The Mayans may have declared the end of the world is nigh in 2012, but it certainly hasn’t been the year that the levels of quality cinema have diminished significantly. Marvel and DC fanboys everywhere assembled to see their comicbook corporation’s ‘crown jewels’ duke it out. A British national treasure/super spy celebrating his 50th anniversary. The Fassbender ‘schlong’ emasculating men everywhere. Dissecting this year’s brilliance and narrowing it down to a definitive list, has been no easy task taking into account the diversity of what i personally appreciated. Before i’m riddled with guilt.. Here are the worthy mentions that have narrowly missed out on the proverbial ‘top bracket’.
RUST AND BONE, CHRONICLE, DREDD, THE CABIN IN THE WOODS, THE IMPOSTER, SKYFALL, SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK, LIBERAL ARTS, LIFE OF PI, THE MUPPETS, LOOPER, SEVEN PSYCHOPATHS, RUBY SPARKS.
(YET TO BE SEEN) BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, HOLY MOTORS, THE HUNT, BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO, MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE.
Now without any further ado.. Time to unleash my top 12 of 2012!
The proven heavyweight pairing of Andrew Dominik and Brad Pitt (The Assassination of Jesse James), twisted the knife into the heart of the American Dream with this deeply cynical but enthralling character piece. Immersing the audience into a world redundant in the morals department, the film triggered controversy aplenty on home turf with Pitt’s compelling anti-hero Jackie Cogan’s message emphatic. ‘America’s not a country. It’s a business. Now f***ing pay me!’ Dissecting the country’s lack of growth in recent times using the gangster underworld as a foundation, ‘Killing Them Softly’ was a vital slice of filmmaking.
The comicbook supergroup fanboys/girls never envisaged gracing the big screen and with such larger than life creations involved, this ‘assembling’ could have so easily been an unmitigated disaster. Thanks to the capable talents of Joss Whedon, ‘Avengers Assemble’ was thankfully a superhero smackdown to saviour. Sure it may have lacked the dark and ominous themes of its recent counterparts, but the fun factor was turned up to notch eleven as the likes of RDJ’s Iron Man, Evans’ Cap A and Hemsworth’s Thor battled it out with the devilishly camp Loki, culminating in a pulsating downtown finale. HULK SMASH indeed.
Garnering critical acclaim with his debut two features The Town and Gone Baby Gone as his hometown of Boston was given a gritty depiction, actor turned respected director Ben Affleck broadened his horizons and got down and dirty with an unclassified true story. Invigorating the audacious Iranian rescue mission of six fellow Americans posing as a film crew with witty wisecracks (Alan Arkin and John Goodman the culprits) and stifling suspense, the film is already a hot contender to win big in awards season and deservedly so.
Robert Pattinson has been confined to triggering primal screams from Twihards and love affairs with Kristen Stewart in recent years, but the actor has always teased a love for the unconventional. Trusting in the talents of director David Cronenberg, they joined forces to tackle the tongue twisting Don Delillo novel. Producing an outstanding interpretation with R-Patz laying waste to the doubters, Cosmopolis showed no restraint in taking pot shots at the current climate. Eric Packer more fussed about haircuts and money than the president being in town.. Superficial nonsense taking centre stage rather than the ’important’ issues in the media? Abstract yet mesmerising.
It would have been so predictable to dismiss Welsh director Gareth Evans’ Indonesian martial arts flick as just ‘another’ entry into a saturated genre. However, when the fundamentals are executed with such invention and intricacy, it’s near impossible to ignore. Compressing the action into one intimidating tower block as a SWAT team attempt to lay waste with the minions of a crime lord, The Raid was an intense and exhilarating thrill ride which put most big budget blockbusters to shame whilst introducing us to the kicks and tricks of its star Iko Uwais.
Wes Anderson has never been shy to embrace his ‘quirky’ side.. and to work with the equally peculiar Bill Murray. Sharing the screen with a stellar cast containing the likes of Bruce Willis and Edward Norton, Moonrise Kingdom proved to be a colourful and kooky runaway love story between Jared Gilman’s socially isolated Khaki scout and Kara Hayward’s headstrong Suzy. Essentially a celebration of the ‘freedom’ that comes from going through childhood with Anderson’s storybook style direction mirroring such an aspect, the film was another delightful entry into the director’s back catalogue.
Granted, if there was one film on this list that will struggle to garner many repeat viewings, it’s Michael Haneke’s latest. However, the impact on one viewing of ‘Amour’ alone is notoriously tough to shake and it’s sheer brilliance undeniable. Refusing to revel in the schamltz of recent films containing generously aged stars, the disintegration of a relationship once overflowing with love and affection at its core as Anne’s (Emmanuelle Riva) health worsens is a harrowing experience. A chilling stillness to Haneke’s direction coupled with Trintignant’s heartbreaking turn, Amour tackled ‘death’ with precision and elegance.
Who knew a film between a black guy from the streets with a fondness for Earth, Wind and Fire and a wealthy wheelchair bound Frenchman could be so overwhelmingly feel-good? Of course, Mr Harvey Weinstein. A worldwide smash even before it hit the UK, Francois Cluzet and Omar Sy formed one of the most entertaining duos of recent times as their enthusiasm and acting prowess shined through in abundance. Unfortunately for the purists, an American remake is on the cards but if there was ever a foreign film that thoroughly deserved to transcend the language barrier, Untouchable was indeed that. An absolute joy!
With the benchmark set ridiculously high after 2008′s The Dark Knight (Many thanks to Ledger’s Joker), not many envied the task facing Christopher Nolan for his dramatic trilogy closer. Whilst hiring the muscle of Tom Hardy’s Bane and the femme fatale quality of Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, it was all about Bale’s fractured Bat. Delivering the obligatory spectacular set pieces befitting of a conclusion whilst expanding once again on the politically tinged themes that have propelled the character’s modern day version above its competitors, The Dark Knight Rises was an enthralling finale confirming the series as a true genre definer.
Full frontal in every sense of the term, Michael Fassbender’s latest collaboration with Steve Mcqueen was an unflinching portrait of one man’s struggle with sex addiction. Solidifying the belief the actor is an outstanding talent, Fassbender’s anguished portrayal as Brandon was light on elaborate explanations for his condition but heavy on uncompromising situations with Carey Mulligan’s troublesome Marianne offering little ‘relief’. Its raw subject matter perhaps too provocative to gain widespread accolades and still frowned upon by many from a cinematic standpoint, Shame was an exquisitely shot and fearless film.
The sentimental favourite that proved awfully therapeutic for me on a personal level. Seemingly uncomfortable to hand the reins of a film version to anyone else, Stephen Chbosky (writer of the book) turned director bringing to life an emotionally resonant and sheer wonderful story that owed a debt of gratitude to the John Hughes films of the 80′s. Logan Lerman’s Charlie honestly encapsulated the diverse range of emotions felt during teenage adolescence whilst identifying how fragile one’s emotions can be. Complete with Ezra Miller’s showstealing performance, Emma Watson’s ever growing maturity as an actress and a too cool for school soundtrack.. The Perks of Being A Wallflower unashamedly made me feel ‘infinite’.
The Scientology tag was well disguised.. Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest offering may have been divisively scattershot in narrative but channeled various themes. With parallels made between emotionally damaged war veterans of the past and modern day, along with a hint of repressed homosexuality, ’The Master’ offered no easy answers whilst accentuating the surreal feel of the piece. Containing two central performances that are nothing short of electrifying, Phoenix and Hoffman’s titanic power figure/disciple tussle were riveting with Anderson’s composed direction once again stunning and rather ‘Malick-esque’. Audacious in its ambition, The Master stood head and shoulders above the rest. The Master? Add ‘class’ to the end of its title.