How do you judge a performance? While one can study film and develop an understanding as to why the aesthetics of a certain style of shot can impact people’s emotions, or why script decisions can be more persuasive and engaging than others, the element that hits moviegoers most directly is by far the most difficult and subjective to assess. Since films are nearly always telling a story that revolves around characters we are asked to view, observe, and connect with, everyone responds to the characters differently.
Numerous times I have talked about movies with someone and praised a performance and had the response come back different than what I anticipated. I recall in 2010 praising Jesse Eisenberg’s Oscar-nominated performance in The Social Network, finding his incarnation of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to be an extraordinary and insightful portrayal of a complicated young genius, only to be called out by a friend of mine that they could not stand the character and shut the movie off about 20 minutes in because they wanted to run away from that Zuckerberg as fast as they could.
And so it goes.
Fifteen entries have made the final cut as the best of the year. Different than years past, I feel compelled to list a handful of performances that were near misses in compiling my list for 2012. As a reminder, these are not 15 individual performances. Four entire casts/ensembles are spotlighted, three acting tandems are listed, and a couple of writers and directors are cited as well. This particular list has loose rules.
HONORABLE MENTIONS – THE BEST PERFORMANCES FROM 2012
- Donna Bae as Sonmi-451 and Ben Whishaw as Robert Frobisher in Cloud Atlas.
- Javier Bardem as Silva in Skyfall.
- Jason Clarke as Dan in Zero Dark Thirty.
- Tom Hardy as Forrest Bondurant in Lawless.
- John Hawkes as Mark O’Brien and Helen Hunt as Cheryl in The Sessions.
- Dree Hemingway as Jane in Starlet.
- Bart Layton as Director of the documentary The Imposter.
- Michael Pena as Mike Zavala in End Of Watch.
- Rodriguez, the subject of the documentary Searching For Sugar Man.
- Denzel Washington as Whip Whitaker in Flight.
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Kate Hannah in Smashed.
- Benh Zeitlin as Director, Co-Writer, and Co-Composer of the Score in Beasts Of The Southern Wild.
So, with acknowledgment that I have not seen Oscar hopefuls such as Promised Land, Rust And Bone, a handful of the Foreign Language Film Oscar contenders or a few of the Independent Spirit Awards hopefuls like Middle Of Nowhere, Killer Joe, Compliance, or Your Sister’s Sister, here are the 15 Performances which I carry forward with me from 2012 to 2013 and beyond. Try as I might to avoid them, some spoilers will follow…
Ben Affleck. Director, Argo.
From my 5-star theatrical review:
I love when a filmmaker I have been raving about for years, finally delivers a film that not only validates all the good I believed I saw in their work, but essentially silences his/her critics once and for all. For Ben Affleck, Argo is that film.
Argo is better than anticipated, signaling a permanent placemarker for Ben Affleck as one of today’s most gifted and studious filmmakers. In terms of his leading performance as Tony Mendez, Affleck also impresses with a strong but never dominating performance. Both in front of and behind the camera, Affleck is cool, steady, and unflappable, confidently and boldly ushering us through a most remarkable story.
One of the most powerful moments in Argo comes with that immediate realization, when the credits roll, that you have just seen something unforgettable. Funny but never overbearing, intense but always believable, complex and thorough but never heavy-handed or blustering with political agendas, Argo decisively succeeds. Remember this come Oscar time because Argo is, without question, one of the best films you will see in 2012.
Jack Black as Bernie Tiede in Bernie.
From my 4-star theatrical review:
Director Richard Linklater delivers a precocious and engaging film which not only captures a fantastic performance from Jack Black, but also provides alarming insight into small-town temperament and conformity.
Jack Black’s re-teaming with Linklater brings forth a performance from Black as good, if not better, than his star-making turn in School Of Rock. Black quickly absorbs into the role of Bernie Tiede, a drifter who floats into tiny Carthage and wins the entire town over with almost literally a snap of his fingers. There is seemingly nothing Bernie cannot do. He is selfless and giving, has a knack for creating wonderfully enriching friendships with his warmth and kindness, and quickly finds himself a job working with the local funeral home.
Bernie soars with his charm and through his work in the community mortuary, becomes a treasured community icon. When he befriends the recently widowed and extremely wealthy Marjorie (Shirley MacLaine), he is warned that she is one of the most difficult and unlikable people on the planet. Bernie rallies to her defense, but over time becomes her confidante, butler, intermediary, chauffeur, personal assistant, roommate, partner of sorts, and 24/7 watchdog. His eventual response to this suffocation is, as they often say, history after all.
After toiling away in subpar big budget misfires, Jack Black finds the traits and talents that led to his becoming an A-list star. On par with, if not better than, his performance in School Of Rock, Black is fantastic here.
The Cast of Django Unchained.
Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson.
From my 4-star theatrical review:
Presented as a modernized spaghetti western, which Tarantino calls his “Southern”, Django Unchained is unrelenting in its slapdash mix of extreme violence, humor, and unpredictability, with Tarantino buoyed greatly by his actors. Christoph Waltz, who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his loathsome, charismatic Nazi villain in Basterds, plays a loathsome, charismatic good guy and Waltz simply illuminates when given the chance to recite Tarantino’s prose. Playing Dr. Schultz without any subtlety, Waltz is shifty, smart, and loves the mind games associated with his wild and crazy schemes and backstories. Foxx portrays Django fearful, awe-inspired, and eventually with confidence as the loyal colleague to Schultz’s bounty hunter. Foxx is quietly affecting, making us want to see him succeed in reuniting with his wife. As surprising as anything is the fact that we finally have Tarantino writing a tender love story, which works quite well amidst all the chaos and bloodshed happening around us.
Leonardo DiCaprio looks almost liberated playing such a nasty and grotesque character, letting all pretense go and firing off Tarantino’s barbed dialogue with wicked delight. Much should be made about Samuel L. Jackson’s stunning turn as Stephen, Calvin Candie’s house slave, who is amongst the most intriguing and menacing characters as has ever appeared in a Tarantino film. Tarantino loves moral ambiguity and all of the main players in Django see the world in shades of grey or devil-tinged red. In crafting such a brutal playground, scenes late in the film between Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington work exceedingly well and give this sanguinary tale a fully functioning heart.
The Cast Of The Master
Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams.
From my 4-star theatrical review:
Joaquin Phoenix’s performance as Freddie Quell is a sight to behold and he creates one of the most enthralling characters I have witnessed in quite some time. Say what you will about Phoenix’s off-screen quirks and bizarre performance art diversion from a couple of years ago, but The Master offers Phoenix the chance to dissolve into the manic and frenetic mind of a deeply troubled man who functions without a conscience. In the military, he is a brother in arms only, a loner who no one wants to socialize with. In his post-military life, he works as a mall photographer and Quell cannot help but be charming, provocative, and instigate and incite violent disturbances out of sheer boredom. He is wickedly smart and yet lacks basic common sense. He toils away, literally ingesting poisonous cocktails of his own creation and teeters on the edge of madness, held in check only by his own anxiety and suppressed fear.
The counterbalance comes from Lancaster Dodd, portrayed brilliantly by Hoffman. Dodd is confident and grounded around his loving wife, Peggy, who I would suggest may be the true Master here, played expertly in an understated and powerhouse performance by Amy Adams. Dodd leads a movement called The Cause, which Dodd composes in traveling presentations, books and seminars. His legion of followers do the work he commissions, and Dodd self describes to Freddie as “…a writer, a doctor, a nuclear physicist and a theoretical philosopher. But above all, I am a man, a hopelessly inquisitive man, just like you.” With kindness, Quell becomes Dodd’s most fervent defender, less interested in The Cause and what it means, and more about simply defending its creator.
The Cast of Moonrise Kingdom.
Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand,
Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Harvey Keitel, Tilda Swinton, Bob Balaban.
There are countless joys in Wes Anderson’s quirky and sentimental romantic comedy Moonrise Kingdom. From the opening moments, when Benjamin Britten’s composition The Young Person’s Guide To The Orchestra sets the perfect tone for introducing us to all of the film’s players, we understand that Wes Anderson’s film is going to take us to a completely different place and time. We soon are privy to an elvish narrator (Balaban) who pops in and out, resetting our understanding of time and place, and then we experience the joy of finding two terrific and natural talented young actors (Gilman and Hayward), ably keeping pace with the rhythm and cadence a Wes Anderson film requires. As the film adds in one element after another, the charm of Moonrise Kingdom is unavoidable.
Not only has Anderson and writing partner Roman Coppola concocted an engaging and heartwarming love story between two troubled 12-year old kids who, after meeting at a camp, plot an elaborate scheme to run away with each another one year later, Anderson has tapped into that whirlwind and stolen heart excitement of a first love. Filling out his ensemble with a well-intentioned but overzealous Scout Master (Norton) who cannot fathom the idea that a boy would ever consider quitting scouting, two dysfunctional parents whose failure to communicate has long and far-reaching effects on their daughter (Murray, McDormand), a dedicated Social Services worker (Swinton), and a lonely, lost police captain (Willis), Wes Anderson offers wonderful symbolic slices of 1965 life, in an idyllic picturesque landscape, where unspoken tensions are simmering to a boil as a historic hurricane threatens to impact the island.
Where in the past Wes Anderson’s films have not always been everyone’s cup of tea, Moonrise Kingdom is as sweet and tender as anything he has ever created. Coming in at an efficient and syncopated 94 minutes, Anderson gets his high profile cast to take chances in new and unique ways, all playing with varying levels of tangible vulnerability. Bruce Willis has the best of intentions, but struggles to allow himself to let his guard down and connect. Bill Murray and Frances McDormand have a stunning failure to communicate with their children or each other, and Edward Norton clings to his scouting life because he is so paranoid of failure. Each actor runs the Wes Anderson dash and are still able to build their characters efficiently, allowing us to understand and recognize just who these people are, why they are in the situations they are in, and what limitations they possess in changing their lives for the better.
And again, Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman steer the ship, their young love reminding us of that first real crush we all had, their awkwardness both innocent and wise beyond their years, and serving as the eye of a metaphorical hurricane which enlightens the characters and the audience into a new state of being.
The Cast of The Perks Of Being A Wallflower.
Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller
Directing his own book adaptation, Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks Of Being A Wallflower is an extraordinary film which beats all odds and formulaic trappings to stand as one of the finest films of 2012. A beautiful, bittersweet, and unforgettable coming-of-age story which finds three incredible young actors embodying some of the most unforgettable characters – teenaged or otherwise – in recent memory, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower ushers us under the tent populated with wrongly-branded misfits and left-behinds finding kinship and love in the day-to-day machinations of a high school life.
Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller continue to build impressive resumes and Steven Chbosky debuts with the finest directorial debut of the year. Chbosky could not have cast his film any better and likewise could not have adapted his own novel any smarter or wiser. Our introduction to the film comes with meeting Logan Lerman’s Charlie, and quickly he becomes a kid we all want to get to know and hang out with. Befriended by Watson’s Sam and her step-brother Patrick (Miller), Charlie is welcomed into a group of friends Sam dubs “The Island of Misfit Toys”, but they are truly you and me and our best friends from high school. Unexpected connections are revealed, the freshman Charlie forming an unbreakable bond with Sam and Patrick, both seniors on the eve of their high school graduation. Over the course of one school year, we learn and experience every rise and fall these characters experience, wiping tears, sharing laughs, and catching our breath every step of the way.
Recently, a friend of mine messaged me and told me how stunned he was at the emotional impact found in Perks and how he was “slayed” by the power the film had upon him. I may not be able to pinpoint where the film got its hooks in me but once it did, I did not want to be anywhere else. I love these people (calling them characters seems so…off…in this case) and my heart breaks for their pain and illuminates with their successes. Whether it is a college acceptance letter forcing one character to break into tears of relief and panicked realization, the impossible-to-know secrets that those we love suppress and struggle with every single day, the liberating freedom of air rushing past us, mixtapes saying everything that our words cannot, or cumbersome honesty spilling out from our lips, few films have ever brought back the final years of teenage life as honestly and vividly as this. I will say it again. I love these characters. I love this film. And no matter what happens with these triad of insanely talented actors, the Perks I received from this film are that these incarnations of Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller, and a reinvented Emma Watson will always have my heart.
Jessica Chastain as Maya in Zero Dark Thirty.
My official review will post in a few days, but Zero Dark Thirty is an incredible experience, serving as a second entry in director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal’s documenting of the American war machine in a post-9/11 world. After turning in a number of impressive and wildly diverse performances in several 2011 films, Jessica Chastain stands tall and profound as Maya, in a film which is so expertly balanced on all sides of the ledger.
Documenting American efforts in capturing and killing Osama Bin Laden, we have Maya, initially overwhelmed, queasy, and unsteady as an assistant of sorts to CIA interrogator Dan (Jason Clarke), but also engaged and studying every last element of his technique and approach. Maya is committed to the cause in finding Osama Bin Laden. Chastain allows Maya to mature little by little, investigating leads and deferring to Dan, until Dan offers her the chance to leave and she declines. Burned out and nearly distraught, Dan goes to work in Washington and Maya only becomes more emboldened. Capturing Osama Bin Laden is squarely her life’s mission and she becomes stronger, more resolute, and a more intimidating force, fighting unrelenting gender bias, suffocating internal politics, and unspeakable tragedies in equal measure. Maya remains undeterred, and when actionable intelligence presents an opportunity, Maya’s anger in being relegated to the outside looking in on the strategic planning is palpable and tense.
Chastain, as an actress, is limitless in her talents. Last year, Chastain was every bit as good as her Oscar-winner co-star Octavia Spencer in The Help and her heartbreaking turn in The Tree Of Life was cited in this list last year. Never playing the same person twice, Jessica Chastain provides a center point for the story on how we killed the untraceable terrorist who orchestrated the deaths of thousands of Americans. Our confidence grows with Maya’s confidence and we begin to feel everything she does. Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal do not give us all that much to go on in terms of Maya’s background, but Chastain says everything by revealing little – and yet still allowing us to see enough of her inner resolve so we connect with how driven, dedicated, and precision-focused she is to see her work through to completion.
When Maya can no longer tolerate the pointless gender-driven obstacles tossed in front of her, she finds her voice. Later, in private, she lets her guard down ever so briefly and allows suppressed emotions to spill out of her in a moment of pure catharsis. Zero Dark Thirty is an extraordinary film, made all the better by having a powerful character guide us through one of the most remarkable stories to come through our cinemas in a long, long time.
Bradley Cooper as Pat and Jennifer Lawrence as Tiffany in Silver Linings Playbook.
While box office totals have been underwhelming thus far, the critical acclaim for Silver Linings Playbook has been deafening. While one might expect that Jennifer Lawrence would impress in a romantic dramedy about two people struggling with mental health issues and stumbling into a haphazard and scattershot romantic entanglement, Bradley Cooper is the one who has forced people to take a step back and reconsider everything we knew of Cooper and his acting prowess.
For Silver Linings Playbook to work, Cooper and Lawrence need one another to reach deep and tap into seething emotional depth and together their performances as Pat and Tiffany create unparalleled chemistry. Pat’s wife cheated and filed for divorce, while Tiffany’s husband, a police officer, was killed unexpectedly early into their marriage. Both alone, lost, and hurt, they have reacted to their situations in similar ways, albeit in different venues. Cooper has had the protection of a mental health facility and Tiffany has been flailing around in the real world. Combustible souls, when they meet with one another they are battling and bickering and swooning and trying to connect with one another. They can be sweet and kind, infantile then mature, and sadly, each can crumble unexpectedly like the most fragile of constructions.
Seeing Bradley Cooper finally connect with powerful material and deliver a performance which affects us emotionally is long overdue and satisfying. Under the direction and writing of David O. Russell, Cooper balances his comedic timing with truthful anxiety, bubbling anger, confusion and frustration. For Lawrence, this is her first fully realized adult female character and she is every bit as hurting and hurtful. More deliberate and understanding of her condition, Lawrence gives us an addictive personality we become just as compelled by as Cooper’s Pat does. Surrounded by OCD, sadness and anxiety, David O. Russell has written incredibly strong characters that we all have in our family, have struggled to help, and have been loved and burned in equal measure. And like those family members we are drawn to support and help, Pat and Tiffany win us over and give us optimism that together, they will heal, they will grow, and they will love themselves for perhaps, the very first time.
Daniel Day-Lewis as President Abraham Lincoln in Lincoln.
From my 4-star theatrical review:
With regard to Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance as President Lincoln, there are next to no words to properly describe how exceptional a performance this truly is. Not one shred of Daniel Day-Lewis’ DNA can be found here as he simply creates Lincoln, perfecting every beat, voice intonation, and personality quirk flawlessly. We obviously have no footage of Lincoln as an orator or communicator, but Day-Lewis creates the man for you so impressively, one simply should not question the accuracy. Everything you anticipate about the man from his appearance – a calming voice, an enigmatic presence that commands respect and leadership, the sense that he is a step or two ahead of everyone else in the room, a dry and almost campfire wit – is created inside out by Day-Lewis’ embodiment of an American icon. After witnessing this exemplary work, I dare anyone to find a better actor. Effortlessly real and undeniably superior to anything you will likely see this year, an Oscar nomination and potential third Academy Award are likely in Daniel Day-Lewis’ near future.
Anne Hathaway as Fantine and Hugh Jackman as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables.
From my theatrical review:
The problems start to surface almost immediately after one of the year’s most powerful and moving scenes reaches a heartbreaking repose. When Anne Hathaway departs from the film, after an incredible performance of the iconic “I Dreamed A Dream”, which Hooper films in one extraordinary 4-and-a-half minute take, the film truly never recovers. Hathaway’s performance is too stunning and affecting to be quickly forgotten.
All of this becomes more aggravating when the final 20-25 minutes rival the strength and intensity of the opening act. The migration Hugh Jackman makes as Valjean is staggering and the seasoned actor has never given a finer on-screen performance than this one. As he ages and truths become revealed in the final moments, Jackman’s embodiment of Valjean is one of the few true resonating elements of the film, his fragile depiction of Valjean shows that in many ways this role was Hugh Jackman’s to play. Eventually in the final minutes, Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne share moving and affecting scenes with Jackman and much of the lasting emotional impact people regale about with Les Misérables starts to return.
Les Misérables will elicit a strong and visceral reaction…you need to collect yourself from the emotional power of Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway’s career best performances. Anne Hathaway is clearing mantle space for an Academy Award as we speak and Hugh Jackman is likely to earn a well deserved first Oscar nomination.
Denis Lavant as Monsieur Oscar in Holy Motors.
Leos Carax’s Holy Motors is a film which defies categorization in every good way imaginable. As the mysterious Monsieur Oscar, the diminutive Lavant is a character actor with a massive and consistent resume of work in his native France, and his exposure stateside has been limited at best. As more and more people begin to learn about Holy Motors, Lavant has been receiving an elevated amount of attention for his extraordinary chameleonic performance as the man in the back of the limousine.
If you have not yet seen the film, the man in the back of the limousine is driven around by Celine (Edith Scob), going from appointment to appointment. The appointments consist of M. Oscar becoming different characters and individuals and emerging from the limousine in parallel lives and experiences, which sometimes connect and other times do not. His appointments, 11 in total, not only feature 11 different characters but occur in 11 different genres of film. Ranging from an old woman begging for change, a performance capture artist simulating a sex scene with a buxom young actress, a dying old man trying to connect with his niece, a sewer-dwelling troll who abducts a fashion model, and even a father returning home to an unexpected wife and family, Lavant literally transforms himself, unrecognizably, into every one of these characters. Embedded in the limousine are movie makeup kits, elaborate trunks of costumes and wigs, and from appointment to appointment, M. Oscar goes about his daily work, sometimes sad and affected, other times non-plussed and simply preparing for the next stop.
Without question, Holy Motors is the most bizarre and challenging film of 2012. At its core rests stunning insight on not only how filmmaking has changed from the packed theaters and silent films of the 1920s to the motion capture technology of today, but also, no matter how hard we try to make one-on-one connections with other people, innovation and technological advancement comes at the cost of human interaction. As outlandish as these scenes are, make no mistake, Carax and Lavant concoct some jaw-dropping sequences here, Holy Motors has moments of incredible heart and profound commentary. Somehow, Leos Carax’s grand and ambiguous vision is tethered by the remarkable Denis Lavant – in the most unpredictable and unforgettable performance of the year.
Anders Danielsen Lie as Anders in Oslo, August 31.
From my 4-star theatrical review:
Oslo, August 31 begins on August 30 and the date and title carry great significance to the story as it unfolds. The performance from Anders Danielsen Lie hits all the right marks, at once both fearful and confident, but soon flailing and desperate. Director Joachim Trier has worked with Lie before (Reprise, 2006) and again they create great chemistry from opposite sides of the camera.
We watch Anders and those he reconnects with, hoping for a spark, some glimmer of hope that he can bond and grow. The notion of failure competes with the hope of goodwill and Anders soon exists as a pawn pinballing between the two worlds with no sense or idea of where he might end up.
If you happen upon Oslo, August 31, you may find a film that seems bleak and uninviting. As a fan of dramatic cinema, I found the entire experience mesmerizing. As Lie moves from place to place and situation to situation, the beauty of Joachim Trier’s film comes in the moments where Lie simply sits, observes, and processes. One scene at a cafe brings to mind the notion of a patron watching animals at the zoo, only reversed, where Anders cannot get anyone to pay attention to him. Oslo, August 31 is filled with powerful moments, but they arrive in small and unanticipated doses, sprinkled throughout exchanges of dialogue and/or silent and uncomfortable expressions and reactions.
Melanie Lynskey as Amy in Hello I Must Be Going.
From my theatrical review:
Directed by Todd Louiso, who some may still remember as the nanny in Jerry Maguire pushing jazz on Tom Cruise or as Jack Black’s Belle & Sebastian-loving co-worker in High Fidelity, and featuring the first screenplay written by his wife and former actress Sarah Koskoff, Hello I Must Be Going does arrive at the party wearing its indie movie uniform loud and bold. The muted and hushed tones, the dialogue-heavy interplay, the mood and atmosphere, and that singer/songwriter soundtrack from seasoned Colorado musician Laura Veirs all makes this appear to embody the cliches one expects from a small scale independent movie one finds at the art-house and never the multiplex.
But look a little bit deeper and you find that Melanie Lynskey is illuminating in her performance. She compels in every frame, building Amy from the inside out. Amy has not only regressed back to a more spirited and youthful innocence in her falling for Jeremy, but is also starting to realize how much she relinquished in marrying the man she thought was her everything, but ultimately became nothing. Where most films would make the age disparity between Amy and Jeremy the central focus, here it is an always present, but never dominating element to their story.
Better than you would expect, Hello I Must Be Going is a good and winning film which may finally bring long overdue acclaim and attention to an actress we all should be experiencing on a much more regular basis.
Emmanuelle Riva as Anne in Amour.
From my 4 1/2 star theatrical review:
Amour is a searing and devastating film, but equally a probing and invasive one. Michael Haneke’s screenplay is incredible in the way in which the events unfold before us and the minimalist, largely one set staging makes the film deeply personal and intimate. Having lost an elderly parent myself in 2012, elements of Amour hit me very close to home, with Anne’s health declining steadily in an irreversible way and Georges’ flickering glimmer of hope becoming only more dim.
The performance by Emmanuelle Riva looks and feels so true to life that there are few words which describe how incredible she truly is here. Without a doubt in my mind, Riva brings forth one of the most real and affecting depictions of someone in failing health I have ever seen. Limiting her Oscar potential is the fact that Amour is a foreign film and Riva has few lines of actual dialogue. Still I defy anyone to witness this work and not believe it be among the finest acting in recent memory.
Joss Whedon as Screenwriter and Drew Goddard as Screenwriter and Director
of The Cabin In The Woods.
From my 4-star theatrical review:
Joss Whedon had merely one goal with The Cabin In The Woods. He simply wanted to create the definitive entry in the slasher/horror film canon, making the case that serial killer horror films have long since reached their saturation point. Naturally, horror films will never dry up or disappear and Whedon and his collaborator Drew Goddard know that. Their efforts in tearing down walls built strong by decades of horror movie clichés, not only makes the film akin to a front-page editorial hit piece, but also brings forth an unexpected revitalization of the genre it is attempting to lampoon. Reminding us that the one important element people love about going to scary movies is the suspense, unpredictability, and curiosity that comes in the fear of being scared, The Cabin In The Woods skewers better than any impaling device, slashes deeper and more severe than a gloved razor-laden hand, and hunts and stalks better than any cinematic serial killer in recent memory.
Easily one of the films that entertained me the most in 2012, The Cabin In The Woods may not change an industry or even a subgenre of filmmaking, but oh how it tries to sound the alarm in glorious fashion. Joss Whedon has described The Cabin In The Woods as “a loving hate letter” to horror films and the “torture porn” stories which have dominated the genre for many years now. Whedon’s fantastic screenplay with Drew Goddard exhumes every formulaic bulletpoint and empty-headed failing they can find, thereby raising the bar for something new, fresh, and original. The Cabin In The Woods exposes laziness, while concocting a tense, humorous, shocking and surprising film that deserves great praise and acclaim.
2012 ADDITIONAL LISTS:
The Best Films Of 2012
The Worst Films Of 2012