Catch up on our previous 2011 article right here!
Louise’s Pick: The Cabin in the Woods
Honourable Mentions: Looper, Wreck-It Ralph, The Imposter
Now, my previous picks, they have been all about sheer magisterial grasp of the cinematic art form. I Saw The Devil and The Skin I Live In are not so much films to enjoy as films to endure to come out a better person – well, what’s left of you, anyway.
But Cabin in the Woods? Cabin in the Woods is different. I mean, to be fair, there is an extraordinary amount of skill on display here, as director Drew Goddard pulls apart the horror genre at the seams and tosses it back together again with killer mermen, tequila, Fran Kranz, and probably my favourite Chris Hemsworth performance to date; I’m a huge slut for the world of horror, and, in those terms, Cabin in the Woods is built for me – inventive, anarchic, but ultimately a loving addition to the genre that shoots to be a good horror film above all else, there is a lot of skill and knowledge of the craft on display here.
Honestly, though, I’d be lying if I said that this is why it’s my pick for 2012. I watch Cabin in the Woods about once every six months, and there is little out there in the cinematic landscape that has just followed me around the way this has: I saw it at the cinema, holding sweaty teenage hands with my first boyfriend, I watched it wine-drunk with my best friend in university, and it was one of the very first films that me and my dear writing partner right here on No But Listen ever bonded over. It brings me great joy, not just because it is such a truly passionate love letter to a genre that I adore, but because it holds so many good memories for me.
Sometimes, movies that I love and hold in real esteem fall into that category because of their sheer critical merit. But sometimes, it’s just because they lock in to some pleasure center in my brain and probably always will. And that’s exactly why Cabin in the Woods is right here.
By Louise MacGregor
Kev’s Pick: Looper
Honorable Mentions: The Master, The Avengers, Moonrise Kingdom
When it was announced that director Rian Johnson would be helming the middle chapter of the new Star Wars trilogy, I was deeply disappointed. Not because I possessed amazing powers of foresight – The Last Jedi did crack my top 10 of 2017, after all – but because I was annoyed that I would need to wait much longer for his next original movie (Knives Out was well worth it, by the way). The reason for this was his 2012 sci-fi noir-action movie, Looper.
Rightly lauded on release, Looper is a perfect example of what Johnson does best: remixing the conventions of his chosen genres, giving us sympathetically conflicted characters, and basically making a little look like a lot. Looper is a time travel movie about the titular assassins who murder people sent through time (horrible work if you can get it) and crafting a head-boilingly slick future as its back drop. At least, that’s the first half – the second being a brilliant character drama about a child with psychic abilities that could go either way morality-wise. The actions of three (or two if you’re being pedantic) characters will influence whether this little boy becomes the bloody anti-christ, or just another accursed child actor.
So, the stakes are high, the actors, which include Joseph Gordon Levitt, a Bruce Willis who gives a shit, and a scene-stealing Emily Blunt are all top class, and Johnson’s skill behind the camera is unmatched. You’ll watch Looper and be annoyed about The Last Jedi for a new reason. More like this please, Rian.
(header image via Mubi)