BY DAILY ARTS STAFF
Published January 10, 2013
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If we learn anything from 2012, it is this: President Abraham Lincoln is alive and well, surviving in the faultless form of Daniel Day-Lewis. In Lincoln, Lewis’s transcendent performance and his relatable crowd of compatriots humanize this marble statue.
Lincoln illuminates an American God through grandiose speeches and epic Spielberg cinematography, but also takes the honorable Abe off his pedestal, showing us who Lincoln really was. Day-Lewis personifies not only Abe’s strength and towering wisdom, but his tenderness toward his youngest son, his fruitless frustration in his unstable wife (played with manic perfection by Sally Field), and his well-hidden fear that it might not all work out.
As we know, it does all work out — the war ends and Lincoln miraculously passes the amendment to abolish slavery. This win has been ingrained in us, but Lincoln now makes us personally proud of this fascinating man whose tragic fate is inevitable.
2. “Django Unchained”
Few movies were anticipated in 2012 the way “Django Unchained” was. Thankfully, even fewer movies were able to deliver on the hype the way “Django” did. Quentin Tarantino is at his best, as the film features violence galore coupled with sharp, intelligent dialogue. The story’s compelling, the shots are beautiful, the characters are engaging and the soundtrack fits the film perfectly, even if it is a little unorthodox (c’mon, the guy put Rick Ross in a western – RICK ROSS!).
As promised, the all-star cast of Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio is phenomenal. Foxx is transformed into one of the all-time greatest cinematic badasses by the end of the film. Waltz is as impressive as he was in “Inglourious Basterds,” and DiCaprio is able to step out of his normal role and stole most of his scenes as antagonist Calvin Candie. Simply put, this was a great movie.
“Argo” is a rollercoaster ride that you don’t want to end. Even though it’s a biopic and the "What happens?" is no mystery, the captivating question in this film is: "How the hell did they pull that off?" Ben Affleck knocks it out of the park as he directs and stars in this true story about CIA agent Tony Mendez, who concocts a fake movie project called “Argo,” to seek permission for a “location scout” in Iran, so he can smuggle U.S. embassy officials to safety.
John Goodman and Alan Arkin are hilarious as a Hollywood make-up artist and a producer past his prime who help Tony promote, advertise and market this faux film. I laughed, I cried, I gripped my chair and I thoroughly enjoyed the dialogue; out of it came one of the most memorable phrases of the year. What is it, you may ask? Go see “Argo” and you’ll know when you hear it.
4. “Cabin in the Woods”
“Cabin in the Woods” is probably the boldest movie to have graced the big screen in a really long time. It should be revered, acknowledged and seen. Why? Because “Cabin” brings back some much-needed relevance to the genre of horror, by mocking every stereotypical plotline that’s rendered it trite and irrelevant.
A group of friends embark on a holiday to a predictably creepy, secluded cabin in the woods. While everything about this film, including its name and initial plotline, seems to be an echo of a million movies past, things quickly take a turn for the unusual. The climax is a slap in the face for anyone who thinks they know horror.
The actors, led by Chris Hemsworth (“Thor”), are OK but inferior to the script itself.