January 25th 2013 marks the one year anniversary of my blog and this felt as good a day as any to publish my Top Ten of 2012. I considered publishing it earlier, to coincide with my Top 10 New to Me Films of 2012, but the extra month gave me a chance to see more of this year’s Oscar frontrunners and also made sense as it brings to a close my first year of blogging. I saw a total of 391 films this year, of which exactly 100 are eligible for last year’s Top 10. To be eligible I had to see it in the cinema sometime between 25/01/12 and 24/01/13. I’m yet to see the likes of Lincoln and Zero Dark Thirty so they may be included next year. Also, films such as The Artist and Shame have been discounted as I originally saw them before I started blogging. The ten films are in reverse order and you can click on the title for a full review. After the Top 10 there will also be a list of my girlfriend’s Top 3 and my 5 worst films of 2012 too. Enjoy…
10. Les Miserables. Les Mis is far from a perfect film but it's one that has stayed with me a long time. Three weeks after seeing it I still find myself humming songs to myself at work and the performances of Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman are amongst the year’s best. The scale, live singing and wonderful story all add up to make it one of the year’s best and the best musical I’ve seen at the cinema.
9. God Bless America. Sometimes a film feels like it’s been made just for you. God Bless America was made for me. Somehow Director Bobcat Goldthwait got inside my mind, removed all the nudity and filth and made this film from what was left. Although it didn’t go down brilliantly when released it struck a cord with me and Joel Murray is excellent. I loved the story and the odd central relationship added another dimension to the anger and violence.
8. Argo. One of the slickest movies of 2012, Ben Affleck’s Argo confirmed the Director as one of Hollywood’s up and coming talents behind the camera. In front of the camera Affleck deftly constructs two films for the price of one; an espionage thriller and behind the scenes Hollywood comedy. Both work well together and the film is tense and funny. Accusations can be thrown at it that it’s depictions of Iranians isn’t wholly truthful but overall it is a tight and entertaining film telling a little known story of a well known event.
7. Anna Karenina. Joe Wright’s bold and beautiful retelling of Tolstoy’s classic was one of the most visually stunning movies of 2012. The interesting decision to base the plot mostly inside a theatre worked like a dream and the performances, set and costumes were all excellent. Keira Knightly continued her fine form from A Dangerous Method and Jude Law was great in a scaled back, quiet role. The cinematography is breathtaking and I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen for a second.
6. The Intoucables. (Known as Untouchable in the UK). Around two thirds into the year this would have been number one on this list. It hasn’t stayed with me as much as some of the other films on the list but it remains one of the funniest and heart warming films I saw last year. Two fantastic central performances, a redemption theme and good story make it one of my favourites from the last twelve months.
5. Moonrise Kingdom. Any new Wes Anderson film gives me cause to celebrate but this one surpassed my expectations. Another quirky, yellow and brown film that delivers its lines dead pan and generally around the table, Moonrise Kingdom had an added warmth which is often lacking from Anderson’s films. Stylish and effortlessly cool it features two great young leads and a host of Anderson alumni on top form plus some newcomers to the circle. Funny, unusual and sweet, it is one of Wes Anderson’s best which instantly makes it one of 2012’s best.
4. Killer Joe. Killer Joe was one of my girlfriend’s least favourite films of 2012 but in my opinion one of the best. It was dirty, gritty and sweaty and contained great performances from Juno Temple and Matthew McConaughey. Mahogany McConaughey is worthy of losing his wooden reputation with a wonderfully repugnant yet darkly comic performance which is much like the film itself. The fried chicken scene is one of the year’s most memorable and the fantastic plot shows that even in his late 70s that William Friedkin hasn’t lost his edge.
3. Holy Motors. One of the strangest films I have ever seen, Holy Motors is an incredible portrayal of… something. What it’s about is left up to the viewer and I have my theories but it is a beautifully crafted film that features several impressive vignettes and one of the year’s best acting performances. The plot is mind-boggling and makes no sense but I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. A film like no other, Holy Motors will stay with me for years and I can’t wait to see it again.
2. Life of Pi. Simply the most beautiful film of the year and probably the only time you’ll ever see me recommend the use of 3D, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi took what was a seemingly unfilmable story and turned it into one of the most impressive movies of the year. The cinematography is stunning, the effects groundbreaking and the central performance excellent. The clever shooting techniques and screen ratio changes added depth and weight to the story and Lee certainly knew exactly what he was doing visually. Gripping throughout and as beautiful as film gets, Life of Pi deserves to clean up during the awards season.
1. Amour. For my number one film of 2012, Amour was one of my least favourite movie going experiences. I didn’t ‘enjoy’ watching the film but it is sublime. Michael Haneke sands his hard edges for a story of love in old age and the two central performances are spine tingling. Emmanuelle Riva deserves the Oscar for her performance which is De Niroesque in its transformation from vivacious OAP to withering, breathing corpse. The script is incredible and I was transfixed, unable to move even once the credits started rolling. Amour will be watched for years to come and it won’t be long until it reaches classic status. It’s performance at English language awards ceremonies shows that it is the rarest of films which breaks out of the ‘foreign language’ box and although I’m not particularly looking forward to it, I want to see it again already.
The next ten (Alphabetically) The Avengers, A Dangerous Method, The Dark Knight Rises, Django Unchained, Dredd, Headhunters, The Imposter, Looper, Tabu, Ted.
Gifriend’s Top 3 of 2012
2. Life of Pi
3. Les Miserables
Bottom 5 of 2012
2. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter
3. Piranha 3DD
5. The Vow