As I was driving home today after finally catching ARGO (I know I'm late to the party but it's fucking phenomenal) a weird thought occured to me that has never really entered my mind before tonight:
"Holy shit, could 2012 be best year for film in my lifetime."
The short answer is a resounding "Fuck and yes!" but if you want the tl;dr version here she be:
For reference I was born at an early age back in September of 1987 with my first memory of going to the theater being Disney's BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (which coincidentally received a 3D theatrical re-release this year, full circle bitches!) at some point in the Winter of 1991. I was four and as such don't remember too much except for being mesmerized but for argument's sake let's say my cinematic appreciation began in 1991. That gives me almost a 21 year frame of reference for what follows, so a couple decades for me to create an informed opinion.
In the past 20 years there have obviously been amazing years for film but looking back for me it seemed like even the best years previous to 2012 I can only remember there being a handful of truly great films but this year has truly broken the curve as every movie I have seen in theaters (and I've seen a butt-ton) has been consistently excellent across the board to a degree I could not expected or have dared hoped for.
Let's break it down, shall we?
2012 is the year that the year Marvel's multi-film ambitious gamble culminated in an inconceivably ridiculous perfect storm that is THE AVENGERS. It is the greatest superhero movie ever made, you don't have to agree with me for me to believe it to be gospel truth. Because let's face it, THE AVENGERS is the superhero team and while some came before and many after this movie, the movies leading up to it and the who knows how many will follow has redefined how this genre of film can be made. Any superhero flicks for me are now classified as Before Avengers (B.A.) and Post-Avengers (P.A.) and that's something that I don't think I'll ever be able to forget.
2012 is the year that an original sci-fi movie completely obliterated the sub-genre of time travel. I knew LOOPER was going to be something amazing (how could it not be?) but great Scott! This movie blew my mind.
2012 is the year Batman hung up his cowl. I'm sure many of you appreciate where I am coming from as I am not the only ferocious Bats fan (although Adam West is from my hometown and I once shook his hand, it's kind of a big deal) but I don't think any of could have been prepared for Nolan's Batman. I lived, ate and breathed The World's Greatest Detective for as long as I can remember and I will be eternally grateful for what Christopher Nolan did with his unique and bold vision ... especially when it came time to say goodbye to The Caped Crusader. While this may just be another end to another chapter in the Batman movie mythos for me it is the end of the Batman chapter of my life. I won't say it can't get better down the line in someone else's hands but I can say it's the best it has been so far ... damn near perfect.
2012 is the year Ridley Scott returned to his roots and created what I would say is something visually unparalleled in the movies of my lifetime and if I cheat and go for all-time probably since Kubrick (yeah, I know, easy comparison but still probably true). Whether or not PROMETHEUS is a film that pleases or even works on a narrative level (the more I think about it the more I am learning to love it) it is an uncompromising vision realized by one of the greatest directors ever to work in the medium and that in itself is something to take note of.
2012 is the hardest I have ever laughed while in a theater, seriously. Who the hell thought what appeared to be a hackneyed rehash of an '80's melodramatic cop tv show could be so fresh? 21 JUMP STREET came out of nowhere and made me a fucking Channing Tatum fan, I will never underestimate another actors comedic chops ever again.
2012 is the year Paul Thomas Anderson created a masterpiece. I still don't know how to feel about THE MASTER but I can't think of another movie that turned me into an existentialist for a week and a half as I tried to mull it all over. I'm still trying to figure out where I stand and probably always will be; that's the fucking human condition right there.
2012 is the year I saw the first martial arts film that I truly felt deserved the word "art" attached to it. THE RAID (screw that "REDEMPTION" title addendum) could be used as a masterclass in action filmmaking on its own. The barebones narrative is a non-issue because as soon as shit hits the fan the only time the film lets up on the action is to amp up the intensity on different levels. I am admittedly not a huge martial arts movie junkie (although I love the genre's "greatest hits" staples) but THE RAID has gotten me excited about a genre that I have simply written off as more-or-less throwaway fun up to this point in my life.
2012 is the year I saw the greatest acting renaissance of my lifetime personified in Matthew McConaughey. For real. I don't know what occurred that has allowed him to do this but he has chosen some spectacular roles that go against pretty much everything he's really done up to this point in his career. While that's commendable enough in its own right the fact that he is completely owning this new direction is mindblowing. If you have seen KILLER JOE, THE LINCOLN LAWYER, BERNIE or even MAGIC MIKE you'll know what I'm talking about. I'll let those movies speak for themselves.
2012 is the year the grandaddy of modern science fiction/fantasy got the big screen treatment with JOHN CARTER OF MARS (that's what it should have been advertised as Disney, you screwed the pooch on that one) and I adored the hell out of that movie. It's a seminal story that inspired all of the classics I loved that in turn inspired other great movies and despite what the box office would like us to believe it is a great love letter to one of my favorite genres.
2012 is the year that I can say I became a Ben Affleck fan and if this man continues the directorial run he has been having the possibilities are endless. Some critic recently called him potentially the greatest director of his generation. After seeing ARGO he just solidified that title. Who the fucking hell could have seen that coming?!
2012 is the year that the greatest un-movie of my lifetime was ever made. If you've seen SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS you may get where I'm coming from. This flick was so meta it's surreal ... which I guess is kind of the point. It sure helps that Christopher Walken comes out of nowhere in what was probably intended to be a supporting role and delivers what I believe to be the performance of his lifetime. If there is any justice in this world C. Walk better get an Oscar for his performance, not like I put a lot of stock in The Academy's decisions but they'd be blind not to do so.
2012 is the year Liam Neeson punched a wolf in the face in THE GREY, I just felt that was worth throwing in here somewhere because it's totally badass.
Oh and MOONRISE KINGDOM ... fucking loved everything about that movie.
I could seriously go on all night seeing as I'm already past the point of no return on this beast of a blog I'll wrap this up by answering why the biggest reason 2012 is the greatest year for film in my lifetime; it's only fucking October!
This weekend sees the release of CLOUD ATLAS that appears to be nothing like anything we've seen on screen before. On the 50th anniversary of the Bond franchise SKYFALL, which is already being heralded as the greatest Bond film of all time, is loaded in the chamber and ready to blast my fanboy brains out (I have lived and breathed 007 since I could read, it is unquestionably my biggest fandom) in November. Then in December DJANGO UNCHAINED continues Quentin Tarantino's hyperviolent love letter to cinema and we're going back to Middle Earth with THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY.
2012 film has been so amazing thus far it's almost unfathomable that it can still get better.
I am Jacob Riley, I have spent over twenty years of my life going to the movies and 2012 is the greatest year for film in my life so far ... good fucking luck 2013.