Unlike some of my Checkerboard comrades, I watch movies, not films. Where are the best-of lists that cater to somebody like me? When I choose a movie, I generally base my selection on two questions:
1. Are there explosions?
2. If so, how many?
I used to watch films. Art films. Foreign films. Award-winning films. And then I stopped. I even have DVDs lying around to back that up. The transition, if I remember correctly, was gradual. I don’t remember watching something fancy and then deciding “never again”, but I think I stopped having time to devote to thinking about the movies that I watched. I wanted distractions. Simpler stories. The explosion thing. I wanted the plot to move from “A” to “B” to “C” in three acts, and to see some cool pictures. There’s enough drama in real life for me to use my brain on. When I watch a movie, I just want to relax.
I call the kind of movies that I like “shiny”. I also call them “theater movies”. There’s no point paying at the theater for some film where everybody’s grubby and crying, with issues. If I pay for the ticket, I’d like to see something worthy of a massive screen and however many speakers they’re cramming in these days.
That isn’t to say that I don’t have limits. Good storytelling is still good storytelling. But I’d like the story to remain relatively uncomplicated. Throw in a few twist revelations to make me feel smart, and I’ll be happy. Give the characters motivation, and stay true to the world that’s on the screen. You don’t have to skimp on those things. But add more explosions. Because, why not?
I watched just fewer than 30 movies that came out this year, and I don’t think any of them are close to winning “Best Picture”. With that in mind, these were my favorite films of 2012. In no particular order, they were:
-It was big and loud, with lots of primary colors and Joss Whedonisms. If you don’t know what a Joss Whedonism is, then I’m not sure if I like you.
The Dark Knight Rises
-I’m going against the established grain, here, but this was my favorite of Nolan’s Batman movies. I’m a big fan of the two comic stories this one was based on, “Knightfall” and “No Man’s Land”.
Rock of Ages
-It’s a musical. With 80’s songs. And Tom Cruise. And every single person in it was having fun. For the purposes of my list, I’m counting on-stage pyrotechnics as explosions.
-It’s not my favorite Bond movie of all time, but it’s the best of the “new and gritty” versions. I still don’t like new Q, though.
21 Jump Street
-My wife played this on repeat for about two weeks. It doesn’t seem to have any right to be as funny as it was, but I laughed a lot.
Just missed: Jack Reacher
-This one felt a little like “The Pelican Brief” but with gunfights. You don’t tend to see too much of that “action-drama” anymore. Plus, it had some really good lines.
And which five were terrible?
The Hunger Games
-I haven’t read the book, but here’s a tip. If, at any point in a movie, somebody has to ask “What’s going on?” and the answer is “You’d know if you read the book,” then your movie is a failure. Movies and books are two different things.
-It looked really good, I’ll give it that. But when you sort-of kind-of hint that your movie is a maybe-prequel to the “Alien” franchise and then crap this out, people won’t like it.
-I fell asleep in the theater. When they were in the elf city. After an hour of them in the hobbit’s house singing and washing dishes. I’m not joking.
The Amazing Spiderman
-We’ve seen this before, and recently. I really liked the casting choices, but it took an hour and a half to actually give us Spiderman. Once they finally did, it was okay.
Men in Black 3
-I only made it through about 20 minutes of Men in Black 3 before turning it off. I suppose not being able to finish makes it the worst of the year.
Just missed: Looper
-People really liked this one. I felt a little bit cheated when a cool futuristic time-travel movie spent its entire second half on a farm. Wheat is boring.