|The Master (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)|
Let's get right to it. 2012 was a solid year for films, ranging from highbrow ones like The Master to genre fare like The Raid: Redemption. In fact, I had a really hard time narrowing my list to ten, so I've included the also-rans below. There are some films, such as Barbara, Sister, The Intouchables, Tabu, and Wuthering Heights, that I won't see for weeks or even months, but this list is pretty close to official.
Note: Some of these are arguably 2011 leftovers, but they are all 2012 U.S. releases.
|Skyfall (dir. Sam Mendes)|
Argo, Compliance, Declaration of War, The Grey, Headhunters, The Impossible, Killing Them Softly, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom, Norwegian Wood, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Pitch Perfect, Rust and Bone, Skyfall, Sleepless Night, Zero Dark Thirty
10. The Kid with a Bike (dir. Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne)
The Dardennes are two of my favorite directors, so I'm happy to include this little drama. As a boy in need of a guardian, Thomas Doret gives a terrific child performance, and Cécile De France is simply wonderful as his potential mother figure.
9. Alps (dir. Giorgos Lanthimos)
A fascinating, puzzling satirical exploration of role-playing, this Greek film literally has its main characters play dead people. It's an intriguing film, regardless of what you make of it.
8. The Dark Knight Rises (dir. Christopher Nolan)
I never expected to love this film so much. While I admire Nolan's previous Batman films, his epic conclusion is the one I've been waiting for since I saw Burton's 1989 version. It's thrilling from start to finish, and my new favorite superhero movie.
7. Oslo, August 31st (dir. Joachim Trier)
Trier's intimate look at drug and alcohol addiction features a phenomenal performance from Anders Danielsen Lie (pictured left). If you like Shame (2011), I highly recommend it.
6. Django Unchained (dir. Quentin Tarantino)
Tarantino's version of the old American South is one of his bravest films to date. The film is a visual treat, but the fine performances, delicious dialogue, and brilliant soundtrack are also integral to the film's success. No one else could make this film, and Tarantino completely delivered.
5. Les Misérables (dir. Tom Hooper)
As flawed as it may be, I still find it very moving, with heartfelt performances and stunning production values. Hooper's questionable choices don't ruin the film, and the performances only get stronger on additional viewings/listens. It's one of my favorite movie musicals, so I don't mind sticking up for it.
4. The Turin Horse (dir. Béla Tarr & Ágnes Hranitzky)
Shot in long, unbroken takes, Tarr's black-and-white drama makes up for its lack of dialogue with its powerful imagery. The silence is very effective, but the howling wind and Mihály Víg's haunting score are a welcome soundtrack.
3. Amour (dir. Michael Haneke)
Haneke does so much by deceptively doing so little, and this is a perfect example of that. French veterans Trintignant and Riva deliver two of the year's best performances in this emotionally draining relationship drama.
2. Cloud Atlas (dir. Andy & Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer)
The Wachowskis and Tom Tywker have produced a monumental, ambitious epic that went unnoticed by audiences and many critics. It's technically brilliant, and uses multiple genres to great effect. Wherever you stand on it, its boldness can't be denied, and I was completely engrossed.
1. Holy Motors (dir. Leos Carax)
Among the many films I've seen from 2012, this stands out the most. Equal parts bizarre and captivating, it features one of the best male performances of all time by Denis Lavant. There is much to delight and to disgust, and I can't stop replaying many of its compelling scenes in my head. A triumph of cinematic wonder, it's one of the best movie experiences I had last year.
And that's that! Look out for my personal awards ballot early next week.
Nice! Great to see we share #1 and am pleased you enjoyed Oslo, August 31st too.ReplyDelete
Thanks! Forgot you were so high on those films as well.Delete
Great list! A polarizing year for film, people seem to be divided over Cloud Atlas, The Master, Holy Motors, and others. PTA's latest is in my top 2 so far.ReplyDelete
Can't wait to see Django Unchained, and nice to see top 10 love for Oslo, TDKR, and Kid with a Bike.
Thanks! Wow! Didn't realize The Master was that high on your list. A polarizing year indeed.Delete
Hope you like Django!
I've never heard of Alps. I will have to check it out, the only Greek film I've ever seen in Dogtooth, and that was pretty damn good.ReplyDelete
Well, Alps is from the writer/director of Dogtooth (which I also liked), so you might like it too.Delete
Great list here. Loving seeing Alps make the cut. What an odd but interesting little flick right there. Probably about damn time I watch The Turin Horse.ReplyDelete
Thanks! Alps - loved that film on both viewings. Again, on The Turin Horse: do it!Delete
Very intriguing list, Josh. I knew Cloud Atlas would make your top 5 :) I've been hearing so much about Oslo, August 31st and Holy Motors, gotta check those out, especially the latter as you rate it as #1. Bizarre and captivating, sounds good!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Ruth. Yeah, I knew Cloud Atlas wouldn't be a surprise. ;) Hope you like those films if you watch them.Delete
Must confess that I have not seen half of the films in your top ten this year. Thats one of the things I love about reading other peoples top tens .... adding films to my to watch list.ReplyDelete
Me too. I love discovering films through other people's blogs.Delete
Awesome! Hope you like whichever ones you watch.
Awesome to see TDKR here! Django will also make my top 10 this year.ReplyDelete
I hate that it's not higher, but it fell in the latter part of the year. Still love it though. Glad Django will be on your list too.Delete
Excellent post! I'm adding The Turin Horse to my list.ReplyDelete
Thanks! Yay! Can't wait to hear your reaction to it.Delete
Really interesting list here. Love that so many foreign films made the cut, especially Oslo, August 31st. Also fun to see that sandwiched between TDKR and Django. :)ReplyDelete
Thanks Eric. This was a great year for foreign films. In 2011, I only had 3 foreign ones on my list, so I'm glad I can include more of them in 2012.Delete
Great List, Josh !! We have a few common picks - Amour, Cloud Atlas and Django are in my Top 10 right now but I have Holy Motors and Oslo at 11 and 13. They might make the final cut as well, depending upon what I think in couple of weeks and even TDKR makes it in my 15. Haven't seen the others yet.ReplyDelete
I think I will give Kid with a Bike a chance sometime now that it is on Netflix.
Thanks, SDG! Glad to see we currently have 6 in common in the top 15. Hope you like The Kid with a Bike! :)Delete
Wow this is an interesting list. :) Haven't seen too many of them myself. Really need to check out the Boy with the Bicycle though. I really appreciate the Dardennes.ReplyDelete
Make sure to submit your list to our Lion 4 LAMBs event that is currently running! http://www.largeassmovieblogs.com/2013/01/the-6th-annual-lions-for-lambs.html
Thanks! :) I love the Dardennes' work, so I'd highly recommend it.Delete
Thanks for the Lion 4 LAMBs reminder. I'll be sure to submit mine.
Nice list. I feel ashamed that I have only seen 4 of these films. I really have to catch up on Holy Motors (which everyone seems to love) and Cloud Atlas (which those who love it seem to really love it).ReplyDelete
Thanks. There are many films I still haven't seen from last year, so don't feel bad. Both of those films are very divisive, but I love them.Delete
Some great choices here. Amour seems to have received lots of recognition in the past few months - definitely a highlight of 2012 along with Holy Motors. I'm looking forward to seeing Django.ReplyDelete
Thanks Dan. Glad you like those films. Hope you like Django!Delete
TDKR was truly phenomenal, so glad to see you enjoyed it so much! Alps,ReplyDelete
Amour + Holy Motors did little for me but I can see why you liked them so much. Cloud Atlas was great.
Still need to check out Oslo, great list!
Thanks! Yeah, those 3 films aren't for everybody, but I'm a big fan. Glad you liked Cloud Atlas.Delete
Hope you like Oslo!