Best of 2012

TOP 10 FILMS OF 2012

10. Beasts of the Southern Wild

Behn Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild, 2012, starring Quvenzhan Wallis

Director : Benh Zietlin

Cast :  Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry

You have never seen a film like this it literally gives me a feeling of a live action Hayao Miyazaki film, quite beautiful and very original. There are two ways this film could be interpreted; either as a film about poverty or a film or as a journey in a father-daughter relationship. Personally i think the film crosses both these lines, its the gradual decay of her family along with Hushpuppy’s abuse and neglect. Painfully told in a poetic manner this is different from any other film dealing with similar subjects. I personally have never experienced it’s level of originality before along with the amazing cinematography and a pitch perfect script.

9. Silver Linings Playbook

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Director : David O’Russell

Cast : Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence

The balance between Comedy and Drama is maintained, apart from one racist scene in particular which made the film seem cheesy. Cinematography is kept minimal as in most his films, but the story telling is retained perfectly. Silver Linings Playbook isn’t an art house film and this is made apparent, however it can appeal to mainstream audiences along with movie fans. Every critical review i have read praises Jennifer Lawrence’s performance but in my opinion Bradley Cooper stole the show;  an actor who hasn’t stood out to me before. The rest of the cast were also perfect from Di Niro to Jennifer Lawrence. The chemistry between Di Niro, Lawrence and Cooper was what made the film work so well. Silver Linings Playbook is one of the years best films and currently is my favourite screenplay of the year so Oscar nominations are guaranteed for this surprising hit.

8. Argo

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Director : Ben Affleck,

Cast : Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Alan Arkin

A trait of Affleck’s films are that he stars in the lead role as well as directing (minus Gone Baby Gone) which is usually quite a hard task to do; but he manages to keep the balance flowing perfectly. Argo isn’t a fancy film full of symbolism and artistic cinematography, it’s a simple gritty film which is made with a sense of realism not glamour. Affleck adds in comedy to the Argo but he doesn’t overdo it, making sure the audience knows that this is a serious dramatisation. My only fault in this film would be the realism of what is shown on screen, the scripted events that never took place just create bigger plot holes in a good film. You could argue that Argo is left wing propaganda that portrays the west as the saviour and the east as the problem; which is quite true, making the film imperfect. Along with the lack of an introduction to the situation with The Shah and the Iranian Revolution. Argo has many faults for such a good film and i would of given it a lower rating if it didn’t have one of the most suspenseful endings i have seen in a long time; displaying shades of Hitchcock in Affleck’s film making.

7. The Impossible

NAOMI WATTS and TOM HOLLAND star in THE IMPOSSIBLE

Director : Juan Antonio Bayona

Cast : Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, Tom Holland

One way to describe this film would be intense, it is edge of your seat suspense till the end. The characters in this story had a very suspenseful journey and they felt no calm till they were out of harms way. This is exactly how i felt, i  was awaiting each turn of events from scene till scene till the film ended. It felt like a journey and a very gritty and realistic portrayal of the tsunami; one that can become hard to watch at times. The story was the epicentre of the film and the emotional pull it brought in was overwhelming, however cinematography took a back seat; apart from a few scenes here and there. The main problem i had with this film was its forced emotion, some scenes seemed out of place; making the emotion feel mechanical and unnatural. However it is a very well made film and although i have heard complaints about the ending there is nothing to change; it’s based on a true story.

6. The Master

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Director : Paul Thomas Anderson

Cast : Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams

The Master is quite reminiscent of last year’s film Tree of Life, but with a more linear approach. Now although the story is very hard to follow if you can understand it’s symbolism and undertones then you will understand the movie. It is split in between scenes of surrealism and realism and if you can figure out what is what the story starts to unfold simpler. It’s questionable if ‘The Cause’ cult in the group were actually helping Freddie or the film was pointing out its exploitation of mentally ill people. Controversial as it is Paul Thomas Anderson’s directing was amazing, scenes of cinematography were some of the best i have seen in many years. Debatable is the fact that this film will when Best Picture at the Oscar’s but the Best Director award belongs to Anderson. His directing was so poetic it felt like i was analysing a famous piece of artwork in each scene and his attention to detail was unbelievable. When you sit back and think about how someone could perfect scene by scene by every little detail you will understand the beauty of the film. What also caught my attention was the film’s score, haunting as it was each beat of the drum and chime’s fitted in to each scene like a jigsaw puzzle.

5. Les Misérables

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Director : Tom Hooper

Cast : Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe

THooper’s directing style is quite recognisable especially from his dizzying shots taken from uneven angles. Les Miserables was always going to be a tough film to create, especially with the hype over it; and although i thought it would be better i was still pleased me a lot. Pacing wise the film was done really well and the film clocking in at in nearly 3 hours fly’s by. My main complaint was the tongue in cheek comedy aspect involving the innkeepers which took away from the serious tone of the film, which made the sequences feel like a theatre production more than a motion picture. Maybe that is just me being picky but if the style was intentional then fair play to Hooper. One of the major aspects of Les Miserables was that it was the first musical to be filmed with a live soundtrack. All the musical performances were performed live instead of actors lip syncing to a pre recorded track. This made the song’s feel emotional and added a high sense of realism, it worked perfectly apart from one major characters performance.Russell Crowe as Javert, the weakest link in the film. Now don’t get me wrong, Russell Crowe is an incredible actor but when it came to singing it wasn’t his niche. I kept losing immersion  whenever his character began singing and i found it highly distracting. Apart from that everyone was amazing and i think is the film that will bring Hugh Jackman to play with the awards instead of standing in the background as Wolverine; Emotional acting and very good singing performances. However the star of the show was one that was in the film for the shortest of time, Anne Hathaway as Fantine. One of the best performances of the year with only 20 minutes screen time, she expressed pure weakness and frustration with her life in her role. Then came her singing performance of ‘I dreamed a dream’, which worked beautifully to the live performance rule created. Les Miserables is an amazing film and a great way to introduce the story to a wider audience, although it isn’t the best film of 2012 but has found it’s way into my top 10.

4. Life Of Pi

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Director : Ang Lee

Cast : Suraj Sharma, Irfan Khan

Ang Lee takes the task of directing this film after his award winning Brokeback Mountain which also was an amazing film. Its hard to say wether this is a heart warming tale or a saddening one, all i can say is the source material was utilised to its best and this film was created. Life of Pi is a beautiful film, one of the most beautiful films i have ever seen and even with all the CGI it still is a sight to behold. Art direction and cinematography is at it’s best and the colour palette used ranges from the bright colours of India to the bright ocean and finally the darkness at sea. The sea was depicted as beautiful and claustrophobic at the same time and you really felt like it was just you, Pi and the tiger at sea. One of the film’s perk’s is its appeal to a mainstream audience, Life of Pi is a multi layered film with many symbolic analogies towards faith and religion, however the story could be interpreted in it’s simplest forms and still be the masterpiece it is. It is short of being perfect because of some mishaps such as the scenes with the other animals on the lifeboat not being elaborated on. Everything sped up with the other animals and next thing you know it was just Pi and the tiger. Also the ending story where Pi reveals his alternative story felt rushed and was narrated by a voiceover instead of actual film, which basically spoon fed the relationship between each character and the animals. Life of Pi is a flawed masterpiece and quite surprisingly a beautiful feel good film.

3.  Zero Dark Thirty

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Director : Kathryn Bigelow

Cast  : Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton

This is not a film about war this is a film about the hunt and how it was conducted by the CIA. Go to see this film with an open mind, we do not know wether the capture of Bin Laden was true or not. I personally choose no side and saw this film with a mind ready to be educated, wether the story was fictional or not; i still found it to be a masterpiece. Im hearing words thrown around on the internet such as ‘propaganda’, this film could be seen as propaganda; however i see it as storytelling via film making. Many other amazing war films could be seen as American propaganda, from Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, Platoon etc. I have not been brainwashed by this film, i do not hate Islamic’s nor side with Americans after seeing this. In my mind there still isn’t 100% proof that Al-Qaeda were behind 9/11 nor do i believe that Bin Laden was truly killed. The truth however is not important when you have Mark Boal creating an amazing script that keeps tension running right till the end, even though the whole world knows what the ending consists of. Give or take a few slow blind spots in the film, the film flowed perfectly and had me on the edge of my seat feeling educationally stimulated. Zero Dark Thirty is a film about the CAPTURE of Bin Laden and not about any other character’s in the film so character development really was not needed and not given. The script is seen as an informative brief and all that really matter’s is that it kept me interesting right till the end even though i knew the outcome. Kathryn Bigelow has really outdone herself with this film creating a film so controversial but so beautiful at the same time; she really does have a gift for creating thrillers.

2. Django Unchained

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Director : Quentin Tarantino

Cast : Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio

Now Django is on par with Kill Bill Volume 1 but not as good as Pulp Fiction, which every film he makes will be compared to. The reason being is that Pulp Fiction was his original idea for a film, every film he puts out recently feels like a fan homage  to a genre he loved, Django being no different.  Putting comparisons aside Django Unchained feels like an authentic western, with shades of blaxploitation dark humour. The whole atmosphere created from the grainy image to the soundtrack fit in perfectly as a western. The first thing that usually catches my eye about a Tarantino film is the soundtrack and this is no different. Mixing in real western music fitted in perfectly but even the addition of recent hip hop fitted the film. Everything about this film is ‘cool’ and that’s what Tarantino is known for; making ‘cool’ films. If you don’t take this seriously you can really enjoy this masterpiece cheesy as it may be. Glamourised violence is there as usual especially in the ending but it felt like the film was dragged out longer towards the end to fit in more scenes of violence. Certain scenes could of been cut out to make this film feel like less of a drag in part’s and maybe a clearer back story would of helped. Django is one of the best films of the year and a great return to film making for Quentin Tarantino. Like all of Tarantino’s film’s they all contain one pinnacle scene and in this one it is the dinner table scene in candy land which is probably Leonardo’s Oscar scene as well. Kudos to the creators of this film because it lives up to all expectation and hype.

1. Amour

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Director : Michael Haneke

Cast : Emmanuel Riva, Jean-Louis Trintignant

Michael Haneke is one of the greatest film makers of all time and every one of his films are perfect in their simplicity. Amour is a very simple film and very slow, you don’t go see a Haneke picture to enjoy yourself; you go to stimulate your brain. Everything about his film making is poetic and emotional. Simplicity covers the film, as the location is filmed 99% in a apartment, 95% of the time features just the two leads on screen and the film has no score. It’s raw and emotional, the true character study of love. Amour is not a film you can watch over and over again because it honestly does take something out of you to view it. However you feel like you experience true love on screen after watching the picture.

  

Honourable Mentions :

Perks Of Being A Wallflower

Skyfall

The Sessions

Looper

Best Director of 2012  : MICHAEL HANEKE – AMOUR 

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Runners Up

Paul Thomas Anderson – The Master

Quentin Tarantino  – Django Unchained

Ang Lee – Life Of Pi

Kathryn Bigelow – Zero Dark Thirty

Best Actor In A Leading Role  : JOAQUIN PHOENIX – THE MASTER

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Runners Up

Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook

Hugh Jackman – Les Miserables 

Daniel Day Lewis – Lincoln

John Hawkes – The Sessions

Best Actress In A Leading Role  : EMMANUELLE RIVA – AMOUR

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Runners Up

Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook

Naomi Watts – The Impossible

Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty

Rachael Weisz – The Deep Blue Sea

Best Actor In Supporting Role : PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN – THE MASTER

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Runners Up

Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained

Leonardo DiCaprio  – Django Unchained

Alan Arkin – Argo

Robert De Niro – Silver Linings Playbook

Best Actress In A Supporting Role : ANNE HATHAWAY – LES MISERABLES 

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Runners Up

Amy Adams – The Master

Ann Dowd – Compliance

Helen Hunt – The Sessions

Sally Field – Lincoln

One thought on “Best of 2012

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