Honorable Mentions Of 2012: ‘Django Unchained’

You’ve seen our Top Ten of 2012 list, but now let’s take a look back at the movies that just missed the cut. These are our Honorable Mentions of 2012.

The absence of Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” from our list of the best movies of 2012 should, unfortunately, be chalked up to not enough of our writers getting a chance to see it ahead of its December 25 release date. Be that as it may, Tarantino’s spin on the classic western does deserve some recognition because those of us that did see it couldn’t stop raving about it.

When the world first heard that Tarantino was cooking up another historical remix to follow up the triumphant “Inglourious Basterds,” there seemed to be universal approval. “A freed slave enlists the help of a skilled German bounty hunter to reclaim his captive wife.” It all sounded so perfect, especially when considering that Tarantino would finally get a chance to take a semi-straight forward crack at the western, a genre he’s paid homage to dozens of times before.

The casting process boded well for “Django Unchained,” with Tarantino bringing on a mix of former collaborators and A-list talent to maximize the potency of his slavery era tale. Jamie Foxx, a man desperately in need of an opportunity to show off his underappreciated acting skills, would go up against Leonardo DiCaprio, who lobbied for Hans Landa in “Basterds” and has clearly yearned for a chance to go bad.

The finished product was everything we could have hoped for, but in some ways, not entirely what we expected. Tarantino, in some respects, toned down his directorial kinetic energy to make a deliberately slower film that hued closer to “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” in its rhythms than to the buzz of his previous works. As he’s made a habit of doing, he also pulled career-best performances out of his leads and tickled the audience with his always-on ear for dialogue.

With “Django Unchained,” Quentin Tarantino delivered on the promise of his premise and offered up a western worthy of the wait and his ever-more-impressive filmography.