This bitch is done! I’ve been celebrating ever since the last blog post I did on my movie resolution. Then, I remembered I had to pick my favorites and I whined like an infant. I’m tired of movies! So, so tired. It was a dumb resolution. Movies suck. Almost every movie sucks. If, on average, each film was an hour and forty-five minutes and I watched three hundred and sixty-five, that means I wasted almost twenty-seven days of my life watching movies. 27 DAYS! NEVER AGAIN. Ain’t nobody got time for that! So, I basically spent the month of February, bored out of my mind. Nobody should have to go through that. I shouldn’t have gone through with it. I plan on watching the fewest number of films I possibly can this year, and if I don’t care for them, I’m turning them off.
Of course, I am kind of glad I did the resolution, because I did see a lot of movies and can use them as points of reference and I did see a few amazing movies, but it definitely was not worth my pain. I felt like this usually:
That’s from one of the movies that sucked, ironically.
For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out how I’d present my top movies to you. Would I pick 10 or 15 or 25 or 1? I didn’t know, so I stewed over it and was struck by genius. [This is a regular occurrence.]
You know how Turner Classic Movies follows me on the Twitter? No? They do. It’s a point of pride for me. Inspired by our close friendship, I decided to pick my top twenty films and pretend I had a weekend on TCM to showcase the best films that I watched in 2012. Sadly, this won’t include other movies that I dearly love like: Light in the Piazza, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, La Vie en Rose, Last Holiday, A Very Long Engagement, The Bad Seed, or Possessed. You’ll have to watch those masterpieces on your own, not during my weekend on TCM. Let’s pretend that Robert Osborne has suddenly been taken ill and Ben Mankiewicz can’t be bothered to fill in. What will they do? Call me, obviously.
I’m putting them into a rough order, because, aside from my top five movies or so, they were all decent enough to make it to the top list, so I can’t really call many of them better than others. And, if it were really being shown on cable, the top movies would be played during primetime, not at what will be the wee hours of the morning on Sunday as will be the case here. I think perhaps I’m taking this too seriously. Let’s get started, shall we?
SATURDAY: These were the films that I enjoyed tremendously, but didn’t quite make the cut for the top 10. My views are constantly changing, so by next week, I’m sure I would have done this in a different order. Order means nothing.
1. Bunny O’Hare:
This universally loathed film was a total and unexpected delight for me. Starring Bette Davis as an elderly bank robber, it couldn’t be any more marvelous. It sounded so unlike a Bette Davis film, that I didn’t believe it was real, but it was! I love movies made at the end of a movie star’s career. They always have a feeling of honest desperation that is so becoming. I’ll certainly be watching this one again.
2. Serial Mom:
I didn’t rate this film perfectly when I first reviewed it, but as time has gone on, I’ve grown fonder and fonder of it. It was a lewd, crude, vulgar, and hilarious picture! Kathleen Turner stars as a serial killer, sociopathic parody of Martha Stewart and I couldn’t love it more. It’s ridiculously funny!
3. The Catman of Paris:
This picture was another unexpected delight. With a title like this one, you expected something the very height of camp, but instead, it’s a classy horror mystery that is told with exceptionally good taste, writing, and art direction. I adored it, and not only because I have met a catman in Paris! (He wasn’t a cat, really. I think he was high and thought he was a cat.)
4. Some Like It Hot:
Not only is this film a classic of cinema, it also has one of the most unexpectedly romantic endings of any film I’ve seen. I adore it. Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis are all magnificent in this Billy Wilder triumph. This movie is perfect.
If I’ve learned anything from watching all these movies, it’s that the films that don’t seem possible are the best. Also, the ones that everybody hates are the ones that I adore. Who ever would have thought that the divine Meryl Streep and the hilarious Roseanne Barr would co-star in the same delightful romantic-black-comedy? Such a funny movie!
6. Bells Are Ringing:
Judie Holliday was one of the actresses that I knew nothing of before this year, but I absolutely adore her. She was divine. This film is a romantic musical about a switchboard operator who falls in love with one of the men who calls her. Such a simple premise that is perfectly developed and scored deliciously. Plus, the song above is tragic and delightful.
7. Les Yeux Sans Visage:
This film is the very definition of chic, well-done horror. It will stay in your mind for ages. It’s all about a mad doctor who murders young women to do experiments on their skin to try and save his daughter’s face, which was ruined in a grizzly accident. A gorgeously macabre picture.
8. A Royal Scandal:
Over the course of the last year, when I’ve thought of the films that I really liked, this one always pops up as one of my favorites. I did not rate it perfectly, but my opinion has changed. It was a delightful romp of a comedy starring the stunning Tallulah Bankhead. There’s nobody like her.
9. Bad Teacher:
When I put this on the Netflix queue, I didn’t expect to love it. As we’ve figured out, the unexpected ones are the best. Cameron Diaz stars as the worst teacher in the world and also as the perfect embodiment of every teacher’s fantasies. Everybody who works or has worked in a school wishes they were a little bit more like her. I do. Every day, I think of this movie and smirk to myself. That’s probably inappropriate. I wish I could wash cars like her.
10. Lady in a Cage:
“Look at me, Kim. Look at moy. Look at meeeeeeeee. Now I have one thing to say to you: GRANDE DAME GUIGNOL!” [Holla at the Kath & Kim joke!] This is my absolute favorite genre of film–actresses making horror films at the end of their careers. They are usually in mortal danger and they are all divine–except for Die, Mommy, Die. That sucked. Olivia de Havilland brilliantly stars in this film about a woman who is stuck in an elevator in her home and how it turns her world upside down. Genius.
SUNDAY: Here are the crème de la crème, my absolute favorites from 2012. I love that I saw quite a few good movies and I’m so happy to share them with you so that you don’t have to waste your life watching shit.
An important lesson that I learned when picking the top four movies was that: it’s not brilliant story telling or perfect writing that makes a beloved film, it’s the feelings it gives you. The plot may be faulty or the actors might not be quite right, but when you lose yourself in a movie, that’s absolutely marvelous and the makings of a truly great picture.
11. History is Made At Night:
I had a great struggle choosing between this film and another similar film entitled Love Affair, which inspired the classic, An Affair to Remember. Both were gorgeous romances and inspired me in numerous ways, but this strange, almost unknown picture starring the exceedingly talented Jean Arthur and Charles Boyer was ever so slightly better. It was a stunningly romantic film that perfectly teetered between drama and comedy. Every scene was fulfilling and kept me intrigued until the finale. Charles was never so handsome and Jean was brilliant as ever.
Beyoncé, as you have come to know, and I are very close. I am so proud of her acting in this film and particularly how she sang and acted in this pivotal scene in this stunning musical. Dreamgirls is based on the huge success of girl groups in the 60s like The Supremes. I loved every moment. Beyoncé and Jennifer Hudson both shut this thing down with their abilities. Truly, this is going to be a classic.
13. Hollywood Canteen:
I don’t know why this movie stuck with me so forcefully. It wasn’t the most surprising story, it was quite predictable, but it was so sweet. The film was written with such heart and caring that you couldn’t help but be touched by Slim’s seemingly unattainable love for Joan Leslie. Along the way we bump into all my favorite celebrities, including the unforgettable Joan Crawford. A real feel-good film.
14. Midnight in Paris:
This movie is a love letter to one of the greatest loves of my life–the city of Paris. If you have never been, you can’t understand. There is something inexplicably soul expanding, magical, and emotional about this beautiful, complex city. When I lived there, I took advantage of every moment to be a part of Paris and that experience stays with me every day. Even though I am an American and live in the middle of Iowa–so far from all things Parisian, I do, I really do, consider myself a Parisian. Paris is my home town. If you haven’t done it, it will sound mad to tell you how I walked the streets at night, how I strolled through the Place Vendôme in the wee hours of the morning when nobody was there and sighed contentedly as I passed under the yellow streetlights. Walking beneath the Eiffel Tower at the top of an hour as it bursts into light is one of the most dramatic and delightful things that can happen to you. Drunkenly twirling around in front of Notre Dame is intoxicating. All these things, seemingly unimportant, are highlights of my life. Someday I will live there and I will become accustomed to all the elegance and beauty and maddening hypocrisy that makes up that great city, but until then, all I can do is visit and watch perfect movies like this one that seem to have been culled from my imagination. They go to a cocktail party at Deyrolle. I mean, really? Does Woody Allen live in my brain. You’ve got to see this movie.
15. Fearless Fagan:
I don’t cry all that often, but this film made me sob like an infant. I’m tearing up again as I think about it. The plot is simple and with that simplicity, there is elegance. It’s a tale of love and undying friendship. In this case, the friendship was between a young man, Floyd, and his pet lion, Fagan, who is a beautiful sweetheart. Because of the draft, they are separated, but their love for each other is too strong to keep them apart. The ending is so dramatic and so emotional. If you don’t start weeping when you watch it, you’re heartless. This movie is so deserving of a remastered release or even a remake–no, never mind–no remake would ever capture the innocence and effortless emotions that this great film did. It’s a shame it isn’t better known. Please do see it.
16. The Queen of Versailles:
This documentary is the only other film that made me sob. I sobbed heartily for probably half of this movie. It was just so tragic and wonderful. It’s about a very wealthy family that is thrown into an entirely new life when their world comes crashing down around them. A lot of people don’t have sympathy for the super-wealthy, and that is understandable, but this woman, Jackie is wonderful. She’s smart, but completely oblivious at the same time and it makes her such a fascinating subject. The film revolves around the construction of their home that was based on the Château de Versailles and was intended to be the largest single family home in the country. They only did it because they had too much money and nothing else to do with it. This will disgust some people, but I was enamored of them. They were full of love and yet strangely removed from each other. It was just fascinating and so very sad. I highly recommend it.
17. Joyful Noise:
I had long planned for this film to be the number one movie of the year, but it didn’t quite get there. Honestly, though, the movies in the top ten are all triumphs, so the numbers are irrelevant. I knew that I would love this movie from the moment I heard about it. Let me give you an equation to help you understand: Dolly Parton (my love) + Queen Latifah (another love) + gospel choirs (adore them, though I’m not even 1/4 of 1% religious) + plastic surgery jokes (obvious) = HEAVEN. It was hilarious, well written, and Dolly sings. Anytime Dolly sings, my heart just melts, that woman is a national treasure that should be worshipped and be given a state funeral if the sad day ever arises that she is no longer amongst us. I’ll be in mourning for decades. The plot was light as helium, but that didn’t matter. It was sweet and I adored it.
I promise you that this is going to be the last time I’ll talk about my close relationship with Joan Fontaine and how I act as her personal lending bank. Who am I kidding–I’m going to beat that story until I can’t anymore, until everybody on the planet knows it! Joan stars as Lina, a mousy spinster who blossoms when she falls in love with Cary Grant and they marry. Soon after, she becomes suspicious that he is plotting her death. I won’t say another word because I want you to be as thrilled with it as I was. I’ll only post this picture, which is the very definition of eleganza.
This film is another classic and an acting masterclass.
19. Les Aventures Extraordinaires d’Adèle Blanc-Sec:
This is another of those movies that I accidentally stumbled on and fell head over heels in love with. It’s everything. I loved every exciting frame of this magical adventure. I mean, how could it go wrong when it involves: Paris, ancient Egypt, revived mummies, J’ai Deux Amours, the Tuilleries, the Titanic, deadly tennis matches, a handsome scientist, the Jardin des Plantes, Belle Époque stylings, adventure novels, and comedy? Nothing could go wrong. This film is absolutely brilliant and I am going to make sure it goes down in the annals of cinema as one of the greatest creations of the modern era.
20. The Others:
I have absolutely no issues with the acting, the plot, the writing, the set, the styling–I’m only full of love and admiration for it. Truly, it’s a masterpiece. From the opening scene, I was enthralled by each developing moment and plot twist. The acting was impeccable. The children were a rare talent. The writing was perfection. There was not a wasted frame of film. Everything about this movie was the epitome of perfection. I won’t hear a word against it.
And that’s that. The resolution is done.