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There’s a big difference between a really good movie, and a really good guy movie. Often times a great guy movie is pretty horrible overall once you get past the boobs and explosions. Case in point, every movie Jason Statham has been in that wasn’t directed by Guy Ritchie. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of watching a well-dressed wheelman roundhouse kick the population of LA in the throat for 90 minutes, but at the end of the day it’s still just 90 minutes of throat-kicking… not exactly cinema gold. But sometimes there’s a film that is a great movie in its own right, and also a homerun for us guys. So we took a look back on 2012 and found our 10 favorite movies that earned the title of “great guy movie”. (List is in no particular order)
While it’s far from the first biopic about our 16th President, Speilberg’s Lincoln is quite possibly the best produced, and certainly the most powerful. A stellar cast adds to the experience as we watch the final months of Lincoln’s life. Daniel Day-Lewis steals the show with a performance that gives us a look at many different sides to a president that is usually depicted as a one-dimensional saint… or a vampire hunter. This is Day-Lewis at his finest.
Sure, there were those who were disappointed with The Dark Knight Rises, but that was only because the bar had been set so high by the previous installment of Nolan’s trilogy. It doesn’t change the fact that it was one of the best movies of the year. There was also something special about knowing that this was Nolan’s last Batman film. Will there be more Batman movies? Of course, Hollywood is too smart to leave that money on the table. But they won’t be the work of Chris Nolan, and they won’t be as good. Years from now we’ll still be talking about “Nolan’s Batman Trilogy“.
No surprise here that Tarantino makes the list. Tarantino is one of the masters of the “guy movie”. Like any good Tarantino film, Django Unchained is extremely violent and a little bit crazy. DiCaprio, Foxx, and Sam Jackson among others nail their roles and deliver some top-notch dialogue that is somehow just as enthralling as the gun play in this ode to the spaghetti western.
While its major release wasn’t until January of this year, technically Zero Dark Thirty was released in 2012, plus it’s an amazing film so on the list it goes. Kathryn Bigelow, creator of The Hurt Locker, delivers another scary-realistic depiction of a nation obsessed with war. The film gives us one of the most unique protagonists of recent memory with the character of CIA agent Maya, played brilliantly by Jessica Chastain. Zero Dark Thirty’s narrative style is unconventional, but works well to encapsulate the fear and anger of a nation of individuals in the years following the 9/11 attacks.
The trailers led us to believe that The Grey was a survival-action movie about a group of guys going up against a pack of hungry wolves, which it was… kind of. Those who saw this movie know that for every minute of man vs wolf action, there was ten minutes of man vs himself struggle. Each character has to dig down deep and find the will to survive, find something to live for. Some find it more easily than others, and others struggle with their own self-discovery in realizing they’re weaker than they thought they were. The Grey is a tale of survival and perseverance and just might have you taking a long look at yourself and what it means to be a man. Hint: Being Liam Neeson helps.
With nods and winks to countless horror filmmakers, The Cabin in the Woods is a perfect example of what a satire should be. The film seems to go through as many cliches as it can as quickly as possible, which ends up working perfectly because it’s obvious from the very beginning that the director-writer combination of Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon know exactly what they’re doing. Without giving away any spoilers, the film takes an excellent turn when the self-aware satire becomes a major plot point of the movie itself. Although The Cabin in the Woods is anything but a classic horror movie, it is a must watch for fans of the genre.
Ben Affleck continues his actor-director hot streak with the film Argo, based on the declassified true story of the rescue of six Americans hiding in the Canadian embassy in 1979 Iran. Affleck does just fine in front of the camera, but really excels in his directing work for Argo. The movie is a perfectly paced thriller, and will literally have you on the edge of your seat throughout. That, combined with a story so unbelievable that is just has to be true, and you’ve got yourself a real winner. Probably my personal favorite movie of the year.
The best part of a good time travel movie for a nerd like me is being able to dissect the movie after the fact with fellow fans, looking for clues, discussing theories, and more often than not, just trying to figure out what the hell happened. There’s a sense of reward in that and sometimes, can be more rewarding than the movie itself. It’s interesting then, that Looper makes this list as a time travel movie because that formula doesn’t work with this movie. I tried it, and the movie just doesn’t back itself up in its time travel logic. Then it hit me. That’s what makes this movie work. In a critical scene where Bruce Willis is talking with his younger self in a diner, Joseph Gordon-Levitt tries asking him how this time travel thing works exactly. Just when we think that Willis is about to break off into a narrative laying out the rules of the movie along with caveats and loopholes in true sci-fi fashion, he essentially just tells him (paraphrasing) “Don’t worry about it. Who cares how it works? It just does, deal with it.” I think that message was meant for the audience as well. Once you get past trying to figure out exactly how the time travel storyline works, Looper is an entertaining ride.
What guy isn’t a fan of Bond movies? For the third time Daniel Craig stars as the iconic character James Bond in Skyfall. Now it’s probably pretty obvious why a Bond film would be on a guy’s list of favorite movies. It’s got fast-paced action, beautiful women, hot cars, and awesome gadgets. In particular though I think Skyfall is worth putting on this list because with a franchise that’s been around as long as Fleming’s Bond has, it’s all about how the series changes over time. In Skyfall, not only have the cars and gadgets been updated, but Bond himself has been reboot. These days, Bond has a history and a bit of a dark side. This would probably be more appropriately credited to Craig’s Bond in Casino Royale, but nonetheless audiences are becoming smarter and more sophisticated as the years go by, and that couldn’t be more apparent than it is with the Bond series as a whole, and most recently in Skyfall.
More than any other movie on this list, Marvel’s The Avengers is the closest to being nothing more than a fun brawler. That’s not a bad thing though. Above all else, The Avengers was wildly entertaining. Joss Whedon presented a good dynamic between our comic book heroes and brought us some of the most entertaining action sequences I’ve seen in awhile. More importantly, it was the culmination of no less than four franchises that led directly to this movie and fanboys everywhere rejoiced. More on The Avengers
What was your favorite movie of last year? Don’t agree with some of our choices? Let us know what you’re thinking in the comments below.
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