Not all of the top films of 2012 are big-budget, and high-profile. Indeed, quite a few are low-budget. They are independently produced American films, or they are foreign language titles. And so here is a sampling of some of the year’s outstanding under-the-radar titles.
Two of the year’s very best films-- and these are must-see items-- are arriving in movie theaters at the tail-end of 2012. They are Quentin Tarantino’s DJANGO UNCHAINED and Kathryn Bigelow’s ZERO DARK THIRTY, and they are as different as TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD and a Hope-and-Crosby road picture. But DJANGO UNCHAINED and ZERO DARK THIRTY are not the only must-see films released during the year. Some also are big-budget items that feature A-list directors and major stars. Others are more modest independent titles or foreign films.
Each year, so many downright awful movies make it into theaters. If you set out to compile a list of the ten-best films of a given year, you easily might cite the 25 worst films... or the 35... or the 50. And unfortunately, 2012 was no different.
There are two primary reasons why I shell out money each month for the privilege of cable television. One is having access to a range of baseball games during the spring and summer months. The other is Turner Classic Movies, otherwise known as TCM.
IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE. MIRACLE ON 34TH STREET. A CHRISTMAS CAROL (the 1938 and 1951 versions). CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT. THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER. THE BISHOP’S WIFE. A CHRISTMAS STORY. These are among the holiday perennials: the movies that we savor watching and enjoying, the films that are the equivalent of a warm fire on a cold night and the automatic smile that comes when you are handed a steaming cup of hot apple cider.
At this moment in time, so many Americans seem to have overdosed on presidential politics and, in particular, the wave of negative advertising that dominated the recently concluded election. Nevertheless, as the year nears its close, two new films spotlight certain aspects of the lives and personalities of revered American presidents. They are Steven Spielberg’s LINCOLN, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln, and Roger Michell’s HYDE PARK ON HUDSON, which features Bill Murray as Franklin Roosevelt.
One new film that is sure to be high on this year’s Oscar buzz list is David O. Russell’s SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK. While the film is predictable, it also is insightful and extremely entertaining. Its characters are flawed but likable, and are ever so human.
Decades ago, you could watch any number of films-- dramas, action-adventures, Westerns, swashbucklers-- in which good was pitted against evil. There would be villains: men who were power-mad or consumed by greed, or who would readily commit violent acts. Ultimately, they would be quashed by heroes: men who were honest, stalwart, moral.
In so many Hollywood films of yesteryear, American soldiers and war veterans-- particularly those of the World War II era-- are depicted as valiant, well-adjusted warriors who have fought for their country. They smile, even if they are wounded. Upon coming home, they are ever-willing to be embraced by their loved ones while disappearing into the mainstream and getting on with their lives.