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Commentary: 2012 cinema scene reeled in success with ‘Looper,’ ‘Les Miserables’

Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Movie releases were by no means light in 2012, and though several of them were duds, there were many that viewers are bound to return to. Almost all genres featured a film or two that caught the attention of critics and audiences alike and kept it throughout the entire run in theaters and beyond.

The first movie I saw in 2012 that I fell in love with was Wes Anderson’s quirky “Moonrise Kingdom.” This preadolescent love story, which was released on June 28, is set in 1965 and follows a cast of extremely colorful characters as they try to keep two young lovers apart. The casting of this movie was absolutely phenomenal, and includes many greats: Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and Edward Norton, to name a few. And what Anderson film would be complete without a signature appearance of the hilarious Bill Murray? There was not a predictable moment in this movie for me, and that’s precisely why it sticks out so much in our modern world of cinema remakes and screenplays derived from books. It earns an A in my book.

Another film that caught my attention, released a few months later in the year, on Sept. 12, was “The Master,” written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. I originally had no intent of seeing it, as the previews really had none of the fluffy Hollywood pillowing used to capture a wandering audience’s attention. But I happen to love bad movies, so obscurity is something I’ll admit I live for. The film’s trailers showed an incredibly raw look at one man’s involvement – and eventual falling-out – with a cult. The film proved to be no different than these teasers, and I found myself on a wild ride following lead character Freddie Quell’s desperate search for meaning in his life. There were many scenes in this movie that were hard to watch and made me uncomfortable, but that’s precisely why I enjoyed it so much. It didn’t let my mind drift, but kept me focused and on the edge of my seat the entire time. This is a film that made me think, a rare thing today.

While I’m not usually an action and adventure fan, I’ll admit I was looking forward to “Looper” when I first heard about it, if only because Joseph Gordon-Levitt played the lead character. This movie, which was released on Sept. 28, the most recent work from writer and director Rian Johnson, was slated to include all the benchmark action sequences known to man: explosions, epic car chases and enough violence to keep my blood and bruise quota filled for a year. Then I actually saw the movie, and (at the risk of using an awful phrase that I’m sure will make you hate me) my mind was blown. The trailers for the movie didn’t let on one bit that you would have real feelings when you watched it or that your heart would break into a million little pieces over and over. “Looper” undoubtedly proved to be one of my favorite movies of all-time, and you better believe the minute I purchase it I’m going to watch it every day for a month.

What kind of list would this be if I didn’t include one of the most recent cinematic jewels released but a few weeks ago on Dec. 25? “Les Misérables” holds a special place in my heart reserved for musicals-turned-movies. Although these films have been known to fall apart in translation, this one held its own. I do admit it was a slow start for me – I had been expecting flashes and bangs right from the opening scene with the way everyone was carrying on about the film – but the 157-minute climb to the pinnacle of this breathtaking drama turned out to be unbearably perfect. By the end of the movie, when my eyes were swimming in so many tears, I realized exactly what all the hype was about. And the cherry on top of this operatic cake? The actors did not lip sync during filming, as per usual. Everything heard throughout the movie is pure, in-the-moment emotion.
If this year was any indication at all of how amazing movies are going to be in years to come, I can’t wait to watch. I’m expecting nothing less than greatness in 2013.


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