I’m always reluctant to compile a ‘best of the year’ list, because around this festive time of year we’re always inundated with countless articles, all competing for our attention with their best of everything in this particular year. Basically, there are plenty of other distractions, so who wants to read a stupid, subjective list of things that I liked in 2012? It’s just so pointless; who really gives two hoots if I don’t think The Master is the best film of 2012? However, after reading some of the frankly astounding lists already out there, *coughs*, The Guardian’s, I decided to do just that.
So, here’s Simon Roger Key’s unarguable and obviously definitive list of the top ten films of 2012. Although technically it isn’t actually a top 10, as I start at number 11, and that was purely to ensure, “the pointy eared night-rat”, aka Batman, got an honourable mention.
However, if I have one problem with the films of 2012 then it is the absence of my long-time, hetro obsession, the dazzlingly talented, Keanu Reeves. And no, I’m definitely not kidding. I can only hope that 2013 is filled with Keanu Reeves films and hopefully some dinosaurs, or maybe a Keanu/dinosaur combo? Now that would be a real contender for film of the year.
Anyway, at number 11…
11. The Dark Knight Rises (Nolan, 2012)
Ok, so The Dark Knight Rises wasn’t quite the triumphant swan song for Nolan’s take on the Batman universe and it pales in comparison to the film which preceded it, but when Bruce Wayne finally – and I do mean finally – dons the cape and cowl, it’s fantastic to see the surly vigilante, back on the streets of Gotham, kicking ass. As for Bane, well, he was hilarious, particularly his dodgy accent and ridiculous motivation for destroying a city… “He was born a fool for love, what he wouldn’t do for love..”
10. Tiny Furniture (Dunham, 2010)
2012 marked the arrival of a talented, young, female voice, in the form of Lena Dunham and her rise over the last 12 months has been nothing short of meteoric. Dunham’s theatrical debut, Tiny Furniture, was key to Dunham’s HBO TV show, GIRLS, being green-lit and it makes an excellent companion piece. Dunham is one of those rare Hollywood writer/director combos i.e. she’s female.
9. Amour (Haneke, 2012)
Haneke’s second Palme D’or winning film, Amour, has had many plaudits rained upon it already and with its elderly protagonists and narrative focused upon illness, it is expectedly challenging, uncompromising and rewarding. Haneke, who is in his early 70s, shows no sign of mellowing and for that, cinema should be grateful.
8. Killer Joe (Friedkin, 2011)
Billy Friedkin’s second collaboration with Tracey Letts proved to be another success after 2009’s Bug, which featured a great performance from Michael Shannon. One thing that both these films have in common is a terrific central performance; Matthew McConaughey proving once again that he’s a force to be reckoned with when he’s portraying a character with less-than stellar morals – insert chicken wing.
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7. Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012)
Andrew Dominik’s third film wasn’t quite what I expected, but then, it was also exactly what I expected. Dominik makes films about men, masculinity and violence, whether that’s set in modern-day Australia, the wickedy-wild-wild-west or America circa 2008’s election. The backdrop might have changed but the themes are all the same. While the cinematography isn’t quite up there with Roger Deakins’ work on The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Killing Them Softly is still a visually arresting piece of Americana.
6. The Raid (Evans, 2011)
In 2012 there was the usual slew of American action films, with The Expendables 2, the usually dependable Jason Statham in Safe, and of course Taken 2. But none of them had the grit or ferocity of Gareth Evans’, The Raid. Few action films in recent years have made me wince, but The Raid achieved that with bone-crunching frequency; it’s an action assault unlike any other in 2012.
5. Holy Motors (Carax, 2012)
There are few films in 2012 with the vision of Carax’s Holy Motors and that’s one thing both Carax and Haneke share in a common – a refusal to compromise their visions. Holy Motors is defiantly the work of Carax, with its frankly brilliant intermission, flower eating protagonist and talking cars.
4. John Dies at the End (Coscarelli, 2012)
John Dies at the End is Don Coscarelli most ambitious film to-date. The film does have its problems, for one, Coscarelli throws just about everything at the screen in this mind-bender and not all of it works, but what it lacks in narrative cohesion, it makes up for with wit, charm and the occasional nob joke. John Dies at the End isn’t just Coscarelli’s most ambitious film it’s also his best.
3. Weekend (Haigh, 2011)
I’m a sucker for a romantic drama and Weekend is one of those rare romantic films, which refuses to rely on ‘schmaltz’. It’s a ‘realistic’ depiction of two men meeting, sharing a weekend together and possibly finding something ‘special’. It pulls no punches and delivers a powerful ending, which doesn’t shy away from the homophobia that is rife within our society, although importantly, it is always the characters and their relationship that is front and centre.
2. Monsieur Lazhar (Falardeau, 2011)
Sentimentality in cinema often relies upon cheap parlour tricks. However, Monsieur Lazhar pulls at your heartstrings through an intelligent script and outstanding performances from Mohamed Fellag (Lazhar) and the cast of child actors – you’ll be hard pressed to find another film with such emotive performances from children. Monsieur Lazhar is a beautiful film, which deserves to be seen by as many people as possible.
1. Sightseers (Wheatly, 2012)
So Ben Wheatley’s third film, following the excellent Down Terrace and Kill List is my favourite film of 2012. Sightseers is a beautifully British film with its damaged protagonist’s Tina and Chris, who go on a caravan road trip, taking in the delights of the North while indulging in the occasional murder. The trailer may have spoilt one of the film’s best gags but there’s still so much to giggle at, whether it’s Tina’s knitted crotch-less panties or the wince-inducing thud of a bride’s skull cracking. Wheatley is carving himself out a rather splendid, black-hearted filmography and with Tina he’s created his best character yet.