Monday, January 7, 2013

My Favorite Movie of 2012

For the last couple years, "My Favorite Movie" has highlighted what I considered to be under-appreciated gems.  This year, I couldn't be picking a more appreciated movie.  No matter how hard I've tried to come up with something that was lesser seen or perhaps more intellectually or artistically challenging, it would be just plain dishonest to imply that I'll be rewatching anything more than...

The Avengers

Plenty has been said about this movie already, so let's keep the recaps brief: it's funny, it's smart, it's charming, it's fun, it's exciting, and it delivers on the action.  It has the first great movie version of the Hulk.  It's the definition of a movie entertainment.

The thing I love most about this movie is the writing.  It's a poorly-kept secret that Joss Whedon is one of the best TV and movie writers working today.  Long known for his sharp, witty dialogue, his lively characters, his crafty use of themes and metaphors, and his expansive yet tight story arcs, Whedon developed a strong fanbase in the '90s with his network-defining TV series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer."

But a long-running (or even a short-running) TV series allows plenty of room to grow characters and build the universe they inhabit.  With The Avengers, Whedon miraculously provides every character a strong personality, clear motivations, and room to live and breathe (and kick ass) in the relatively concise runtime of 143 minutes.  Four characters who were each capable of headlining their own movies, as well as four to six supporting characters, each felt fully formed and each had several moments to shine.  Not content with that, Whedon also increased the presence of some third-tier characters and gave them impactful time in the spotlight as well.

The villain poses a plausible threat that requires an entire team of superheroes to defeat.  Each hero, supporting hero, and even a few background characters fit comfortably into one movie, each feeling like a true individual, while serving one consistent and logical story.  And still plenty of room for tremendous action sequences.  Not to mention the fact that Whedon was writing this script under extraordinary circumstances: building off of and pulling together the work of four different movie franchises -- two of which were still works-in-progress while he was working on his own.  The fact that this movie makes any sense at all is amazing.  The fact that it ended up being the most entertaining movie of the year is, like the Hulk himself, incredible.

Runner Up: Moonrise Kingdom, my favorite Wes Anderson movie since Rushmore.


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