The Main Damie’s Top Movies of 2012

I guess this is sort of late, as we are heading into the middle of February, but I figured that since this site is new that I’d start off with an idea that would lend itself to multiple posts.  So here’s what is, at this moment, what I deem my Top Movies of 2012.

JUST MISSED THE CUT:

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Safety Not Guaranteed

Director: Colin Trevorrow

Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson

I’m a sucker for a movie that comes along and surprises me, and Safety Not Guaranteed definitely fits that description in spades.  The three leads are all known for their roles in small-screen comedies, but in this film, they each show that they can hold their own in a feature-length film.  Special note to Jake Johnson, who is a favorite of mine on New Girl.  Here, he steals just about every scene he is in as he ventures on his own, non-literal, time travel experience.

Time travel is always a popular well to draw from in movies, but this film is unique.  It’s not so much about how it is possible, or even if it is.  Instead, the film focuses on why you would want to go back.  It’s a story of loss, regrets, and the overwhelming wish to go back and change how things panned out.  The story is human, bittersweet, and ultimately heart-warming.

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Sleepwalk with Me

Director: Mike Birbiglia, Seth Barrish

Starring: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose

One of the reasons I started this blog is because I love movies, but I’ve never really been able to harness that love into anything that had any merit.  I’m closing in on thirty and I am still struggling to figure out what it is I’m meant to be doing with my life.  I see a lot of myself in Mike Birbiglia’s protagonist, which is one of the reasons the movie struck a chord with me.

To call Sleepwalk with Me personal would be saying very little.  Calling it the most personal film in years would be more like it.  Based on his standup, Birbiglia’s directorial debut is a semi-autobiographical account of a struggling comedian trying to juggle a dream and a relationship.  Unfortunately, life isn’t always such a fairytale.

This movie is a quite stark, yet funny look at what it is like to be a guy that is a bit older than what is socially acceptable to be in his position.  While his friends are having babies and his sister is getting married, he’s holding down a bartending job while moving forward in a relationship that is headed down the aisle, whether he wants it to or not.

Lauren Ambrose shines as his girlfriend in waiting and Birbiglia brings a humility to a role that is reminiscent of classic Woody Allen.

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The Grey

Director: Joe Carnahan

Starring: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, and some wolves

It’s hard to wax poetic about a movie like The Grey because, at my heart, I know the reason I truly love this film is because Liam Neeson kicks some serious wolf ass.  It does have some themes: a man with nothing left to lose, humans being reduced to pack-like, animal behavior, blah blah blah.  This is all about Liam Neeson becoming more badass than anyone could have ever imagined.

In all seriousness, this is a simple, taut, edge-of-your-seat thriller.  Neeson does a great job as a broken man, having lost the fear of death, stuck with the task of saving the lives of others.  It’s an interesting twist, to watch a man learn the value of his own life and gain the will to fight for it by keeping other men he barely knows alive for as long as possible.

The movie can be brutal and beautiful, all in the next frame, thanks in large part to some picturesque landscapes.  Well-paced and exciting, it’s one of the most tense films I’ve seen in years.

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