Tuesday 8 January 2013

12 of '12! Part 1.

2012 was an incredible year in cinema, making it one of the most successful years on record! Of course that'll come as no surprise in a year when Avengers assembled, skies fell, Dark Knights rose, games were hungry, Pixar were Brave, journeys were unexpected and the folks at Disney were a bunch of Muppets! The other day I looked back over the year in my list of the worst 10 films that I (rather unfortunately) saw, but now it's time to be a bit more positive at the past year in film, as I begin my look back over my top 12 films of 2012 (that I managed to see!)...

Not necessarily a film that was lapped up by the masses, The Cabin in the Wood was certainly one that film and horror lovers enjoyed immensely. A unique horror comedy that combined the two genres expertly to create a film for cinephiles the world over, The Cabin in the Woods was simply a lot of fun from start to finish, with its Scream-like post-modern concept that attempted to explain why the clichés of the horror genre exist through its somewhat self-aware narrative. A lot of the best films recently have been films about cinema and film itself (take a look back to The Artist and Hugo just last awards season), and this hilariously fun film continues that trend and compliments them perfectly. Click here to read the full review.

It's the film the put the 'AAARGH' into Aardman - and if you thought that was a pun too far, you must have missed this film! The humour of The Pirates is a rich as the detailed stop-motion animated models and sets are themselves. Half of the fun in fact comes from looking at the signs in the background, for stores such as 'Man Ke Laundry' and 'D.K.Ying Dentistry,' one shop even claimed to have their 'Biggest Ever Sail!' As with all of the Bristol based Aardman studio pieces, the film epitomises that unique British sense of humour that may not have gone down as well overseas, but leaves all the more for us to enjoy. Enormously witty and filled with charm, The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists is a film for all, and another clay gem in Aardman's chest of cinematic treasures. It has to be said that meeting some of The Pirates themselves was a pretty awesome experience too - those clay puppets are amazing!

Heavily tipped for awards season glory, I initially didn't quite get what all of the hype surrounding Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master was all about. The performances were fantastic, the characters fascinating, each shot beautifully presented like a 1950s postcard, and the story was an interesting one, but I wasn't blown away by it by any means. Yet the film slowly began to sink in after leaving the theatre, and after a while I found myself wanting more over time, in a similar way to how I felt the first time I saw Scorsese's Taxi Driver - and let's face it if I'm comparing the film to that then it's hardly a bad thing! It's the extraordinary characters played by Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Philip Seymour Hoffman that truly make the film what it is: addictive. As one character accuses Hoffman's Master of hypnotising his followers, I too feel almost entranced by the film itself, as if I too have been inducted into its cult. A mesmerising and fascinating piece of modern cinema.

Putting this film ahead of The Master might be a controversial decision, but it's my list so I can do what I like with it! They really are two very different ends of the spectrum, but Marvel's Avengers Assemble does deserve some recognition for its achievements. Not only was it the years highest grossing film (which doesn't say anything in terms of quality), but it marked the first of what I like to call the mega-franchise. For the first time, four individual established film franchises came together to make one Goliath blockbuster, and a lot of fun. The likes of Hulk and Loki well and truly stole the show in a big budget blockbuster that took the time to focus on its characters. The film had its fair share of problems, and is by no means perfect, but some ambitious and exciting action set-pieces and a load of well-scripted humour made Avengers Assemble a film for all to enjoy, and I for one just wanted to go back in and watch it again! Click here to read the full review.

There's always the risk with Wes Anderson that his overly stylistic sensibility and 'unique' sense of humor can come across as self-indulgent and rather too smart-ass (and we'll soon see if a certain Mr. Tarantino does the same with Django Unchained...), but Moonrise Kingdom was a simple delight. Anderson's stripped down innocent tale about two young misfits finding one another and their place in a world that doesn't fully understand them is full of heart, charm and wit, with his sense of humour and narrative both engaging and entertaining. The unique Anderson sense of style is here used to add to the narrative setting, making this fantasy-like world feel like a painting perhaps created by a character within the film itself. The cast is solid, and the second Edward Norton steps into the film it fully kicks into the high gear. Moonrise Kingdom proves that in a world of grand cinematic events that are as epic as their overblown budgets, it's the simpler things that affect us the most.

Yup, at number 7 it's 'that film with the tiger in a boat' - Life of Pi. Whilst I'm certain some people will not be overly fussed about this film (the same kind of people that weren't all that bothered about The Artist last year), I can't help but admire what Ang Lee has created with this wonderful piece of filmmaking. It's a grand, ambitious, expensive CGI fuelled epic film, depicting a very simple story. At its heart is the tale of a confused young man trying to discover the meaning to life and the answers to his confused way of looking at the many differing and contradicting religions. At the same time the film tells a story about storytelling itself and asks how much one can and should believe; perhaps you can see the link developing between the two already? Many of the heavily computer generated shots look like works of art that I could just admire for hours, and really work together to create a grand, mystical and inspiring world that is much more rewarding than your average big budget blockbuster. Click here to read the full review.

Disney threw open the year with the return of everyone's favourite puppets, those oh so loveable misfits The Muppets. Anyone who knows me will know that I love the Muppets, and what was not to love about their big return to the big screen. More in line with the original Henson era Muppet films and The Muppet Show itself, this reboot for a new generation saw the Muppets return to their roots whilst reinventing themselves for a new generation, making one of the best films of the year in the process. The humour was right up my street, the cameos were fresh, the characters were as good as us older fans could remember, and the music was absolutely genius! It was a film event that everyone of every gender and age could sit and laugh along with, all together at the same time - and not every family film can actually achieve that. Yes folks, watching a family film never felt so good. Click here to read the full review.


Oh I'm just too cruel aren't I, ending my list here like that? Well if Peter Jackson can have three films for The Hobbit, then I can have two articles for my top 12! Besides you're all probably tired from reading through the first seven entries anyway. So keep your eyes peeled on Beyond Infinity Film over the next few days for the concluding article in this two part extravaganza of 2012's finest - who will come top? You'll just have to wait to find out...

Oh, and as always I love to hear your thoughts and opinions, so be sure to leave a message in the comments section below. What have been your favourite films of 2012? Perhaps some of your least favourites have made my list so far? Whatever it may be, leave it below.

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