sort of free floating space of the movie, it's inviting you to project greatness on to it. rather than actually proving its greatness.

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterNathaniel R

Happy New Year, Nathan! Thank you for your support. I sometimes feel as if I'm the only one who didn't like this movie. I REALLY did not like it. LOL

January 4, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterbrookesboy

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