As we approach the end of another year, possibly the last year ever, it is time to look back at some of the movies that have moved, excited or dazzled us. Our special ‘Top Movies of 2012’ list lets each of our writers choose the films that have meant the most to them in the last 12 months.
2012 in film, for me, was a mix of some great mainstream cinema and some passionately expressive, deep material. The best of the mainstream stuff, for me, was The Avengers Assemble and The Amazing Spiderman – two witty, visually impressive and “you go, guys” cinematic experiences. On the other side of the tracks is the Shakespeare love-in Coriolanus, delightful French piece Le Havre, and without a doubt, my favourite film of 2012: This Must Be The Place. If you must see one film from the past twelve months, make it’s Sean Penn’s star performance as an ageing goth rocker.
A charming tale of young love given a retro twist, Moonrise Kingdom is perhaps my favourite offering yet from director Wes Anderson. Giving a unique insight into the war on drugs, The House I Live In was a favourite at Sundance London and it’s not hard to see why. Another extraordinary documentary of 2012 has to be Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet, the must-see story of the guitar prodigy who was diagnosed some 22 years ago with Motor Neurone Disease. Lastly, Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master is a beautifully shot portrait of a World War II veteran who becomes involved in a philosophical movement, with Joaquin Phoenix giving a standout performance
If you were looking for a tearjerker in 2012, Frankenweenie would have done the trick, especially for the dog lovers. Fans of Nightmare Before Christmas and Corpse Bride will love this movie, and after the lukewarm Dark Shadows, this delight reminded us why Tim Burton is one of the greats. Just remember to have tissues on hand. It’s a happy movie, but the emotional rollercoaster is rough! March 2012 saw millions of teenagers flock to the cinemas for The Hunger Games based on the novel by Susan Collins. For anyone looking for something a little less “Merry Christmas one and all” this holiday season, the movie is about a government which forces children to kill one another in an arena for entertainment… so it’s the perfect distraction. Last but by no means least, every now and then you stumble across a movie which makes you laugh in unexpected ways. November’s Silver Linings Playbook did exactly that. There’s no gross-out comedy here. Bradley Cooper is Pat, an ex-teacher who wants to get his life back on track when he’s released from a psychiatric hospital. Amazing performances, comedic timing and a great script made for great escapism this year.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was an uplifting and visually vibrant film that just goes to show that no matter how old you are, you’re never too old to make new friends, explore the world and find true love. It’s guaranteed to make you chuckle, as well as crave a trip to India. While we’re looking at comedies, Ross Noble’s Stitches was gory and hilarious in equal measure, and a real treat for fans of the Geordie funny man. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 was more action-packed and had more interesting characters than the earlier films and finished off the series with a suitably loud bang (or should that be howl). One of 2012’s last major releases, Life of Pi is stunning to look at and, at a time when most of us will be gorging ourselves on food and gifts, it examines some of the deeper questions in life in a way that won’t give you indigestion.
2012 was a great year for film. It included the culmination of Christopher Nolan’s take on the husky voiced vigilante of the night, Batman. I wasn’t sure if the last film in this trilogy would be able to top The Dark Knight and Heath Ledger’s performance as the joker. However, The Dark Knight Rises definitely rose up to join it and was my favourite film of 2012. While Christian Bale is always a solid Batman, it was Tom Hardy’s performance as Bane that shone out from Gotham’s underbelly and stole the terrifying show. This cements the idea that it is the Batman villains that make these movies what they are and keep us glued to our cinema seats. The Avengers Assemble was another peak, bringing the likes of Thor and Iron Man onto the same screen and providing the audience with some hilarious and entertaining moments. For fans of heartwarming stories and wonderful, natural comedy, Untouchables is a definite must-see. It follows the true story of a quadriplegic aristocrat who finds an unlikely friend in the form of a young man from the projects of France. There are plenty of touching bits, as well as some surprisingly entertaining ones. A definite eye-opener. Argo, starring and directed by Ben Affleck, is filled with suspense and tension. It is an extremely satisfying film, based on the true story of the Iranian hostage crisis and is a great way to end the year.
One of the cinematic moments of the year for me happened at the screening of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Despite the tepid reviews, I took my mum along to see the film. We arrived late and really enjoyed ourselves, at the end I turned round to see the cinema full of beaming oldsters. Great! The Polish entry into the Oscars, In Darkness, may not have won a gold statue, but was still an exceptionally powerful movie. 2012 was a good one for documentaries, and Searching for Sugarman is now up for an Oscar in 2013. Ping Pong about the Over 80s World Table Tennis Championships captured some of the infectious sporting spirit of the year. Mark Cousins’ masterful and meticulous The Story of Film thankfully made it onto DVD. Sailcloth, a short starring John Hurt as a pensioner on a mission, was memorable and touching. Of the many great re-issues, Marcel Carné’s Quai des Brumes is one to treasure.