All good things must come to an end. And 2012 was full of good things. Ordinarily, I just do what is essentially my own Oscar ceremony on my blog each year. This year, I’m just going to Golden Globe it. And by that I mean I’m going to pick basically all of my favorite things and throw them all together in what is going to undoubtedly be my biggest entry ever. And you’re probably no longer reading this because, after all, this is a list blog.
Let us begin.
BEST TELEVISION EVERYTHING–Breaking Bad
Season five of Breaking Bad just continues the already-glorious tradition of giving us the best quality narrative on television. Everything about this show is perfect. The acting, the directing, the music, the photography, the writing. Everything. It’s brutal, surreal, ambiguous, gripping, disturbing, bleak, and somehow hilarious. Vince Gilligan has crafted a modern masterpiece with his story of a man consumed by greed. If you’ve somehow missed it, now is the time to jump on the wagon. Seriously, jump on the wagon. Do it.
2nd place: Mad Men
3rd Place: Homeland
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY–Rian Johnson, Looper
With Brick, Johnson crafted an intricate and brilliant Noir homage that could stand up easily against the best of them. With Brothers Bloom, Johnson adapted Ulysses into a fun adventure film about con artists. And with Looper, the writer/director’s highest-profile film, Johnson has created a beautifully realized world, a complex plot about time-travel and the mob, and somehow still made a movie about a man who misses his mother. It’s a pure, unadulterated blast of a movie that I will undoubtedly watch over and over again just to enjoy its language.
2nd Place: Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
3rd Place: Kenneth Lonergan, Margaret
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY–David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Despite his reputation as a jerk. Despite the total implosion of Nailed, which may never get released, David O. Russell is still managing to produce brilliant work. With The Fighter, I was deeply moved by the acting and the directing of a simple story about a complicated family. In Silver Linings Playbook, I was shocked by the dialogue. It’s so good, so funny, so fast, and so honest that I never knew what was going to happen next. It’s emotional, hilarious, provoking, honest, mean, and kind. Somehow all at once.
2nd Place: Tim Metcalf, Carolyn S. Briggs, Higher Ground
3rd Place: Joss Whedon, The Avengers
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY–Roger Deakins, Skyfall
What happens when the best cinematographer in the world is given an infinite budget? Skyfall happens. Between the action sequences (which are, mercifully, shot like a movie that wants to be seen), the gorgeous Shanghai sequence, and the fiery climax, I don’t have enough adjectives in my vocabulary to adequately describe the beauty and majesty of this movie. All I can say is that it’s about time Roger Deakins was given this kind of budget. I hope it happens every day in the future.
2nd Place: Claudio Miranda, Life of Pi
3rd Place: Mihai Malaimare Jr., The Master
BEST SUPPORTING MALE ACTOR–Mark Ruffalo, The Avengers
“That’s my secret, Cap. I’m always angry.” In those seven words, Ruffalo was able to do what Eric Bana and Edward Norton couldn’t do for two entire Hulk films. And Ruffalo wasn’t even the star! I’ve waited for a great Hulk performance for my entire life, and Ruffalo finally delivered the goods. The secret to a great performance as the “other guy”s alter-ego is to play it down. He’s Dr. Jeckyll. He has no time for moodiness or pleading. He’s doing everything he can to keep it together, and that’s the image he has to project. A great performance, and Ruffalo makes it look deceptively easy.
2nd Place: Eddie Redmayne, Les Miserables
3rd Place: Ben Foster, Rampart
BEST SUPPORTING FEMALE ACTOR–Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Anne Hathaway may have stolen my heart with a song, a few tears, and a surprise third-act cameo, but Jennifer Lawrence offered the best, most well-rounded supporting performance of the year. She was funny, scary, sad, angry, bitter, and infinitely likable as Bradley Cooper’s soul mate in Silver Linings Playbook. It may not have any big Oscar scenes like Hathaway’s big “I Dreamed a Dream” show-stopper, but Lawrence’s mastery of her craft has never been more evident than it was here. But, of course, look at the second place spot before you get mad.
2nd Place: Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
3rd Place: J. Smith-Cameron:, Margaret
BEST LEAD MALE PERFORMANCE–Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
What a performance. How could this thing be so forgotten as it has been? Sure, Day-Lewis was a really convincing Lincoln. He looked and sounded right. But look at Phoenix. Look at him. Emaciated, insane, fidgety, annoying, tragic, heroic, hypnotic. It’s the performance of the decade. An illusion so strong and so convincing that you never want it to break. You never, for a minute, even want to know how he did it.
2nd Place: Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
3rd Place: Woody Harrelson, Rampart
BEST FEMALE PERFORMANCE–Naomi Watts, The Impossible
I’m going to be honest with you. The Impossible made me cry six times. Six completely independent, violent episodes of sobbing. Precisely four of those embarrassing moments of catharsis, Naomi Watts was to blame. In a film career littered with amazing performances, this is the one she’ll be remembered for. Raw, difficult, honest, and devastating. The best performance I’ve seen in a long time.
2nd Place: Vera Farmiga, Higher Ground
3rd Place: Anna Paquin, Margaret
BEST SCENE–Rampart, “I’m Hungry”
Near the end of Rampart, the obviously forgotten Oren Moverman bad-cop movie, Woody Harrelson’s Officer Brown, who has gone the entire running time doing nothing but smoking and drinking and actively not eating, decides to go to a bar and have a real dinner. And boy does he eat. What follows is a bizarre, surreal, disturbing, and brilliantly acted scene that is impossible to forget.
2nd Place: The Cabin in the Woods, “Press the Button”
3rd Place: The Master, “Don’t Blink”
BEST DIRECTOR–Paul Thomas Anderson, The Master
It might not be the best movie of the year, but I can’t think of any other director who makes movies this interesting for me. He covers the topics I’m fascinated by in ways that I never would have imagined. Anderson’s visual style is equal parts classic and weird. His choice of music is genius. His total embrace of ambiguity and surreality are mesmerizing. He coaxes brilliant performances from the best actors around. Each movie he releases is different from the last. Weirder. Darker. More complex. Masterpieces.
2nd Place: Tom Hooper, Les Miserables
3rd Place: Vera Farmiga, Higher Ground
BEST FILM OF 2012–Margaret
I get that, technically, this film is not a 2012 film. Doesn’t matter. That’s when it was released, and that’s when I saw it. If you learn anything today, it’s that if you are a fan of ambitious, daring, remarkable narrative works, then you have got to see Kenneth Lonergan’s tragically underseen and beautiful Margaret. It is provocative, controversial, emotional, cathartic, and overwhelming in its power. Very few movies have moved me so deeply. The final ten minutes are reason alone to see this one.
If there’s a second thing for you to learn, it is that Higher Ground is one of the most realistic and beautiful depictions of man’s relationship with religion I’ve ever had the good fortune of seeing.
2nd Place: Higher Ground
3rd Place: Les Miserables
BEST AUDIO OF 2012–Fiona Apple, The Idler Wheel…
You ever heard an album so great that it actually hurt your brain and forced you to stop listening to music for a couple of months? This album did that to me. This album is the reason the section is called BEST AUDIO instead of best albums. No other music even stood a chance next to this masterpiece. If you haven’t heard it, then what has all of this been about?
2nd Place: WTF, with Marc Maron–If you’re interested in building a creative career, it is necessary for you to listen to this daily. Best advice you’ll ever get in your life will be found in these interviews. Trust me.
3rd Place: The Tobolowsky Files, with Stephen Tobolowsky–You want to be a writer. You want to tell stories. You want to make a difference. Well, sorry, Tobo beat you to it.