Words by Yazen Al Samen
What a year 2012 has been for franchises. From Superheroes to teenage vampires to Hobbitses to even British secret agents. Films that have grossed in the billions, and still do. However, there were films that stood on their own alongside those big hitters. 2012 has been again a rich year for films, here on English shores, even though we are yet to be hit with ‘Les Miserables’, ‘Django Unchained’, ‘Lincoln’, ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ or ‘Flight’, among other movies, which have already took sweep of the US and have gained critical momentum.
Yours truly has watched as much as he can during the past year and here I present my personal list of the best films I’ve seen during the past year, I’ve discounted films like ‘The Artist’ and ‘The Descendants’ because even though they were released last January, they’re not really 2012 movies as they were 2011 releases in America and are even considered 2011 movies by the BAFTA. Anyway, here I roll with the list (excluding Documentaries):
First, some honourable mentions: ‘The Deep Blue Sea’, ‘End of Watch’, ‘The Grey’, ‘The Impossible’, ‘Killer Joe’, ‘Killing Them Softly’, ‘Looper’, ‘Prometheus’, ‘Silver Linings Playbook’, ‘To Rome With Love’.
10. ‘Holy Motors’
I guess “Holy Motors” is what you call a wild ride. This is a movie like no other, one of the most all out bat shit crazy films I have seen. The plot involves Denis Lavant as a certain Monseiur Oscar, who spends his day travelling around Paris in his limousine, and attending different “appointments”.
In each appointment he dresses as a different person and acts differently. Featuring supporting turns by Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue, and directed by Leos Carax, one of the less active, yet most famous of modern French directors. The end result is a wildly entertaining film that reaffirms your faith in the originality of cinema.
9. ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’
Benh Zeitlin’s first film, winner of the Camera D’Or at Cannes Film Festival, is a feast. A film awash with originality and wonder. At its center is Hushpuppy, a 6 year old, as played by Quvenzhane Wallis, who is already gaining Oscar momentum, and rightly so. Hushpuppy lives in a Louisiana Bayou which is secluded from civilization, and her home is about to be hit by a giant storm.
‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ is full of first time actors; it’s been gaining momentum since it premiered at Sundance almost a year ago. This is one of the best independent films of recent years.
8. ‘The Dark Knight Rises’
Unlike the first 2 films on this list, which might have slipped under some people’s radar, I doubt you missed this one. Christopher Nolan’s climax conclusion to his Batman trilogy, which is not without its flaws, is one hell of an achievement. It is such an ambitious film that elevated Batman from a superhero into a right tragic figure.
It is quite something to see a film that goes as far as this, to take an already glorified super hero, pretty much imprinted in our minds, and go into a story that explores peace in modern society and the implications of violence. It is far from perfect, but it is hard not be taken away by Nolan’s movie.
7. ‘Anna Karenina’
The team behind ‘Pride & Prejudice’ and ‘Atonement’, led by director Joe Wright and his muse Keira Knightley, return here in an eloquent adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s classic, starring Knightley as the titular figurine who blasts into an adulterous affair with a young officer (Aaron Johnson).
The film is a spectacle, filmed on a stage and in close spaces with expert choreography, the movie plunges into the passions and taboos of 19th century Russian society. Includes supporting roles for Jude Law, Emily Watson, Kelly McDonald and Olivia Williams.
6. ‘Moonrise Kingdom’
Wes Anderson has always been an acquired taste, and here he continues to show why. “Moonrise Kingdom” is a magically whimsical film, with characters so freshly conceived and minutely detailed, it explores common Anderson themes like young love, in this case between two eleven year olds (Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman), who escape into the wilderness of their small Island in the 60s.
And in turn get the whole people of the Island searching for them. Features an impeccable turn by Bruce Willis, along with Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, and Tilda Swinton among many many others.