2012 has been a very good year for films, especially ones that appeal to me. When I compiled my top ten of last year I had maybe thirteen contenders for the list. This year in comparison had about twenty three films that could have easily been in the top ten. The criteria for the list is simple. The film has to be released in the UK in 2012 according to IMDB. It can be either a cinema or ‘video premiere’ release. Unfortunately these rules exclude my favourite film which was the fiftieth anniversary release of Lawrence of Arabia. A classic movie that will be the subject of a piece in the very near future. So, onwards to the list!
10 The Descendants
Set in Hawaii this is the story of a man trying to juggle his commitments to his family’s legacy and his struggle to come to terms with his wife’s accident. Forced to become the primary carer, his life is turned upside down by his problems. Beautifully paced with another stand out George Clooney performance this was a great start to 2012 and a very welcome return to director Alexander Payne.
9 The Dark Knight Rises
The conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. It managed to provide an impressive action filmed movie that didn’t disappoint. The ensemble cast was excellent with Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy the outstanding members of the cast. The tying up of the trilogy and the linking between the films was well handled and felt organic rather than bolted on.
As on TV the Scandinavians continue to outshine Hollywood with the action thriller. Headhunters was a tense, exciting and sometimes bloody thriller that begins with deception and an art heist and leads to murder and mayhem. Very strong central performances and an engaging story adapted from the best selling novel by Jo Nesbo makes you forget you are reading from the screen. Catch it before the inevitable inferior remake from Hollywood. You can find my glowing review of Headhunters here.
7 The Avengers
Easily the best of the comic based films this year. A very well made film that given the hype surrounding it, delivered everything it promised. Fantastic set pieces, plenty of action, humour and Samuel L Jackson scowling. At the heart of the film it had an engaging and interesting story. Something that is overlooked in blockbuster entertainment on a regular basis. Favorite character? Had to be The Hulk.
Ben Affleck continues his rise in prominence as an accomplished director. Argo tells the story of the attempted extraction of six US embassy staffers who were forced into hiding when the Tehran embassy building was overrun in 1979. The extraction team use a fake film scouting expedition to try to free the staffers. An excellent drama recalling the best of the Seventies New Hollywood thrillers. As the story was not known to me and the majority of the cast were not high profile actors there was a real tension throughout the second half of the film.
5 Moonrise Kingdom
After his move into stop motion animation with The fantastic Mr Fox, Wes Anderson returned this year with the triumphant Moonrise Kingdom. With many of his regular cast and surprisingly accomplished turns by the young leads the film tells the tale of love , loneliness and good scouting practices. Every setup in the film looks like a piece of art. Quirky and intelligent film making of the highest order.
4 The Raid
One of the best action films of the year. Made by a Welshman in Malaysia The film tells the story of a Police raid on a tower block run by a crime syndicate. The raid goes awry and the few remaining Police including our hero must try to escape the tower block while being pursued by a collection of bad guys. Breath taking martial arts sequences of skill and imagination make this film stand out from the crowd. A new take on a tried and test genre. My full review can be found here
3 Killer Joe
2012 saw the return of Mathew McConaughey as a serious dramatic actor. In both Magic Mike and Killer Joe has been able to show off his not unsubstantial acting skill set. In Killer Joe he didn’t have to take off his clothes. The film followed a drug dealer and his attempts to kill off his mother for her life insurance. He hires Joe, a cop with a sideline in murder, to carry out the task. Not having the cash to pay for the job the drug dealers sister is used as collateral. A story filled with gritty and deeply unpleasant people was easily the best drama I saw in the last twelve months. McConaughey is superb in the title role supported by a stellar cast. A film that will stay in your mind for some time after viewing.
Due to circumstances beyond its control the twenty third James Bond film was delayed by over a year. when it was resurrected it led to some of the greatest anticipation for a Bond Movie ever. Tied neatly into the fiftieth anniversary of Dr. No only made the hype around the new film even greater. Fortunately the franchise was on good hands with director Sam Mendes and cinematographer Roger Deakins. The film delivered on every level, paying homage to Bond’s past and setting him up for a very bright future.
1 Cabin in the Woods
It had to take something special to beat Skyfall to the number one spot. cabin in the woods is the most original and inventive film of the last twelve months. It also proved to be the most difficult to review as talking about the plot in any form meant that the film would be spoiled for people. Basically five friends, all very different, go for a weekend away at a cabin in the woods. Stuff happens. It came as no surprise that Joss Whedon had a hand in this as the quality shone through from the outset. My full non review can be found here