Thursday 10 January 2013

12 of '12! Part 2.

Welcome back to my list of the top 12 films that I saw in 2012! So far I've counted down from 12 to 6, which leaves us with just five more to go - my favourite films of 2012. So let's not waste any more time, cue the Top of the Pops jingle because here are my top five films of 2012...

Pioneers of cinema itself, and previous Best Picture winner at the BAFTAs and Oscars last year (for my favourite film of 2011, The Artist), the French are at it again, with touching comedy Untouchable (original title: Intouchables). The film, which after becoming the second highest grossing film in the French box office experienced a warm reception overseas too, tells the story of a wealthy paraplegic who decides to hire a less well-off young man to be his carer, as he is the only person to show him the one thing he desires: no sympathy. There isn't an awful lot to not like about Untouchable; it is effortlessly the funniest comedy of the year, has a touching and thoughtful story at its centre, the beautiful setting of France, and a close buddy movie relationship at its heart that makes the film a real feel-good treat. It may be predictable from the outset to see how each of the characters will learn from one another as their relationship blooms, but any flaws become significantly less problematic as the film is such a joy to watch. When placed next to a mainstream comedy such as Ted which is equally predictable, the laughs in Untouchable feel honest and genuine when compared to a film that in comparison seems to try too hard to make its audience laugh. Once again the French prove that they really are the fathers of film!

Michael Fassbender proves that he has the balls (literally) to take on a very challenging film in Steve McQueen's hauntingly beautiful film Shame. This harrowing art film about sex addiction tackles a very difficult subject matter and makes it accessible to all through the undeniably human them of addiction as a whole. With its flawless cinematography, stunning performances from Fassbender and Mulligan, and superb direction, Shame allows you to step inside the mind of a man battling his inner demons, in a mesmerising and powerful way. Heavily snubbed at last year's awards ceremonies, this is a tour de force piece of filmmaking that blew me away. Click here to read the full review.

Easily the most inventive and unique films of the year, Berberian Sound Studio was also one of my personal favourites! Toby Jones proves how he is one of the best and perhaps overlooked British acting talents, in a film about the creation of horror sound effects in film itself. Whilst the first half of the film gives us an insight into the construction of film (rest in pieces melons and cabbages), the second half turns art house as the film then goes on to deconstruct itself, as the lines between ours, Gilderoy's and the horror film's diegeses begin to blur as reality and film merge. A remarkable piece of filmmaking that will leave you thinking, but more importantly entertained as what starts out as a normal drama soon turns into a very unique horror.

Sam Mendes Took a stab at the tried and tested 50 year old Bond formulae and well and truly proved that nobody does it better! Reinvented for a newer generation of cinema goers, Skyfall took the classic conventions of every Bond film, all of the elements that made them so enjoyable, and updated them to create an instant Bond classic... and then some! With a narrative that storms along at a pace like nothing else, some of the most extraordinary action set pieces in recent film history, stunning settings, skilful cinematography, a classic Bond song, and a modern and engaging character driven narrative, Skyfall was much more than just a good Bond film, it was a fantastic film full stop, and one that dared to offer more to those looking for it. Immensely fun, enjoyable and tirelessly exciting, Skyfall was one of the most satisfying films that I saw this year, and more than ticked all of the boxes. Click here to read the full review.

There's a great irony to the fact that I am posting this article on the day that the 2013 Oscar nominations were announced, as my film of the year rather shockingly garnered a total of 0 nominations (and just 1 for the BAFTAs yesterday), despite vast critical acclaim, approval from waves of cinema goers and fans alike, and for concluding one of the greatest film trilogies of all time. I am of course talking about Christopher Nolan's epic Bat-Finale, The Dark Knight Rises. This sudden backlash of accolade for the film comes as a shock to me, as I am in nothing short of complete admiration for Nolan's work in this remarkable film. Where to begin? It's a comic book action film, that's intelligent and engaging, relevant and poignant, entertaining and moving - a Hollywood blockbuster of art house quality. It has a tremendous cast playing deep characters in a film which is in essence a character piece that focusses not on Batman, but on the broken shadow of a man behind the mask. It contains some of the best moments of cinema of all time within a film that I discover more and more within every time I see it. It is traditionally shot on film (which holds a certain special quality to me compared to digital), and more impressively on IMAX, which in my eyes remains the most impressive technical advancement in film - and seeing the entire IMAX print on the grand canvas of an IMAX screen made for one of, if not the single greatest cinema experiences that I have ever seen. Heavy use of CGI is put aside (and see if you can notice when it's used anyway!) in favour for real visual effects, creating a more impressive aesthetic experience for us cinema goers. All of which Nolan implements in most of his films, and to which I admire greatly, but what makes The Dark Knight Rises stand out is the epic scale that it encompasses within all of these areas, really pushing the limits in what can be done in film - they dropped an actual plane out of the sky in the film's opening scene for Pete's sake! I adored Nolan's work on this incredible finale of a film and the entire Dark Knight Trilogy as a whole, and whilst the Oscars may refuse to acknowledge it, I give it the title of my film of 2012. Click here to read the full review.

Of course it wouldn't be a best of list without a few honourable mentions, and 2012 gave us so many good films that I just couldn't fit them all into my top 12 list. In fact I could probably even do an honourable mentions list for my honourable mentions with so many enjoyable releases! So are just a few of the films that narrowly missed out on places in my 12 of '12:

  • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: A fun outing that made for a much welcome return to the realms of Middle Earth, yet without the rose tinted glasses the over long running time (and we're only a third of the way through!) meant that the film was Baggins at times, resulting in it being more ummin' and aahin' than Balin and Dwalin; less Thorin and more borin' and snorin'! Yet as soon as Gollum steps onto the scene, everything suddenly comes alive, and the film well and truly begun. (Full Review)
  • Lawless: a great modern gangster film that I enjoyed immensely. Shia LaBeouf was actually good in the role, and Tom Hardy (along with his role as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises) proved that he can convey the raw animalistic intensity of a character with just his eyes and a grunt! A fun film that I struggled to keep out of my list.
  • Brave: Pixar's latest offering was a visual treat that had a touching mother/daughter story at the centre of it. Whilst it wasn't the studio's best piece due to the strict confines of the fairytale genre, it was certainly a lot of fun, with a refreshing female lead, and the clans and the triplets bringing a great comic relief to the animated proceedings. (Full Review)
  • Prometheus: fair to say that this was a film that divided people; I actually very much enjoyed Sir Ridley's return to the Alien universe, and even almost gave it a spot in my top 12! Perhaps it did ask more questions than it did answer, but is that really such a bad thing? Whilst I admire the stylistic qualities of the old fashioned sci-fi immensely, each time I watch it I find more and more thing to think about within the narrative, which leaves me enjoying it all the more. (Full Review)
  • Frankenweenie: Tim Burton returned to classic stop-motion animation in great style with his pastiche of the monster movie genre. Not only was it crammed with references and a lot of fun, it was also the only film that I have seen that seemed to purposefully use its 3D effect to add to its narrative. Yes that's right folks; it made me fleetingly believe in 3D! What more can I say!? (Full Review)
  • The Descendants: A big contender for awards season last year, the George Clooney starring film was mostly just an alright film, which elevated itself to a very emotional and poignant piece at times. There is nothing more heartbreaking than a shot of a young girl being told that she will never get to see her dying mother again - I haven't teared up this much since Toy Story 3!
Well there you have it folks, my cinematic highlights of 2012 (out of the films that I actually managed to see); I hope that you enjoyed this read, and now it's your turn to get involved too! I'd love to hear what your top films of the year were too, so be sure to let me know in the comments section below. Or perhaps you want to give me a telling off for forgetting one of your favourite films of the year; maybe you just cannot stand my taste in film!? Whatever it maybe I always love to hear from you guys too, so make sure to leave a message below.

Here's to 2013 being just as good a year for film!

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