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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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Face Melting Cameos

The 10 Most Metal Pop Culture Cameos

Glenn Danzig drops by Portlandia tonight at 10P on IFC.

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Glenn Danzig rocks harder than granite. In his 60 years, he’s mastered punk with The Misfits, slayed metal with the eponymous Danzig, and generally melted faces with the force of his voice. And thanks to Fred and Carrie, he’s now stopping by tonight’s brand new Portlandia so we can finally get to see what “Evil Elvis” is like when he hits the beach. To celebrate his appearance, we put together our favorite metal moments from pop culture, from the sublime to the absurd.

10. Cannibal Corpse meets Ace Ventura

Back in the ’90s,  Cannibal Corpse was just a small time band from Upstate New York, plying their death metal wares wherever they could find a crowd, when a call from Jim Carry transformed their lives. Turns out the actor was a fan, and wanted them for a cameo in his new movie, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. The band had a European tour coming up, and were wary of being made fun of, so they turned it down. Thankfully, the rubber-faced In Living Color vet wouldn’t take no for an answer, proving that you don’t need to have a lot of fans, just the right ones.


9. AC/DC in Private Parts

Howard Stern’s autobiographical film, based on his book of the same name, followed his rise in the world of radio and pop culture. For a man surrounded by naked ladies and adoring fans, it’s hard to track the exact moment he made it. But rocking out with AC/DC in the middle of Central Park, as throngs of fans clamor to get a piece of you, seems like it comes pretty close. You can actually see Stern go from hit host to radio god in this clip, as “You Shook Me All Night Long” blasts in the background.


8. Judas Priest meets The Simpsons

When you want to blast a bunch of peace-loving hippies out on their asses, you’re going to need some death metal. At least, that’s what the folks at The Simpsons thought when they set up this cameo from the metal gods. Unfortunately, thanks to a hearty online backlash, the writers of the classic series were soon informed that Judas Priest, while many things, are not in fact “death metal.” This led to the most Simpson-esque apology ever. Rock on, Bartman. Rock on.


7. Anthrax on Married…With Children

What do you get when Married…with Children spoofs My Dinner With Andre, substituting the erudite playwrights for a band so metal they piss rust? Well, for starters, a lot of headbanging, property destruction and blown eardrums. And much like everything else in life, Al seems to have missed the fun.


6. Motorhead rocks out on The Young Ones

The Young Ones didn’t just premiere on BBC2 in 1982 — it kicked the doors down to a new way of doing comedy. A full-on assault on the staid state of sitcoms, the show brought a punk rock vibe to the tired format, and in the process helped jumpstart a comedy revolution. For instance, where an old sitcom would just cut from one scene to the next, The Young Ones choose to have Lemmy and his crew deliver a raw version of “Ace of Spades.” The general attitude seemed to be, you don’t like this? Well, then F— you!


5. Red and Kitty Meet Kiss on That ’70s Show

Carsey-Werner Productions

Carsey-Werner Productions

Long before they were banished to playing arena football games, Kiss was the hottest ticket in rock. The gang from That ’70s Show got to live out every ’70s teen’s dream when they were set loose backstage at a Kiss concert, taking full advantage of groupies, ganja and hard rock.


4. Ronnie James Dio in Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (NSFW, people!)

What does a young boy do when he was born to rock, and the world won’t let him? What tight compadre does he pray to for guidance and some sweet licks? If you’re a young Jables, half of “the world’s most awesome band,” you bow your head to Ronnie James Dio, aka the guy who freaking taught the world how to do the “Metal Horns.” Never before has a rock god been so literal than in this clip that turns it up to eleven.


3. Ozzy Osbourne in Trick or Treat

It’s hard to tell if Ozzy was trying his hardest here, or just didn’t give a flying f–k. What is clear is that, either way, it doesn’t really matter. Ozzy’s approach to acting seems to lean more heavily on Jack Daniels than sense memory, and yet seeing the slurry English rocker play a sex-obsessed televangelist is so ridiculous, he gets a free pass. Taking part in the cult horror Trick or Treat, Ozzy proves that he makes things better just by showing up. Because that’s exactly what he did here. Showed up. And it rocks.


2. Glenn Danzig on Portlandia

Danzig seems to be coming out of a self imposed exile these days. He just signed with a record company, and his appearance on Portlandia is reminding everyone how kick ass he truly is. Who else but “The Other Man in Black” could help Portland’s resident goths figure out what to wear to the beach? Carrie Brownstein called Danzig “amazing,” and he called Fred “a genius,” so this was a rare love fest for the progenitor of horror punk.


1. Alice Cooper in Wayne’s World

It’s surprising, sure, but for a scene that contains no music whatsoever, it’s probably the most famous metal moment in the history of film. When Alice Cooper informed Wayne and Garth that Milwaukee is actually pronounced “Milly-way-kay” back in 1992, he created one of the most famous scenes in comedy history. What’s more metal than that? Much like Wayne and Garth, we truly are not worthy.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” review: Back to Middle-earth at 48 frames per second

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

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Let’s face it: after “The Godfather: Part II” and “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom,” the list of successful prequel movies is pretty short.

Still, it’s no surprise to see “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” arriving in theaters this weekend, offering up the first installment of a new, big-budget trilogy that will serve as a prequel to Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings” films. Jackson’s first series of movies based on J.R.R. Tolkien’s seminal fantasy novel has grossed almost $3 billion worldwide, so it was a bit of a no-brainer to give the same treatment to the story that started it all, The Hobbit.

Originally published back in 1937, The Hobbit chronicles the adventure of Bilbo Baggins, a diminutive “hobbit” caught up in a quest to kill a monstrous dragon that has laid claim to the ancestral home of a group of dwarves. Bilbo and the dwarves are accompanied by a mysterious wizard, Gandalf, who serves as guide, guardian, and ambassador at different points. Over the course of their journey, the group encounters all manner of enemies and allies, including giant spiders, vicious goblins, and noble eagles – as well as the dragon, Smaug – and Bilbo is forced to reconcile the appeal of an adventurer’s lifestyle with his love for a quiet home and a warm hearth.

By and large, the movie stays true to this theme, too – though it occasionally veers off to expand on threads in Tolkien’s story with new twists in characters’ relationships, a few new characters, and some brief narrative side-trips.

It’s worth noting early on that Tolkien penned The Hobbit as a children’s story – a fact that’s often forgotten due to the darker, more intense tone of both The Lord of the Rings novel and Jackson’s big-screen adaptations. “The Hobbit” filmmaker clearly hasn’t forgotten that fact, though, as it’s clear from the start that “An Unexpected Journey” skews considerably younger than the previous trilogy.

Where “The Lord of the Rings” films were frighteningly earnest with life-and-death stakes for both the characters and the world they inhabit, “The Hobbit” feels more like a grand, occasionally slapstick adventure with a group of bumbling fools trying to pass themselves off as warriors. With “An Unexpected Journey,” Jackson is clearly aiming for a lighter, more humorous tone, and Bilbo’s adventure comes across as more of a lighthearted romp than the deadly serious narrative of Frodo’s journey in “The Lord of the Rings.” While this is also right in line with the tone of The Hobbit as it was written, it’s the sort of difference that could confuse casual audiences expecting an extension of “The Lord of the Rings” and could frustrate fans whose recollection of the original story has been influenced by the modern adaptations.

On the visual side, Jackson’s decision to film “An Unexpected Journey” at 48 frames-per-second instead of the standard 24 in order to improve 3-D visuals has been loudly criticized by purists, but the change isn’t even close to the apocalyptic, career-ending, movie-ruining gaffe that early buzz indicated. While it takes a few minutes to adjust to the extra level of sharpness in the lush visuals of the film’s opening sequence (a sequence probably intended to distract you from that acclimation period), much of the film benefits from the high-def upgrade, which makes everything pop just a little bit more.

Still, that extra “pop” does cause a bit of a distraction during certain sequences – specifically, in scenes that take a bird’s-eye view of the group running through detail-heavy, CG set pieces. Much like the scene in “The Fellowship of the Ring” when Frodo and his companions are pursued through the Mines of Moria by a horde of goblins, Bilbo and the dwarves find themselves sprinting through similar environments on several occasions during “The Hobbit,” but the sequences have a noticeably different feel this time around with the hyper-detailed blend of 48fps filming and 3-D presentation. At times, the scenes feel a bit like the cinematic sequences from high-end video games, which often lose a sense of perspective by making every detail in the shot – no matter how far away – crystal clear. The end result is the occasional scene that doesn’t feel entirely real, but isn’t quite digital, either.

Overall, there seems to be a much heavier reliance on CG visuals in “The Hobbit” than in the “The Lord of the Rings” movies, with many of the film’s villains relying heavily on digital and motion-capture effects instead of on-screen actors in prosthetics and makeup. It’s an unfortunate decision, as the practical effects used in “The Lord of the Rings” provided an extra level of realism in those films that would’ve been even more valuable in the ultra-crisp, 48fps environment of the “Hobbit.”

Despite the reliance on digital effects for so many of the creatures of “The Hobbit,” the actors who do get time in front of the camera provide fantastic performances on par with “The Lord of the Rings” cast. Reprising his role as Gandalf, Ian McKellen proves yet again why he is the definitive version of the character, and Martin Freeman successfully captures all of the timidness of Bilbo Baggins with the necessary hint of the inner strength the adventure brings out in him. Outside of Richard Armitage’s noble and grim-faced Thorin Oakenshield, few of the dwarves receive much solo time in the spotlight (which stays right in line with the novel), though Aidan Turner makes the best of his opportunities as the young dwarf Kili.

Composer Howard Shore also deserves praise for his impressive interpretations of the lyrics that Tolkien scattered throughout The Hobbit – especially his haunting spin on the dwarves’ fireside ode to their long-lost kingdom, “Misty Mountains.” Tolkien was known for peppering both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with song lyrics and poems, and much like the 1977 animated feature based on The Hobbit, “An Unexpected Journey” doesn’t disappoint in giving audiences the music of Middle-earth.

Despite all of its flaws (and there are quite a few of them), “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” manages to be a very enjoyable film that remains loyal to the tone of the books without becoming a literal, scene-by-scene narrative. There’s no shortage of scenes that feel padded out to span the three-film arc Jackson has planned, but as the big-screen adaptation of a children’s story that had some dark undertones, “An Unexpected Journey” is a success.

The story of The Hobbit has always been its own creature, written for an audience 20 years younger than The Lord of the Rings readers, and envisioned as a far more innocent, playful tale. With this adaptation, Jackson seems keenly aware of the differences between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and instead of trying to make one more like the other, he embraces what makes each story unique. “An Unexpected Journey” may not be the greatest adventure on Middle-earth, but it does make for a great theater experience.

“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” arrives in theaters Friday, December 14.

“Lincoln,” “Argo” and “Django Unchained” lead the Golden Globes nominees

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There aren’t many surprises on the list of this year’s Golden Globes nominees. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association played it pretty safe, opting for critical darlings like “Lincoln,” “Life of Pi,” “Les Miserables” and “Zero Dark Thirty” instead of fan favorites like “The Avengers,” “Looper” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” At least “Argo” and “Django Unchained” got five nods apiece, as one was and the other is slated to be some of the most entertaining movies of the year.

It’s interesting that “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” is nowhere to be seen on this list, which doesn’t bode well for its release tomorrow. During their time, “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy got plenty of love from awards shows, but early reviews have said that “The Hobbit” isn’t looking like it’s going to be quite as great as its older brother.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t express excitement about “Silver Linings Playbook” and “The Sessions” getting lots of love. Also, Jack Black was recognized for his work in “Bernie” and “Moonrise Kingdom” got a nod for Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical. Also, Adele got “Skyfall” its one nomination (for Best Song), and if Taylor Swift wins over here we’re going to boycott the Globes forever.

Here’s the full list of Golden Globes nominees:

BEST MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
– “Argo”
– “Django Unchained”
– “Life of Pi”
– “Lincoln”
– “Zero Dark Thirty”

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA – Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”
– Marion Cotillard in “Rust and Bone”
– Helen Mirren in “Hitchcock”
– Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”
– Rachel Weisz in “The Deep Blue Sea”

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – DRAMA
– Daniel Day-Lewis in “Lincoln”
– Richard Gere in “Arbitrage”
– John Hawkes in “The Sessions”
– Joaquin Phoenix in “The Master”
– Denzel Washington in “Flight”

BEST MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
– “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
– “Les Miserables”
– “Moonrise Kingdom”
– “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”
– “Silver Linings Playbook”

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
– Emily Blunt in “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”
– Judi Dench in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”
– Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
– Maggie Smith in “Quartet”
– Meryl Streep in “Hope Springs”

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A MOTION PICTURE – COMEDY OR MUSICAL
– Jack Black in “Bernie”
– Bradley Cooper in “Silver Linings Playbook”
– Hugh Jackman in “Les Miserables”
– Ewan McGregor in “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”
– Bill Murray in “Hyde Park on Hudson”

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM
– “Brave”
– “Frankenweenie”
– “Hotel Transylvania”
– “Rise of the Guardians”
– “Wreck-It Ralph”

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
– “Amour” (Austria)
– “A Royal Affair” (Denmark)
– “The Intouchables” (France)
– “Kon-Tiki” (Norway/UK/Denmark)
– “Rust and Bone” (France)

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
– Amy Adams in “The Master”
– Sally Field in “Lincoln”
– Anne Hathaway in “Les Miserables”
– Helen Hunt in “The Sessions”
– Nicole Kidman in “The Paperboy”

BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A MOTION PICTURE
– Alan Arkin in “Argo”
– Leonardo DiCaprio in “Django Unchained”
– Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master”
– Tommy Lee Jones in “Lincoln”
– Christoph Waltz in “Django Unchained”

BEST DIRECTOR – MOTION PICTURE
– Ben Affleck for “Argo”
– Kathryn Bigelow for “Zero Dark Thirty”
– Ang Lee for “Life of Pi”
– Stephen Spielberg for “Lincoln”
– Quentin Tarantino for “Django Unchained”

BEST SCREENPLAY – MOTION PICTURE
– Mark Boal for “Zero Dark Thirty”
– Tony Kushner for “Lincoln”
– David O. Russell for “Silver Linings Playbook”
– Quentin Tarantino for “Django Unchained”
– Chris Terrio for “Argo”

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE – MOTION PICTURE
– Mychael Danna for “Life of Pi”
– Alexandra Desplat for “Argo”
– Dario Marianelli for “Anna Karenina”
– Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek and Reinhold Heil for “Cloud Atlas”
– John Williams for “Lincoln”

BEST ORIGINAL SONG – MOTION PICTURE
– “For You,” “Act of Valor”
– “Not Running Anymore,” “Stand Up Guys”
– “Safe and Sound,” “The Hunger Games”
– “Skyfall,” “Skyfall”
– “Suddenly,” “Les Miserables”

Who do you think should win during the Golden Globes? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

Tim Grierson on the Year’s Forgotten Gems

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Most critics agree that 2012 will be remembered as a particularly strong movie year. Whether it’s “Zero Dark Thirty” or “The Master,” “Moonrise Kingdom” or “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Amour” or “Holy Motors,” bold films were everywhere. The only downside to such a terrific year is that some superb smaller films have been pushed into the margins, overlooked by critics’ groups, end-of-the-year lists, and Oscar bloggers. With that in mind, I thought I’d select five that are absolutely worth your time that I haven’t mentioned in any of my columns this year. If you were having trouble narrowing down your 2012 favorites to a Top 10, these selections will only further complicate your process…

Goodbye First Love – This French drama from filmmaker Mia Hansen-Løve tackles an age-old subject, but with a real daring and freshness. An impressionable teenager named Camille (Lola Créton) is utterly smitten with her older boyfriend Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky), convinced that they’re meant to be together forever. So what is she supposed to do when Sullivan decides to travel the globe and leave her behind? “Goodbye First Love” takes a clear-eyed perspective on the passionate unreasonableness of young love, quietly observing as Camille mourns for the guy who turned his back on her. Créton bravely allows Camille to be exasperating and moody, such is the seeming permanence of her stubbornly broken heart.

It’s Such a Beautiful Day – When we think of animated movies, our minds go to major productions like “Brave” or “Wreck-It Ralph,” where hundreds upon hundreds of animators and other artists are working together to make big blockbusters. By comparison, Don Hertzfeldt makes personal, do-it-yourself projects. This year, he released “It’s Such a Beautiful Day,” which compiled two previous short animated films with a new final installment, all about a luckless gent named Bill coping with the ennui of regular life. The three-piece movie runs just over an hour, but with wry humor and some utterly poignant touches, it addresses the complexity of life, death and family in such a way that it’s very nearly overpowering.

Marina Abramović: The Artist Is Present – For those who are allergic to performance art, an entire documentary about heralded, divisive art-world figure Marina Abramović might sound like hell. But director Matthew Akers delivers a portrait of an icon made human as she prepares for her latest show, which will involve her sitting quietly and expressionlessly in a chair for several hours each day while museum patrons take turns sitting opposite her. Abramović will only stare back at them, and likewise “The Artist Is Present” gazes back at her as she goes about her craft. But this is no dry academic treatise: Few films this year made me cry as much as this one, in part because of the extraordinary (albeit brief and silent) connection she makes with her fans during this exhibit.

Middle of Nowhere
– This year’s Sundance helped launch “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and “The Sessions.” But don’t forget about this wonderfully observed Los Angeles drama about a young woman named Ruby (Emayatzy Corinealdi) who promises to wait for her husband (Omari Hardwick) while he serves a prison sentence. But Ruby’s devotion to her man leaves her in an emotional purgatory that keeps her own life from moving forward, which causes all sorts of complications when a gentlemanly bus driver (a superb David Oyelowo) starts to develop feelings for her. Great performances, realistic stakes, genuine feeling — writer-director Ava DuVernay has crafted a movie with the richness and care of a novel.

Only the Young
– Of the many strengths of the documentary “Only the Young,” chief among them is how loving and nonjudgmental filmmakers Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims are about their subjects: three teens living in Southern California negotiating the anxiety of adolescence. Raised Christian but loving skateboarding and punk music, Garrison, Kevin and Skye are observed as they deal with crushes and broken families, and the movie blessedly never tries to categorize them, letting their contradictions speak for themselves. It also doesn’t hurt that “Only the Young” is quite often simply beautifully made, weaving together the teens’ conversation with images from their desert hometown that capture a universal sense of longing and isolation that any young person can recognize. Like many of 2012’s forgotten gems, “Only the Young” may not have made many waves, but its precise, wonderful artistry makes one ponder how many other wonderful films are out there waiting to be discovered.

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