It’s that time of year again, so here are my top 10 films of 2012.
I think it’s fair to say that it’s been a very hit and miss year for film this year with some exceptional releases scattered throughout 2012, but with some completely disappointing films filling in the months between (Anything involving Taylor Kitsch, I’m looking at you!). From the end of trilogies (The Dark Knight Rises) to the start of new ones (The Hunger Games, The Amazing Spider-Man), to the combination of many film characters into one big blockbuster (Avengers Assemble) and to some brilliant novel adaptations (On The Road, The Perks Of Being A Wallflower), we’ve certainly had it all. Read below to see what I thought of the year in film, and feel free to let me know what you thought about the year too.
I still need to see a couple more films, so for a constantly updated list you can visit my Letterboxd page.
10. Moonrise Kingdom
Another wonderful Wes Anderson classic, and probably my favourite so far. It’s quirky, with stunning cinematography, and it is, as always, very well scripted. Yes, it’s set around another detached reality that is sometimes Anderson’s biggest downfall in his films, but the innocent structure works at its best here with the boy scout premise. And let’s not forget the cast, one of the most stand out qualities of Anderson’s films, which this time includes a number of brilliant additions to Anderson’s originals, including Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, and Tilda Swinton, but it is the young stars that lead the film who deserve the credit here. Everything about it is just charming.
9. Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook was a surprise hit at this year’s award ceremonies, being nominated in all four acting categories, with Lawrence winning four awards for Best Actress, and winning the BAFTA award for Best Adapted Screenplay and four Independent Spirit Awards including Best Film. Why? Because it was undeniably the best romantic drama that 2012 had to offer.
Both funny and emotionally honest, Silver Linings Playbook is a completely lovely romantic dramedy that gives a heart-warming look at mental illness, without being patronising or throwing anything too serious in your face. SLP may be more romance than comedy but it’s not your typical boy-meets-girl. This film is about its two characters, both separately and as a couple. Whether they come together at the end or not doesn’t become the main focus of the plot, rather how they and their families learn to deal with their own issues. Its focus on something much more important is why it is so compelling. It may be quite simple in terms of narrative structure and plot but because of this, it all feels natural. With its focus on finding a silver lining in life when things don’t quite work out also means that it’s quite easy to identify with some of the situations, if not the characters themselves.
8. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
Directed by Stephen Chbosky and adapted from his own novel, it was hard for this film to go wrong, yet it still exceeded my expectations on so many levels. Following a modern-day John Hughes’ type high school drama, the film tells the honest coming of age story of a troubled boy and the people he meets who help him to find out who he really is. Highly relatable, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is emotional, heartfelt, and has a surprising depth that will leave most audiences affected in some way. It’s main quality, however, is its three fantastic lead performances – Logan Lerman finally takes a decent lead with a role that is both engaging and moving, enabling the audience to feel something for his every action, Emma Watson shows that she is no longer Hermione Granger and gives a brilliant and sexy performance as a slightly promiscuous non-wizard teenager, and Ezra Miller, well, just wow! Seeing his transition from We Need To Talk About Kevin to this is impressive in its own right, giving such a contrasting performance that it’s no wonder he stole the limelight in so many of the scenes. The trio is completely likeable, even loveable, and have such an incredible chemistry which brings the film together beautifully. I think I have a new favourite film, and now I can’t wait to read the book!
7. Anna Karenina
Joe Wright has created another stunning film with his version of Anna Karenina, and his risk pays off as he sets the entire film on a theatre stage. Only at times feeling a little mismatched as the occasional scene enters the outside world, the way that the scenes change around the characters is done beautifully. Wright is one of my favourite directors because of the efforts he puts into the aesthetics of his films, and just like his previous award-winning box office successes Pride & Prejudice and Atonement, from the set designs to the costumes, this film is a marvel to watch.
Starring Keira Knightley in the lead role, the third collaboration between her and the director, her performance was yet again spot on. Alongside Matthew Macfadyen, whose character is the funniest I’ve seen him play so far, there were many similarities to Wright’s other work which did put me off in places, but their performances are another reason why I can always find myself engaging with his films. Non-Wright regulars Jude Law and Domhnall Gleeson also give excellent performances, both provoking a lot of emotion, especially Gleeson who gives his best performance yet.
Even Aaron Johnson wasn’t awful, though I’ve never been much of a fan of his roles, but I do think he also seemed too young for the role. Nevertheless, he and Knightley have a great chemistry, and whilst I have not read the novels myself, from what I’ve read online so far I thought the film expressed their relationship well, but that it did need more of an emotional push towards the end.
Overall, all of the character’s relationships are easy to enjoy which compliment the story really well. The performances and aesthetics combined make for a beautiful film, and the story will grab your attention straight away. Whether you like Wright’s work or not, Anna Karenina is worth watching for his efforts of setting the film on stage alone, and it for that risk that this film was one of 2012′s most memorable.
Whilst I enjoy Daniel Craig in the lead role of these latest films, nothing seems to be shifting my opinion that I just really don’t like James Bond films – my Dad made me watch most of them when growing up so I’ve always attempted to give them a go, but I just can’t seem to get into them. Despite this, I found Skyfall to be the film that may just turn me around.
Sam Mendes is a great film-maker so a lot of the credit for my shift in opinion must go to him, as his style of film-making suits the film brilliant. The real genius behind the film, though, is Roger Deakins, as his cinematography is absolutely fantastic, with the locations, set pieces and use of colours coming together to make one spectacular looking film. This is why I enjoyed the second half so much, with certain scenes including fire and ice quite literally taking your breath away.
With the whole cast giving excellent performances, Javier Bardem’s role gave the biggest impact, as an excellent Bond villain.
5. The Dark Knight Rises
Claimed by most to be one of, if not the, best film of the year, The Dark Knight Rises has been one of the most anticipated superhero films this summer, and it certainly lives up to its hype. Personally, I don’t think that it’s the best of this summer’s blockbusters nor out of Nolan’s trilogy itself, but it’s still a bloody fantastic film; it just falls short to a few minor flaws and a run-time that seems like it’s never going to end, but all can be forgiven.
Oh boy, this was good. Looper quickly flew to the top of my list as an all-round brilliant sci-fi. The best part about this film, for me, was the “TK” sub-plot as none of this was to be expected from the film’s promotion. Because of this, the plot had a depth to it that I wasn’t expecting, and I found myself constantly being surprised even though I went into the cinema thinking I knew all that was going to happen. This part of the story also opened up some visually striking scenes of slow-motion action, which looked absolutely fantastic. Even JGL looked good, becoming a believable younger Bruce Willis in his prosthetics, both of whom gave solid performances throughout. I was a little put off by the child actor, only because he was five years old and acting in a ten-year-old’s part, which didn’t fit visually, but at the same time, this is only more reason to applaud his flawless acting. JGL and Emily Blunt definitely needed more chemistry, or a chance for their chemistry to fly, though, and the lack of emotion here would be my only real flaw. On a whole, the film was pretty powerful and left a huge impression on me, from the scene where a man’s limbs disappear making my stomach knot to the film’s end which even made me shed a tear; I was undeniably impressed.
3. The Hunger Games
This was another one of my most anticipated films after reading the trilogy (or most of it) beforehand. This first instalment is a great adaptation, working really well on screen with director Gary Ross managing to capture Collin’s dystopian world incredibly. This was its biggest quality, creating a real sense of fear in this futuristic setting. With a host of solid performances, too, Jennifer Lawrence was superb in the lead and the whole cast generally fit their parts really well. The one flaw, I found, was the romance between Peeta and Katniss which was played out horribly on screen; it needed to be emphasised more that she was doing it all for the cameras and that she was always longing for Gale back home, but instead it came across a bit too Twilight-y. Apart from that, I had no other complaints and I absolutely loved it.
2. Avengers Assemble
Avengers Assemble remained at the top of my list for most of the year. With some of the best CGI and 3D I have seen, which only enhanced the action scenes rather than blurred them, the film had an hilarious script written by the incredible Joss Whedon, yet it still managed to avoid becoming a comedy. The mix of genres was just spot on, and the whole cast came together superbly with a brilliant chemistry, whilst each of them were developed really well individually at the same time. It was just amazing in every way. For a superhero film, at least.
I know this was released in 2011 in the US, but I didn’t get to see this until January over here. Despite its early release in the year, this was undeniably a film that stuck with me. Shame is raunchy yet deeply informed, dealing with its subject matter brilliantly. Michael Fassbender is just beautiful and he gives such a strong (get it?) performance. Carey Mulligan, as well, is brilliant, just like her role in my top film of last year, Drive. Because of their brilliant chemistry, it’s really easy to engage with what’s happening, and it is for that reason that it leaves such an impact.