Thursday, December 27, 2012

My 15 Favourite New-To-Me Films of 2012

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.

13. Breathless
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.

10. Alien
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.

2. Shame
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.

1. Goodfellas
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 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?


  1. Excellent list. Really pleased to see Goodfellas, Shame and Mulholland Dr. here. And all ranked above TDKR! I'm surprised, pleasantly.

    Also, re: Ray Liotta. I just saw KILLING THEM SOFTLY the other day and even though he has a small part in it, he's excellent. Catch it if you can.

    Will be doing my own version of this list tomorrow, excellent stuff!

    1. Haha, TDKR is good, but not THAT good.

      Ah yes, I did want to see Killing Them Softly but it left cinemas before I had the chance to catch it. I've heard Liotta is good, but ugh, his face...

  2. I will rewatch Goodfellas in 2013. First thing that I have to do.

    Great list. Love the French New Wave films. I didn't like Umbrellas of Cherbourg much though (GOD THE INCESSANT SINGING!). Days of Heaven was beautiful as well.

    1. Do it on New Year's Day, haha.

      The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is basically like hanging out with me for a day, since I like to put everything into song. Except I'm a lot happier about life.

  3. Glad to see some Godard love. I watched a handful of his films this year and I did not regret it. If you like Umbrellas (which I still haven't seen yet) check out THE YOUNG GIRLS OF ROCHEFORT. Same director and it's a wonderful musical that even has Gene Kelly!

    Totoro is a wonderful film! Ghibli is fantastic.

    Also, glad to see you caught up with Days of Heaven. You might have heard I like that film.

    1. I really want to see The Young Girls of Rochefort. I'll definitely make that a New Year's resolution!

      Oh, do you like Days of Heaven? I'm not sure you've ever told me about that before... ;)

  4. Great list! I really need to catch Vivre Sa Vie.

  5. Awesome list! So glad to see Shame, Mulholland Drive and TDKR here, all in my top 30 of all time :) I really need to watch Vivre Sa Vie, it's starting to accommodate dust :P

    1. Yay! And Vivre Sa Vie is so cool, I think you'll especially love Anna Karina in it!

  6. I saw a lot of films this year that I ended up loving. A few of them include:

    Talk to Her
    A Woman Under the Influence
    The Remains of the Day
    Bright Star
    We Own the Night

    You'll see the whole roster of films I saw on Monday.

  7. I LOVE Goodfellas and Graves. Loved Shame as well and off course Rises - We are Nolan Fan-boys. Can't help it. :) So that makes me wanna watch Mulholland Drive right now even though I really didn't like anything Lynchian I have seen. Time to bump it up in my Netflix Queue. And also Vivre Sa Vie. I have heard lot of good things about it even though, again, not a big Godard fan.

    1. Nolan fan-boys are the best! Mulholland Drive is really good, you should love it.

  8. Nice list! Love that you included the Red Riding trilogy. Grave of the Fireflies is also one of my favorite new-to-me films. Some of my other favorites were Bergman's faith trilogy, Smiles of a Summer Night, The Passion of Anna, The Ox-Bow Incident, and Jackie Brown.

  9. Did you see Badlands and The Thin Red Line? Because I recently saw Badlands (my only other Malick film apart from The Tree of Life) and absolutely loved it.
    Great list otherwise. Breathless and Shame were some of my favourite new-to-me films this year too, although I must say the second was much more impressive to me. It's nice to have seen Breathless though, and to know that it's good. But god, I'm still haunted by that last scene in Shame....

    1. I did see Badlands. I really liked it, but it only *just* missed out on being on this list.

      That last scene of still gives me some nightmares, I admit.

  10. Great list Stevee... Vivre Sa Vie is one of my favorite discoveries of the year as well as the entire Alien Quadrilogy with Aliens being my favorite.

    Oh, BTW, you're next in the Movie Jail Relay Race.

    1. I've only seen the first two Alien films, but Alien is still my favourite!

      And thanks, I will get around to doing that one day, probably next year :P

  11. Not even counting the bounty of new releases I saw in theatres, It was a *glorious* year for first-time watches, many of which prompted me to go and buy myself copies so I could have them to watch again-and-often.

    A few highlights...

    "Wilder": Sabrina, Stalag 17, One Two Three, Ace In the Hole, Witness for The Prosecution, and Seven Year Itch were all seen for the first time this year. It's no wonder that the man rocketed up my list of favorite directors in 2012.

    ALICE DOESN'T LIVE HERE ANYMORE: I thought I'd seen all the "essential Scorsese". I was wrong.

    FRANKENSTEIN: Amazing how well it has aged.

    BREATHLESS: So stylish!

    VELVET GOLDMINE: I listened to a lot of glam after the credits rolled.

    A STAR IS BORN: One of the greatest musicals ever.

    1. Wilder is awesome. I have Ace in the Hole in my room, I must watch it soon. I really want to see Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, Velvet Goldmine and A Star is Born!

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  13. Wow, amazing selection of movies you got to experience for the first time. Those two Ghibli movies are both excellent. Do you know there is a Ghibli museum in Japan, might be worth checking it out in advance (I remember you would need a reservation)...just a tip. Also love Goodfellas and Alien. I personally didn't like Breathless, it just couldn't keep me entertained.

    1. I really want to go to the Ghibli museum, but unfortunately we won't have enough time!

  14. Hooray for some Ghibli love! It's amazing to think that they put out such two very different but amazing films the same year! (I haven't actually seen Fireflies since I first saw it when I was 17 but I've never forgotten it. And even watching the Totoro trailer makes me tear up - happy tears - I just love Ghibli!)
    Cherbourg is really something - it's a little strange at first when you realise they aren't going to stop singing, but you settle into it really quickly, don't you?
    Alien? *fistpump* Awesome!

    1. I know! That's insane!

      I settled into Cherbourg rather quickly, the singing didn't bother me after a while!

  15. Prometheus was kind of a letdown in general, but as a HUGE fan of the entire Alien-franchise, I appreciated it for what it was. Glad it got you to watch Alien! Now add Aliens (the sequel) to your list for 2013! Arguably better than the first!

    1. I did see Aliens - I liked it, but not as much as Alien!

  16. Goodfellas, Mulholland Drive, Shame and The Heiress all in one list? I think I love you. And I need to get around to seeing My Neighbor Totoro, it's been on my movie list for five years now. Ouch.

  17. Wow what a great choice for number one! Such a great film! Easily my fave of Scorsese's! Wish I could go back and see it again for the first time!

  18. Great list, nice to see Shame and Days of Heaven there! My new to me favorite 2012 films are Taxi Driver, There will be blood and Schindler's list!

  19. Excellent movie list- Some of my favorites as well! Umbrellas of Cherbourg has to be one of the most beautifully sad love stories ever told. I watched it with my eight year old daughter this year and she also fell in love with it. Hard not to when it stars one of the most beautiful women in the world. Also, the Heiress is on my list- Montgomery- ooh la la. And also, Goodfellas and Mulholand Drive. Others for me: Breakfast at Tiffany's, A Place in the Sun, Sound of Music, Rosemary's Baby, The Aviator, and The Bad Seed. I could go on- it is like having a favorite song- there must be a hundred!


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