2012 Year in Review
January 11th 2013 04:18
TOP 10 FAVOURITE FILMS OF THE YEAR:
Seems ages since I first saw this – back in August 2011 to be accurate. But based on official Australian release dates, Asghar Farhadi’s film simply must take top spot because it’s the only flawless, 5/5 film of the last 12 months. Have seen it twice and the universally relevant complexities it addresses are nothing less than compelling for two mesmerising hours. Reviewed HERE.
Safety Not Guaranteed
Heart, soul, story and great character arcs for all the leads. Mark Duplass, the shining light of American independent cinema, is the centrepiece of Colin Trevorrow’s inventive, small-budget gem. Aubrey Plaza is a major asset as well. Reviewed effusively HERE.
Another film that feels far off but saw this twice as well and Diablo Cody’s screenplay is the winner here – well and truly topping her Oscar-winner Juno – though if doubters ever needed a finer illustration of what the spectacularly talented Charlize Theron is capable of, this is a perfect Exhibit A. Reviewed HERE.
Martha Marcy May Marlene
Yet another film from the earliest days of the year and first seen at MIFF 2011. I actually saw this 3 times on the big screen over 6 months and remain in awe of its clever structure, eerie content and tone, pitch perfect performances and stunningly effective, manipulative direction from writer-director Sean Durkin. Wonderful showcase for Elizabeth Olsen who will probably never be in a better film, whilst there’s also John Hawkes, now a highly notable actor of his generation. Reviewed HERE.
A Dangerous Method
The great David Cronenberg may have produced one of the worst films of the year (the dialobolical Cosmopolis) but thankfully also this fascinating, historically compelling account of Freud and Jung’s complex, fickle relationship. Michael Fassbender and Viggo Mortensen are staggeringly well-cast; the dialogue scenes between the two great minds crackle. Then there’s the added treat of a – yes, very decent Keira Knightley performance; further proof of Cronenberg’s mastery of actors. Reviewed HERE.
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
The career of Turkish director Nuri Bilge Ceylan continues to flourish with his latest masterwork: it’s another protracted, teasing, complex, painterly, sublime journey into a dark wasteland in search of a body with a compelling group of characters in tow. Comes very close to topping his best two films Uzak and Three Monkeys. Reviewed HERE.
The film that will possibly best define American cinema of its year if not receive the accolades it deserves right now. Joaquin Phoenix is astounding as the dim-witted, primal Freddie Quell, his performance reaching the heights previously elicited by Paul Thomas Anderson from Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood. Reviewed HERE.
Café De Flore
Every shot of Jean-Marc Vallee’s latest film is a work of art; his time-hopping narrative will infuriate many but for those willing to suspend their disbelief, a majestic, confounding conceit is in store, enwrapping what is a visually compelling small masterpiece. Reviewed HERE.
The lengthy, troubled history behind getting Kenneth Lonergan’s film, made in 2005, to the big screen, is worthy of a novel of its own. The final product, which I actually saw in its 3 hour version recently, is like little else you’ve seen: a wordy, complex, literary treatise on life in a post 9/11 world, focusing on the existence of a young woman who witnesses and is partly responsible for a horrific road accident in the heart of New York City. Reverberations continue to claim more victims as momentum is gathered through the trauma, guilt and other intimately explored emotions of Lonergan’s ambitious screenplay.
Your Sister’s Sister
Mark Duplass and director Lynne Shelton: it’s a dynamic combination, and one previously responsible for the remarkable, hilarious Humpday (which every cinephile on the planet needs to track down immediately). Throw into the mix Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt and a series of brilliant, deceptively simple scenarios, often ad-libbed, and another independent cinematic gem emerges from modest beginnings to become one of the greatest things since sliced bread. Reviewed HERE.
Next 10 (in no particular order):
Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present
Berberian Sound Studio
The Deep Blue Sea
The Cabin in the Woods
Killing Them Softly
Favourite films still unreleased in Australia:
The awful truth:
Horrible, boring, trite films clogged the screening schedule as usual. Many I avoided, these I did not:
This Means War
Man on a Ledge
Declaration of War
2 Days in New York
And how's this for a trio of painfully boring films that I heartily subscribe for any insomniacs?
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Actually there was absolutely nothing unexpected about Peter Jackson's mind-wilting, cartoonish film, one of the more benignly commercial, safe, lame, childish things I've ever seen. It felt like 3 hours of outtakes from Lord of the Rings. Ok, it's not horrible exactly, but certainly disheartening and dispiriting like nothing else I endured this year.
Not a banner year for local content, though I did really like three films that would just fall outside my top 20:
Wish You Were Here
Great older films that I saw for the first time this year:
Ali: Fear Eats the Soul
Some Like it Hot
Gone With the Wind
Synecdoche, New York
Saturday Night Fever
Days of Heaven
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