It’s Time For The Annual Self-Important Post About The Year In Film So Far

For the entire past week, something has been nagging at me.  I knew that there was something that I needed to do but I couldn’t remember what it was.  Earlier today, however, I was reading the latest critical blathering about the state of cinema over at AwardsDaily.  As usual, that site’s editors were whining about the fact that the Social Network didn’t win best picture and also the fact that my generation is apparently the “WORST.  GENERATION.  EVER” and blah blah blah. 

Fortunately, however, reading that  post reminded me of what I had forgotten: We are now at the halfway mark as far as 2012 is concerned.  This is the time of year that self-important film critics (both online and elsewhere) tell their readers what type of year it’s been so far. 

So, without further ado — what type of year has 2012 been so far?

(By the way, you can also check out my thoughts from July of 2011 and July 2010 as well.)

(Also, please understand that the act of me posting this in no way guarantees that I won’t change my mind several times within the next hour.)

Best Film Of The Year (So Far): Cabin In The Woods. Compared to both 2010 and 2011, this has been a pretty slow year so far.  There really hasn’t been a Hanna or an Exit Through The Gift Shop type of film so far.  Instead, there’s been a handful of nice surprises, quite a few pleasant but somewhat forgettable films, and then quite a few films that i wish were forgettable.  Cabin In The Woods, however, was a nice little valentine to horror fans like me and it’s a film that actually gets even better with repeat viewings.  Runners up include Bernie, Damsels in Distress, Brave, The Hunger Games, Safety Not Guaranteed, Moonrise Kingdom, For Greater Glory, Jeff, Who Lives At Home, and the Avengers.

Best Male Performance Of The Year (So Far): Jack Black in Bernie.  Runners up include Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man and Jason Segal in Jeff, Who Lives At Home.

Best Female Performance of the Year (So Far): Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games.  Seriously, just try to imagine that film with someone else in the lead role.  Runners up include Susan Sarandon in Jeff, Who Lives At Home, Aubrey Plaza in Safety Not Guaranteed, and Greta Gerwig in Damsels in Distress.

Best Voice-Over Performance Of The Year (So Far): Kelly MacDonald in Brave.

Best Ending Of The Year (So Far): A 3-way tie between The Cabin In The Woods, Safety Not Guaranteed, and Jeff, Who Lives At Home.

Best Horror Film Of The Year (So Far): The Cabin In The Woods

Most Underrated Film Of The Year (So Far): The Five-Year Engagement, a sweet and funny movie that was just a tad bit too long.

Best Bad Film of the Year: Battleship.  Yes, the movie represented some of the worst impulses of big-budget filmmaking but I had a lot of fun watching it and Alexander Skarsgard was to die for in that white Navy uniform.

Worst Film Of The Year (So Far): The Wicker Tree.  I could make an argument for both Rock of Ages and The Devil Inside here but no…just no.  As the Trash Film Guru put it, “BURN THE WICKER TREE!”

Biggest Example Of A Missed Opportunity For This Year (So Far): Seeking a Friend For The End of the World.  A great performance from Steve Carrel can’t save a film that has no idea what it wants to be.

The Get Over It Already Award For The First Half of 2012: The Devil Inside, for being the most tedious example of a “found footage” horror film yet.  Coming in second: Rock of Ages, for reminding me that my parents had terrible taste in music.

The Trailer That Has Most Outgrown Its Welcome: The Perks of Being a Wall Flower.  “Be aggressive…passive aggressive…” Okay, shut up, already.

The Cameron/Fincher Bandwagon Trophy (Awarded To The Upcoming Film That, Regardless Of Quality, Will Probably Be So Violently Embraced By People Online That You’ll Be Putting Your Life In Danger If You Dare Offer Up The Slightest Amount Of Criticism): The Dark Knight Rises

The Ebert Award (Awarded to the upcoming film that will probably get  positive reviews based on the film’s political context as opposed to the film itself): Zero Dark Thirty

The Sasha Award (Awarded To The Film That I Am Predicting Will Be The Most Overrated Of The Year): Lincoln.

The Roland Emmerich/Rod Lurie Award For The Film That I’m Predicting Will Be The Worst Of 2012: Honestly, it’s really hard to imagine a worse film than The Wicker Tree (though, to be honest, Rock of Ages comes pretty close). 

Films I’m Looking Forward To Seeing In The Future (An incomplete list): On The Road, Lawless, The Dark Knight Rises, Cosmopolis, Django Unchained, The Hobbit, The Great Gatsby, and especially The Master and Joe Wright’s Anna Karenina.

And there you have it.  2012 hasn’t been a great year so far but there’s still a lot of time left.

Unless, of course, the Mayans were correct.

An Underrated Quickie With Lisa Marie: The Five-Year Engagement (dir. by Nicholas Stoller)

When Jeff and I recently went to see The Five-Year Engagement, we literally had the entire theater to ourselves.  Seriously, that evening, we were apparently the only two people who took a look at the showtimes for the AMC Valley View and say, “Let’s see the Five-Year Engagement.” 

Now, I’m not complaining because, quite frankly, we enjoyed having that theater to ourselves. However, later that night, I found myself thinking about the empty theater and the fact that very few of the film lovers in my circle of friends had expressed much interest in The Five-Year Engagement.  The critics, in general, have been kind to the film but audiences seem to view it as a Netflix film at best. 

That’s a shame because, oh my God, The Five-Year Engagement is such a sweet film!  Seriously, I loved this movie!

Produced by Judd Apatow and directed by Nicholas Stoller, The Five-Year Engagement is a romantic comedy about a chef (played, quite well, by Jason Segal) and a psychologist (played by Emily Blunt, who is apparently destined to star in 65% of the romantic comedies released this year) who get engaged and end up remaining engaged for the next five years as the marriage ceremony is continually delayed by everything from Segal’s best friend marrying Blunt’s sister to the couple moving to Ann Arbor when Blunt gets a job working at the University of Michigan.  Along the way, various relatives die while still waiting for the blessed event and Segal and Blunt’s relationship struggles to survive against the distractions of everyday life.

The Five-Year Engagement isn’t a perfect film.  As often seems to happen with films produced by Judd Apatow, the film is about 20 minutes too long and sometimes the mix of sentimentality and crudeness is a bit awkward.  I could have done without an extended sequence in which Jason Segal (after having settled into life in Michigan) is revealed to have briefly turned into a crossbow-weilding survivalist. 

However, in the end, those flaws don’t matter because the Five-Year Engagement is, at heart, a sincerely sweet movie.  Jason Segal and Emily Blunt have a very real and very likable chemistry.  They make for a cute couple and you really find yourself hoping that they stay together.  Playing, respectively, Segal’s best friend and Blunt’s sister, Chris Pratt and Alison Brie both provide strong comedic support.  One of my favorite moments features Brie attempting to give a toast at Segal and Blunt’s engagement party and quickly dissolving into teary gibberish.  (Admitedly, one reason I loved this scene is because I did the same thing when I attempted to give a toast at my sister Megan’s wedding.)  Brie and Blunt also have another hilarious scene where they find themselves discussing realtionship matters while pretending to be Elmo and Cookie Monster.  It’s an odd but ultimately truthful moment.

Ignore the naysayers.  The Five-Year Engagement is sweet movie that deserves to be seen.