Top 10 Best Movies Of 2012! | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Sunday, 30 December 2012

Top 10 Best Movies Of 2012!

How time flies. 2012 is about to come to an end, and soon it's time to usher the year of 2013. Likewise, I have spend an amount of time compiling a shortlist for my Top 10 Best Movies of 2012 I've seen so far. Here goes:

10. GF*BF

Alternatively known as GIRLFRIEND BOYFRIEND, this coming-of-age drama is certainly among the best Taiwanese movies I've ever come across. It's a well-meaning drama that explores friendship, romance, sexuality and politics. Yang Ya-Che's passionate direction is top-notch. All three actors delivered remarkable performances, particularly for Gwei Lun-Mei's award-winning performance as a spunky girl with hidden vulnerability.


Dante Lam's most expensive movie to date (which cost HK$200 million to make) is certainly an electrifying, action-packed extravaganza. While the plot (always his forte) takes a backseat, THE VIRAL FACTOR is a vastly entertaining HK blockbuster that rivaled the one often found in Hollywood big-budget action movies. Action are top-notch (kudos to Lam for making full use of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia as his action-packed playground!), while both Nicholas Tse and Jay Chou delivered emotionally-charged performances.


Heavily promoted as "the next INFERNAL AFFAIRS", COLD WAR is thankfully neither a marketing gimmick or an INFERNAL AFFAIRS-like wannabe. Instead it's a solid crime thriller that gives a fresh perspective rarely seen in a cop genre. Who could have thought that watching a group of high-ranking police officers barking at each others over their internal conflict struggling to solve a case... can be this entertaining? First-time writers and directors Longman Leung and Sunny Luk are certainly impressive, even though their directions are spotty and haphazard in places. Not to forget, COLD WAR is blessed with a solid ensemble -- which includes Aaron Kwok, Charlie Yeung, Gordon Lam, Aarif Rahman and of course, a particularly standout performance by Tony Leung Ka-Fai. His no-nonsense portrayal as Deputy Commissioner of Police from Operation Division, M.B. Lee is the kind of superb acting truly deserved an award nomination.


One of Pang Ho-Cheung's best movies to date, VULGARIA is a top-notch Hong Kong comedy that brilliantly pokes fun on the Hong Kong movie industry (particularly Category III genre and low-budget filmmaking in general). This movie is certainly a laugh-out riot, with colorful and creative Cantonese profanities all over the place. All the playful cast are downright memorable, with a pitch-perfect performance by Chapman To. But the real standout is Ronald Cheng, who plays the crude and primitive triad head Tyrannosaurus.


One of the best animated movies I've ever seen other than the one made by Pixar studio. First-time feature director Rich Moore does an excellent job crafted a truly heartwarming tale with knowing humor and genuine emotion where he gamely explores his nostalgic love of video games from yesteryears as well as today's arcades generation. WRECK-IT RALPH is certainly a special treat for those who love video games a lot. Top-notch animation, captivating characters all around and loads of popular video game cameos (Pac-Man! Street Fighters! Sonic the Hedgehog!)


It's been quite some time since director Ridley Scott made a great movie that stick into our mind. Thankfully for this year, PROMETHEUS is one of them. His latest sci-fi epic is certainly ranked up there alongside ALIEN and BLADE RUNNER. What's more, PROMETHEUS is a fantastic prequel to ALIEN and Ridley Scott is at the top of his game here. His meticulous direction is masterful, and expertly paced with razor-sharp editing and careful framing that each moment is a sight to behold. He knows a lot about building tension and nail-biting suspense that keeps you on the edge of the seat. One such standout is the squirm-inducing set-piece involving Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) struggling inside the automatic surgical chamber. It's truly a hair-raising cinematic experience that had me stunned when I watched this in the cinema. Sure, the overall movie is not perfect (e.g. uneven script) but PROMETHEUS is a rare sci-fi epic that is both entertaining, scary and thought-provoking all in one.


Actor-director Ben Affleck is at the top of his game here (again) with ARGO. Blessed with a fascinating premise taken from a declassified true story during the 1979-81 Iranian Revolution, Affleck creates an entertaining mix of old-school political thriller and showbiz comedy that is both dramatic and hilarious. All the acting ensemble are top-notch, including a perfectly low-key performance by Affleck himself. But the standout here is Alan Arkin, who definitely deserved an award nomination. (Full review coming soon!)


Many have hailed SKYFALL as "the best Bond movie ever", and they didn't lie. SKYFALL is indeed a tour de force achievement for a Bond movie. Special kudos to director Sam Mendes for being daring enough to reconstruct the typical Bond formula inside out by exploring into an uncharted territory -- Bond's personal history as well as his rarely-mentioned parents. This is a rare Bond movie where plot and characters come first (all the acting performances are fantastic, particularly for Judi Dench as M and Javier Bardem as Silva). Not to mention, it's also the most gorgeously-photographed Bond movie has ever made (thanks to Roger Deakins for that!). Action may take a backseat this time, but at least Mendes proves to be a great visual stylist after all (particularly the opening 12 minutes). Mendes has certainly set the bar high in SKYFALL for future Bond movies to come.


Impossible is possible for acclaimed Taiwanese director Ang Lee. Whoever claimed that Yann Martel's award-winning novel, LIFE OF PI is deemed "unfilmable", well, Ang Lee did it with a flying color. He has successfully created a visually stunning, emotionally gripping and thematically inspiring adventure drama about a boy and a tiger trapped on a boat in the middle of the ocean. Newcomer Suraj Sharma is a real find and definitely a teen prodigy who plays the titular Pi with such conviction. Of course, there's the startlingly convincing CGI Bengal tiger.


This is it, ladies and gentleman! My numero uno for this year's movie is none others than THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. Typically, a third movie in the trilogy doesn't usually ends well especially when a sequel had already sets the bar high. But Christopher Nolan is a master filmmaker as always. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES may not reaches the same dizzying height he did before in THE DARK KNIGHT, but it's a superbly-crafted blockbuster nonetheless. At nearly three-hour long, this movie is hardly a butt-numbing experience. Instead it's a remarkable epic where Nolan successfully executed an intensely personal drama for every key character involved in here. The ensemble cast are magnificent, and Nolan has done a great job turning Tom Hardy's Bane into one of the most memorable comic-book villains ever graced on the big screen. And there's the ultimate conclusion the way Nolan ended his Batman trilogy on a high note. It's truly a great scene that deserved a round of applause.

OTHER HONORABLE MENTIONS (in non-particular orders):

1. CHRONICLE (a found-footage genre with a refreshingly superhero twist! How cool is that?)

2. 21 JUMP STREET (a hilarious, big screen adaptation to that cheesy '80s TV series of the same name and Channing Tatum proves to be an unexpectedly great comedian after all!)

3. THE AVENGERS (Joss Whedon knows superheroes genre like a back of his hand, and he shows a lot of class in this blockbuster movie. The final 30 minutes is certainly among the most spectacular action-paced extravaganza I've ever seen this year. Avengers Assemble!)

4. TED (A man-child guy and a talking bear? It's a high-concept comedy from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. It could have been easily written off as a flash-in-the-pan gimmick suitable but MacFarlane knows very well how to deliver an entertaining raunchy comedy. And for that CGI Ted himself (voiced by MacFarlane), he's truly a fun character to watch for. Not to forget also is Mark Wahlberg's best comedic performance to date.)

5. PREMIUM RUSH (It's DIE HARD WITH A VENGEANCE on... bicycle! It may sounds like a silly high concept for a summer movie, but PREMIUM RUSH proves to be an exhilarating ride blessed with B-movie energy. It may have been bumpy in parts, but thanks to Joseph Gordon-Levitt's typically enthusiastic performance and Michael Shannon's gleefully over-the-top performance, this is highly watchable.)

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