Tim Grierson on the Unforgettable Movie Moments of 2012


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When you think back on a year in movies, what flashes through your mind? It’s probably snapshots: incredible scenes or indelible images or a funny line that’s always going to stick with you. In 2012, I saw over 300 films, and even some of the worst had their moments that I can look back on fondly. So, as we prepare for 2013, here’s a random list of the scenes and moments of the film year that I really treasure. I’ve kept some intentionally vague so that I don’t spoil anything, but hopefully these favorite glimpses will help inspire your own happy memories of a great film year….

The dazzling motion-capture sequence in “Holy Motors.”

Josh Brolin’s dead-on perfect impression of a younger Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) in “Men in Black 3.”

Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) leaves the White House for the very last time in “Lincoln.”

Navy SEALs launch their raid on Bin Laden’s compound in “Zero Dark Thirty.”

Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis) meets the woman who may be her long-lost mother in “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

Anne Hathaway sings “I Dreamed a Dream” in “Les Misérables.”

The tsunami comes in “The Impossible.”

Eric Parker (Robert Pattinson) travels through Manhattan in his tricked-out limo in “Cosmopolis.”

Sam (Jared Gilman) and Suzy (Kara Hayward) hatch their plan to run away together over a series of letters in “Moonrise Kingdom.”

Graham (Tom Wilkinson) is reunited at long last with his boyfriend in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

In a split second, something happens between Nica (Hani Furstenberg) and Alex (Gael García Bernal) that threatens their relationship forever in “The Loneliest Planet.”

We finally get to see Pat (Bradley Cooper) and Tiffany’s (Jennifer Lawrence) dance routine in “Silver Linings Playbook.”

Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) explains the intricacies of strip-club seduction to the Kid (Alex Pettyfer), complete with lots of pelvic thrusting, in “Magic Mike.”

The plane finally, finally takes off from Iran in “Argo.”

Freddie (Joaquin Phoenix) and Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) have their big blowup in the jail cell in “The Master,” causing Freddie to go temporarily insane, smashing everything in his path.

Jafar Panahi, under house arrest, finally goes outside to see the fireworks in “This Is Not a Film.”

Feuding siblings J.R. (Carlen Altman) and Colin (director Alex Ross Perry) finally make some peace — in the most unexpected way possible — in “The Color Wheel.”

Ottway (Liam Neeson) prepares for his final showdown with the wolves in “The Grey.”

The utterly sincere use of Katy Perry’s “Fireworks” in “Rust & Bone.”

The, uh, scene involving fried chicken in “Killer Joe.”

The riff-off in “Pitch Perfect.”

Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) sits down at a diner with his older self (Bruce Willis) to find out what’s become of him in “Looper.”

Pi (Suraj Sharma) barely survives the shipwreck in “Life of Pi.”

Brian (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Janet (Anna Kendrick) do a pretty sweet choreographed dance to “Push It” at their wedding reception in “End of Watch.”

Although he’s drunk and high, Whip Whitaker (Denzel Washington) manages to land his doomed aircraft in the harrowing opening of “Flight.”

Elena (Nadezhda Markina) finally decides how to resolve her disagreement with her husband (Andrey Smirnov) in “Elena.”

Mallory (Gina Carano) and Paul (Michael Fassbender) fight it out in their hotel room in “Haywire.”

Ohlsdorfer (János Derzsi) and his daughter (Erika Bók) try to leave their doomed farm in “The Turin Horse,” but then, for a reason that’s never explained, they turn around and head home.

The moment when we’re sure that the young boy Cyril (Thomas Doret) is dead in “The Kid With a Bike.”

A prank caller (Pat Healy) tells a fast-food manager (Ann Dowd) that one of her employees (Dreama Walker) stole money from a customer’s purse in “Compliance” — and then things just get worse and worse.

Georges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) squares off with a pigeon in “Amour.”

Performance artist Frank Uwe Laysiepen silently sits across the table from his collaborator and former lover Marina Abramović during her MoMA show in “Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present.”

Isaac Sachs (Tom Hanks) realizes he’s in love with Luisa Rey (Halle Berry) — just as his plane explodes — in “Cloud Atlas.”

Jackie and David Siegel’s dream mansion sits unfinished — a sad symbol of their fading riches — in “The Queen of Versailles.”

Batman (Christian Bale) confronts Bane (Tom Hardy) in his underground lair — and quickly realizes he’s no match for him — in “The Dark Knight Rises.”

Erik (Thure Lindhardt) cries with relief after learning he’s not HIV positive in “Keep the Lights On.”

After trying to control his emotions for so long, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) finally becomes the Hulk in “The Avengers.”

Anna (Keira Knightley) and Count Vronksy (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) dance through a sea of frozen-in-place partygoers in “Anna Karenina.”

A distraught Hester (Rachel Weisz) dashes into the London Underground in “The Deep Blue Sea,” suddenly finding herself having a flashback to when she and her husband (Simon Russell Beale) huddled there with others during the London Blitz while everyone sang “Molly Malone.”

Mark (John Hawkes) and Cheryl (Helen Hunt) say goodbye after the last session in “The Sessions.”

Charlotte (Nicole Kidman) lets it be known just how hot she is for convicted murderer Hillary (John Cusack) in “The Paperboy.”

Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) meets a strange, scary creature named Gollum (Andy Serkis) in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.”

The final, beguiling dance in “Not Fade Away.”

Da Good Bishop Enoch Rouse (Clarke Peters) preaches his heart out in “Red Hook Summer.”

Super-competitive brothers Jeremy (Mark Kelly) and Mark (Steve Zissis) engage in a comically high-stakes Laser Tag battle in “The Do-Deca-Pentathlon.”

A new dance craze, the Sambola, is born in “Damsels in Distress.”

Neil Young drives around his old hometown telling stories in “Neil Young Journeys.”

Stacee Jaxx (Tom Cruise) and Constance Sack (Malin Akerman) paw each other while belting out “I Want to Know What Love Is” in “Rock of Ages.”

Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers to take her sister’s place in “The Hunger Games.”

Spider-Man (Andrew Garfield) saves the boy from the burning car in “The Amazing Spider-Man.”

Jeff (Jason Segel) dives into the water in “Jeff, Who Lives at Home.”

“Afro Circus,” from “Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted,” gets embedded in our brains.

We discover tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun’s (Jane Lynch) comically horrible backstory in “Wreck-It Ralph.”

Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) start having some trippy drug visions in “21 Jump Street.”

After a night of drinking and bonding, Hannah (Rosemarie DeWitt) and Jack (Mark Duplass) decide that sleeping together might not be the worst idea in “Your Sister’s Sister.”

Daniel (Luke Kirby) tells married Margot (Michelle Williams) in sensual detail exactly what he’d do to her if they were lovers in “Take This Waltz.”

The android David (Michael Fassbender) watches “Lawrence of Arabia,” modeling himself after Peter O’Toole, in “Prometheus.”

In “Taken 2,” a kidnapped, imprisoned Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson) calls his daughter (Maggie Grace) and tells her to throw grenades around Istanbul so he can figure out where he is. (You know, because, sure, why the hell not?)

Armie Hammer playing a perfectly lunk-headed prince in “Mirror Mirror.”

Any time Rihanna says anything in “Battleship.”

The big motorcycle chase at the end of “The Bourne Legacy.”

Any scene with Eva Green in “Dark Shadows.”

The wonderfully ridiculous and over-the-top action sequence that kicks off “The Expendables 2.”

The restaurant dance sequence in “Step Up Revolution.” (Honorable Mention: Every other dance sequence in “Step Up Revolution.”)

We discover the reason why James Bond (Daniel Craig) doesn’t want to discuss Skyfall in “Skyfall.”

Happy holidays, everyone. See you in 2013.

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Weird Roles

Anthony Michael Hall’s Most Rotten Movies

Catch Anthony Michael Hall in Weird Science on Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Universal/Everett Collection

Anthony Michael Hall was the quintessential ’80s nerd. We love him in classics like The Breakfast Club and National Lampoon’s Vacation. But even the brainiest among us has his weak spots. In honor of Weird Science airing this Rotten Friday, we analyze Hall’s worst movies.

Weird Science (1985) 56%

A low point for John Hughes, Weird Science is way too wacky for its own good. Anthony Michael Hall’s Gary and his pal Wyatt (Ilan Mitchell-Smith) create the “perfect woman.” Supernatural chaos ensues. The film costars a young Bill Paxton, floppy disks, and a general disconnect from all reality.

The Caveman’s Valentine (2001) 46%

This ambitious drama starring Samuel L. Jackson couldn’t live up to its rich premise. Jackson plays Romulus, a Juilliard-educated, paranoid schizophrenic who lives in a cave. Hall co-stars as Bob, a rich man, who wants to see Romulus play the piano. The plot centers around Romulus investigating a murder, but with so much going on, the movie never quite finds its rhythm.

All About the Benjamins (2002) 30%

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who teams up with Mike Epps’ con man to catch diamond thieves. Hall plays Lil J, a small-time drug dealer. It’s definitely a role we’ve never seen Hall in, but overall the movie isn’t funny or original enough to justify its violence.

Freddy Got Fingered (2001) 11%

This showcase for Tom Green’s goofy gross-out comedy is often hailed as one of the worst films of all time. Green plays Gord, a 20-something slacker, who dreams of having his own animated series. Hall is Dave Davidson, a CEO of an animation studio who eventually helps Gord find success. Too bad Tom Green wasn’t so lucky.

Johnny Be Good (1988) 0%

Hall plays against type as Johnny Walker, a star quarterback. Robert Downey Jr. is his best friend and Uma Thurman plays his devoted girlfriend. Despite the support of a future A-list cast, the movie lacks central conflict and charm. Or, as TV Guide put it, “Johnny be worthless.” Ouch.

Catch the “Too Rotten to Miss” Weird Science this Friday at 8P on IFC.

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Season 6: Episode 1: Pickathon

Binge Fest

Portlandia Season 6 Now Available On DVD

The perfect addition to your locally-sourced, artisanal DVD collection.

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End of summer got you feeling like:

Portlandia Toni Screaming GIF

Ease into fall with Portlandia‘s sixth season. Relive the latest exploits of Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein’s cast of characters, including Doug and Claire’s poignant breakup, Lance’s foray into intellectual society, and the terrifying rampage of a tsukemen Noodle Monster! Plus, guest stars The Flaming Lips, Glenn Danzig, Louis C.K., Kevin Corrigan, Zoë Kravitz, and more stop by to experience what Portlandia is all about.

Pick up a copy of the DVD today, or watch full episodes and series extras now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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Byrning Down the House

Everything You Need to Know About the Film That Inspired “Final Transmission”

Documentary Now! pays tribute to "Stop Making Sense" this Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Cinecom/courtesy Everett Collection

This week Documentary Now! is with the band. For everyone who’s ever wanted to be a roadie without leaving the couch, “Final Transmission” pulls back the curtain on experimental rock group Test Pattern’s final concert. Before you tune in Wednesday at 10P on IFC, plug your amp into this guide for Stop Making Sense, the acclaimed 1984 Talking Heads concert documentary.

Put on Your Dancing Shoes

Hailed as one of the best concert films ever created, director Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs) captured the energy and eccentricities of a band known for pushing the limits of music and performance.

Make an Entrance

Lead singer David Byrne treats the concert like a story: He enters an empty stage with a boom box and sings the first song on the setlist solo, then welcomes the other members of the group to the stage one song at a time.

Steal the Spotlight

David Byrne Dancing
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Always a physical performer, Byrne infuses the stage and the film with contagious joy — jogging in place, dancing with lamps, and generally carrying the show’s high energy on his shoulders.

Suit Yourself

Byrne makes a splash in his “big suit,” a boxy business suit that grows with each song until he looks like a boy who raided his father’s closet. Don’t overthink it; on the DVD, the singer explains, “Music is very physical, and often the body understands it before the head.”

View from the Front Row

Stop Making Sense Band On Stage
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Demme (who also helmed 1987’s Swimming to Cambodia, the inspiration for this season’s Documentary Now! episode “Parker Gail’s Location is Everything”) films the show by putting viewers in the audience’s shoes. The camera rarely shows the crowd and never cuts to interviews or talking heads — except the ones onstage.

Let’s Get Digital

Tina Weymouth Keyboard
Cinecom/Everett Collection

Stop Making Sense isn’t just a good time — it’s also the first rock movie to be recorded entirely using digital audio techniques. The sound holds up more than 30 years later.

Out of Pocket

Talk about investing in your art: Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz told Rolling Stone that the members of the band “basically put [their] life savings” into the movie, and they didn’t regret it.

Catch Documentary Now!’s tribute to Stop Making Sense when “Final Transmission” premieres Wednesday, October 12 at 10P on IFC.

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