Detachment

The Best Movies of 2012

I watched 439 new-to-me films in 2012 (so far), and the majority of them were new releases. So, it is with no small measure that I say that this has been a spectacular year for movies, both domestic and foreign made, and anyone who claims otherwise is a dipshit. Narrowing the great ones down to just twelve was predictably difficult… so I’ve included twenty honorable mentions. There are still a few high profile films I need to see, most notably Zero Dark Thirty, and I’ve caught the vast majority of the big titles, but stay tuned through to the end of the piece for all the necessary sidenotes. And this should go without saying, but any film critic’s best-of list is essentially nothing more than a list of his or her objectively preferred movies, and what follows below is mine for 2012. That said, the movies listed below are in fact the twelve (correct) best films of the year. In alphabetical order.

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Director Tony Kaye (American History X) returns to American cinema with his Detachment, a new film that also focuses on the maligned and the angry – American teenagers. Not quite kidding. The film stars Adrien Brody as “Henry Barthes, a substitute teacher who conveniently avoids any emotional connections by never staying anywhere long enough to form a bond with either his students or colleagues. A lost soul grappling with a troubled past, Henry finds himself at a public schoolwhere an apathetic student body has created a frustrated, burned-out administration.” The film’s relatively simple plotline hides what’s at the root of Detachment – it’s an unexpectedly unique film with a very different worldview on modern relationships and the teacher/student dynamic. Dead Poets Society this is not. In an exclusive clip from the film, some of the less charming of Barthes’ students are on full display in an altercation with the school principal involving one seriously mistreated Christina Hendricks. And just who is doing the mistreatment? Those terrifically awful teenagers. Remember how awful high schoolers can be with the clip after the break.

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Getting the other side of the piracy debate, I speak directly to an online pirate about why he does it and how he sees it. Plus, Goon co-writer Evan Goldberg talks hockey and the violence of comedy while Detachment director Tony Kaye proves he’s still slightly crazy. Download Episode #124

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Last month we got a really fun and nicely old-fashioned horror movie, a found footage superhero movie becoming a surprise hit, a terrific hitman/horror/love story, and a B-movie featuring Denzel Washington kicking ass. It was better than an average February. As expected like every year, we’re dealing with a packed March. There are two possible franchise starters and one of the funniest comedies we’ve seen in quite sometime, so we’ve got a pleasant month ahead of us. Honorable Mentions: Friends with Kids (a fine dramedy) and The Deep Blue Sea (a semi-festival favorite), and Silent House (another film with Elizabeth Olsen being terrorized? I’m in.) Check out the ten must-see movies of March below.

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There’s a solid chance that you haven’t heard of most of these movies. Yet they exist – out there somewhere as a thorn in the side of movie fans trying to see as much as possible. Nuggets of potential waiting to be picked up from the movie orphanage by a distributor and given a warm home with cup holders in every seat. The European Film Market is fascinating for that reason and for the way people attend it. Tickets this year were around $600, but that’s a reasonable price for companies sending representatives trying to find the next moneymaker for their company or the hot movie to bring to their festival. That means screenings come complete with people on cell phones and unimpressed buyers walking out after ten minutes to hustle next door to see if the other movie playing has any promise to it. It’s a bizarre way to watch movies, but it makes a kind of sense given the massive size of the movie list compared to the tiny amount of time to see everything. There were upwards of 675 movies in the EFM this year, all of them with their own selling points. Here are the 87 most interesting-sounding with descriptions found in the official catalog. For the most part, I haven’t seen these movies (and didn’t even know about many of them until the Berlin Film Festival), but they all have something going for them that should earn them a spot on your radar.

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Director Tony Kaye‘s debut was 1998′s stunning tour de force, American History X. The film stars Edward Norton as a recovering skinhead trying to set things right in the present while remembering his misdeeds of the past, and if you haven’t seen it I can’t recommend enough that you stop reading and seek it out immediately. It’s an incredibly affecting film anchored by a tremendous performance from Norton. Sadly, Edward Furlong also stars. Kaye and Norton had a very public falling out during the film’s post-production, and the director seemingly vanished into thin air in the decade-plus since. Except he’s actually been making films at a steady pace. You just most likely haven’t seen them. Now thirteen years after reportedly trying to remove his name from American History X (and replace it with Humpty Dumpty) Kaye’s latest film looks to return him to the limelight. The critically acclaimed indie Detachment stars Adrien Brody as a man who chooses to avoid personal connections as the ones he was born with begin slipping away. A dead mother, a father falling into dementia…he avoids intimacy to avoid the pain, until his latest teaching assignment finds him forming an unexpected bond. Check out the clip below, and head over to the film’s official site for more info.

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