As the year draws to a close, it’s that time when we look back at the best films that 2012 had to offer. Whether you were sent sprawling with laughter at the magic of The Muppets or shed a tear over the emotional punch that was Amour, it’s safe to say that 2012 delivered no end of variety on the big screen. In no particular order, Editor Alex Moss looks at Twelve of 2012’s Best Films.
As the year draws to a close, it’s that time when we
look back at the best films that 2012 had to offer. Whether you were sent sprawling with laughter at the magic
of The Muppets or shed a tear over the emotional punch that was Amour, it’s
safe to say that 2012 delivered no end of variety on the big screen. In no particular order, Editor Alex
Moss looks at Twelve of 2012’s Best Films.
Writer/Director Rian Johnson has consistently
reinvented genres with his blistering imagination. With Brick, he
made a high school movie into a darkly brilliant Film Noir. The Brothers Bloom was a heist movie by
way of The Prestige. With Looper he
made time travel infinitely more interesting than Marty McFly ever could. Some referred to it as this year’s The Matrix, Looper has more brains and
ideas in its opening five minutes than that over inflated franchise did in
three films. The action is
electric, the visuals stunning and the chemistry between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily
Blunt is real enough for you to invest on an emotional level rarely seen in
films of this ilk. Add to that a
few X-Men style moments and Bruce Willis
on typically grumpy form, Looper is a film you could happily watch on a
The Dark Knight Rises (Main Picture)
Arguably the most
hotly anticipated film of 2012 did not disappoint but, like its title, rose to
levels of crowd- and critic-pleasing delight. Christopher Nolan
proved once and for all that his Dark Knight trilogy is the benchmark that all other superhero movies should be measured
by. Its ability to tell a
compelling story, laced with fascinating characters you yearn to see more of is
one thing. To then inject a healthy political theme echoing the Occupy Wall
Street movement was sheer class.
Bane may not have been the charismatic force of energy that Heath Ledger’s Joker was but, what he
lacked in wit, he more than made up for in ferocious brutality. If there is a down side to Rises, it’s
that it marks the end of Nolan’s hugely ambitious and endlessly rewarding
In other hands Steve McQueen’s film about a sex addict
could have been pure titillation. But thanks to Abbie Morgan’s script and Michael
Fassbender’s mesmerising performance, Shame proved to be one of the year’s
most haunting dramas and made for compelling viewing. Shot with a lingering lens and an almost euphoric softness
when portraying the sexual encounters, Shame is often hard-hitting, frequently
emotional and utterly hypnotic.
That it was not more widely recognised at this year’s awards ceremonies
goes some way to proving how out of touch certain festival board members are
from inspiring modern cinema.
One of those
films applauded by anyone who saw it at film festivals this year but criminally
overlooked by cinemagoers across the country, The Hunt is essential viewing for
2012. The story of a primary
school teacher, played with breathless pathos by Mads Mikkelsen, accused of being a pedophile is haunting and
emotionally the most powerful film of the year. A little more ambiguity would have made it near perfect, but
there are enough seeds planted to make you question everything you see and hear
on screen. That you leave the film
with an image ingrained in your mind, which is never seen on screen, is
testament to the power of this film.
Writer/Director Thomas Vinterberg
has taken a hugely controversial and topical subject matter and created a film
that speaks loudly to protective parents and the damage a simple accusation can
cause all those involved. Seek it
out at any cost.
thought that when Ben Affleck was
starring in monstrosities such as Gigli and
Jersey Girl, we would one day be
talking about him as one of Hollywood’s most exciting directors? With Gone Baby Gone and The Town,
Affleck proved his film making credentials. With Argo he demonstrates that he’s
not so much one to watch as one to truly admire. Argo, which tells the true story of the CIA’s attempts to
rescue six Americans after the siege of the American Embassy in Iran during
1980, manages to be at times laugh-out-loud funny and, at others, a tense and
terse piece of cinema. From poking
fun at Hollywood via the brilliance of Chris
Terrio’s script, to the climax of fleeing the country, Argo is an utter
delight of a film. Suffice to say,
Affleck is three for three in the director’s chair and his next film will be
The Cabin In The Woods
films idle away in a studio’s warehouse, it doesn’t bode well for the quality
of the material. But in the case
of The Cabin In The Woods, which was caught up in MGM’s financial problems, it
seems to be a case of unearthing a hidden treasure. Cabin In The Woods comes from the mind of Buffy creator Joss Whedon and Cloverfield
writer Drew Goddard. The results are a wonderful blend of
horror, mystery and outright bonkers black comedy. Where Scream
pokes fun at the horror genre, Cabin reveres it with just enough tongue-in-cheek
brilliance to make you delight in its sheer madness. The final act is easily the most fun thing committed to film
this year – made all the more brilliant by having zero percent chance of a
Most of the time
documentaries are designed to inform or inspire. The Imposter went one better, by being one of the most
chilling and compelling films in the genre. Bart Layton uses
an engaging blend of talking heads intercut with dramatic reenactments to tell
the true story of a young Frenchman who convinced a Texan family that he was
their missing 16-year-old son. As
the story unfolds, Frederic Bourdin
becomes one of the most magnetic and eerie people to grace the screen in a long
time. But what really sends a
shiver down your spine are the revelations that rear their head as Boudin’s
story unravels. It seems that in
life, as in fiction (or an episode of Lost),
nothing is quite what it seems.
Expect Imposter to be right up there when the Academy are handing out a
little gold man for Best Documentary.
Wes Anderson is
the kind of filmmaker you either buy into and worship or shy away from. Moonrise Kingdom is arguably Anderson’s
most Andersonian film to date. As
such, it’s endlessly kitsch in a way that can only be seen as an homage to the
art of film itself. Moonrise is a
quaint little coming of age story that is hopelessly romantic with just the
right levels of Andersonian cynicism.
As always, the cast are uniformly dry and glowing, from Bill Murray’s deadpan delivery, Bruce Willis’ gruff cop, through to Ed Norton’s over enthusiastic Scout
leader. But perhaps Moonrise
Kingdom’s greatest strength comes from its two young leads, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. Despite
their youthful looks, both actors perfectly capture Anderson’s whimsical ways
to become the most mature characters on display. If you’re a fan of
The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore
and The Life Aquatic then Moonrise
Kingdom will have you giddy with delight.
Will this choice
spark controversy and argument?
Definitely. While many
balked at Ridley Scott’s Alien
prequel, the truth remains that Prometheus is one of the most ambitious and
interesting sci-fi films to burst onto the big screen in quite some time. Rarely does a film with this many ideas
get such a big budget. While some were left angered by the lack of answers, the
fact remains that Prometheus, like most of Scott’s output, takes you to another
world and immerses you in it to such a degree it’s hard to return to
reality. It’s visually stunning
with atmosphere that positively drips from the screen in almost every
shot. And to top it all off, we
got another magnetic performance from Michael Fassbender and arguably this
year’s most jaw-dropping scene of The
Girl With The Dragon Tattoo performing a C-section on herself.
Rust & Bone
Having given us
2009’s stunning A Prophet, it was
always going to be a heavy burden for Writer/Director Jacques Audiard to follow it up. Then he gave us Rust & Bone, which proved to have the
same level of existential musing, combined with heavenly visuals, powerful
characters and enough emotional depth to make you weep with both sadness and
happiness. Add to this Marion Cotillard, on typically glowing
form, and Rust & Bone became one of the most engaging romances of the
year. Although you might struggle
to look at a Killer Whale in the same, affectionate Free Willy light again. But
that probably isn’t a bad thing.
Martha Marcy May Marlene
accolades, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master doesn’t have the monopoly on
cults. Martha Marcy May Marlene is
a haunting character dissection that sees a girl emerge from the influence of a
cult, led by the chilling John Hawkes,
to stay with her elder sister.
Ambiguous and gripping, Martha Marcy May Marlene was notable for
heralding in the directing talents of Sean
Durkin not to mention an acting master class from Elizabeth Olsen.
Deliberately leaving much of the conclusions to be drawn by the
audience, Martha Marcy May Marlene is a film that permeates into your
consciousness and rattles around for months after you’ve seen it.
Or as it will
surely become known: Pure Geek Nerdvana.
When Marvel said they were
going to attempt an Avengers movie, the world raised an eyebrow. Really? It’s no small task putting together a movie featuring a
group of the world’s greatest superheroes, let alone characters who are already
well loved in both comics and on the big screen. To then expect all those big name actors to come together
and play nice was bordering on madness.
And yet, in the hands of Buffy creator Joss Whedon (yes him again),
Avengers was simply the most fun to be had in cinema this year. Whedon nailed the group dynamic to such
an extent that when the action kicked in you almost wished for more bickering. It even managed to give the Hulk a role
he could be genuinely smashed about.