Sure, there are still four days left in the year and usually I manage to fill these last days up with some great movies, but I might as well list down my 15 favourite new-to-me movies I've seen this year. It was a rather hard task to whittle these down to so few, especially considering there were over 300 movies in contention - meaning that I achieved my New Year's resolution of seeing at least 300 new-to-me movies (how I found the time, I'll never know). So here we have my 15 favourite new-to-me films of the year, and what a good movie watching year I had.
15. The Heiress
Admittedly, this 1949 classic starring Olivia De Havilland and Montgomery Clift was one I watched because I couldn't go and see Jessica Chastain and Dan Stevens in the stage production of it, currently on Broadway. However, this was a more than worthy substitute. Olivia De Havilland gave a firey performance as Catherine Sloper, a woman who is all too vulnerable to everything but eventually comes into her own. A really interesting portrayal of society ideals put to the test in the 1800s.
14. The Red Riding Trilogy
So technically these are three films, but you can't really judge the separate films on their own merits - they must be viewed as a whole. I watched the three British made-for-TV films over one night before I started school again, and I was so impressed with how intricately detailed this was and how everything came together. It was a stunning achievement for a made-for-TV project - in fact, TV just keeps getting stronger and stronger every year.
I checked out Jean-Luc Godard's masterpiece as part of my French New Wave month, and I really enjoyed it for its simplicity and of course, people just talking to each other. Sadly, now, if I should ever talk about this film with anyone, they'd probably get it confused with the straight-to-DVD Ray Liotta film of the same name. Oh, Ray Liotta, you have to take the fun out of everything.
12. My Neighbour Totoro
This movie was just so cute that I wanted to hug it. And when I go to Japan I will probably buy every Totoro related thing I can find. Well, every Totoro thing that will be able to fit in my suitcase without difficulty.
11. Mystic River
I wouldn't say I'm exactly an expert on Clint Eastwood films (but seeing J. Edgar has made me a little uneasy towards his films), but Mystic River is the finest film of his that I have seen. It is a rather depressing, gritty tale of how everyone's lives end up colliding and how the past comes back to haunt them. Sean Penn, Tim Robbins and Kevin Bacon were all fantastic in this film.
Amongst all the Prometheus buzz (that was both good and bad in equal measure), I felt like the only person on Earth who didn't really care about that film, but it did serve as a pleasant reminder for me to get off my butt and watch Alien. And what a good thing that was, because I absolutely loved this film, despite the fact that I'm really not all that fond of sci-fi films. It is probably one of the greatest horror movies of all time - and sometimes when I feel ill, I won't deny that the thought of that alien bursting out of John Hurt's chest doesn't cross my mind.
9. Belle De Jour
Among my New Year's resolutions was to watch more foreign films. I can't say if I really succeeded in that (I should have set a number or something), but I did start early - I remember watching Belle De Jour, starring the divine Catherine Deneuve, all the way back in February. Luis Bunuel created a simply beautiful, mysterious piece of film that was quite different from anything I'd seen at that point.
8. The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
Another Catherine Deneuve film (she's been a big player in my 2012, as in one of the first days of the year I also saw Repulsion, which only just missed out on a place here), but this time, we have a musical. That's not to say that it is all happy. Even though it is one of the most colourful films I've ever seen, it is doused in sadness. Kinda like Les Miserables. Okay, it is nothing like Les Miserables.
7. Vivre Sa Vie
Thanks to that French New Wave month, I saw some great films, and this one was the best of them. Again, there are people just talking with each other, but then there's that scene between Anna Karina and the man at the restaurant is still pretty much the best conversation I've ever seen.
6. Days of Heaven
I waited around eight months for this to finally become available on Fatso, and I just about died when it was. And then I just about died when I actually watched it because it was so beautiful. I did things somewhat backwards - The Tree of Life was my introduction to Terrence Malick, even though everyone was like "if you're not familiar with Malick, it just won't work for you." It actually did work for me, but that film and Days of Heaven are two extremely different films. They're joined by beauty, but Days of Heaven feels much more natural. I just adore every sunset shot in it.
5. Grave of the Fireflies
I remember when I watched this, having a nice Friday night to myself. At the end of it, I was crying so much it hurt. It definitely rivalled that terribly awful thing in Downton Abbey as the most heartbreak a screen has ever caused me.
4. The Dark Knight Rises
This movie is amazing. That is all.
3. Mulholland Dr
This was another movie that took its time to become available on Fatso, too. It was also my introduction to David Lynch, and what an introduction it was. I just don't know how he'd be able to sleep at night knowing that he'd made a movie like this. Because it is so intricately great and beyond any realms of any imagination.
My favourite film of last year, easily, and one of my favourites of all time. It is as close to a modern masterpiece as we'll get: an observation of anguish, of a life teetering on the edge, performed with true bravura by Michael Fassbender. The film is beyond wonderful, and it is ground-breaking without trying to break any ground in the first place.
I had to watch it a second time to fully appreciate its awesomeness, but it is right up there as one of my top favourites. Martin Scorsese's masterpiece is thrilling, epic, and certainly makes the most of its 150 minute running time. Even Ray Liotta is really good in this film...it is a shame that he was never really able to carry that one on.
What do you think of these films? What were some of your favourite new-to-you films you saw this year?