I did a list a while back that I found to be a really rewarding exercise. This is finally a continuation of what could, and should, be a series of such lists. It was not an easy task to boil down the fantasy genre to 10 films, but I thought long and hard about it and came up with a list I felt comfortable defending.
Today, I present an even harder task. I’ve seen hundreds upon hundreds of horror films in my life. I’d say it’s pretty safe to say I’ve seen more horror in my life than most people see films, total, in their lives. It’s a lifelong obsession. I used to go to the local Suncoast Video Store and pick up the totally age inappropriate 10/20/50 movies for 5/8/15 dollar collections and watch them like someone in 2014 will watch a TV series: marathoned back to back with questionable quality due to the limits of technology and care. I try not to pass up any free horror film screening I can get to (no matter how bad), even if I’ve already seen the film at home. Like I said, I’m obsessed.
Narrowing that many films down to 10 is not easy. My initial brainstorm had close to 100 films to choose from. But now, I’m left with a ranked list of 10 that make me happy. I feel these are the 10 best horror films ever made while writing this, but the list would change if you asked me to do a final pass in an hour, let alone a day, a week, a month, or a year.
The 85th Annual Academy Awards go live tonight, putting a nice button on 2012′s mainstream filmmaking (the Saturn, Nebula, and Bram Stoker Awards are still to come to wrap up the year in horror, sci-fi, and fantasy). I will be live blogging again like I did with the Grammys, but I wanted to get my final predictions in first, category by category.
This category is all but locked up for Pixar at this point. “Paperman” has such a strong campaign narrative going that people who didn’t even see the shorts at all are voting for it. I’m pulling for a “Fresh Guacamole” upset but I know the more likely spoiler is “Adam and Dog.”
Will Win: “Paperman” Spoiler: “Adam and Dog” My Pick: “Fresh Guacamole”
This category is a tight one. “Inocente” has won the most acclaim throughout the year but it’s a slighter documentary about a young artist confronting negativity. “Open Heart” feels more important and has also been received well, focusing on children needing heart transplants in Rwanda. I haven’t seen the nominees here, so I have no personal pick.
Will Win: “Inocente” Spoiler: “Open Heart”
Live Action Short
Another category I haven’t seen the nominees in. All I keep hearing is how the field this year is incredibly depressing with the exception of “Curfew.” It’s as close to a lock as these lesser-seen categories get.
Aside from a bunch of big budget blockbuster animated features, 2012 had a surprising amount of voice over performances in film. It seems like voice overs are back in a big way. This does not mean that films are lazily relying on narration to cover for plot holes. It means that screenwriters are creating characters that communicate to the audience even when they aren’t onscreen.
Here are the best voice acting performances of 2012. Each film can only have one nominee in the actual ranked category; otherwise, Brave, Paranorman, and Wreck-It Ralph could have filled up the whole thing.
If I like a song, I’m going to listen to it a lot. It’s part of how my brain works. I like deconstructing music and figuring out how it ticks. The best songs hold up under such deconstruction.
I can’t say there were many songs in 2012 that held up to such scrutiny, but I can say these 12 did, no problem. It’s a good blend of indie and mainstream, with a little YouTube humor thrown in for flavoring.
Here are the Best Songs of 2012. You can jump to the fourth page for a YouTube playlist of all the songs.
Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra, “Bottomfeeder”
Bruno Mars, “Locked Out of Heaven”
Fiona Apple, “Hot Knife”
MIA, “Bad Girls”
Reformed Whores, “Rush Limbaugh Calls Sandra Fluke a Slut: Response”
Willam Belli featuring Detox and Vicky Vox, “Chow Down (At Chik-fil-A)”
These are the one or two scene wonders or ensemble performers who really stand out. The films wouldn’t be the same without them, but they sadly do not have a lot to do. They’re the could-be heroes and villains of someone else’s story that stole the spotlight for a brief moment in time.
Here are the Best Performers in Limited Roles in 2012.
Elizabeth Banks & John Michael Higgins, Pitch Perfect
2012 was a really interesting year for music videos. A lot of great videos came out from independent and international artists that became far more popular than anything put out by the major labels in the US. Many times, these were low budget affairs with excellent execution. Other times, they were elaborate collaborations with animation studios and large casts. And then there’s a Korean rapper dancing like a pony to mock a certain cultural stereotype in his country.
These are the Best Music Videos of 2012. Six honorable mentions followed by a ranked top six. You can also click on over to the fourth page for a YouTube playlist of all the videos.
Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra, “Want It Back”
Not to be confused with Best Use of Music in Film, Best Film Songs is about those little musical diversions that actually take center stage in a film and leave an impression. The origin doesn’t matter. A cover song used for good effect can be just as impressive as an original song.
Here are the Best Film Songs of 2012. An asterisk indicates a VOD release. Each film was limited to one ranked entry to allow for a wider discussion. Skip over to Page 4 for a playlist of most of the entries. Three were not available to embed from YouTube.
Forget about original or adapted. I’m once again condensing categories for 2012. A good screenplay is a good screenplay regardless of the source material. The only use in considering the source material when looking at the film is either for a critical/scholarly article on the physical adaptation or as a post-mortem on how such a good source turned into such a bad film (or, vice versa). So let’s celebrate the best in narrative feature writing altogether rather than separate the categories because of tradition.
The Best Screenplays of 2012. Six honorable mentions followed by a ranked Top 6.
The Avengers, Joss Whedon, Story by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon
Cosmopolis, David Cronenberg, From the Novel by Don DeLillo
The Grey, Joe Carnahan & Ian Mackenzie Jeffers, From the Short Story by Ian Mackenzie Jeffers
Magic Mike, Reid Carolin
Les Miserables, William Nicholson, From the Musical by Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boublil, and Kerbert Kretzmer