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Sunday, 23 December 2012

Adventures in Movie Watching 2012

This year I've gone crazy and decided to bore you with my top 50 films of 2012, so if you're in the mood to scroll, this really is the blogpost for you.

There's curling, killers, imposters, artists, crazy people, aliens, strippers, dance crazes, whales, deathrow, lots of cults, films about destiny, superheroes and lots lots more. 

First bombshell - Skyfall ain't in here...I know


50. To Rome With Love - dir. Woody Allen
Jesse Eisenberg part was a bit boring but loved the singing in the shower and Roberto Benigni's parts.

49. Tiny Furniture - dir. Lena Dunham
Dunham excels in her film about someone who has just left college and has no idea what to do next. 

48. The Watch - dir. Akiva Schaffer
Exactly what you'd expect from Stiller/Vaughn/Hill/Lonely Island combo, might have been the problem for some, Ayaode's great, as are the dick jokes and there's lots of them.

47. Room 237 - dir. Rodney Ascher
Mindblowing documentary focussing on certain people's interpretations of Kubrick's "The Shining", for every insightful bit there's a completely batshit theory that you can laugh at.

46. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol - dir. Brad Bird
Some great action and occasional humour, ending feels a bit tacked on but hey.

45. ALPS - dir. Giorgos Lanthimos
A film about a group of people who fill in temporarily for the recently deceased in order to help families deal with their loss. Identity issues abound, a great central performance, an interesting watch mainly for being so different.


44. Killer Joe - dir. William Friedkin
Really dark crazy film set in a white trash neighbourhood, has to be seen to be believed, McConnaughey is fantastic.

43. Searching For Sugar Man - dir. Malik Bendjelloul
Enjoyable documentary that recounts the story of Sixto Rodriguez, the superstar that had no idea anyone knew who he was.


42. Le Havre - dir. Aki Kaurismäki
Lovely quirky, idiosyncratic dramedy about an old man trying to help an illegal immigrant get to London while his own wife takes ill.


41. Sound Of My Voice - dir. Zal Batmanglij
The first movie on the countdown about cults and also the most minimalist. Brit Marling steals the show as someone who may or not be from the future to save the chosen few.

40. Goon - dir. Michael Dowse
Nicely done ice hockey comedy, great cast and really darkly funny in places.

39. The Descendants - dir. Alexander Payne
Well played family dramedy centred around a fantastic performance from Clooney.

38. Shame - dir. Steve McQueen
Tough but ultimately rewarding watch, kind of film that sticks with you for a good while after.

37. Your Sister's Sister - dir. Lynn Shelton
A great, naturalistic three-hander dramedy for the most part, clunky acoustic guitar backed montage towards the end of the movie is the only lowlight (they always annoy me). 

36. Damsels In Distress - dir. Whit Sillman
Great return from Stillman, A dialogue-heavy, college based comedy that deals with a group of girls who endeavour to help improve the lives of other students by doing such humanistic things as giving donuts and coffee to suicidal people and teaching them to dance.


35. Magic Mike - dir. Steven Soderbergh
A movie about male strippers that was much much more than anyone could have hoped for.


34. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - dir. Stephen Chbosky
David-Bowie-ignorant teenagers deal with the struggles of growing up and fitting in, not as clichéd as you'd expect, but felt some of the sub plots were a bit mishandled and felt out of place.


33. 21 Jump Street - dir. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
Great straight up action comedy that used Hill and Tatum really well, looking forward to a sequel.

32. Shut Up And Play The Hits - dir. Will Lovelace, Dylan Southern
Chronicle of LCD Soundsystem's final days as a band and their farewell concert, good fun even if a little self indulgent (but then again I am doing a Top 50 film list, who am I to talk....)

31. A Royal Affair (En kongelig affære) - dir. Nicolaj Arcel
Very watchable Danish period drama that deals with an Enlightenment inspired doctor who gains the ear and trust of the King and Queen of Denmark and sets about destroying the aristocracy as it was.

30. Café de Flore - dir. Jean-Marc Vallée
Interesting Canadian film that deals with Vanessa Paradis struggling to raise a Down's syndrome child in the 60's and a DJ in modern times struggling to deal with the guilt of the failure of his first marriage and his new love for someone else, some may feel cheated by the payoff, but definitely worth a watch.
29. Under African Skies - dir. Joe Berlinger
Documentary about Paul Simon's "Graceland", tackling the politics around the recording and success of it.
28. Killing Them Softly - dir. Andrew Dominik
Entertaining crime drama with a great cast (McNairy, Pitt, Gandolfini, Liotta, Mendelsohn, Jenkins) that is slightly overwhelmed by it's overt commentary on American politics.

27. Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World - dir. Lorene Scafaria
Fun romantic comedy from the writer of Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, soundtrack is great as are all the cameos.
26. Young Adult - dir. Jason Reitman
Underrated if you ask me, features a great performance by Theron and has one of my favourite scenes of the year (it's in the kitchen, near the very end...) Also has Teenage Fanclub's "The Concept" every few minutes.
25. Martha Marcy May Marlene - dir. Sean Durkin
More cults! Elizabeth Olsen struggles to cope with life and reality after leaving a cult. Are they out to get her or is it all in her head?

24. Jackpot (Arme Riddere) - dir. Magnus Martens
Violent comedy from Norway that deals with the bloody fallout of four factory workers sharing in winning the pools.
23. Monsieur Lazahr - dir. Philipe Falardeau
Beautiful film based on a play about a substitute teacher trying to help a class deal with the suicide of their teacher.
22. The Avengers - dir. Joss Whedon
Superlative superhero movie filled with more laughs than most comedies.

21. Holy Motors - dir. Leos Carax
I would have called this "Batshit Begins", I have very little idea or understanding of what it's all about but loved every second I spent watching it.

20. Ted - dir. Seth MacFarlane
Worried this would be too similar to Wilfred but thankfully nothing like it, but just as funny if not more. Everything you'd expect from a MacFarlane jam but nothing quite  prepared me for Giovanni Ribisi dancing to Tiffany's "I Think We're Alone Now", haunting.

19. Curling King (Kong Curling) - dir. Ole Endresen
Another treat from JDIFF this year, this is basically Wes Anderson's Dodgeball, a sports comedy done with a very particular sense of style. The film deals with a champion curler, whose obsessive attention to detail causes him to have a breakdown. He comes out of care years later to find his mentor needs a lung transplant, so he decides to get the team back together to win some prize money to cover the cost. All the characters in this are great fun and noteworthy, the chain smoking mentor, a controlling girlfriend, a player who can’t sleep since his father ran off to become a Rod Stewart impersonator, the Leo Sayer lookalike rival, and a tiny Pepsi Max delivery man, to name a few.

18. Argo - dir. Ben Affleck
Amazingly suspenseful movie considering most people knew the story going in, Affleck once again shows he knows exactly what he's doing behind the camera, in front I actually found his performance the weaker part of the film, also could have done with more Arkin and Goodman as could most films.

17. Headhunters - dir. Morten Tyldum
Fantastically fun thriller with tongues firmly in cheeks, really slickly directed and some amazing scenes not for the squeamish.

16. Breathing (Atmen) - dir. Karl Markovics
Written and directed by the star of one of my favourite movies of the last few years "The Counterfeiters", the film deals with a young man in prison forced to work in a morgue and come to terms with what he's done to get there and figure what to do next. Real slow burning gem.

15. Jeff, Who Lives At Home - dir. Jay & Mark Duplass
Beautifully done Duplass joint that deals with Jeff who loves the movie "Signs" way too much. When he receives a call from a wrong number he thinks it must be for a reason so when he has to go buy some glue an almost mystical quest begins to fulfil his destiny while helping his brother out with his marriage problems. It could have gone wrong in lesser hands.

14. The Intouchables - dir. Olivier Nakache, Eric Toledano
Should be awful, a story about a rich disabled man and his carer from the other side of the tracks, already sounds like a pain doesn't it, but it's actually very moving and more importantly very funny.

13. Looper - dir.Rian Johnson
Really solid time travel movie with some clever ideas and set pieces that's a joy to watch.

12. Moonrise Kingdom - dir. Wes Anderson
Beautiful quirkfest from the master of quirkfests, some real laughs to be had, Edward Norton steals it from an under the noses of an extremely impressive cast.

11. The Dark Knight Rises - dir. Christopher Nolan
Some plot points are crazy but then again it is a Batman movie, overall a fantastic watch and achievement.

10. The Artist - dir. Michel Hazanavicius
Shouldn’t be as much fun as it is, completely enrapturing apart from a brief spell in the third act but all in all deserved every accolade it got.

9. The Imposter - dir. Bart Layton
Really well made documentary about someone claiming to be the missing child of a Texan family that keeps you guessing by ever so gently adding in more and more mindblowing details of the case as the film goes on.

8. Rust and Bone - dir. Jacques Audiard
Most people I talked to about this can’t seem to get over its use of whales and bare knuckle boxing in the plot but I loved it, really well shot, looked amazing and two great central performances.

7. Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche) - dir. Frédéric Jardin 
Favourite film from JDIFF, dodgy cop steals drugs from the wrong drug lord and then has to save his son from him. The film’s pace is breakneck, full of great fight scenes, tough posturing, laughs and a great central performance by Tomer Sisley.

6. Into the Abyss - dir. Werner Herzog
Like The Master this was a film that was in my head for weeks after, Herzog's documentary about two men on death row and the families and loved ones affected is simply outstanding, and Herzog does a great job of not being on any one person's side.

5. Silver Linings Playbook - dir. David O.Russell
Screwy-ball romance, convinced I wouldn't like it going in but laughed my ass off every couple of minutes. Leads are both great but everyone in the supporting cast nail their roles as well, which makes it even more special.

4. What's in a Name? (Le prénom) - dir. Alexandre de La PatellièreMatthieu Delaporte
It could have been "Carnage", as in this was a French play brought to the screen, but thankfully it's more expertly crafted. It’s very well cast, has fantastic characters and is funny as hell, really simple plot - dinner party where a seemingly innocuous discussion about a soon to be born baby's name causes chaos.

3. The Master - dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
The winner of the Best Movie about a Cult 2012. Loved every second of it, everything about it beautifully done, it really needs you to be engaged with it and haunts you long after you've watched it, so much going on, so many possible interpretations. Particularly loved Hoffman's rendition of Slow Boat To China.

2. Sightseers - dir. Ben Wheatley
Absloule joy to watch, really funny and brilliantly acted and with a main plot that is scarily believable. Wheatley, over three films, has managed to find humour in some ridiculously dark places and long may he continue to do so.

1. Beasts of the Southern Wild - dir. Benh Zeitlin
Completely floored me, knew nothing about it going in and just completely went with it, really evocative and pulled at the heartstrings (basically spent the last 20 mins trying not to cry). Amazing what can be done with very little money but huge ambition.


Ten films I wanted to see but didn’t get round to:
Amour – dir. Michael Haneke
Berberian Sound Studio – dir. Peter Strickland
Dark Horse – dir. Todd Solondz
In Darkness – dir. Agnieszka Holland
Lawless – dir. John Hillcoat
On The Road – dir. Walter Salles
Once Upon A Time In Anatolia – dir. Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Polisse – dir. Maïwenn
The Queen of Versailles – dir. Lauren Greenfield
What Richard Did – dir. Lenny Abrahamson


Least favourite films of 2012:
10 - Friends With Kids - dir. Jennifer Westfeldt (didn't like any characters apart from O'Dowd's)
9 - Seven Psychopaths - dir. Martin McDonagh (too heavy meta, some really good bits but ultimately a let down)
8 - The Innkeepers - dir. Ti West (mostly boring, Supernatural would have done this story in 20 mins)
7 - Prometheus - dir. Ridley Scott (nothing made sense)
6 - Rampart - dir. Oren Moverman (so hard boiled it was inedible)
5 - Goodbye First Love - dir. Mia Hansen-Løve (tiresome)
4 - Silent House - dir. Chris KentisLaura Lau (awful waste of good actors, awful "twist")
3 - Lola Versus - dir. Daryl Wein (nothing in this to like at all) 
2 - Elles - dir. Malgorzata Szumowska (really hard work)
1 - The Cabin In The Woods - dir. Drew Goddard (even more heavy meta, way too clever for it's own good)