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  • Top 10 Films of 2012

    By | December 27, 2012


    The nominations and votes of the Smells Like Screen Spirit staff have been tallied and scored to represent the collective opinion of the total results. As always we encourage you to agree or debate in the comments section; so without further ado I give you Smells Like Screen Spirit’s Top 10 Films of 2012:


    10. Looper

    “So many genre films are very light on script and heavy on action and effects. Half-way in you realize that you just don’t care about the characters, and want them to die horrible film deaths so as to make your experience, at least somewhat memorable. Director Rian Johnson manages to kill off plenty of people in Looper, but he finds a way to balance the carnage with a really smart script, some down-to-earth, thought-out cinematography, superb editing, and a cast up for the task. Why can’t more directors accomplish this? I’m not entirely sure, but it might have something to do with the afore-mentioned tangibles. Directors like Hitchcock, and yes, M. Night Shyamalan were quite successful in taking the everyday and turning it on its head. The ability to insert the strange into the normal is a gift. Does Rian Johnson have the gift? Only time will tell, and while Looper has not completely converted me to Rianism — I’m definitely intrigued.” -Dirk Sonniksen’s Review


    9. Lincoln

    “The marvelous content of the film is supported by art direction that renders the mid 1800s in beautiful detail. The majority of the film takes place in the White House, here portrayed with a musty library feel, constantly filled with dark polished wood and many, many books. The array of facial hair styles alone is astonishing, but when paired with authentic costumes and period-specific props, the transition into the 1800s is seamless.” -Jessica Delfanti’s Review

    “What ultimately allows the film to rise above this is Day-Lewis’ eminently human portrayal of Lincoln. From images of him as a doting father to an emotionally exhausted husband, shuffling shawled and barefoot down the halls of the White House, this Lincoln is equal parts steel-willed genius and vulnerable tragedy. Ultimately, more than all the Congressional wheeling and dealing, it is Lincoln’s interaction with his family that most captures life in all its messy details.” -Linc Leifeste’s Review


    8. Oslo, August 31st

    “With the visual poeticism and mise-en-scène artistry of Robert Bresson, Trier (a cousin of Lars von Trier) creates an incredibly complex 24-hour character study with the intellectually insightful panache of Camus and Sartre. In this modern day example of existentialism, Trier avoids the Hollywood cliche of drug addiction — which informs us that drug addiction is perpetuated by financial woes and unstable families — revealing that wealthy, intelligent and resourceful people can become addicts too.” -Don Simpson’s Review


    7. Cosmopolis

    “Cosmopolis is a masterfully directed dystopian vision of a slightly futuristic near-parallel universe, populated with inscrutable characters who speak in cryptic tones. And in monotone, always in emotionless monotone. It’s executed flawlessly in all its dark, tense, claustrophobic glory. But it’s not a film I recommend from my heart as much as from my head.” -Linc Leifeste’s Review

    “A throwback to his classic films, Cosmopolis is Cronenberg’s first credited screenplay since Existenz (1999). He adapted Cosmopolis from the Don DeLillo novella, which was written during the aftermath of the tech collapse of 2000 — though its message is just as relevant following the economic crash of 2008. I really could not imagine a better writer-director to adapt DeLillo’s dense-yet-dreamily-poetic dialogue and Cronenberg nails DeLillo’s token tone, rhythm and pacing that has differentiated him from other [post] modern writers. DeLillo and Cronenberg saturate every single word, sound and image with significance creating a presumably impossible to crack puzzle, not unlike some of Cronenberg’s most challenging films, Existenz, Crash, and Videodrome.” -Don Simpson’s Review


    6. Prometheus

    “Prometheus is the first summer blockbuster in recent memory that comes remotely close to living up to the hype surrounding the film’s release. Director Ridley Scott has returned to give fans of the Alien franchise that raison d’etre, and for the most part, he succeeded. I’m certain sci-fi aficionados will shower Prometheus with both acclaim and criticism, and that is as it should be.” -Dirk Sonniksen’s Review

    “There is not much original about this film, with nearly all the elements of the story being indebted in some way to earlier films, but as I watched I couldn’t help feeling that I hadn’t seen a movie like this in a long, long time; a big budget science fiction film with a touch of horror that had me wide-eyed whenever I wasn’t turning my head and grimacing or jumping out of my seat in fear.” -Linc Leifeste’s Review


    5. The Cabin in the Woods

    The Cabin in the Woods works so well because of the way that it makes fun of, yet embraces every premise element of the horror genre. It’s a film that will enliven the ever loyal horror fan that has stood by the genre for years as the studio machines turn out let-down after let-down. Filmmakers Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon know their audience well, which is demonstrated by the amount of tributes that are generously dived up of just about every single horror movie that has ever existed. The Cabin in the Woods begins with a simple concept that becomes something way bigger than anyone will expect.” -Dave Campbell’s Review

    “While Cabin’s tone and content ought to retrieve it a cult following and fantastic reviews, we can only hope that it will go on to influence other films in bending genres and delivering well written, well conceptualized experiences to the big screen. I, for one, wouldn’t mind if Cabin fever caught on.” -Jessica Delfanti’s Review


    4. The Master

    “It’s difficult to find fault with The Master — trust me, I tried. It’s a brilliant script that speaks to all the weird, tortured folk who are unable to find the right step in life. It’s cinematography that harkens back to the days when cinematography meant something instead of simply creating the biggest scene imaginable, and then inserting characters via CGI. It’s an amazing cast without a dud in the bunch. It’s everything cinema should be, could be, but will be only on occasion.” -Dirk Sonniksen’s Review

    “…I don’t throw this word around lightly, Paul Thomas Anderson is a genius. He is crafting uniquely American myths that delve deep into our collective soul, epic sagas about our constant identity struggles against inner and outer nature, our need for bigger-than-life figures, our endless impulse to dominate the world around us, about nothing less than our sins and the religions that we turn to (or create) for our salvation.” -Linc Leifeste’s Review


    3. Beasts of the Southern Wild

    “She hardly knows the adult world; yet, as an actress, Quvenzhané Wallis knows perfectly well what to do to magnetize the viewer. Her presence is vital; the demons chasing her in her dreams are essential. She needs to wait for them to come into her reality; she has to face them in a world that is falling apart right in front of her eyes.” -Anna Bielak’s Review

    “Quvenzhané Wallis was five-years-old when she was cast and seven when the film was finished. Like most of the cast members, Wallis had never acted before; yet, in the history of cinema, no one in her age group has ever commanded the screen as she does. Despite the sheer brilliance of the other aspects of Beasts of the Southern Wild — the cinematography (Ben Richardson), the score (Dan Romer, Benh Zeitlin), the production design (Alex DiGerlando) — this film would not be one of the best films of 2012.” -Don Simpson’s Review


    2. Holy Motors

    “Where can you see Eva Mendes and a naked leprechaun with an erection? How about simulated video game sex? Kylie Minogue doing a musical number? Chimpanzees? Yes, Holy Motors, of course. One can see all of the aforementioned wonders and so much more when you treat your mind to the latest film from director Leos Carax.” -Dirk Sonniksen’s Review

    Holy Motors is not about understanding what is going on, it is about freeing yourself of inhibitions and preconceptions and allowing yourself to float in Carax’s sea of surrealism for two hours. Like David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis, Holy Motors shuttles us through its narrative in a white limousine (Carax even permits us the opportunity to see where all of the while limousines go to rest), allowing us a tour of the decaying moral fiber of our post modern world.” -Don Simpson’s Review


    1. Moonrise Kingdom

    “In typical Wes Anderson fashion, the story doesn’t matter nearly as much as the aesthetic. Anderson himself has said of the film that he was trying to capture the sensation of falling in love at twelve years of age and the powerful “fantasy world” feelings that come along with it. Whether he’s succeeded largely depends on your response to Anderson’s style of film-making.” -Linc Leifeste’s Review

     “Where Anderson’s directorial touches in shots, soundtrack, and costume are all undeniably hip, it is his writing here that truly shines. Anderson and co-writer Roman Coppola supply a script that is packed to the brim with cheeky quips and naive pronouncements of absolutes. Buoyed by the talented cast, the script is a time capsule to remind us of our own childhood fantasies, and recognize the truths that all children know and seem to forget at the cusp of adulthood.” -Jessica Delfanti’s Review


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