Monday, 31 December 2012

Best Films of 2012

Once again, the following list should really be dubbed the best films I’ve seen in 2012, or better yet – “favourite” films of 2012, as there are a number of which I haven’t been able to get my hands on, or that haven’t been released over here in the UK. I feel that Lincoln, Django Unchained and Beasts of the Southern Wild would have all found a place on the list, but oh well, gotta make do with what we have. So here goes:

10. This is 40
Paul Rudd, Leslie Mann, Jason Segel, Megan Fox, Chris O’Dowd, John Lithgow

This is hilarious. Ignore the reviews and go and see it for yourself. The "sort-of" sequel to Judd Apatow's Knocked Up follows the marriage of two of it's previous supporting characters, Pete (Rudd) and Debbie (Mann) and their children, Sadie and Charlotte (Maude and Iris Apatow - as in Judd's offspring). Detailing the hardships of marriage as well as turning 40, I found this to be one of Apatow's most enjoyable films yet.

9. The Master
Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, Jessie Plemons, Ambyr Childers, Rami Malek

Although the film didn't live up to my expectations, The Master is still really strong film. Beautifully shot and amazingly acted, the film is a healthy contender for the on-going award season. Phoenix stars as a wayward WWII vet that finds guidance in the creepy and charismatic author Lancaster Dodd (Hoffman) that deeply mirrors the controversial religion Scientology. Full review here.

8. The Cabin in the Woods
Chris Hemsworth, Fran Kranz, Kristen Connolly, Jessie Williams, Amy Acker

Another title which I wasn't originally crazy about, but after a second viewing I realised it is in fact a horrific yet intentionally fun and hilarious horror film. Helmed by Joss Whedon creator of TV's 'Firefly' and 'Dollhouse', as well as the 'Buffy' and 'Angel' franchises and Drew Goddard, ('Lost' & Cloverfield) Cabin follows a group of teenagers heading off into the woods for a SUPER-FUN Spring Break. Naturally as teenagers do, they get hacked off one by one. Un-naturally, there is a whole other force at work which is sure to shock and surprise everyone. Full review here.

7. 21 Jump Street
Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Dave Franco, Ice Cube, Brie Larson

A remake/adaptation that is this good gives me hope for Hollywood cinema. Written by Michael Bacall (Scott Pilgrim vs. The World) 21 Jump Street sees rookie cops Morton and Greg (Hill and Tatum) go undercover to tackle a high school drug ring. Unlike most things with Jonah Hill in, hilarity actually ensues.

6. End of Watch
Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Pena, Anna Kendrick, America Ferrera

Probably the most unseen or unknown film on the list is also another cop title. End of Watch sees Gyllenhaal and Pena star as Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala, two Californian cops who decide to secretly film their goings-on while out on the job in South L.A. Cue copious shoot outs, overtly obvious racism and a budding yet not-soppy love story between Taylor and sweetheart Janet (Kendrick). The film is harsh and unapologetic in it's content but still finds the time to be heart-warming in it's tone.

5.  Brave
Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Julie Walters

Disney and Pixar's latest effort is one of it's greatest and underrated achievements. Merida (Macdonald) is a Scottish princess, who is much more focused on archery and forging her own destiny than crowns and ruling a country. Under the thumb by her loving but controlling mother (Thompson), who fails to ever see eye-to-eye with her daughter, Merida finds a spell to "change her mother" to make her accept her own choices. Of course, this wouldn't be a Disney film, or any film ever made, if something didn't go drastically wrong. While being a largely magical and fantasy based film, Brave is also an honest depiction of the complicated issues between mother and daughter without rubbing the subtext in our faces.

4. Looper
Joseph Gordon Levitt, Bruce Willis, Paul Dano, Piper Perabo, Emily Blunt

I was blown away by this. "It'll never live up the hype" I said about this, as well as the final 3 entries on my list. I've never been so happy to be wrong, as Looper is a crowning moment for Sci-Fi cinema. Set in a future dystopia (obviously) where time travel is possible, Joe (Levitt) is one of many "Loopers" - someone who kills people sent back in time by their corrupt bosses after they've fulfilled their time and duties for them. However, after recognising his future self (Willis) and failing to assassinate him, Joe goes on the hunt for his older-self and on the run from his mob-employers, as failing to eliminate those sent back ends in death for the Looper. Those that have seen the trailer and not the film, should give this one a go especially, as it is one of the only titles in recent memory that has a whole narrative that is carefully left out of pretty much all promotional content. Prepare to be awed. 

3. The Avengers
Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson

The second film on the list to be headed by creative geek/mastermind Joss Whedon. It's been a great year for him. This. Is. So. Good. (Full review here.)

2. Skyfall
Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Bérénice Marlohe

'This is the end' Adele coos over the gripping title sequence to the latest instalment to the Bond franchise. Directed by the ever amazing Sam Mendes, (American Beauty, Road to Perdition, Revolutionary RoadSkyfall's themes are mainly to do with conclusions and new beginnings. Focusing heavily on the past of Bond's senior, M (Dench), MI6 find themselves confronted by Raoul Silva (the fantastic Bardem), a former agent who wants revenge on M for betraying him. It's the most ambitious Bond title so date, and arguably the greatest.

1. The Dark Knight Rises
Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Morgan Freeman, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Marion Cotillard. 

"No good movie is too long and no bad movie is short enough", says Roger Ebert.

The marriage between mighty fine action sequences and a compelling plot have never been so perfect for each other as they are for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. Where do I even begin with this? The cast is stellar, with not a poor performance in sight, from Tom Hardy as the unstoppable Bane to the sleek and powerful Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman. The city's dark 'Occupy Gotham' setting and rise of our hero himself are mesmerising. The 165 minutes practically fly by. (Full review here)

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