ONTD

1:15 pm - 12/27/2012

Best Movies Off the Radar 2012

The Avengers. The Dark Knight Rises. Skyfall. There were plenty of highly-anticipated, critically acclaimed films that wowed moviegoers this year. But you know all about that stuff already, so we at RT decided to give some love to a few of the overlooked, underappreciated, and, in some cases, critically dismissed movies that made an impression on us. Read on for a rundown of lesser-known gems from 2012 that we think deserve another look.



End of Watch - 80%

This was one of my favorite movies of the year (along with The Grey), but it really struggled to find an audience. So I was glad to see if get a recent re-release nationwide, and I really recommend seeing it if you have the chance. This story about two cops in South Central LA is sometimes funny, sometimes terrifying, and sometimes heartbreaking, and this movie caught me completely off-guard. I'm not sure what I'd been expecting, maybe another forgettable cop drama. What I got instead was a riveting ride-along with two cops (played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena) that I really believed had been partners for years. They had an easy familiarity that looked like a couple of guys that had gone beyond being partners or friends, and into real brotherhood. You laugh with them when they laugh at each other, and you worry about them when they're on their own. Anna Kendrick, America Ferrera and David Harbour all put in strong supporting turns, Kendrick as Gyllenhaal's new girlfriend, and Ferrera and Harbour as fellow cops. As I said before, I strongly recommend this movie, and I'd really like to see some of this cast (especially Pena) get some notice as the awards season heats up.



The Turin Horse - 87%

Nobody makes films like Hungarian director Bela Tarr. His spare, eerie mediations on morality and mortality occupy a bleak, mystical plane that seems to exist outside of time (or any notions of contemporary cinematic influence. The plot of The Turin Horse is simple - a man and his daughter tend to their farm while waiting for an apocalyptic storm to hit - and it's told with an absolute minimum of artifice: the camera barely moves as our protagonists eat, work, and go about their daily business in near silence. I'm not even going to try to sell you on The Turin Horse; it's the type of movie experience that will strike some as poetic and evocative, and others as a nifty cure for insomnia. But it casts a hypnotic spell, one that I've been unable to shake since seeing it. If you choose to watch it, I'll give you one piece of advice: wear a sweater, because you can practically feel a wintery chill from the screen.



The Pirates! Band of Misfits - 86%

Since I am terrible at remembering actual historical events, I love movies with revisionist history--especially when they involve pirates and claymation. Aardman Studios enlisted the help of Hugh Grant, Imelda Staunton, David Tennant, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, and Martin Freeman to tell the tale of the Pirate Captain, who really isn't a great leader, and his quest to impress a girl (Queen Victoria). Along the way, he meets Charles Darwin, enters a science contest, tries to win Pirate of the Year, and learns what friendship is really all about. This film is nothing less than what I have come to expect from the Wallace and Gromit folks-- it's hysterical from start to finish, has staggering amounts of charm, and provides phenomenal detail even within the foam on beer. Every time I watch it, I want to give this movie a hug.



The Queen of Versailles - 95%

This critically acclaimed but largely underseen documentary surprised me not so much because it was good, but because I enjoyed it for very different reasons than I expected. Lauren Greenfield's The Queen of Versailles begins with a portrait of a wealthy family living in excess: time-share mogul David Siegel and his wife Jackie are in the process of building their dream house, a 90,000 sq. ft. mansion modeled after the Palace of Versailles. But then, the 2008 economic crisis hits them hard, and Siegel is forced to make vast cutbacks, both in his corporate empire and within the Siegel home itself; construction on the mansion is halted. At this point, one might expect to be overcome by a sudden rush of gleeful schadenfreude - and certainly, I felt some of this as I watched the beleaguered patriarch agonize over his expenses - but the film begins to reveal the layers behind the glitz and glamour, and this shift is what took me by surprise. Jackie's been warped by her wealth, sure, but she's well-meaning, she's loving, she's supportive, and she wants so badly for her family to feel like a family; I have to admit, I was kind of touched. The Queen of Versailles is an absolutely fascinating glimpse at the lives of the super rich, but its power is in its portrayal of the Siegels who, at the end of the day, are just another family trying to adapt to changes they're wholly unprepared for. Never before have I experienced such a mix between my sympathy for and smug satisfaction with the misfortune of others.

REST @ THE SOURCE
mistress_f 27th-Dec-2012 09:40 pm (UTC)
i didn't finish it. i get motion sickness very easily and while i can deal with the nausea when the film seems to be worth it, i wasn't that taken away by it. only sick.
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