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Best of 2012 – Cassandra Rose Clarke’s favourite movies

A big welcome to Cassandra, who is bringing us her thoughts on the films that she loved during 2012:

Argo: During the climactic scene of this movie (which involves going through customs in an airport, no chases or gunfights involved), I was freaking out. It was one of the more intense things I’ve ever watched. The entire movie was like that, actually: a gradual build-up of tension and suspense contrasted by leavening moments of Hollywood wackiness. It fit together surprisingly well. Although Argo is based on a true story, I don’t know how true-to-life it really is (I did read that the aforementioned airport scene wasn’t nearly that interesting in reality). Still, as a piece of storytelling, it is amazing.

Beasts of the Southern Wild: This is such a beautiful movie, and I’m not sure a little 250-word blurb can do it justice. In a way, it reminds me of Moonrise Kingdom, another movie on this list: both films are about childhood, both films have a dreamy, elegiac quality that draws you in and holds you in place. However, Beasts of the Southern Wilde amplifies its whimsical elements to the point of perfect magical realism, and it focuses on the lives of imperfect people living along the Gulf Coast of Louisiana. It’s a movie about Hurricane Katrina and about the modern American south and it’s simply wonderful.

Bernie: Okay, so technically this movie came out in 2011. However, because I don’t have super special access to film festivals, I saw during its wide release, which was in… 2012! So I’m including it here. Bernie is a true-crime comedy about a murder that took place in the East Texas town of Carthage back in the ‘90s, and it is one of the best movies-about-Texas I have ever seen. It’s funny and weird and captures the voice of small Texas towns perfectly. Matthew McConaughey, in one of his rare non-sleazebag roles, is basically unrecognizable. So is Jack Black, for that matter. This may actually be my very favorite movie of the year, if I had to pick.

The Cabin in the Woods: I’m not someone who makes much of an effort to avoid spoilers, but I did manage to see this movie without reading anything about it beforehand save for Roger Ebert’s review, which revealed nothing. I’m glad, because if I had known [SPOILER] going in, I would have refused to see it, because [SPOILER] is a speculative fiction trope that annoys the crap out of me. That this movie could have included such potent Cassandra-kryptonite and still be one of my favorites of the year is a testament to how entertaining it is. I also loved how, when I watched it a second time, I was rooting for a completely different set of characters.

Life of Pi: I debated putting this on here — I almost put Wreck-it Ralph instead, which I enjoyed quite a bit despite my irrational dislike of video games. However, my issue with Life of Pi wasn’t so much with the movie itself but with a twist in the story that really, really upset me. Of course, I couldn’t stop thinking about it after I left the theater, and although it was a touch heavy-handed, I could see and appreciate the point the movie was trying to make. And even without that twist it was a still a gorgeous fantasia wrapped around a survival story, and I’ve never seen anything quite like it before.

Moonrise Kingdom: Another quirky survival story, although it couldn’t be more different from Life of Pi. Wes Anderson is always a good bet for me, but I hadn’t really fallen in love with any of his movies since The Royal Tenenbaums — until I saw Moonrise Kingdom. Suzy Bishop and Sam Shakusky are basically Margot Tenenbaum and Max Fischer as thirteen-year-olds, but in Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson delves deeply into those two character archetypes, creating something poignant and romantic. This movie is like reliving the best parts of your childhood, when the whole world seems vaguely magical and ultimately full of possibilities.

Prometheus: I will not back down from loving this movie, despite its massive anti-fandom. I agree that the screenplay has its problems, but Prometheus was too much of a perfect storm of Stuff I Like that I was able to ignore Damon Lindelof’s need to generate needless mystery. I mean, we’re talking emotional robots, female characters, gorgeous visuals, Wes-Anderson-like familial strife, roguish space ship captains, evil corporations, and aliens. It was like someone made a movie just for me.

How about letting Cassandra know your favourite movies from 2012?

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