When constructing this article my room mate posed the question, “What makes these movies manly?”. The truth is, I am really not sure, as I batted around ideas of exactly how to title this article. At the end of the year I usually make multiple lists. For example, my main list of 2012 has a lot of films that I personally really love, but I know are not for every one. What follows is a list of 2012 films I think will appeal to our fan base. It isn’t that I think women wouldn’t enjoy them, (in fact I strongly recommend all female readers seek out these films) it just seems that these movies have more of a male audience in mind. There are always arguments and exceptions, but here is my Top Ten Manly Films of 2012! Enjoy!
10. The Man With the Iron Fists
Starting the list off we have RZA’s martial arts throwback film, The Man with the Iron Fists. RZA, known primarily as a member of the hip hop collective Wu-Tang, has been doing more and more work in the film industry, mostly composing scores. The plot is a bit lackluster, especially the warring gangs and stealing gold, but the movie is still a very fun exercise in 70/80’s style kung fu. If you like stuff that is a little cheesy but still a ton of fun, this is the movie for you!
9. The Dark Knight Rises
Finishing off a trilogy with as much critical and commercial success as Nolan’s Batman is never an easy task. There was probably no other movie released in 2012 with as much hype as The Dark Knight Rises. While some people were divided in their feelings towards TDKR, I maintain that it is a solid ending to one of the best trilogies in movie history. Most people have probably already seen this movie, but if you have not yet seen TDKR or any of Nolan’s trilogy, I advise you to seek it out as soon as possible.
I won’t get into my own personal feelings towards James Bond at the moment. That could be an article by itself. What I will say is that Skyfall is one of the most interesting Bond films ever made. Though it starts off as any normal Bond flick would, it quickly becomes something more. Heavily focused on characters as opposed to the usual action, it was refreshing to see director Sam Mendes (Road to Perdition) portray a personal take on the character. The film is far from perfect, and often times falls into generic. What makes the movie special, however, is some mesmerizing performances from both Daniel Craig (Casino Royale) and Javier Bardem (No Country for Old Men). The fact that the film also decided to probe deeper into Bond’s history and childhood was an interesting choice. It may not always work, but it is never boring.
7. End of Watch
I am not a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal (Jarhead). So after finishing End of Watch I was surprised by how much I enjoyed not only the movie, but Gyllenhall’s performance. Alongside Michael Pena (Tower Heist), the two play a pair of LAPD officers who are also best friends outside of work. David Ayer (Training Day), directs with a steady hand as he portrays the bond between two officers and the dangers they face in their everyday line of work. While the plot is a little scattered, it is the two lead performances that really keep everything moving at such an intense pace. The two have such a great on-screen chemistry sometimes you forget they are acting.
Who would have thought that a remake of Judge Dredd would end up being good? I was fairly skeptical upon my initial viewing of Dredd. The original isn’t really a movie I am fond of and I was never an avid reader of the comics. Really, I had no expectations at all for this film. It stars Karl Urban (Lord of the Rings, Star Trek) as the titular character. For those unfamiliar with the comics, the story takes place in Mega City One, a giant city with some 800 million residents and a whole lot of crime. Dredd is a Judge, basically police that are able to execute criminals in the field. He is set to test a rookie, Judge Anderson, played by Olivia Thirlby (Juno) in the field. During a homicide call, the two judges get trapped in a giant skyscraper by an evil gang lord that controls the territory. The movie is pretty action-packed from beginning to end and a deliciously self-aware script. With a budget of about 45 million, it is surprising that Lionsgate didn’t try and market it better. It is a shame really, and part of the reason I recommend it to you now. Go see it!!
Starting off my top 5 is the incredibly badass film Lawless. The film stars Shia LaBeouf (Transformers), Jason Clarke (Zero Dark Thirty) and Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) as the Bondurant Brothers, based on the real-life family of bootleggers. The film was a nice change of pace. I always dig movies set during prohibition and this one doesn’t pull any punches. With some great performances and a nonstop story of corruption, guns and alcohol, this is one movie that I whole heartily recommend to everyone. While I am on and off with LaBeouf as a whole, it is Tom Hardy who really steals the show.
4. The Avenger’s
The third and best of the comic book adaptions on this list, is the awesome summer blockbuster The Avenger’s. If there was ever a movie to catch in theaters this summer, this was it. Since you would have to be living under a rock not to know what this movie is, I will skip the plot summary. Instead I will say that of the three adaptions on this list, The Avenger’s is by far the most well made. Everything from the script to the action and the acting was just so awesome it is hard to think of ways to describe it. What the movie does best however, is capture why superheroes interest us so much in the first place: they are fun. Watching The Avengers with my dad was some of the most fun I had at the theater this year, and the DVD is chalk-full of awesome stuff. If you are in the small group of people yet to see it, run to the store or a RedBox and pick this up. I will also point out that this is the highest ranked movie I would recommend for all ages.
3. Zero Dark Thirty
Moving into the top 3 of the year we have Zero Dark Thirty, or as most people know it, the “Osama Bin Laden capture movie”. Despite the controversy that has been surrounding the film this year, it is excellent. Of all the films on this list, no film comes close to being executed with the same precision as Zero Dark Thirty. Having not been a fan of The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow’s Academy Award winning war film, I was expecting something along similar lines. Instead I was treated to a tight, intense, and gripping portrayal of the events leading up to the death of Osama Bin Laden. I highly advise people to go out and see this while it is still in theaters, it just got a wider release recently and should be playing in most theaters right now.
2. Seven Psychopaths
Number two on the list is a movie that I won’t even post a trailer for. The trailer for this movie only focuses on a couple aspects of the entire story and really doesn’t do it justice. Seven Psychopaths is a movie that is probably better going into without knowing much of the plot. I will say that the film has an awesomely meta swing to it, that includes violence, language and the usual, but also deploys a much deeper, philosophical undertone. The cast includes Colin Farrell (In Bruges), Sam Rockwell (Moon), Woody Harrelson (Zombieland), Christopher Walken (The Deer Hunter) and musician Tom Waits. This movie kind of flew under the radar due to its odd subject matter, but with such a stellar cast on top of the great writing, the movie triumphs on multiple levels.
1. Django Unchained
This one is probably a pretty predictable choice for some people. Tarantino’s latest effort, Django Unchained is one of the best films of the year. Marked with memorable performances from Jaime Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christoph Waltz, and a script written by Tarantino himself, Django really stands as one of Tarantino’s finest films. Despite what you may think about all the controversy sparking up about this film, anyone who is a fan of westerns, actions, adventures, comedies or just great cinema in general would like this film. This is one of the funniest movies of the year as well as one of the best homages to westerns I have ever seen. Do not hesitate to see this while it is still playing in theaters. In fact it should be the next film you see in theaters, that is just how much I stand by it.
Top 5 Under the Radar
Just in case those ten weren’t enough for you, I have an addition five that sort of flew under the radar in 2012. Seek them out, most of them are now on DVD and all are highly recommended.
The Loved Ones
There was a noticeable lack of truly great horror in 2012. If there is one horror film this year however that absolutely knocked it out of the park, it is The Loved Ones. If you like horror then check out this Australian independent as soon as possible.
The Raid: Redemption
This movie was originally on the main list, but decided to push it into this category instead. I could go on and on about how incredibly badass The Raid is. I even went so far as to call it the best action film all year, and I stand by that statement. When it comes to straight ahead action, you would be hard pressed to find fight scenes done at this caliber. It is the only foreign film on the entire list and I strongly advise everyone go out and rent this one, especially with a sequel already in the works.
Taking a step back from testosterone fueled films that make up the rest of this list, we come to The Sessions. This is a different kind of man movie that I strongly recommend to both men and woman. Based on a true story, the film follows the story of a man, who despite being mostly confined to an iron lung, wants to finally lose his virginity with the help of a sex surrogate. While the subject matter may turn some people off, I cannot praise this movie enough for how it handles the story. Do not be fooled, this is a heart warming and often times very funny story, not to be missed by anyone.
I never would have thought that a hockey centered film starring Sean William Scott could end up being such a touching story. I don’t want to say a whole lot about Goon, only that it is a surprisingly funny and well made movie. Even if you dislike hockey, check this one out. I promise you will laugh and feel good by the time the credits role.
The final movie on the list is the balls to the walls film Killer Joe. Matthew McConaughey has really been coming up as an actor over this past year and Killer Joe proves McConaughey is becoming a more serious actor. Even if you don’t like the story, McConaughey’s performance as the title character is nothing short of mesmerizing.
Hope you now have a list of movies to watch! Leave any comments, questions, complaints in the comments below.
Thanks to my editor Terran. Thanks to Stephen for the article’s title.
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