2012 Archive


Top Ten Movies of 2012



With the Oscars happening tonight, I thought I’d throw out my own personal favorite ten movies that I saw in 2012. Overall it was a solid year of moviegoing for me – I think I saw at least 40 movies in the theaters and most were enjoyable, if not great.

In no particular order, here they are:

  • The Avengers – The best superhero movie ever made. It’s no small feat juggling an entire team of A-List actors who each have starred in their own blockbuster action films and making each character feel significant. Glad to see Joss finally get his due in Hollywood as he’s one of the premier talents in writing and directing today.
  • Django Unchained – Some parts of this movie feel almost too ridiculous, but that’s part of its charm. Quentin Tarantino may be one of the most accessible film auteurs out there today. Even though this film was long, I had a huge grin throughout every minute because it was just so damn fun.
  • Silver Linings Playbook – I never thought I’d see a movie where Bradley Cooper actually turns in an Oscar-nominated performance, but here it is. The chemistry between he and Jennifer Lawrence is electric, and really elevates this movie to one of the best of the year. The fact that there’s a sports movie hiding underneath there is just icing on the cake.
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild – I’m not even going to pretend to know how to spell the girl who plays Hushpuppy’s name, but what an amazing performance from a first-time actor. Up there with her is the score to this film which is my pick for the best soundtrack of the year. The driving, emotional orchestral theme for “The Bathtub” matched with Louisiana Cajun melodies stir up an myriad of emotions that fit perfectly with the adventure in the movie.
  • Looper – Rian Johnson’s time-travel epic is probably one of the best sci-fi films to ever explore the topic without confusing the audience. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a younger Bruce Willis works surprisingly well. The time-lapse scene in the middle of the film was almost as powerful as the opening to Up, while the movie’s ending had my jaw literally agape for 20 minutes straight.
  • Moonrise Kingdom – No other word to describe this film but “charming.” Wes Anderson’s latest may not be terribly unique in his body of work, but his trademark quirky style really works for what’s essentially a story about young love. It’s hard not to root for Sam and Suzy in their quest to be together.
  • Argo – Ben Affleck has quietly become one of the best directors in Hollywood. Gone Baby Gone and The Town were great films in their own right, but Argo really takes it up a notch. Even though you may know how the story ends, you’re still caught up in the tension and drama of the journey there. You can’t help but want to get up and cheer by the end of the movie.
  • Arbitrage – I can’t think of the last time I thought Richard Gere was relevant, but he definitely made a great case for being back in this character study film. Not quite as likeably hateable as Gordon Gecko, but Robert Miller does his best to alienate everyone around him with his greed. The movie almost sways towards ridiculous plot points at times, but Gere’s outstanding performance keeps it grounded and relatable.
  • The Cabin In The Woods – An absolutely brilliant horror movie that isn’t quite your traditional horror movie. Without giving too much away, it’s both an homage and critique to the genre as a whole and is an unquestionable must-see movie, even if you don’t normally like “horror movies”
  • Perks of Being A Wallflower – Who doesn’t love a good coming of age movie? Almost everyone can identify with the pains of going through high school again, but most of us didn’t have friends like Ezra Miller and Emma Watson to lean on. “We accept the love that we deserve.” – might be the most insightful sentence I’ve heard in a long long time.

Top 10 Songs of 2012

Top 10 Songs of 2012

I don’t know if it’s a function of getting older with having less free time, but I find my music listening habits have made the transition from albums to almost completely track-based playlists. Part of it is due to the dearth of truly great albums by artists nowadays, and part of it is the simple fact that the best songs are often head and shoulders ahead of the other cuts on the LP.

So after being reminded by the Grammy’s last night that lists are fun to make and discuss, here’s my top 10 list of tracks from 2012 in no particular order. Some of these may look a little dated just by the nature of pop culture riding songs into the ground, but at the end of the day, my main criteria for a great song is the desire to hear it again after listening to it.

  • Walk The Moon – Anna Sun | Every time I hear this song, I just want to sing along – one of the most infectiously happy songs I’ve heard in a long time.
  • Usher – Climax | Next-level R&B by producer Diplo and Usher. Fun fact: there’s no actual climax or chorus in this song.
  • fun. – We Are Young | It’s an anthem perfectly made for graduating high-school seniors or those who wish they were there again.
  • Of Monsters and Men – Little Talks | Pop-folk from Iceland that always makes me envision life surrounded by rolling green hills.
  • Gossip – Perfect World | Imagine if Adele was in an indie-pop band and you might get something like this song.
  • Frank Ocean – Pyramids | Speaking of next-level R&B, this 9:33 long epic is so musically interesting and layered, that I rarely notice it being too long.
  • The Gaslight Anthem – Here Comes My Man | Maybe the video with Elisha Cuthbert is biasing me, but something about a good old-fashioned rock song with some “Shalalalas” appealed to me.
  • Japandroids – The House That Heaven Built | Just imagine hearing this song on a warm summer day outside rocking out alongside your best friends. This song was made for arenas.
  • PSY – Gangnam Style | I’m sure we’re all sick of this by now, but man, when I first saw the video for this song I literally had it on repeat for weeks. Frankly, I still get OP OP OP OPOP in my head randomly.
  • Cloud Nothings – Stay Useless | You don’t hear rock like this anymore, it’s got the raw energy of early 90’s alterna-grunge with the catchiness of a proto-Weezer. Yes, I just made up two hyphenated words.

Thanks to the magic of Spotify, sharing these lists got a whole lot easier. Check it out below:


Sony E3 2012 Press Conference Liveblog


Microsoft E3 2012 Press Conference Liveblog


Nintendo’s Pre-E3 2012 Wii-U Controller Announcement

Apparently Nintendo decided to post a little primer on their upcoming Wii-U controller on the eve of E3.

My thoughts (in a running diary format):

  • Looks like the tablet controller may be more comfortable than it looks. It’ll have to be if they assume you’re going to play “hardcore” games on it.
  • Real sticks instead of thumbpads are good.
  • Having the Wii-U controller act as your TV remote is cute, but I’m guessing most people have a smorgasbord of home entertainment equipment that need to be controlled at the same time as the TV. It doesn’t look like the Wii-U will be replacing that Harmony remote just yet.
  • NFC Reader/Writer – Most smartphones (including iPhone) don’t have NFC chips embedded yet. Color me skeptical on this being used in a non-novelty way anytime in the near future.
  • The asynchronous dual-screen display could open some interesting possibilities in game design. Think DS, but on a larger scale.
  • I like how they’re making existing Wii peripherals compatible with the new system. However,with the sheer amount of controller possibilities, how in the world is a developer to know what inputs to design their games for?
  • Wii U Pro Controller – Finally Nintendo decides to stop ignoring the fact ergonomics matter and clones the Xbox 360controller (definitely the most comfortable console controller ever made). It even looks like it has anon-crappy directional pad as well. But what’s up with the right stick being all the way up there? It looks like it’s going to be uncomfortable to hit the face buttons while using the stick at the same time.
  • Ok, cheesy video dramatizations aside, Nintendo is clearly out of its mind with its “WaraWara” initiative. While the Demon’s Souls-esque message board game tips functionality is a neat novelty that probably went over well in the brainstorming session, I can’t think of many things I’d want less than an impromptu video chat with a random internet troll to ask for clarification on his “tip.” In case Nintendo’s forgotten, the web exists! I can look up walkthroughs and tips on my own without the fear of some idiot spoiling the rest of my game for me. Something tells me Nintendo’s in for a rude awakening when they find out the horrors of moderating message boards.
  • Let me get this straight, one of the main criticisms of Nintendo products so far is a clumsy UIthat is lugubrious to navigate through, and their solution is to make the home screen of the system be a digital manifestation of noise?
  • The reason why we don’t use handwritten notes as much anymore is because people have awful handwriting.
  • I don’t get the continuing obsession that Nintendo has with Miis. Hasn’t anyone learned anything from the trainwreck of uselessness that was PlayStation Home yet? Please just make it easy to find, play with, and interact with my friends when I want. Everything else is, to use their term, Wara Wara. Create something unique, sure, but keep the end user in mind, please.
  • I dunno, Mr. Iwata, the Wii-U doesn’t really seem like a solution to multiple problems as muchas it’s a solution that will cause multiple problems.

I have no desire to see the Wii-U fail, but the best thing I’ve seen so far (other than an Xbox 360 controller clone) is the promise that developers can use two screens in fun and innovative ways. Unless Nintendo shows some really mindblowing applications of this on Tuesday, that’s all the Wii-U will be, a promise.

Watch the whole thing here:

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