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Best Movies of 2012
Though I’ve seen 63 of the movies released in 2012, I only saw 55 of them in the theater. ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ is included in the 63, but not the 55. I’m sure you were all wondering.
Honorable mentions: Daniel Day-Lewis’ high-pitched Gosling-esque voice in ‘Lincoln,’ Alec Baldwin (and no one else) in ‘To Rome With Love,’ Slimer’s appearance in ‘The Cabin in the Woods,’ The post-end credit shot in ‘The Grey,’ and Home Alone 5: Lost at ‘Skyfall’
10. Zero Dark Thirty
The most baffling thing about this movie might be Chris Pratt’s involvement in it. Pratt may be the least typecast actor in Hollywood. I’d like more information on his agent. How did he leverage Andy Dwyer from ‘Parks and Recreation’ into plum dramatic roles in ‘Moneyball’ and perhaps the most intense movie of the year?
09. The Avengers
From ‘The Blues Brothers’ to the first chapter of the seventh Harry Potter book, I’ve always been a sucker for stories that somehow involve “getting the band together.” This was a long time coming. Also a long time coming? An entertaining Hulk.
08. Moonrise Kingdom
We’re about three years away from Bill Murray just narrating a 90-minute film about Wes Anderson’s fascination with dollhouses.
07. Beasts of the Southern Wild
That ‘Treme’ is full of shit, man.
I’ll say this: If you like American historical films involving the strategizing and scheming of our government, 2012 was THE year for you.
05. Silver Linings Playbook
This movie tickled me pink. Do manly men use the term “tickled pink?” Guys describe their overall reactions to things as “tickled pink,” right? I’m pretty sure they do. No, I’m pretty sure they do.
04. Django Unchained
In a year in which Steven Spielberg directed a film, surprisingly, his was not the movie that could benefit the most from ending 20 minute earlier. More of my thoughts on Django here. But while you’re rapt with attention, can we not all agree that Spielberg could have ended ‘Lincoln’ following the line, “I’d like to stay, but I have to go” and Day-Lewis’ long, jaunty walk down the hallway on his way to the theater? I watched Lincoln amble down the hallway thinking, “What a beautiful final shot.” Then I thought, “no pun intended.”
03. The Master
Most of my thoughts on the film were captured here. On my third viewing of this, I tried to Shazam Philip Seymour Hoffman singing that slow boat to China song. … nothing came up.
02. Dark Knight Rises
I spent nearly 2,000 words discussing my frustrations with an otherwise hugely entertaining film. Here’s one more: How did they get the motorbikes into the Gotham Stock Exchange Building in the first place? I mean, like, where did they hide them all and how?
01. Life of Pi
I still don’t understand why they CGI’d the tiger in its introductory scene in the cage? Wouldn’t it have been easier to put a real tiger in a cage for half-a-day than to spend a month rendering one in post?
Best Television Episodes of 2012
Admittedly, parts of this may feel more like best scenes of 2012. To this I have two readied responses: 1) Aren’t television episodes mere scenes in the overall episode that is the series? And 2) Fuck you, it’s my list, I’ll do what I want.
I’ll spare the descriptions for each of these. If you saw the episode, you saw the episode. If not, I won’t spoil it or bore you.
10. Tyrion the Victorious / Scarred. Game of Thrones, “Blackwater,” 5/27
09. Andy takes the P.P.D. physical exam. Parks and Rec, “Soda Tax,” 10/27
08. Sloan Sabbith fabricates the news, The Newsroom, “Bullies,” 7/29
07. Phil vs. mensies, Modern Family, “Leap Day,” 2/29
06. Lane and Pete throw down, Mad Men, “Car 51,” 4/15
05. Don and Joan unwind, Mad Men, “The Christmas Waltz,” 5/20
04. Exeunt Lane, Mad Men, “Commissions and Fees,” 6/3
03. Methylamine train robbery, Breaking Bad, “Dead Freight,” 8/12
02. From worst to first, Boardwalk Empire, “Margate Sands,” 12/12
01. Bath. Chow. Talk., Boardwalk Empire, “Two Imposters,” 11/25
Best Albums of 2012
It’s difficult to encapsulate entire albums briefly enough to keep most people interested. So I’m limiting myself to 10 or fewer words for each album description.
10. Babel – Mumford & Sons
It’s cool once, cute twice, now quit with the banjo.
09. Boys & Girls - Alabama Shakes
I’m skeptical of any soul singer named “Britney.”
08. The Carpenter – The Avett Brothers
Of the bands on this list, five wear vests on stage.
07. Love at the Bottom of the Sea – The Magnetic Fields
The sound quality of MP3s is fine, but you really ought to listen to this album in skinny jeans. (Relax, I’m combining my word limit for this one with Taylor Swift’s coming up.)
06. Go Fly A Kite – Ben Kweller
Ben Kweller: Adam :: Chris Trapper: Chris
05. Red – Taylor Swift
04. Major – Fang Island
Arena rock from a band unable to fill arenas.
03. Some Nights – fun.
The Queen I get when I can’t get Queen.
02. Blunderbuss – Jack White
Great fucking album. Still can’t touch The White Stripes.
01. Wrecking Ball – Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band
Blunderbuss wasn’t touching this album, either.
20 Best Songs of 2012
Honorable mentions (and why they are not included here): We Are Young by fun. (it was a single in October 2011), Unchained by Tupac and James Brown (an original mash-up of two decades-old songs), Wrecking Ball by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (recorded live over two years ago), Somebody That I Used to Know by Gotye (technically released late in 2011 and if I am anything, I am a stickler for my own torturous, self-imposed rules), and More Than a Feeling by Boston (released 37 years ago).
These first five are the songs that would have made the list if Bruce Springsteen had not released an album this year.
xx. 45 – The Gaslight Anthem, Handwritten
xx. Don’t Leave Me (Ne Me Quitte Pas) – Regina Spektor, What We Saw From the Cheap Seats
xx. Take A Walk – Passion Pit, Gossamer
xx. New York City – Among Savages, Wanderings of an Illustrative Mind
xx. Man On Fire – Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes, Here
20. All Kinds of Guns – Tilly & the Wall, Heavy Mood
Everyone is keen to re-imagine Dusty Springfield and the soul singers of the ’60s, but I’m waiting for the Darlene Spector girl-group revival. ‘All Kinds of Guns’ comes close. It’s like “My Boyfriend’s Back,” only with a title Guy Ritchie will probably co-opt for his next film.
19. Hot Knife – Finona Apple, The Idler Wheel…
Fair warning, if you listen to this song even once, it will stay with you all day, tuck you in at night, and prepare your toothbrush to start the next morning.
18. Teenage Icon – The Vaccines, Come of Age
The one keeper on a weak sophomore effort. How’s THAT for a sales pitch?
17. Gimme A Beer – Diamond Rugs, Diamond Rugs
It’s a fine song, but it would have been better if it were ‘Gimme a Bear’ instead. And yes, when I say bear, I mean “bearded homosexual.”
16. We Are Alive – Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Wrecking Ball
Probably the best narrative song of the year, this brief Spoon River Anthology-like call from the grave would have made Edgar Lee Masters proud. Also, my fitting Edgar Lee Masters into this list would have made my Freshman English teacher proud!
15. Danse Carribe – Andrew Bird, Break It Yourself
Great song by way of Paul Simon, but I’ll save you 90 seconds of trouble: the word “pasifizers” is made up. Or if not completely fabricated, it doesn’t show up in anything but Andrew Bird lyrics sheets for the first five pages on Google.
14. Easy Money – Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Wrecking Ball
After Obama chose ‘We Take Care of Our Own’ to close out the DNC, I kind of expected Romney to use ‘Easy Money’ along the campaign trail in response.
13. Sunlight – Yuno, Sunlight - Single
A year-end song list ain’t a year-end song list without a listed song dealing with the theme of “picking up and leaving town.” This is that year-end song list and ‘Sunlight’ is that listed song.
12. We Take Care of Our Own – Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Wrecking Ball
Fuck it. I just like it because he mentions Chicago.
11. The Only Place – Best Coast, The Only Place
This single makes a strong case for not needing to go anywhere else but the great state of California, which makes singing along great if you live in that state and a little bit o’ depressing if you don’t.
10. We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together – Taylor Swift, Red
I get one guilty girly pop song per year. While everyone else burned theirs on ‘Call Me Maybe,’ I’m using mine on the stomp and pomp of the genuinely endearing Swift.
09. Andrew in Drag – The Magnetic Fields, Love at the Bottom of the Sea
Still a cult favorite to many, The Magnetic Fields make clever, literary ditties about snobs at shitty parties and unexpected feelings of homosexuality. It’s great music to be a hipster to, which was meant as a compliment, but probably won’t be taken that way.
08. Adrenaline Nightshift – Japandroids, Celebration Rock
Japandroids is like Titus Andronicus without 10-minute-long recitations of Civil War-era doctrine, or The Gaslight Anthem without an unending battery of earnestness.
07. Some Nights – fun., Some Nights
I’ve heard that this song and this band spent 2012 being extremely overplayed. This is why I avoid letting anyone else choose what I listen to.
06. Sisterly – Fang Island, Major
What does Fang Island understand that Steve Miller and REO Speedwagon didn’t? If you can’t write lyrics, skip ‘em and just rock ass with the music.
05. I Never Knew You – The Avett Brothers, The Carpenter
The formula for Avett Brothers albums: three songs about Jesus, three songs about an out-of-state girl, two heartbreaking songs that force everyone to pretend they’re not crying, two ass-kickers, and two bouncy ones about love or love lost. This is one of the latter.
04. The House That Heaven Built – Japandroids, Celebration Rock
If these guys live long enough to record four albums, I’ll be shocked.
03. Sixteen Saltines – Jack White, Blunderbuss
The best bridge in any song this year. Who’s jealous, who’s jealous, who’s jealous,who’s jealous of who? The Raconteurs, probably.
02. Death To My Hometown – Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Wrecking Ball
Let’s connect Jack White with Bruce Springsteen, shall we? ‘Death To My Hometown’ samples the Alabama Sacred Harp Singers’ ‘Idumea,’ which was featured in the film “Cold Mountain.” Who supervised the soundtrack for that film? Jack White. Fun fact!
01. Shackled and Drawn – Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Wrecking Ball
What’s a poor boy to do but keep singing his song?