As 2012 rumbles to a close I can’t decide whether this was a vintage year for film or not. There have been some amazing films (as detailed below, and I hope you agree) but they all seemed to arrive in a flurry at the end of the year. Whilst I have attempted to put these in some discernible order they’re pretty much interchangeable given my mood on any given day. But before I begin, I must bring up Martha Marcy May Marlene as an honourable mention. Whilst it was released in 2012 in the UK, it already topped last year’s DN Top Ten list (which is when I watched it too) so alas this is the only official recognition I can provide.
10. THE HUNGER GAMES
Dir: Gary Ross
I loved the book. I love Jennifer Lawrence. I really can’t give any other explanation. Everyone’s allowed a guilty pleasure right? RIGHT?!
Dir: Michael Haneke
Those Frenchies. Two entries in to my Top 10. A moving story charting the decline of a wife while her elderly husband cares for her. For me, this was tough going but mainly due to watching someone slowly slipping away whilst the person who loves them dearly struggles to look after, keep safe and hold onto the essence of them. Exploring the push/pull of caring for someone and trying to hold on to the love that kept you together up to that point Haneke’s appears to have strayed from the path we’ve come to expect from him. Whilst the violence of Funny Games is missing, the psychological difficulties explored in his previous works are still very present here.
8. FIVE BROKEN CAMERAS
Dir: Emad Burnat & Guy Davidi
My best friend banged on about this to such an extent that I had to check out this real story of a Palestinian farmer who documents his daily life in the face of the Israeli army trying to make said life as difficult as possible. Going through five cameras, the story is as brutal and shocking as we are constantly told in the media. At the risk of sounding worthy, it’s easy to become desensitised to a long running war so far away, mostly encapsulated by few pages in the international press every week. It is therefore important that films like this exist to remind us that all people want to live their lives and enjoy those basic rights such as access to water and the ability raise a family safely that some of us are privileged enough to take for granted.
7. KILLER JOE
Dir: William Friedkin
If you’re really partial to take away of the finger licking good variety look away now. Whilst Killer Joe caused somewhat of a furore it was the film that made me realise there is more to Matthew McConaughey than just taking his top off. There are a fair few scenes that leave you feeling a bit sickened but I persevered and was rewarded with performances that blew me away.
6. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
Dir: Christopher Nolan
First in my nod towards this year’s massive blockbusters comes the finale of Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise. Bane was a bit silly but I could definitely understand what he was saying. With a plot twist that I didn’t see coming (and Marion Cotillard – pregnant when filming), Nolan left the franchise with an Inception-esque ending that makes you wonder if Batman will ever return.
Dir: Sam Mendes
Lots of bangs, car chases and slightly fewer gadgets than previously. I never thought I’d be putting a Bond film in my Top Ten but here it is. I’m not really into action films but from the first five minutes I was completely invested. Excellent script, a broken Bond and a villain who makes you wonder whether he really wants to take over the world or is just completely insane. What a perfect combination for the Bond anniversary (I do not think this was a coincidence).
4. TAKE THIS WALTZ
Dir: Sarah Polley
For a person that didn’t really like one of the main characters you may wonder why Take This Waltz made the cut? The film was an examination of what a relationship is and the fact that what is projected to others, and sometimes each other, is not always the reality. The other relationships in the periphery of the marriage of Margot and Lou remind you that sometimes it’s not always about you.
Read the review.
Dir: Ben Wheatley
I’ve never been on a caravanning holiday, after this I’m not sure I ever will. Blackly comedic with the very smallest of heart, as I travelled around England with Sightseers I was reminded that you should never litter and to be careful about with whom you enter a caravan. Whilst the laughs don’t come thick and fast it was clever enough to end up here in my top 3 of the year. I can’t say if it’s Wheatley’s best because it’s so incomparable to what he has done before.
2. RUST AND BONE
Dir: Jacques Audiard
I’m a little bit obsessed with Marion Cotillard which would be embarrassing if she was not such an amazing actress. Pair her with the director of A Prophet and The Beat That My Heart Skipped and you end up with a film is both thought provoking and beautifully shot. Cotillard’s movements post Incident That Will Not Be Mentioned and Stephanie’s ability to hit rock bottom and slowly come back to a wholly new life makes one see that life is indeed what you make of it.
1. SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS
Dir: Martin McDonagh
Naysayers have accused the script of being a bit sloppy and too self referential. I disagree. I laughed out loud pretty much from start to finish with a few Christopher Walken prompted tears in the middle and end. No, it’s not In Bruges but all of the main actors deliver brilliant performances and for me this is certainly one of the best films released in 2012.
Read the review.