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2012: Best of Movies and TV

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As always, this list will focus on the best movies and TV that I saw in 2012. I don't keep up enough with current releases to make a pure best-of-2012 mean much. 

Best Movie

Lincoln (2012) - Full review here

Not too much of a surprise here.  Given my now firmly-entrenched penchant for history, of course a historical drama is going to fare well.  And Lincoln does just about everything well, from Kushner's amazing script to Day-Lewis' wonderful acting, to crisp directing by Spielberg.  This is the movie that has an amazing pedigree and amazing expectations and nails it.  It feels fresh, it feels relevant, and it has good history.

The movie proves that I can make nice-nice with Spielberg when he decides to tackle something of substance, and not do yet-another puff film.  Schindler's List is a masterwork, and Saving Private Ryan also does a wonderful job of crystallizing the nationwide and emotional struggles of the WWII generation.  Lincoln is destined to be the same definitive look at this period of history.

 

Best TV Show

The Wire: Seasons 1-5 (2002-2008) - Season reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5

I would say that I'm late to the party, except that I think The Wire is the best show that nobody watched while it was on.  I don't remember hearing a thing about it while it was being broadcast.

And what a show.  Though the first couple episodes seem like this might be a typical cop drama, it quickly proves that it's wildly more complex.  The writing here is top-notch, and willing to tackle actual issues.  This is a show that is more about the modern American city, and less about the crime or the cops.  There's old fashioned nail-the-bad-guy drama, but it is set in scenery where we see why the crime happens, why drugs are epidemic, and why we as a society can't find the political capital to truly deal with these problems.  

This might be the best show I've ever seen.  It's not a kind show, but it is a powerful show, and it is a realistic show. It will probably even teach you something about yourself.

 

Honorable Mention (Movie and TV)

Alien (1979) - Not actually new to me, but the first time I'd seen it it a long time, and I gained new appreciation for the slow, contemplative pace of older science fiction films. (Full review)

Renee (2011) - Part of the 30 for 30 series, I was shocked that I had never heard this story.  It's a compelling documentary on the real-life impact of sport, and a good portrayal of a complicated person to boot. (Full review)

Portlandia: Season 1 (2010) - I hope that this foreshadows a boom in quirky sitcoms.  "Put a bird on it" and "Ugh, lofts" have entered my vocabulary. (Full review)

Sherlock: Seasons 1&2 (2010-2012) - Made me care about the Sherlock Holmes mythology in a way I never had.  Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are amazing in this. (Season reviews 1 & 2)

The HobbitThe Dark Knight Rises, and A Game of Thrones: Season 2 (all 2012) - Making a good redux of a great movie/series is not easy, and all of these are worthy sequels that don't mess too much with the formula. (Reviews: HobbitBatman, AGoT)

 

Worst

Zeitgeist (2007) - Propaganda without regard for fact, but dressed up to look convincing.  One of the best examples of the worst things movies can do. (Full Review)

Step Up 4: Revolution (2012) - I expect dance movies to have bad plots, but this one set new lows.  Dancing is also mediocre, and the direction is terrible. (Full Review)

MXP (2004) - I didn't come close to finishing this, but I want those 20 minutes of my life back.  Worst kind of children's movie. (Full Review)

Prometheus (2012) - The worst of science fiction combined with the worst of action movies and the worst of thrillers.  Nothing more than a cynical cash-in. (Full Review)

 

Full list of movies I saw this year:

30 for 30 reviews: The Two Escobars
30 for 30 reviews: Into the Wind
30 for 30 reviews: One Night in Vegas
The King's Speech
30 for 30 reviews: Marion Jones: Press Pause
Precious
Pina 3D
30 for 30 reviews: Once Brothers
Surviving Progress
Men in Black: Returning to the Source
Prometheus: Bringer of Stupidity
Sherlock Season 1: BBC does it right
Portlandia: Season 1
S. Darko: Sequelitis
Alien: And Prometheus did bring down a great movie
Reno 911
Robin Hood (2006 BBC): Another failed attempt at everybody's favorite outlaw
Men in Black 3
Aliens
Chapelle's Show: The most difficult to pronounce possessive in the history of TV
Bubba Ho-Tep
A Game of Thrones: Season 2
The Dark Knight Rises
Food, Inc.
Step Up Revolution a.k.a. Step Up 4
The Conspirator
Ken Burns' Thomas Jefferson
The Wire: Season 1
Smoke Signals
The Wire: Season 2
Winter's Bone
Charismatic
The Wire: Season 3
Cheers: The Pilot
30 for 30: Renee
30 for 30: 40 Minutes of Hell
The Wire: Season 4
Zeitgeist: The Movie
Religulous
The Wire: Season 5
Sports Night
30 for 30: The Real Rocky
MXP
The X-Files: Season 8
The Pink Panther
A Shot in the Dark
Revenge of the Pink Panther
Skyfall
The Pink Panther Strikes Again
The X-Files: Season 9
Lincoln
Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season 1
The Hobbit
Young Adult
Sherlock: Series 2
The X Files: I Want to Believe
The Hobbit: The Second time
The Muppet Christmas Carol
Going Cardboard
Lord of the Rings Trilogy