Top 10 movies of 2012 critics' picks: Patty Jones
I’d like to thank my mom and dad and the lady who kept talking on her cellphone beside me during Taken 2. But, lady, where were you during the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn—Part 2, huh? Huh?
Get out your splatter shield. Quentin Tarantino unchains his delirious, spaghetti-western blood opera. Genre winks and cameos galore, as QT exacts vengeance on Deep South slavery perps like he did with Inglourious Basterds’ Nazis. Cotton fields turn red. Best use of a Jim Croce song ever.
Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman get smashed on paint-thinner highballs. Director Paul Thomas Anderson uncages Phoenix as a monkey-brained drifter and Hoffman as a masterful cult leader. Who really needs who here? We don’t know, but we can’t look away. And Amy Adams, playing Hoffman’s wife, gives him one chillingly powerful hand job. Although I’m sure it was good for him.
Zero Dark Thirty
Spoiler alert: Osama bin Laden bites it in the end. Okay, but it’s the getting there that’s fun, er, intense. “I’m the motherfucker who found it,” Jessica Chastain’s real-life CIA agent, “Maya”, tells her bosses about that house in Abbottabad, Pakistan. “Osama! Osama!” a navy SEAL whispers into the darkness.
Let’s run off and live in whimsical Wes World forever. Director Wes Anderson sends a boy scout and his lady love AWOL in exquisitely retro-rendered 1965. “Grownups” Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, and Bruce Willis embody the deadpan melancholy of our tender, wounded psyches. Sob. And Benjamin Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra? Happiness.
Silver Linings Playbook
It’s normal to be intimately familiar with all the prescription meds in this movie, right? Director David O. Russell unravels Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence as combustible crazies who are socially inappropriate in dark, comic ways. Did someone say “dance competition”? Psyched!
You wacky Norwegians. The outhouse scene, okay, but the dog and the forklift? Yes, Hollywood is remaking this funny, suspenseful, macabre, soulful art-theft and headhunting (of both kinds) tale. Sigh. Oh, and incidentally: all hail the revenge of the diminutive man.
Just don’t call her a manic pixie dream girl. Zoe Kazan, Elia’s granddaughter, wrote the Woody Allen–worthy screenplay and plays a lonely novelist’s fictional creation who comes to kooky, effervescent life. Now, excuse me while I continue writing my own novel about a suave, handsome Frenchman.
The Raid: Redemption
Get out your splatter shield again. Jakarta cops battle criminals in a high-rise in a breathless, blood-spurting, hand-to-hand-combat ballet called silat. We still have a Bruce Lee–sized hole in our hearts, but a wicked little warrior named Mad Dog eases the hurt.
Oh, Daniel Day-Lewis, your Brit self makes every American you play cool, charismatic, and, in Lincoln, uncannily presidential and wiseass. Stovepipe hat off
to Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner for Abe-ly turning the push for the antislavery amendment into thriller-comic intrigue with bribery and vote-nabbing rogues.
Bala is Spanish for bullet, and there’s a drug war’s worth in this arty-brutal odyssey of a Miss Baja contestant who becomes a Tijuana cartel’s hapless accomplice. And we always thought the swimsuit competition was the nail-biter.