As is typical, there’s always a few films I wasn’t able to see before compiling this list that I think could have won me over. So, these films were out of the running: Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Skyfall, Argo & Wreck-It Ralph.
HONORABLE MENTION: DJANGO UNCHAINED.
I liked Django. I liked it a lot. Probably more than some of the other films on this list. I don’t know if that’s just because it’s a Quentin Tarantino joint or because it actually deserves it but that doesn’t matter. Fact is, I (like most people) love Tarantino films. Now, this isn’t his best film but it’s by no means close to being his worst. I spent three hours in a theater watching this film and loved every second of it. Problem is, I just saw the film and it hasn’t had time to resonate yet. Since I don’t feel like I can rank it properly, I’m giving it a nod. Just know that it deserves to be on here.
10. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.
I wrote an article discussing this film’s merits at great lengths (which you can read by clicking here) so I’ll be brief. Essentially, no one gave this film a chance to succeed and I feel as though it did. I, myself, went in hesitant and it still managed to win me over. It’s not a perfect film and the Lizard does look a bit ridiculous but I still really enjoyed this reboot from Marc Webb.
9. MAGIC MIKE.
Do you know how I know I’m gay? Wow! Did I not think I would like this as much as I did. I tend to be kind of hit or miss with Steven Soderbergh. I love films like Ocean’s 11 and Out of Sight. However, he’s not one of those directors that has me waiting with baited breath for his next film like a Tarantino or Spielberg. I do love Channing Tatum (Step Up rules. Haters be damned.) and this truly was the year of Channing Tatum. In the end, this film did what a good documentary does. It immerses you in a world that is very interesting that you may know little about, or not even care to, and makes you interested. The fact that it is semi-autobiographical makes it all the more interesting, in my humble opinion.
8. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD.
This film appears to be the critical-indie-darling of the year and deservedly so. The film is beautifully shot and the story, filled with rich and interesting characters, is told wonderfully with a gut-wrenching and heart-warming pace. The main character’s father (Wink) is probably the most interesting character for discussion this year. (Is he a wonderful father or a horrible one?) And I dare you not to fall in love with Hushpuppy, the film’s central character. This was the only film of the year to almost get a tear out of me and I wouldn’t have felt bad for letting it slip.
Any film that manages to bolster as much film discussion as this one did can hardly go without being recognized on a list like this. The film was absolutely beautiful to look at and features underrated and wonderful performances from both Noomi Repace and Michael Fassbender. It is worth noting though that I am judging this film as a stand alone endeavor. My only problems with the film come into play when you start trying to view it within the Aliens cannon of films. At that point, it’s just frustrating. However, if you watch it as the filmmaker and writer intended, it’s just what they intended it be which is good ol’ fashion Horror/Sci-Fi.
6. RAID: REDEMPTION.
I firmly believe that a man-card should be required to see this film. If you do not have a man-card, or it was taken at the theater door when you went to see Magic Mike with your girlfriend or wife, viewing this film should instantly grant you a man-card. This film had some of the best action and cinematic martial arts I’ve ever seen. It’s balls to the wall from the very first frame. It makes the best Van Damme movie look like a high school play. I bet it makes people like Tony Jaa say DAMN! A must see film if you like seeing people get the snot beat out of them.
5. CABIN IN THE WOODS.
If it’s Channing Tatum’s year as an actor then it’s definitely Joss Whedon’s year as a writer/director. My love of the man is no secret but he earned his spots on this list. Cabin is well written, funny AND a damn good Horror movie. Mainly because it takes a shot at the genre as a whole. This sort of meta-filmmaking is often embraced by film lovers/critics like me because it shows a care and intelligence that is so often thrown to the wayside when dealing with this genre of film. By far, this is the smartest Horror film since Scream and it manages to do so while still being an entertaining film.
4. THE GREY.
MAN vs. WOLF? Sign me up. That’s all this film is. Somehow it still manages, within the constraints of a typical action/survival film, to tell a very sweet story of a very broken man who finds the desire to live in the face of death. I can’t recommend this film enough. I put it so high because it’s one of those very few films that I want to revisit often; even frequently. Liam Neesan once again proves why he is a star. Who knew his “particular set of skills” included kicking major wolf ass? Make sure and stay tuned until the end of the credits on this one and then call me to discuss!
Truth be told, I think this film is actually the best film of the year. If it wasn’t for the Fanboy icons in my Top 2, this would easily be my #1. Unfortunately, I’m a Fanboy so this film sits nestled at #3. I became an instant fan of Rian Johnson after seeing his debut film Brick. I’d been following the progress of this film since Johnson began speaking of it (very tight-lipped) in the writing stage. I always felt that if anyone gave this guy a bonafide star and a decent budget that he could do some major damage to my brain… and he did. I have a feeling that Looper has cult classic potential. It’s an instant member in the kick-ass-time-travel-movie-club (That’s a thing, right?). Not only does it weave a great story within the sub-genre but it does so feeling no need to over explain the science behind it which just adds to it’s charm.
2. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES.
After seeing this film in the theater, I had it at number four on my list. It took a second viewing to realize how good this film really is. I now feel like it really was a satisfying ending to one of the greatest cinematic works ever told. A great final chapter to what is really one big eight hour story. I actually liked Bane a lot. True, he was no (Heath Ledger’s) Joker, and I would’ve loved to see this trilogy end with a final face-off between the Dark Knight and the homicidal clown as it was intended. Unfortunately, life had other plans. Yet, Tom Hardy manages to bring a worthy adversary to Bale’s Batman. I realize I’m elevating this film because it is a Batman flick but don’t let that fool you. Nolan weaves quite a set of films here that just also happen to be about one of the most iconic comic characters of my time.
1. MARVEL’S AVENGERS.
Is anyone surprised by this pick? My number one most anticipated film of the year turned out to also be my favorite. This is the film I waited my whole life for and that everyone has been praying for since the comic book movie boom kicked off in the late-90s/early-2000s. All this film had to do was not suck and it managed somehow to kick major ass. I’ve talked about it in-depth over the year so I won’t drone on. I’ll just say that this film is a love letter to all the Fanboys out there like me.
Remember, we here at Man, I Love Films don’t do definitive lists. We do our favorites and we want to hear yours. So, make sure and tell us about them in the comments section below.