On Aug. 12, 2012, I got married. That alone marks 2012 as a fantastic, fabulous, phenomenal, momentous year in The Life of Aaron. But otherwise, 2012 disappointed the hell out of me. It certainly was not as bad as 2009, and in certain ways, it improved upon both 2010 and 2011. Still, as I revisited and reflected upon some of the goals – realistic or otherwise – I had set for myself 366-plus days ago, I saw too many instances of not just incomplete ambitions, but also many I had not even started.
One major disappointment had nothing to do with any of my 2012 goals, but rather the shock and surprise resulting from the discovery that I had seen fewer movies in 2012 – and a relatively low number of 2012 releases in a year that saw over 800 of them – than I had during any year this century, and most likely, the final decade of the last one.
I watched friends, former colleagues and the critical world at large release their top 10 lists and realized two things: One, I had simply not seen enough 2012 releases to truly identify 10 films that I thought represented the best of the year. Sure, nobody sees everything and no list is comprehensive, but my sample size (still only at about 60, and I’ve watched roughly 25% of that number in just the past two weeks) still feels pitiful, especially since so many of titles making the top 50 of various media outlets’ critics polls remain unseen.
Second, and maybe more importantly, I have yet to see a 2012 release that made me want to exclaim, “That could be the best film of the year!” I don’t mean to imply that I didn’t see lots of 2012 movies that I really liked. One of my major annual annoyances involves those hyperbolic critics making the argument that we just witnessed a horrible year for film, worse than any other, especially the previous year when other critics (or maybe even themselves) made the same argument. These folks will state that they can’t even find 10 movies to list among the dreck, which is always absurd, but never more so than in a world with so many hundreds of new works to explore.
(I remember about 20 years ago, while I was still at the UCLA Daily Bruin, Kenneth Turan was so disappointed in the year’s films, he refused to name a top 10 and went only with nine. How clevezzzzzzzzzzzz ….)
Until about two years ago, I had developed a new practice that I had turned into a tradition: I would not allow myself to see any film in the new year (new or old; in the theater or on TV; movies only; series television did not count) until I had again watched my favorite film of the previous year. So, after considering the first (and in my opinion, still the best) of Christopher Nolan’s now-completed trilogy the best of 2005, shortly after midnight 2006, I popped in the DVD of Batman Begins. It took mr until Jan. 3, 2007 to revisit Pan’s Labyrinth at the AMC Empire 25, and I avoided movies until then. On Jan. 1, 2008, I ventured to the AMC Loew’s Lincoln Square to start my year with There Will Be Blood. Jan. 1, 2009, you could find me at the Landmark Sunshine for my second (or it may have been third, by then) helping of Synecdoche, New York.