Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Top 15: 2012

You may recall that at the end of 2012 I wasn't exactly thrilled with the cinematic output from the year. Having seen 76 films classified as 2012 release I managed to make a Top 10% list, a Top 7 if you like, now five months later I have seen over 30 more 2012 releases and am ready to go on record for my full end of year Top 15 list.

There's only two films I am yet to see from my list of films that just might fit on this list, Holy Motors and Your Sister's Sister but based on experience the chances are slim. There's a certain amount of hesitancy to publish whilst the Oscar winning film in 15th place is still on the list but there's no denying the quality of it however middle of the road, designed to appeal to the masses, historically inaccurate it is.

15. Argo Dir. Ben Affleck

A solid, tense thriller that speaks volumes about the declining quality of intelligent Hollywood cinema. The kind of movie they made by the bucketload in the 70's but the fact that it was made in 2012 means it stands out from the crowd.

14. The Pirates! Band of Misfits Dir. Peter Lord

I know it's silly but it's supposed to be and I can't help but love it. The only film on this list that I've seen five times and the one with the highest laughs per minute ratio.

13. Trouble With The Curve Dir. Robert Lorenz

Much like Argo this is the kind of good quality intelligent cinema they used to make all of the time but sadly seems to be few and far between in modern Hollywood. A quiet drama about human relationships filled with pitch perfect performances that doesn't try to be anything it's not.

12. Chronicle Dir. Josh Trank 

A refreshing take on the "found footage" sub genre, an interesting superhero origin story, an exciting blockbuster type movie made on a relatively low budget and a great example of what a exciting young director with some imagination and ingenuity can achieve.

11. Bachelorette Dir. Leslye Headland

Brilliantly funny with some great comedic performances and the reunion of Adam Scott with Lizzy Caplan.

10. Premium Rush Dir. David Koepp 

Joseph Gordon Levitt and Michael Shannon in a race against time, each other and themselves, one is good and one is bad (no prizes for guessing which is which,) it is pure adrenaline fuelled entertainment and great fun.

9. Django Unchained Dir. Quentin Tarantino

So many moments of brilliance, so many moments of absurd self indulgence from the director, great performances, too much length, didn't like the soundtrack.

8. Jess + Moss Dir. Clay Jeter 

Like a book of beautiful moving photographs with words and music added for effect. A perfect example of Appalachian poverty and the rich life (however mythical) of the inhabitants. This was a real surprise and should be seen by far more people than have already.

7. No Dir. Pablo Larraín

A political thriller with strong direction, a clear vision and a superbly restrained central performance from Gael Garcia Bernal. Really highlights the flaws in Argo.

6. Atmen Dir. Karl Markovics

At 94 minutes this way too short, I could have done with another two hours. Slow burn realist cinema with naturalistic performances, haunting, brilliant. Almost nothing happens but so much is experienced. Wonderful cinema.

5. Barbara Dir. Christian Petzold

Understated. Quiet. Slow. Precise. Restrained. Picturesque. Detached. Minimalistic. Subtle. Intelligent. Barbara is all of these and a tense thriller too. Will surely make an international star of Nina Hoss.

4. Damsels in Distress Dir. Whit Stillman

A charming, witty and wonderful surprise, not least because Greta Gerwig can act. A little bizarre, not for everybody for sure but I keep having a wonderful time with Whit Stillman's flowers and it gets even better on repeat.

3. End of Watch Dir. David Ayer

Powerful and enjoyable movie making made even better with incredibly strong acting performances. It sits in your head and demands to be revisited again and again.

2. Killer Joe Dir. William Friedkin

Very cool. Very creepy. Superb performances all round but especially from McConaughey. Everything was understated including the great direction from Friedkin. A highly enjoyable film with one of the best blow job scenes ever seen in cinemas. This too gets better with age.

1. The Deep Blue Sea Dir. Terence Davies

A beautiful and mesmerising film featuring a powerful performance from Rachel Weisz that was strangely overlooked by the Academy. Slow moving and understated, this study of passion is told in the repressed style of the period and will be poking and prodding at your mind for days after watching I'm certain.

Feel free to throw rocks or start a debate, leave some comments or tweet me @bbbgtoby.


  1. Strong list, Toby. I've only seen six of these, so there are plenty that I still need to check out. Bravo on putting Damsels in Distress up so high! It was near the top for me, but I know that it hasn't received much acclaim from a lot of bloggers. I also liked Argo but think it's more of a very good, but not great movie.

    1. Heh I like Damsels in Distress so much I feel bad for putting it so low! You're either a lover of Stillman or a hater I guess.

      I hope that when you discover the other nine films you receive as much pleasure from them as I did.

  2. Nice choices, Toby. Glad to see The Deep Blue Sea is still #1. It improved a lot for me on a second viewing. I really need to watch it again. Still waiting to see No and Barbara, and I'll have to check Jess + Moss and Atmen out.

    1. I'm told Atmen is already on Netflix so that should help, Jess + Moss has a DVD release in Australia so I imagine it must be easy enough to find in its home country. Those could be famous last words as Australians seem to have a slightly different taste in movies to other countries. For example I read this week that the Portuguese film Tabu took more in three days here than it did its entire run in USA and UK combined.

    2. Thanks. I added Atmen to my Instant Queue. Jess + Moss isn't on Netflix, but I can rent it on Amazon Instant Video. Wow. Can't believe Tabu didn't play better in the USA and UK. Of course, it would help to release them in more theaters. ;)

    3. I agree, although Tabu only showed in 5 or 6 screens here I think. We have an arthouse cinema/chain in each city as far as I can tell and they all pretty much show the same stuff.

  3. I thought those last few minutes of Argo were some of the most nerve-wracking scenes in movie history (and I'm just barely old enough to remember how it all turned out). I need to see No. It's only list, but Gael Garcia Bernal seems to be largely overlooked here stateside. Nice list, and I'll be adding a few of these to my Netflix queue based on your recommendation.

    1. You are absolutely right Alan, real edge of your seat, adrenaline fuelled stuff at the end of Argo. I can't believe what you say about Bernal, the guy's English is getting better all the time but even eight years ago in The King he was excellent. He's probably too pretty yet dirty looking for American audiences or something!

      I hope you dig whatever films you try from the list, for me they deserve all the recognition they can get.