The best films of 2012
Monitor film critic Peter Rainer remembers some of the gems he saw over the past year and those films that weren't worth his time.
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Some of our biggest directors brought out long-simmering projects, with mixed results. Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” had a mysteriously beautiful performance from Daniel Day-Lewis and a few hushed, allusive sequences that captured Lincoln’s grandeur without solemnizing him. But too much of the film felt like a streamlined history lesson in the golden age of Hollywood mold. Quentin Tarantino’s pre-Civil War slave epic “Django Unchained” (opening Christmas) is his latest tasteless (sometimes hilariously so) pop mélange of blood and guts and revisionism. It’s his “Mandingo” redo.Skip to next paragraph
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Literary and theatrical adaptations were up and down. “Les Misérables” (also opening Christmas) was a great big fat enjoyable entertainment, with Anne Hathaway sporting what I sincerely hope will not become the new fashion look – shorn hair and hollowed cheeks.
“Anna Karenina” had one of those awful high concepts – all the world is literally a stage – plus Keira Knightley’s too-thin Anna and a Vronsky who resembled Justin Bieber with a moustache. “On the Road” was mostly in the ditch. I suppose we should be grateful that Baz Luhrmann’s 3-D “The Great Gatsby” was put off until next year. (I know, I know, don’t prejudge ...)
Franchise fever resulted in a few more-than-OK entertainments, like “The Avengers,” “The Hunger Games,” “The Bourne Legacy” and “Skyfall” – though I wish Bond were less like Bourne these days. Does 007 really have to be that sullen? And what does it say about a James Bond movie when the chief Bond girl is ... Judi Dench?