My TOP 10 Movies of 2012

paranorman-banner10. PARANORMAN

This is the best animated movie of the year hands-down. Wreck-It-Ralph made a good effort, but my soft spot for stop-motion and horror movies made this one my choice.

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9. MOONRISE KINGDOM

Wes Anderson movies are very hit and miss with me. He’s about as hit and miss as Tarantino simply because of how “them” both of their films are. Moonrise Kingdom is one of his hits for me. A fantastically quirky tale of true love with a brilliant cast throughout. The kids in this movie do some brilliant acting. My personal favorite is the “war room” scene between the boy scouts. (DAMN US.)

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8. THE GREY

This is the movie you should’ve seen instead of TAKEN 2. If you haven’t seen this movie, go now, WATCH IT. It’s on Netflix. Incredibly powerful film.

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7. LOOPER

Great actors? Check. Great story? Check. Great action/special effects? Check. This movie is one of the best sci-fi films of recent memory. It sucks you in without being campy or over the top. JGL plays an awesome young Bruce Willis in this.

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6. ARGO

This movie was INTENSE, especially considering we all knew the ending going into the film. I knew they were going to make it, but I was still gripping my armrests throughout the airport finale. This is a testament to Ben Affleck’s directing prowess. This should be nominated for Best Picture come awards time.

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5. THE AVENGERS

Best comic book movie of all-time.

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4. CABIN IN THE WOODS

Best horror-comedy of all-time. This is the second Joss Whedon film on here. The writing in this one is absolutely amazing. The final 20 minutes of monsters are not to be missed.

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3. SKYFALL

Sam Mendes went and made the best damn Bond movie out there. The only thing I could complain about is that I didn’t really like the opening credits, but everything else is damn near perfect. My favorite Bond film is still View To A Kill though. 😀

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2. DJANGO UNCHAINED

This is probably Tarantino’s most entertaining film that he’s made. I enjoyed it more than Inglourious Basterds and that’s saying something. I was never really uncomfortable with the content, but there was a black woman behind me in the theater that laughed hysterically as the white characters were systematically killed off. THAT made me a bit uncomfortable.

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1. CLOUD ATLAS

Are you cynical? Did you just cynically deny it? GO SEE THIS MOVIE. This movie is like a 3-hour dose of hope and love straight to your heart. The idealism through this film is amazing. Even when things are going bad, the characters stay hopeful and do their best to make the best of things. The visuals in this movie are also astounding (which is why I used the picture from my favorite scene of the film). The Wachowski’s delivered again and I hope this movie builds a cult following on DVD and Blu-Ray because it truly deserves it.

If a movie you wanted to be on the list wasn’t, it’s probably because I’m poor and didn’t see it. Holy Motors, Les Mis, etc…would fit into that category.

Praying for Pixie Dust. #LiveWonderstruck

I’ve been reading the first few chapters of Margaret Feinberg’s “Wonderstruck” over the past few weeks, and there is a passage in one of the chapters that has stuck out to me more than the rest of them have.

I felt the iron weight of the pause as I grasped for the perfect way to express what I desired from God. I took a deep breath and plunged. “This sounds strange,” I apologized, “but I’m praying for pixie dust.” I might as well have vacuumed all the air out of the room. While a few stared uncomfortably at me, more than a dozen eyes darted back and forth in an almost unanimous expression: what have we gotten ourselves into? I kept talking. “More than anything, what I long for is our God, the One who bedazzled the heavens and razzle-dazzled the earth, to meet us in such a way during our time in Scotland that we find ourselves awestruck by his goodness and generosity, his provision and presence. I’m praying for pixie dust. I want to leave here with a sense of wonderment as we encounter and experience things only God can do.”

I’ve been in a place where I’ve been angry with God about a multitude of things. Angry seems a bit strong of a word… I’ve been frustrated. Things have gone wrong. Prayers have gone unanswered. So I’ve found myself in a place of ambivalence with God. I still believe in Him, I know He’s real, and I love Him, but I’m not subscribed to the rituals of Bible reading, church going, and generally spending time with him. I figured, if he wasn’t going to meet me halfway, I wasn’t going to visit him at all. I was in a place where I continued to believe that there was some secret formula/action I needed to complete for Him to love me and value me like other, better, Christians (I still struggle with this).

These chapters in Margaret’s new book have really given me a new way of looking at the whole relationship that God and I have. I want to be wonderstruck. It’s because of this want that I’ve since taken to praying for pixie dust. I want to be amazed at God’s creation. I want to know that I matter, that he sees me, and that I’m loved. I don’t want the distanced relationship of the past; I’m in the pews and He’s in the sky. I want the awe and wonder of knowing the creator of the universe loves ME, and that there’s nothing I can do to change that.

I can’t wait for Margaret’s book to finally be released later this month. Here’s some more information about it and ways you can get involved/earn prizes for pre-ordering!

Follow Margaret’s snarky, funny, and inspirational posts on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog. You can learn more about this great book by visiting www.margaretfeinberg.com/wonderstruck where she’s offering some crazy promos right now with up to $300 of free stuff. I’ve seen the book for as low as $7.57 ($14.99 retail) on Barnes & Noble for all you savvy shoppers.

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Killing Them Softly: The Hopeless Machine

Killing-Them-Softly-banner-premiereKilling Them Softly is a lesson in the mechanics of hope.

Throughout the film (which takes place in 2008) you hear speeches from George W. Bush and Barack Obama in varying moods. They talk about the economy. They talk about the nation. They talk about how united the country is and how everyone has an opportunity to succeed with the help of their countrymen. Brad Pitt’s character, Jackie, doesn’t believe this one bit. Neither do any of the other characters in the film. They are hardened and cynical and believe that the world is very dog-eat-dog. You gotta take what you want to get it. This mood is only juxtaposed by the speeches.

This is a movie about hope, and the places where it doesn’t exist.

Jackie, Mickey (James Gandolfini), and Markie (Ray Liotta) all know how this world works and don’t have time for any other bullshit that someone may spout to them. Jackie is called into the city to kill the people involved with knocking off a high-stakes backroom card game held by Markie. Thing is, Markie has robbed his own game before, so everyone is going to think it’s him again. These two kids, Frankie and Russell, knock it off and take the money and run, but Russell shoots his mouth off to the wrong person. This leads to the whole problem of who has to die.

Brad Pitt, as well as everyone else, play their parts brilliantly. There’s plenty of morbid comic-relief throughout the film. Everyone laughs out of the sheer absurdity of the situations and the conversations. The cinematography is also phenomenal. There’s a death scene in this movie that’s like watching poetry in motion. Super-slow, super-high detail, multiple angles; it’s wonderful.

Finally, this movie has one of the best abrupt endings I’ve seen, in recent memory. Abrupt endings are hard to do right, but they nail it here.

All in all this film gets a 4/5 for me. Some parts drag, but the majority of the movie is totally worth it. Go see it!