last month, i posted the skinny's top 10 films of the year - a poll topped by punchandkickathon the raid. i held back on posting my own personal choices as i wanted time to catch up with a couple of late releases, and i'm bloomin glad i did cos otherwise the life of pi would have been missing and that would have been AWFUL.
as with last year's list i've stuck with films that got an actual release in cinemas this year, ruling out anything caught at a film festival that's yet to be snapped up for uk distribution. despite seeing hundreds of new movies this year, some big guns slipped through the net - most prominently, the master. but c'est la vie - here's what i did watch and think 'cor, that's pretty good huh!'
1. The Kid with a Bike (dir. Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne)
Warming hearts and rending them in equal measures, The Kid with a Bike’s
impactful drama is built on small moments and big gestures. The latter
comes from the virtuous Samantha (Cécile de France) and her selfless
decision to foster ten-year-old Cyril (Thomas Doret), weathering the
young boy’s storm of emotions – anger, sadness, confusion – in the hope
of easing his pain. The former, meanwhile, signifies the storytelling
prowess of the film’s creators Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, who craft
their latest neorealist masterpiece from little details: a collision
between two strangers; a frustrated outburst; a thrown stone. The
results are acutely poignant, with an all-too-rare optimism and a finely
felt sense of compassion. [written for the skinny's films of the year feature]
2. This is not a Film (dir. Jafar Panahi, Motjaba Mirtahmasb)
As with The Kid with a Bike, this was a highlight of the 2012 Glasgow Film Festival, and of the whole year. Here's an extract from my five-star review: "This Is Not a Film is a bold artistic statement, a guided
career retrospective, a political act, and a mediation on the very
nature of cinema – all at once, with neither self-pity or intellectual
elitism to muddy the waters. While Panahi’s plight is deplorably sad,
his uncowed defiance delivers an inventive and eloquent exposition of
3. Amour (dir. Michael Haneke)
Amour arrived in the UK on a wave of critical buzz from Cannes and managed to live up to every scrap of acclaim. I haven't wept so much at a film since Toy Story 3.
4. Moonrise Kingdom (dir. Wes Anderson)
Didn't catch this until quite recently, but I'm very glad i did - sweet, sad and very funny, it might well be the divisive director's finest feature.
5. Tabu (dir. Miguel Gomes)
Another 5-star review, and a mini write-up for The Skinny's end of year feature: "Months after its release, Tabu nestles in the cerebrum not as a
dazzling, enigmatic whole (which it undoubtedly is), but as a series of
indelible images: a glassy-eyed crocodile submerged in still waters; a
solitary woman transfixed by flickering celluloid; a colonial explorer
shadowed by a spectre. With these images come echoes of its soundtrack,
particularly the erudite voiceover that extends throughout the second
half, silencing dialogue and fostering a disconcerting nonpareil tone.
Memory, with its mysteries and vagaries, proves Tabu’s natural
habitat, the power of these fragments corroborated by a narrative
steeped in romance and nostalgia. Formally audacious and thematically
opulent, Tabu is a treasure trove to be pored over.
6. Martha Marcy May Marlene (dir. Sean Durkin)
In the absence of The Master, this was hands down the year's best cult-movie-built-around-two-exceptional-actors: Elizabeth Olsen, electrifying in a deceptively complex role; and John Hawkes, creepily believable throughout.
7. The Turin Horse (dir. Bela Tarr, Agnes Hranitzky)
I saw this back at the 2011 Edinburgh film festival, and wrote these here words about it: "Over two and a half portentous hours, Béla Tarr’s swan-song proves as
vexingly enigmatic as his fans no doubt hoped, and his detractors might
have feared... The crisp cinematography is stunning, the soundtrack an evocative
loop of haunting post-rock, and every utterance is pregnant with
precise, unquestionable purpose – but it’s also exhausting. However,
were its sequences trimmed, its ascetic tone softened, or its
obscurities given clarity, the potency of its metaphor would be
diminished, making it a wholly worthwhile endurance.
There are echoes of The Sacrifice (the film with which
Andrei Tarkovsky concluded his similarly-feted career) in the sparse
despair and unfathomable bleakness, lending added poignancy to the quiet
desolation at its core: the end of a pioneering filmmaker’s career,
mapped onto the end of the world."
8. Holy Motors (dir. Leos Carax)
Talking cars, shagging dragons, multiple metamorphoses and a gorilla for a wife - what did it all mean? Er, I'll get back to you on that..
9. Avengers Assemble (dir. Joss Whedon)
Easily the most fun I had at the cinema this year. In a good year for blockbusters - The Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games, Skyfall - this stood out by getting everything from character to action spot on.
10. The Muppets (dir. James Boban)
A re-watch over christmas confirmed what i already suspected: The Muppets rule.
11. Argo (dir. Ben Affleck)
12. Sightseers (dir. Ben Wheatley)
13. The Hunt (dir. Thomas Vinterberg)
14. A Dangerous Method (dir. David Cronenberg)
15. Shame (dir. Steve McQueen)
16. The Life of Pi (dir. Ang Lee)
17. The Raid (dir. Gareth Evans)
18. Five Broken Cameras (dir. Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi)
19. Killer Joe (dir. William Friedkin)
20. Looper (dir. Rian Johnson)
21. The Angel's Share (dir. Ken Loach)
22. Michael (dir. Markus Schleinzer)
23. Le Havre (dir. Aki Kaurismaki)
24. The Cabin in the Woods (dir. Drew Goddard)
25. Nostalgia for the Light (dir. Patricio Guzman)
Almosts: Rust and Bone, Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai, The Dark Knight Rises, The Descendents, 21 Jump Street, Carancho, Young Adult, Brave, The Forgiveness of Blood, Even the Rain, Damsels in Distress, The Hunger Games, A Royal Affair, Frankenweenie, The Imposter
[read 2011's list here!]
[read 2010's list here!]