Sunday, August 4, 2013

Super Late 2012 Retrospective: My Top 20 of 2012

So, I can finally put 2012 out of my mind now that I've made this extra long list. I won't deliberate much longer, but I will say that this'll be the last time you'll hear from me for a while...I'm still extremely busy! Until then, don't forget about me, and be thankful I managed to do this list before 2013 was over too. Ha. (by the way, top of 2013 so far is Before Midnight, followed by The Great Gatsby, The Place Beyond the Pines, Side Effects and Spring Breakers. Let's see how they stand this time next year)

Honourable mentions: The Intouchables, The Impossible, Life of Pi, The Raid: Redemption, Compliance, Les Miserables, Lincoln, Skyfall, Flight, Vamps, Cloud Atlas, Dredd, Bachelorette, Pitch Perfect, Safety Not Guaranteed, The Avengers, The Cabin in the Woods, The Grey, Chronicle.

20. Celeste & Jesse Forever (Dir. Lee Toland Krieger)
I don't know why, but I find Rashida Jones absolutely fascinating. She seems like the kind of girl who anyone could get along with, since she's so smart, funny, and endlessly charming. So when I heard that a film that she wrote herself was going to make it to the big screen, I was pretty darn excited. And guess what three words describe the outcome? Smart, funny and charming. It may not turn around the rom-com genre as some were hoping (and come on, we should stop wishing for this to happen, two people will end up being together or they won't), but it gave it a damn good try.

19. Anna Karenina (Dir. Joe Wright)
Maybe I just kinda romanticise this movie a little bit because it was the last movie I watched before Stage Challenge happened (I have a habit of romanticising this time of my life and I don't know why), and maybe it lost its shine when I had to study it for an English assessment, but there's one thing that I absolutely love about Anna Karenina that earns it its spot here: Joe Wright's ambitious direction. The fact that this film moves along like a musical even if there's no real singing, the way that big theatre is set up, the way that everything is decadent and glorious to watch. Plus, I'd like to see Alicia Vikander get more roles. Her and Jessica Chastain are pretty much going to tear down Hollywood within the next few years.

18. The Master (Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)
I understood most of it. I'd have to watch it again in the very distant future for it to have an effect on me, but I appreciated what Paul Thomas Anderson was trying to do. This film feels like it exists on a different planet, so far away from any of the other films of 2012. It is fearless, disconcerting and so complex. Along with that, you have Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams honing in some of the best performances of their careers - that's a term that's thrown around lightly, but considering their almost perfect filmographies, that's a considerable achievement.

17. Your Sister's Sister (Dir. Lynn Shelton)
The way this film ticks over, without any real hurry, just at a natural pace, is what I loved most about Your Sister's Sister. It was just a really nice movie, where people weren't going out of their way to make any drama, it just happened. I admire filmmakers who can make their movies without feeling like they have to place all the action on a highwire, instead letting everything fall into place. Your Sister's Sister is a stunning example of that.

16. The Most Fun You Can Have Dying (Dir. Kristin Marcon)
I'm actually rather surprised that a NZ film made it onto my list this year, but ever since I saw The Most Fun You Can Have Dying over a year ago, I haven't been able to shake it. It isn't perfect, but it is made beautifully, without the usual essence of NZ filmmakers trying way too hard to be schizophrenically strange (An Angel at My Table and Heavenly Creatures are the guilty parties and it would seem that most NZ filmmakers have tried to follow in their footsteps). The Most Fun You Can Have Dying is mature, gorgeously shot and features a wonderful performance by Matt Whelan. Hopefully it makes it to some international markets, because this is finally a film that NZ can be proud of.

15. Coriolanus (Dir. Ralph Fiennes)
I studied this one for my English project as well, and I was surprised at how good of an adaptation this one is, and how underrated it is. Ralph Fiennes' top directorial debut seemed to come and go without much notice, even though it brought a severely underrated Shakespeare tale to life with some shocking relevance to the world we live in 400 years on. It's a little bit like The Hurt Locker with Shakespearean language. Plus, extra points for slipping a luminous Jessica Chastain in their to be my favourite actor's wife. Worth the price of the ticket for that alone (at least for me, anyway).

14. Smashed (Dir. James Ponsoldt)
For a film about addiction, this film is rather level-headed. There's no big teary monologues, no over-reaching for drama, no-one treating their addiction as if it had the same levity as an impending apocalypse. Instead, it feels like a page was ripped out of the diary of someone who actually experienced alcoholism, and what they did to try and prevent it from taking over their life. Part of the way helped by a towering performance from Mary Elizabeth Winstead and apt support from Aaron Paul and Octavia Spencer, Smashed takes the melodrama out and replaces it with naturalism, which is just about the most disconcerting thing you can do when trying to tell a story like this one.

13. Argo (Dir. Ben Affleck)
Argo is a stunningly made, stunningly thrilling film, and I think it is extremely apt that this film was chosen to represent the best of the 2012 film year. Ben Affleck has a true talent for creating tension, and also creating an atmosphere that's true to the period the film is set in. There's something so perfect about the way this film is made, from the editing to the general look of the film. Plus, it puts actual meaning into being an "edge of your seat thriller". To be honest, I couldn't really care less about the apparent omission of New Zealand's part in this story, on account that this is an extremely good film.

12. Amour (Dir. Michael Haneke)
I'd probably never revisit this film ever again because it left me a bit paralysed with unhappiness, but there's no denying that this is a uniquely devastating piece of cinema. It was hard to view it with an objective eye since I watched it a little too close to my own Grandmother's death, yet I think there's still a little bit of scar tissue from this movie. It is probably one of the more different, yet extremely depressing portrayals of love on screen - is this what the critics wanted when they asked for a better romantic genre? Who knows, but Michael Haneke sure has a knack for making you feel a little beyond sad.

11. Bernie (Dir. Richard Linklater)
I still can't even get over the fact that Bernie is a true story, nor can I get over how perfect Richard Linklater is as a filmmaker. This film treads a very fine line between telling a story through fiction and non-fiction, mixing both elements so well that you can't really tell if what you're seeing is true or just made up. Jack Black's central performance is a triumph, along with great support from Shirley Maclaine and the ever-amazing Matthew McConaughey. Let's just say that this is a minor triumph and Richard Linklater's excellent filmography - one filmography that is probably one of the more diverse and consistently great filmographies out there.

10. End of Watch (Dir. David Ayer)
There was nothing worse than feeling deflated and tired because I'm on a flight back from having the time of my life in Japan, and I decide to watch End of Watch at probably around 1am. I thought it would be an average cop movie. Turns out by the end I was curled up on my seat, feeling disgusting and crying my eyes out because this film was far from an average cop movie. Sure, the 'found footage' aspect was a bit distracting, but the film itself was an excellent character study. There's just so much about this film that works, even when it shouldn't.

9. Brave (Dir. Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman)
The other day I had a bit of a mental breakdown when I was talking to someone in my class about how much we loved this film. Lesser Pixar? I think not. I think it carries one of the most valuable messages out of all the Pixar films, both with loving your mother and also being your own hero. Can we just take a moment to appreciate what a great role model Merida is? Sure, she makes a mistake, but at least we take the time to watch her learn from that mistake, and be a total badass while she does it. I kinda want to be her. Which is part of the reason I put two cans of red hairspray in my hair and walked down the street on a hot summer's day wearing a heavy velvet dress for the Christmas Parade. Time of my life.

8. 21 Jump Street (Dir. Phil Lord and Chris Miller)
I saw this film more than any other film last year. After the shittiest mcshitfest day of school this year, I watched this to cheer me up. If I'm every feeling slightly down, this movie finds itself in my DVD player. I just think it is the funniest movie to come out in years. Which is why it is, in all of its R-rated silly comedy glory, in my top ten for the year. Ja feel? Ja definitely feel.

7. Looper (Dir. Rian Johnson)
There's something about Looper which is endlessly fascinating to me: it is such a realistic view of the future. It is kind of like an anti-blockbuster. It has all of the blockbuster trimmings, but it presents them in such an indie kind of way, which is so strange. It is inventive and dazzlingly complex, offering far more than one could expect from the trailers. Please, Rian Johnson, keep re-inventing the wheel like you did here.

6. Django Unchained (Dir. Quentin Tarantino)
I remember watching this film for the first time in the cinemas: I was so excited because it was the first Tarantino film I was old enough to see in cinemas, and I had the time of my life. During the baghead scene, I was literally just about rolling around on the floor laughing. During the scene where my beloved Leonardo DiCaprio cuts his hand, I was watching it through my fingers. And while it was a few too many scenes and one Quentin Tarantino trying his best with an Australian accent too long, Django Unchained was just damn entertaining. Plus, Dr. King Schultz is my spirit animal. That is all.

5. Silver Linings Playbook (Dir. David O. Russell)
This is a movie that has grown on me a lot since I first saw it at the beginning of the year. I think my 'meh' reaction to it when I first saw it was a) I was getting annoyed with all of the Jennifer Lawrence buzz (and I'm still not happy about that, but I'm over it) and b) I couldn't wait for the movie to be over because I thought it was a great idea to drink a ginormous cup of Pepsi and...yeah. However, circumstances changed, and literally at any point of my life right now, I could watch this film and it would make me happier. Every time I'm at work, I always stare at the case longingly and think about how much I'd like to see it again, but I've managed to keep it down to three watches. Dear friends: please get me this for my birthday so I can stop staring at it longingly. Its getting to be a bit of a problem.

4. Killer Joe (Dir. William Friedkin)
For a movie that I hold in such high regard, Killer Joe is not a film that I'd ever profusely recommend to anyone. Unless, of course, I was going on about how perfect Matthew McConaughey's acting skills are in this film. This movie is vulgar and nasty, but somehow I managed to love it. I don't know how, but that's how we have it. I haven't mustered up the courage to rewatch it (even though I bought it around four months ago), so maybe I'll save that up for when I'm actually 18 and see if my official maturity makes me any less sensitive to this crazy film.

3. Zero Dark Thirty (Dir. Kathryn Bigelow)
The next three are pretty much all my number ones, but after much deliberation I managed to pry them apart and rank them. Zero Dark Thirty is my first number one for two reasons: a) Kathryn Bigelow is my idol and I want to be her, and b) I am Maya. Which is kind of scary, but I can definitely say there's no movie character I've ever been so connected to, ever. This film is so meticulously put together and plays it straight, to the degree that it almost doesn't even seem like a film. And it is so damn near perfection it kinda hurts. Jessica Chastain is wonderful. Jason Clarke, Mark Strong, Jennifer Ehle, James Gandolfini, Joel Edgerton, Mark Duplass...everyone in that film, they're all wonderful. Again, friends: I need this film for my birthday so I can stop staring at it longingly while I'm at work.

2. The Dark Knight Rises (Dir. Christopher Nolan)
I know, you're all probably freaking out because this is not number one. It is one of my number ones, but just not the top ranked. I don't love it any less than I did when I first saw it on July 19th and bawled my eyes out more than a normal person should be allowed to in a public place. Every time I think about it, I want to cry. No, it is nowhere near as good as The Dark Knight. But I love every minute of those 2 hours and 45 minutes (even though I get extremely annoyed whenever Marion Cotillard turns up). Christopher Nolan is still God. It still has some of the most potent imagery of 2012. 'Why Do We Fall?' and 'Rise' are still my number one let's get hyped/let's get overly emotional songs. I just love this film, despite all the backlash. Oh and by the way, I've already mentally booked my tickets/sanity for when Interstellar comes out next year.

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Dir. Stephen Chbosky)
So this is my number one. Why? It is perfect. When I read the book last year, it kinda changed my life. And then the movie came along and it broke my heart into a million pieces but somehow put it back together again. I really doubt that a movie that is so perfect in its portrayal of teen life will ever come around again, so I'm glad that it happened while I was a teenager (mind you, everyone from the 80's probably thinks that about The Breakfast Club). Future kids: you'll be watching this the day you turn into a teenager. By which point I'll hopefully be married to either Logan Lerman or Ezra Miller. Hopefully.

What do you think of this list? What were your favourite films of 2012?


  1. Ooo nice list. I loved Perks too. Unlike you though, it came out the year I finally grew out of my teens and it was bittersweet because I did not feel infinite. And you marry Ezra, I'll marry Logan. Deal? Deal. :P

  2. Ooh, Before Midnight is my current favorite of 2013 as well. :)

    Great list. I'm a fan of most of these, especially Amour, Django, TDKR, Perks, Zero Dark Thirty, The Master and Argo. LOVE that you included Coriolanus, which is my #13 of 2011. My favorites of last year were Holy Motors, Cloud Atlas, Amour, The Turin Horse and Les Miserables.

  3. This is kind of nice to revisit 2012 like this! Lots of great ones here, I'm glad you included Bernie, Celeste and Jesse Forever, and Your Sister's Sister. Great little films!

  4. Great list :) My top ten favorite movies of 2012 are:

    1. The Master
    2. Les Miserables
    3. Beasts Of The Southern Wild
    4. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
    5. Smashed
    6. Django Unchained
    7. Chronicle
    8. The Sessions
    9. Being Flynn
    10. Magic Mike

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