Many consider 1982 to be one of the greatest years in movie history. With titles like E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, Blade Runner, The Thing, Poltergeist, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, and many other influential, revolutionary, unforgettable movies, it’s a year that will always be remembered as a landmark in pop culture history. And now 30 years later we have a year that could very well end up being remembered the same way.
From start to finish 2012 has been an amazing year for the medium of film. We saw winners like The Grey and Haywire kick off the year, and great ones like Django Unchained, Life of Pi and Zero Dark Thirty close it out. Major franchises, like Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, came to an end, new ones, like The Hunger Games began, and others started right back up, like Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. We saw new movies from filmmakers like Wes Anderson, Sam Mendes, Rian Johnson, David Cronenberg, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Steven Spielberg. So where does one even begin when crafting a Top 10 list for a year like this?
Well, it wasn’t easy, but the job is done. I remembered all of the movies that I was still thinking about even weeks after my screening. I remembered all of the movies that had something important to say, or reached me on a personal level. I remembered all the movies that made me laugh and the ones that had me gripping the armrests. I remembered all the movies that I immediately wanted to watch again after the house lights went up. And from there I made my list – and you can read it below.
#10: End of Watch
Making a cut-and-dry cop drama is simple. The formula is so dry that all you need at this point is one or two hero cops, a vicious crime, and a scary villain to craft a story. But David Ayer’s End of Watch isn’t that movie. Instead, the writer/director does his part to try and turn the genre on its ear, and in doing so created not only a pulse-pounding thriller, but also a fascinating piece of cinematography and story experimentation.
Rather than just telling a simple story of cops and robbers, the movie lets the audience dive into the worlds of Officers Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala (Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena) as they work the beat in their Los Angeles neighborhood and try to keep crime and terror off the streets. Focusing on their lives beyond work, Ayer’s work allows the audience to understand the main characters as people more than just cops, and it creates a personal and emotional bond that connects movie-goers to the film in a very special way. Add in the found-footage type camera work, which gives us a look at the world through the cops’ eyes, and you have one of the most visceral, intense experiences of 2012. (Read my full review here)