2012 Leaman Awards


*Last Updated 8/13/2022

2012 Films Seen: 76
Number of Films with 'A' or 'A+': 2
Key Films Still to See: n/a

Brief Summary: n/a


Not a "best of" list or a "favorite" list - but a list of the films and sequences (action, drama, comedy, & musical) that I think represent the best the year had to offer. So think of it as a strange mixture of favorite, best, and defining. Once you get to the top ten films, it definitely becomes more defined as a Top Ten list of the year. The number one film is my favorite of the year. 

Honorable Mentions: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Men in Black 3, Take this Waltz 

25. The Dark Knight Rises (B-)
24. Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama Bin Laden (B)
23. Amour (B)
22. Dredd (B)
21. Life of Pi (B)
20. Safe (B)
19. Looper (B)
18. Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted (B)
17. Silver Linings Playbook (B)
16. The Cabin in the Woods (B)
15. Anna Karenina (B+)
14. The Gatekeepers (B+)
13. Chronicle (B+)
12. Wreck-It Ralph (B+)
11. Django Unchained (B+)

THE TOP TEN
10. Skyfall (B+)

9. Flight (A-)

8. Lincoln (A-)

7. Les Miserables (A-)

6. The Impossible (A-)

5. Moonrise Kingdom (A-)

4. Argo (A-)

3. The Avengers (A-)

2. The Raid: Redemption (A)

1. Zero Dark Thirty (A): This is one of the great historical/military/spy "based on a true story" thrillers of all-time. The movie tries to walk an incredibly fine line here (I think successfully) showing (honoring even) the years and years of difficult foot work, lead following, and sacrifices many people made to gather intelligence and launch the raid on Bin Laden, while also trying to not flinch from showing the unflattering depths (some say damning depths) and violence that was required to do so. Is it 100% accurate? No. However, the film presents to us a condensed and amalgamated series of events that is representative of the types of work, people, and breakthroughs that did happen. The film is edited and shot almost like a documentary, giving the entire work a feeling of watching history unfold. The film begins with audio of the 9/11 attacks - the event largely planned and masterminded by the radical terrorist Osama Bin Laden. It then does its best to track how the American government spent years in efforts to track and capture him beginning with the detainee program - the black site interrogation program shown here being led by Jason Clark's "Dan" - who is really an amalgamation of many CIA figures who were involved in "enhanced" prisoner interrogations that featured the use of waterboarding, humiliation, loud music for sleep deprivation, and being put into small boxes. It's from these interrogations that the name Abu Ahmed comes up. The film then depicts the footwork of interrogating various detainees, following leads, arrests leading to new leads, and intermixes this with setbacks around the world like the July 2005 UK bombing. Eventually we get enough intel to lead to a series of tense tracking and intelligence work on a possible courier for Bin Laden. The last act of the film is devoted to the actual operation launched across the border into Pakistan. It's a thrilling and informative sequence that makes you feel present for the raid, for its hiccups and its successes. This is an incredible piece of filmmaking - dispassionately capturing the basic events, people, and feeling that went into the historical moment. 


FAVORITE ACTION SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
The Very Good:
  • "Attack on the Helicarrier" -The Avengers (Commentary)
  • "Manilla Maze: Foot & Motorcycle Chase Thru the City" -The Bourne Legacy (Commentary)
  • "Fighting it Out in the Streets of Seattle" -Chronicle
  • "Counterfeit Lab Fight: Jackie vs. Guards & Zhoe Zhang vs. Caitlin Dechelle" -Chinese Zodiac (Commentary)
  • "Candyland Shootout" -Django Unchained (Commentary)
  • "Two Assassins Fight it Out in the Hotel Room" -Haywire
  • "Battle of Anzio: Dogfights Lead to a Airfield Attack" -Red Tails (Commentary)
  • "Hallway Havoc 2: Rama vs. Machete Man Gang" -The Raid: Redemption (Commentary)
  • "Hallway Havoc: Rama Takes On All" -The Raid: Redemption (Commentary)
  • "Finale: House Battle in Scotland" -Skyfall (Commentary)
The Great:
  • "2 v 1 Invitational: Iko & Brother vs. Mad Dog" -The Raid: Redemption (Commentary)
  • "Drug Lab Warfare" -The Raid: Redemption (Commentary)
  • "Opening: Chasing After a Hard Drive in Istanbul" -Skyfall (Commentary)
  • "Operation Neptune Spear: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden" -Zero Dark Thirty
The Best: "Finale: The Battle for New York" -The Avengers (Commentary)
Commentary:  It seems obvious now, but nobody quite knew just how big a superhero team up finale would go. The promise of all these famous heroes getting together seemed to suggest something we had never seen before, but could they really deliver? The simple answer (with slight hyperbole here) is this: no one who left the theater in 2012 walked in with any clue what they were about to see and no one left disappointed. Marvel absolutely OVER delivered with this sequence, giving audiences one of the most jaw-dropping, enjoyable, and satisfying finales they'd ever seen. Whether or not you favor this finale or the ones from Infinity War or End Game I think is going to be subjective - but I think this one wins for the sheer total enjoyment factor. For more commentary on the sequence click HERE.


FAVORITE DRAMATIC SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
The Very Good:
  • "Agent Coulson Gives the Final Motivation for the Group" –The Avengers
  • "Monster Mayhem in the Lower Levels" -Cabin in the Woods
  • "Shooting the Sheriff in the Street & Collecting the Marshall’s Reward" -Django Unchained
  • "Plane Crash in Alaska" ­-The Grey
  • "Riddles in the Dark & the Pity of Bilbo" -The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • "Lincoln and Stevens Discuss Political Strategy in the Basement" -Lincoln
  • "Opening: Interrogation Resorts to Water Boarding" -Zero Dark Thirty
  • "Islamabad Hotel Bombing During a Casual Meal" -Zero Dark Thirty
The Great:
  • "A Dwarven Party Interrupts Bilbo’s Life" -The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • "Cabinet Meeting: We Must Cure Ourselves of Slavery" -Lincoln
  • "Hiding in a Crawl Space from Machete Man" -The Raid: Redemption
The Best: "Opening: Dr. King Shultz Retrieves Django from Slavers at Night" -Django Unchained
Commentary: This opening sequence is so good and encapsulated so much of what the film ultimately offers, that I think you could almost show it as a short film by itself. 


FAVORITE COMEDIC SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
*Didn't keep great track of this category initially

The Very Good:
  • "Having Trouble with the Masks and Eyeholes Before the Ambush" -Django Unchained

The Great:
  •  

The Best: 
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE MUSICAL SEQUENCES OF THE YEAR
*Only one film I saw this year featured musical sequences!
The Very Good:
  • "Who Am I" -Les Miserables
  • "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables" -Les Miserables
  • "One Day More" -Les Miserables 
The Great:
  • "Red & Black" -Les Miserables 
The Best: "The Spiral: From 'At the End of the Day' to 'I Dreamed a Dream'" -Les Miserables
Commentary: n/a

BEST DIRECTOR
Nominees:
  • Ben Affleck Argo
  • Wes Anderson Moonrise Kingdom
  • Juan Antonio Bayona The Impossible
  • Kathryn Bigelow Zero Dark Thirty
  • Gareth Evans The Raid: Redemption
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE FILM ENSEMBLES
Nominees:
  • Django Unchained
  • The Impossible
  • Les Mis√©rables
  • Lincoln
  • Moonrise Kingdom
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE MALE PERFORMANCES
Nominees:
  • Jason Clarke Zero Dark Thirty
  • Daniel Day-Lewis Lincoln
  • Leonardo DiCaprio Django Unchained
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman The Master
  • Hugh Jackman Les Mis√©rables
  • Ewan MacGregor The Impossible
  • Joaquin Phoenix The Master
  • Christopher Walken Seven Psychopaths
  • Christoph Waltz Django Unchained
  • Denzel Washington Flight
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE FEMALE PERFORMANCES
Nominees:
  • Amy Adams The Master
  • Jessica Chastain Zero Dark Thirty
  • Sally Field Lincoln
  • Anne Hathaway Les Miserables
  • Kara Hayward Moonrise Kingdom
  • Jennifer Lawrence Silver Linings Playbook
  • Kelly Reilly Flight
  • Quvenzhane Wallis Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Naomi Watts The Impossible
  • Michelle Williams Take This Waltz
Commentary: n/a


FAVORITE SCREENPLAYS
(original or adapted)
Nominees:
  • Argo
  • The Avengers
  • The Cabin in the Woods
  • Flight
  • The Impossible
  • Lincoln
  • Looper
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • The Raid: Redemption
  • Zero Dark Thirty
Commentary: I can't imagine the amount of work that went into trying to get this film right. You obviously cannot tell this story as it was. First, there's just too many details, too many people involved, over too long a time, and not every aspect was available to the screenwriter yet (though he did have access to much of the information he needed.) The real trick here and the reason I'm awarding the film best screenplay, is in choosing what events to highlight, what people to condense into the characters we did get, so that we could get an accurate representation of what did take place. I think it's incredible work overall - engaging but informative and insightful.


BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Nominees:
  • The Gatekeepers
  • Hellbound?
  • Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap
Commentary: n/a


BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
Nominees:
  • Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted
  • Paranorman
  • Wreck-It Ralph
Commentary: n/a
BEST FILM EDITING
Nominees:
  • Argo
  • Flight
  • Lincoln
  • The Raid: Redemption
  • Skyfall
  • Zero Dark Thirty
Commentary: On a macro and a micro level, Zero Dark Thirty is a tremendous achievement in editing. I love the basic structure here with the film laid out in chapters, starting with a strong base of where the first intelligence has come from, then narrowing further into the specific tradecraft and operations that brought us to the key decisions and the final operation. The editing presents a large cast of characters, lots of information, and multiple operations in a clear and engaging way. On top of the enormous story of the quest to find Bin Laden comes the final action sequence to capture him. It's a masterpiece of military style action - laying out the tactics and geography while also injecting drama and intensity.


BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
Nominees:
  • Django Unchained
  • The Master
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Prometheus
  • Skyfall
  • Zero Dark Thirty
Commentary: n/a


BEST ART DIRECTION
Nominees:
  • Anna Karenina
  • Django Unchained
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Skyfall
  • Snow White and the Huntsmen
Commentary: n/a


BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Nominees:
  • The Avengers
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Life of Pi
  • Prometheus
  • Total Recall
Commentary: n/a


BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
Nominees:
  • The Avengers
  • Brave
  • The Impossible
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Zero Dark Thirty
Commentary: n/a


BEST SOUND DESIGN
Nominees:
  • The Avengers
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • The Impossible
  • Skyfall
Commentaryn/a


BEST COSTUME DESIGN
Nominees:
  • Anna Karenina
  • Cloud Atlas
  • Django Unchained
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Les Miserables
  • Moonrise Kingdom
Commentary: n/a


BEST MAKE-UP & HAIR DESIGN
Nominees:
  • Anna Karenina
  • Cloud Atlas
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • The Impossible
  • Les Miserables
Commentary: n/a

BIGGEST GUILTY PLEASURE
Nominees:
  • Dredd
  • The Expendables 2
  • Lockout
Commentary: n/a

MOST SURPRISING FILM
Nominees:
  • The Avengers
  • The Cabin in the Woods
  • Skyfall
Commentary: n/a


MOST DISAPPOINTING FILM
Nominees:
  • The Grey
  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  • Prometheus
Commentary: n/a


MOST UNDERRATED FILM
Nominees:
  • The Impossible
  • Safe
  • Total Recall
Commentary: n/a


MOST OVERRATED FILM
Nominees:
  • 21 Jump Street
  • The Hunger Games
  • Ted
Commentary:  n/a


WORST FILM
Nominees:
  • Battleship
  • Resident Evil: Retribution
  • This is 40 
Commentary:  n/a


BEST COMPILATION OF WORK
Performances/Accomplishments (that I saw anyways):
  • Chris Hemsworth: The Avengers, The Cabin in the Woods
  • Denzel Washington: Flight, Safe House 
Commentary: n/a  


ERIC BANA AWARD
*Given for the best performance in a bad film (See 2004's Troy)
Nominees:
  • Michael Fassbender Prometheus
  • Zach Galifianakis The Campaign
  • Liam Neeson The Grey 
Commentary:  n/a


THE END!


"Mister Candie, normally I would say "Auf wiedersehen," but since what "auf wiedersehen" actually means is "'till I see you again", and since I never wish to see you again, to you, sir, I say goodbye!" -Django Unchained


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