2012 Review in Film : Part Two
January 1, 2013
Now that we’ve seen the worst of 2012, let’s take a look at the best.
In part two of my review of 2012, let’s take a look at the best of the year!
Regular readers who know just how much I love an indie film may be surprised by the amount of mainstream flicks in this list. I still managed to squeeze a couple of quirky gems in here nevertheless. Without further adieu, here’s my twelve (because it was 2012, get it?) favourite movies released in the UK throughout 2012.
RELEASED: August 17, 2012 | DIRECTOR: Sarah Polley | CERTIFICATE: 15 | RUN TIME: 116 minutes | CAST: Michelle Williams, Seth Rogen, Sarah Silverman, Luke Kirby
Kicking off my favourite films of 2012 is Sarah Polley’s beautiful, unconventional love story Take This Waltz. Documenting Margot’s (Michelle Williams) frequent relationship breakdowns, the raw and brutal honesty really isn’t for everyone. I loved the contrast between this and the tenderness shown by the ever sweet Lou (Seth Rogen), Margot’s husband.
Wooed by the summer colour scheme, beautiful outfits and suitably indie soundtrack; I have huge affection for Take This Waltz. It’s worth watching for the superbly constructed multiple waltzers scenes set to Video Killed the Radio Star; a song that’s never going to feel quite the same ever again.
RELEASED: February 3, 2012 | DIRECTOR: Sean Durkin | CERTIFICATE: 15 | RUN TIME: 102 minutes | CAST: Elizabeth Olsen, John Hawkes, Sarah Paulson, Hugh Dancy
Sean Durkin’s Martha Marcy May Marlene didn’t quite make it into my top ten, but I couldn’t write about the best of 2012 without including it. Elizabeth Olsen’s debut as Martha, a young woman struggling with normality after fleeing from a cult, is astonishing. Her screen presence is mesmerising, and well worthy of a spot on this list.
Olsen’s beauty and talent aside; Martha Marcy May Marlene is chilling, subtle and affecting. A film that examines the loss of self is no easy watch, but highly recommended. Even if the ending does leave you hanging.
RELEASED: July 20, 2012 | DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan | CERTIFICATE: 12A | RUN TIME: 165 minutes | CAST: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman
The long awaited conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s franchise; The Dark Knight Rises was subject to mixed reviews this year. Many said it was too long, Bane was too inaudible and that it was just too much of a mess. I have to disagree with each of these comments, as our farewell to Christian Bale as Batman was a more than fitting finale.
With Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway and Joseph Gordon-Levitt all giving superb performances, Bale is overshadowed somewhat; this isn’t such a bad thing, and probably makes for a better movie because of it. Any follow up to The Dark Knight would be a tough one, but Nolan certainly goes out with a bang.
RELEASED: June 29, 2012 | DIRECTOR: William Friedkin | CERTIFICATE: 18 | RUN TIME: 102 minutes | CAST: Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch, Juno Temple, Gina Gershon, Thomas Haden Church
Killer Joe was one of my biggest surprises of 2012. Like most, I reserved Matthew McConaughey for the terrible rom-coms that frequented the early 2000s. He’s well and truly shaken off this stereotype all thanks to William Friedkin’s Killer Joe.
Mixing dark humour and brutal violence with super strong performances wouldn’t necessarily be my ideal film (Dredd lost marks because of its brutality), but I adored Killer Joe. Combining a clever plot with smouldering tension made it one of the greatest films of 2012. Lovers of fried chicken; avert your eyes.
RELEASED: September 7, 2012 | DIRECTOR: John Hillcoat | CERTIFICATE: 18 | RUN TIME: 116 minutes | CAST: Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Mia Wasikowska, Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Guy Pearce
After seeing the trailer for John Hillcoat’s Lawless, I completely wrote it off as a boys film. Thankfully, I was dragged along to see at the cinema. Not only was I on the edge of my seat for the majority of the film, I was also a little bit more in love with Tom Hardy afterwards.
Telling the true story of three brothers brewing illegal moonshine in Prohibition Virgina; Lawless’ script, direction and score are all beautiful. Even the casting of Shia La Beouf, one of the worst actors in modern cinema, couldn’t fault it. Irritating, arrogant and obnoxious; he played Jack Bondurant wonderfully. The beautiful setting and costumes are offset by the shocking amount of violence; but there could be no greater contrast to Tom Hardy rocking a cardigan than one of the most vile villains of all time: Guy Pearce as the skin-crawling Charley Rakes.
RELEASED: October 26, 2012 | DIRECTOR: Sam Mendes | CERTIFICATE: 12A | RUN TIME: 143 minutes | CAST: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe, Albert Finney, Judi Dench
I’m not ashamed to say I was dubious about the return of Bond. Daniel Craig proved in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo that he’s awful as anyone other than 007, but Skyfall shows just how good he is as a secret agent. It’s smart, electric and dare I say it; just a little bit sexy.
Mendes has really outdone himself with Skyfall; the perfect way to celebrate 50 years of Bond. It’s a shame that he won’t be returning for future 007 adventures, as this relationship is clearly one that works. Of course, much of the success of Skyfall goes to Javier Bardem as the terrifyingly terrific Silva. It’s pure, unabashed entertainment at its best.
RELEASED: November 21, 2012 | DIRECTOR: David O. Russell | CERTIFICATE: 15 | RUN TIME: 122 minutes | CAST: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker
Quirky, touching and sensitive; David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook is a delight. It seems that Bradley Cooper is doing a Matthew McConaughey and reinventing himself a little, and it’s really working for him as he plays the difficult role of Pat with incredible conviction. More of this, less of The Hangover please!
RELEASED: May 25, 2012 | DIRECTOR: Wes Anderson | CERTIFICATE: 12A | RUN TIME: 94 minutes | CAST: Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward, Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Jason Schwartzman, Bob Balaban
Did you really expect me to write a post about the best of the year and not include a Wes Anderson film? Moonrise Kingdom has everything that makes an Anderson film so unique: it’s whimsical, beautiful and has a magical escapism that many other directors fail to achieve.
As much as I wanted to place Moonrise Kingdom higher in my favourites, Anderson’s latest feature just didn’t live up to my expectations. Yes, it’s wonderful; but I’d still place it below Rushmore and The Life Aquatic of Steve Zissou. Maybe it’s the addition of new actors into the world of Wes that failed to woo me entirely. Moonrise Kingdom is still a superb film, and the perfect introduction to his back catalogue.
RELEASED: November 7, 2012 | DIRECTOR: Ben Affleck | CERTIFICATE: 15 | RUN TIME: 120 minutes | CAST: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman
In Argo, Ben Affleck continues to prove that he’s one of the greatest directors of his generation. After seeing the trailer for his latest project, I was intrigued and unsure what to expect. It seemed to be a mixture of satisfying, if predictable, laughs and a bit of tension thrown in. Granted, it does have touches of dark humour throughout; but this is a tension that is unsurpassed in 2012.
Argo consists of sharp dialogue, a fantastic cast and a plot so full of tension and suspense I spent most of the film gnawing at my fingers. The only thing preventing it from gaining full marks, and being the film of 2012 is the worry that it won’t quite have the same effect on a re-watch.
RELEASED: April 13, 2012 | DIRECTOR: Drew Goddard | CERTIFICATE: 15 | RUN TIME: 95 minutes | CAST: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz, Jesse Williams
Dubbed by many as a game changer for the horror genre, Drew Goddard’s The Cabin in the Woods is a film that benefits from the audience knowing as little about it as possible. It’s simultaneously scary, funny and ridiculously clever. Of course, I wouldn’t expect anything less from writer Joss Whedon.
In my original review, I professed that The Cabin in the Woods was my favourite film of the year. With consideration, and hindsight, I had to bump it down a little. Although it withstood the re-watch test (and subsequent re-watch with special features test), some of the excitement I experienced in the cinema had fizzled out a little. That’s not to say it’s still a superb movie; it’s just that once the plot has unfolded once already, a little sparkle disappears.
RELEASED: April 26, 2012 | DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon | CERTIFICATE: 12A | RUN TIME: 143 minutes | CAST: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson
I am never one to favour convention, but I’m throwing my indie side well and truly out the window with my top two films of 2012. In at number two is Joss Whedon’s brilliant Avengers: Assemble. The ultimate superhero film; it highlights the best of every character, never once forgetting their humanity.
Any film that sees Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth sharing screen time is bound to be awesome and my word, Avengers: Assemble really is awesome. Full of great, quotable one-liners; charismatic characters and unrivalled special effects, Whedon’s masterpiece makes me want to go mainstream a little more often.
RELEASED: February 10, 2012 | DIRECTOR: James Bobin | CERTIFICATE: U | RUN TIME: 103 minutes | CAST: Jason Segel, Amy Adams, Chris Cooper, Rashida Jones, The Muppets
It’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights. The Muppets is my favourite film of 2012. Before I get any comments protesting otherwise, it wasn’t released over here in the UK until February 2012. But it was worth the wait.
I’ve watched The Muppets about six times since seeing it at the cinema, and have loved it every time since. My adoration hasn’t wavered once. Everything about this Disney movie is perfect, and wonderfully feel-good. What more could you ask for the best movie of 2012? Oh yes, Jason Segel and Amy Adams are in it! That really is the icing on the cake.
Was your favourite of 2012 in the list? Stay tuned for part three of my review of 2012, with a lighthearted look at some of the best characters (and possibly animals) of the year!