30 December 2012

My Top Movies of 2012

I started off well on the movie-watching front this year--I think I'd already seen 12 films by the end of January, but in the past few months, a combination of moving house, getting settled and just being so damn busy, as well as the fact that there haven't been that many great films on, meant I tailed off towards the end and only ended up watching 73 new films in 2012. I've picked my top five, but unlike last year, it doesn't feel like a very good summary of this year in film, and even adding the runners up (Rust and BoneThe Hunger Games, Shadow Dancer, Killing Them Softly and Your Sister's Sister) doesn't make it much more satisfying. In any case, here are the five:

1. Café de Flore. Given that I almost didn't bother to take up my free ticket to see a preview of this film, it is perhaps surprising that it made my top five, but of all the movies I saw this year, Café de Flore is the one that stayed with me the longest. It is sad, beautiful, lyrical and compelling, with a very strong performance from Vanessa Paradis and a great soundtrack.

2. Argo. I was disappointed that there were so few "big" films on offer at this year's London Film Festival and that I pretty much had to choose Argo by default as my token gala screening, but I loved the film. It's clever and funny when it needs to be, but also poignant and utterly gripping. It doesn't even matter that Ben Affleck's acting is only fine when the rest of the cast is so talented and when he did a great job directing.

3. The Dark Knight Rises. OK, so I had to put one Tom Hardy film in this list and it clearly wasn't going to be This Means War and nor was I a big fan of Lawless. I'm still not convinced that this film was the best in Christopher Nolan's excellent trilogy, but it made a satisfying conclusion and even though I'm glad they won't be dragging out the franchise, part of me wants to see more of Nolan's Gotham. The DKR isn't perfect, but it's pretty damn good.

4. Martha Marcy May Marlene. Like Café de Flore, this film haunted me for a long time after it finished. Elizabeth Olsen is excellent as a troubled young woman who tries to return to "normal" after escaping a dangerous cult and its charismatic leader. Martha Marcy May Marlene is tense, terse, well-paced and chilling, and well worth a watch.

5. Looper. I enjoyed this movie a lot, but I didn't think it would make my top five. It doesn't really feel like a top-five kind of film, but after picking my five runners up, I realised that I enjoyed Rian Johnson's thought-provoking, mind-bending, time-travel caper more than any of the others. If you can handle the prosthetics needed to make Joseph Gordon-Levitt look like a younger Bruce Willis, you'll be rewarded with a sharp, observant human drama, which isn't without its plot holes, but which makes for hella entertaining viewing.

Other films I watched for the first time this year:
  • A Tale of Two Cities (1958) (TV)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
  • Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol
  • The Iron Lady
  • The Client (TV)
  • Margin Call
  • Coriolanus
  • J. Edgar
  • Carnage
  • Haywire
  • Martha Marcy May Marlene
  • Young Adult
  • Chronicle
  • This Means War
  • Perfect Sense (DVD)
  • The Woman in Black (2012)
  • The Woman in the Fifth
  • Man on a Ledge
  • Safe House
  • Laura
  • Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
  • When Harry Met Sally (DVD)
  • Trishna
  • We Bought a Zoo
  • Fracture (DVD)
  • Contraband
  • The Hunger Games
  • Dead Calm (DVD)
  • Headhunters
  • The Kid with a Bike
  • Into the Abyss
  • Cabin in the Woods
  • Café de Flore
  • Fever Pitch (DVD)
  • The Dictator
  • Moonrise Kingdom
  • Two Days in New York
  • Alien (DVD)
  • Prometheus
  • The Hoax (TV)
  • A Royal Affair
  • Your Sister's Sister
  • Ordinary People (plane)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man
  • Ted
  • Magic Mike
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • The Bourne Legacy
  • Take This Waltz
  • Shadow Dancer
  • Lawless
  • The Imposter
  • The Bourne Supremacy (DVD)
  • Anna Karenina
  • Now Is Good
  • On the Road
  • Killing Them Softly
  • Liberal Arts
  • Looper
  • Rust and Bone (De rouille et d'os)
  • Argo
  • Seven Psychopaths
  • Battle Royale (DVD)
  • Skyfall
  • Peter's Friends (DVD)
  • The Master
  • The Life of Pi
  • Christmas Vacation (DVD)
  • A Christmas Story (DVD)
  • Nativity! (DVD)
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Game Change (TV)
  • Ruby Sparks (plane)

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