So 2012 is over. Done. Gone for good.
All that's left now is to put one final list together, and I love this time of year because it allows us to look back at the whole year and celebrate all the things that made the year special. Often we just look at our top picks, though, and the truth is that there were way more than ten films that made my time in the theater worthwhile. Now that I've published my list of my ten favorite films this year, it's time to dig deeper and look at all the other moments I'll remember when I think back on 2012.
This year, I've done something a little different. First, I'll list my ten runners-up, which I always view as the alternate top ten list. I would have been happy with any or all of these in the top ten, which is why I consider these the runners-up. They were all in play while I was trying to sort out the list. After that, we're going to look at the other films that made this year worthwhile, a much longer list, and point out what made each of them special.
This may take a while, so get comfortable.
11. "The Avengers"
Joy, pure and simple. In an age where even our blockbusters seem to focus on the dark and dour, "The Avengers" was a celebration of the pop iconography of the Marvel universe, a movie where Joss Whedon's strengths finally found their perfect expression. So far, television seemed like his perfect storytelling forum, but the truth is that Joss Whedon is the grown-up version of The Kid Who Is Most Fun To Play Action Figures With, a pop culture Dungeon Master, and Marvel should thank their lucky stars that he was the guy to carry the football across the finish line. As much as I've enjoyed the other movies in the Marvel universe, this is the moment where every character finally came into perfect focus, where the humor was right, where the action was right… and the best part of all? He made it look easy.
So 2012 is over. Done. Gone for good.
One of the most surprising things about the evidently heated battle to see who is going to end up starring in Marvel's upcoming "Guardians Of The Galaxy" film is that there is a heated battle to see who is going to star in "Guardians Of The Galaxy."
James Gunn is directing the film, which is perhaps the riskiest of all the Marvel movies coming in the near future. At this point, I trust Marvel's development process, and I suspect this will fit neatly into the cinematic universe they've been building since 2008. When they were getting ready to launch "Iron Man," I remember seeing many outlets write about how it was unlikely Marvel was going to be able to sell a second-tier lesser-known hero like Iron Man to the general public, and I heard the same hesitations before the release of "Thor." Didn't really seem to pan out that way, though, and at this point, I think Marvel's name is enough of a stamp of quality for movie audiences that they can launch pretty much anything.
Yes, it's true. I somehow managed to wrangle Scott Swan over to the house one last time for a final 2012 podcast.
This has been a terrible year for the podcast, frankly, and Scott and I are both aware of it. I am tired of being a guy who is full of good intentions but who is also unable to follow through with those intentions. It does me no good to want to publish something unless I actually prepare and publish that thing. As the HitFix audience continues to grow, something that we here at the site are all intensely proud of, I've got to master my ability to juggle tasks. There are times I'm good at it, and times I fail completely, and I am genuinely torn up about that.
In particular, I feel a sense of obligation to sort things out regarding the podcast. The feedback Scott and I have gotten over the years from you guys has been incredibly kind and it feels like there's a community of you out there who have listened to them all and who have encouraged us constantly, and because of that, Scott and I are working out a way to maintain a regular schedule. He keeps crazy hours these days, as do I, and we're both also dealing with the demands of family… and none of that matters, ultimately, to an audience who wants content at a reliable time each week.
Walton Goggins would be beloved if the only thing he'd ever done was his work on "The Shield." That was such a remarkable character, developed so carefully over the course of the series, that it set the bar very high for other roles for Goggins for the future.
Thankfully, the filmmakers who have worked with him since the end of that show seem to understand what a gift he can be to a production. He found another great role in a series in the form of "Justified," and this holiday season, he's in the new films from both Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino. Considering how long he's been working as an actor (his first credit was in 1990), it feels like things have finally come up roses for a guy whose work more than justifies the attention.
In our interview, we talked about the way his role in "Django Unchained" evolved over the course of the shoot, and I can't say I'm remotely surprised to hear that Tarantino flipped for him. Part of what makes Goggins so striking is the way he looks so dangerous, but when he speaks, there is a sly intelligence that you might not imagine at first. When he plays a character who is supposed to be a threat, it doesn't feel like acting. It feels like he's a genuine threat, someone you wouldn't want to cross.
I've still got two more wrap-up pieces for 2012 to come, but first, we thought we'd take a look ahead at 2013, which promises to be a huge year for movies.
We've tried to put together a wide array of the types of films that people are looking forward to. You'll see some familiar faces here as we anticipate the returns of "Star Trek," "Iron Man," and "Thor," and you'll see prestige pieces as well as potential blockbusters.
The thing about anticipation is that I'm not sure it means what it used to. These days, movies arrive pre-digested thanks to all the information and clips and special glimpses and four-minute clip reels and IMAX previews and whatever other way studios have started to use to reach out to audiences. At one point, there were something like 25 minutes of clips from "The Hobbit" floating around out there, all officially released by the studio, and that's for a film that is as pre-sold as pre-sold gets. And I get it… studios are at the point where they are trying anything and everything to get people to actually show up to the theaters.
On the eve of the recent TV press day for "This Is 40," Judd Apatow sent out a plea to any journalists that happened to check his Twitter feed.
"Tomorrow is the This Is 40 press junket. Hey journalists - be the one who asks unique, thought provoking questions no one else asks. Please."
As it happened, I was the last person into the room on the day of the interviews. That was the same day Paramount held their "Star Trek" press day, so there was a whole lot of running around and scrambling to make my times for everything. When I sat down across from Judd, I asked him if everyone had taken up his challenge, and he sighed. "Nope. Same four questions all day. 'What's it like to see Paul Rudd make out with your wife?' 'How fun is it directing your kids?' Pressure's on, Drew. Let's see what you've got."
I have a feeling 2013 is going to be a very good year for Jim Carrey fans.
I may not love everything Carrey's ever done, but I remain convinced that he is one of the wildest, most exciting talents working in film right now. When he connects with a project, the results are intoxicating, and if everything I've seen and read turns out to be correct, both "The Incredible Burt Wonderstone" and "Kick-Ass 2" are going to turn out to be great examples of what he can do with the right script.
Don Scardino, the director of this film, started as an actor in the '60s, eventually jumping behind the camera for some of the same soaps he acted on, and over the years, he's worked on shows like "The Days and Nights Of Molly Dodd," "Homicide: Life On The Street," "Sports Night," "The West Wing," "Law & Order," and "30 Rock," now ending up at the helm of what looks like one of the highest-profile studio comedies of next year. After all, you've got Steve Carrell, Alan Arkin, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, and Carrey, all sending up the extremes of Vegas magic.
When you're doing interviews for "Jack Reacher" and Jack Reacher isn't part of those interviews, it's a little weird.
In this case, though, Tom Cruise is the one playing Jack Reacher, and Tom Cruise does the press Tom Cruise chooses to do. That's David Letterman and Jimmy Fallon, not a whole parade of junket press on a Sunday in New York.
Instead, we sit down with David Oyelowo and Rosamund Pike, both charming professionals who play key roles in the film, and we sit down with writer/director Christopher McQuarrie, who is responsible for adapting one of the biggest names in current publishing and trying to turn it into a viable film franchise, and those conversations are what I'm going to share with you today.
To be honest, though, I think sitting down with McQuarrie was more than worth attending the press day. He's charted a very difficult path as a working screenwriter in the years since "The Usual Suspects" came out, and this is probably not where he expected to end up. It's certainly not what I would have predicted for him even five years ago, but it seems like he's in the middle of a career reinvention, and Tom Cruise appears to be a key part of that puzzle for him.
Well, there should be little doubt in your mind by the end of the special red-band preview of "This Is The End" as to whether or not you'll be seeing it.
I spoke about this with Seth Rogen briefly the other night at the "This Is 40" premiere, and it sounds like he and his creative partner Evan Goldberg are very happy with where they are on the film. They're either just finishing the score or still working on it, and they're set for their summer release. I visited the set earlier this year, and I'll just say that this is one of the most aggressively insane premises I've seen in a while, and the footage they showed us plus the work we saw live has me convinced they're making a one of a kind oddity.
The film takes place during the end of the world, and part of the mystery of the film deals with the nature of that incident. Is it a Biblical Apocalypse? A Mayan prophecy? An asteroid? Monsters from space? Lovecraftian beasties?
"The Great Gatsby" may well be the most artificial-looking film I've ever seen, even in this condensed two minute form.
That's not a criticism, necessarily, because it looks like that's exactly what Baz Luhrmann intended. They've had a difficult post-production process on this one, but part of that has been creating this incredibly stylized world that Luhrmann has chosen as the setting for his take on F. Scott Fitzgerald's most famous book. Luhrmann has never been the sort of guy to shy away from a heightened reality. That's why I loved his take on "Romeo + Juliet" and "Moulin Rouge." Those movies are patently fake, impressionistic from start to finish, and it looks like he's doing that again, but on a much larger scale than ever before.
The real challenge of "Gatsby" is that the book is all about inner landscapes and the feel of a time and place, and previous film versions that have focused just on the story have felt empty because they haven't found a way to create a visual language that manages to somehow suggest the gorgeous, emotional prose that is so much a part of the appeal of Fitzgerald's novel.