This time of year you often hear some people remark “Jaysus twas an awhful shite year for film, yawn Batman film was crap and loads of filums were for kids”. Granted this is usually by people whose yearly film intake amounts to blockbusters or event films. Between Nigel and myself we’ve managed to clock up the guts of 140 films and below are ten which stood out for me. Narrowly missing out were films like The Hunt, Killer Joe, Shadow Dancer, 21 Jump Street, The Hunter, Samsara, Berberian Sound Studio and Holy Motors to name but a few so 2012 was by no means a bad year for film.
10. What Richard Did
Lenny Abrahamson’s completion of his Irish trilogy (Adam and Paul, Garage) retains his crown as the most interesting and greatest Irish director working today.
Roger Brown (Aksel Hennie) is a renowned corporate headhunter and a part time art thief. When he realises one of his clients Clas (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) has a famous painting in his possession Roger must have it. We then have a cat and mouse chase movie where everything is not how it seems. Fantastic performances from all concerned and startling scenes from start to finish, Headhunters is certainly one of the year’s more accessible foreign-language films.
Read my original review: Headscratcher – ★★★★
8. Damsels in Distress
Doubtful it’ll make many people’s “end of year” lists, Damsels in Distress was the kind of movie that catches you off guard. Starring Greata Gerwig as the leader of a suicide prevention club at her college she aims to invent a dance craze to save mankind. Greta and co. take Analeigh Tipton under their collective wings and try to steer her clear of the ne’er do wells. Whit Stillman’s first film since 1998’s The Last Days of Disco is a unique look at depression and the difficulty in trying to figure out the world.
Read my original review: Sisters of suicide – ★★★★
7. Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson is probably my favourite living director working at the moment and fans have plenty to feast on in Moonrise Kingdom. Calling back his usual stock of Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman he also has some new additions to his arsenal in the guise of Bruce Willis. It’s interesting to see him doing a melancholic turn for once instead of kicking ass and taking names as will no doubt be the case in Die Hard 367 next year. Not as quirky as some of his early fare but still has all the bells and whistles we’ve come to expect from Anderson.
Read my original review: Two star-crossed lovers – ★★★★
A black and white children’s animated film, really? Yes. Tim Burton has managed to restore people’s faith in him. Turning away from adaptations and movie remakes (though this is actually a remake of a live action version he did for Disney back in the day), he has created a warm love note to the films of his childhood. Hilarious and at times heart-wrenching Burton has captured the whole gamut of human emotions, which is all the more impressive given the medium and subject matter.
Read my original review: Burton brings old story back to life – ★★★★★
5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Spooool.ie’s collective favourite is certainly a cult classic in the making. Generations of teens will stumble across this gem of a film in years to come and take it to their heart.
Read my original review: Holden the high school years – ★★★★★
4. The Raid (Serbuan maut)
Almost balletic in its depiction of violence and death, The Raid burst onto our screens back in May but I was lucky enough to see it at JDIFF in February. Gareth Evans tackles martial arts and uses a video game style story line to showcase his directing talents. Iko Uwais must travel from floor to floor with is fellow officers as they attempt to take down the local drug baron. Doing exactly what it says on the tin The Raid is one of the best action films since Die Hard.
Read my original review: Street Fighting Man – ★★★★★
3. Martha Marcy May Marlene
Elizabeth Olsen, yes those Olsens, gives an outstanding performance in Sean Durkin’s first feature length film. Returning unannounced to her sister’s home, Martha would appear to be on the run and while she was away for the past years has picked up some unusual attitudes towards “normal” living. Also starring John Hawkes, the piece is an unrelenting look inside the world of cults and makes for the scariest film of the year.
Read my original review: Modern-day Manson – ★★★★★
Coming out in the first month of the year Shame saw Steve McQueen and Micheal Fassbender teaming up once again. Having first worked together on the fantastic Hunger back in 2008, McQueen and Fassbender have formed an excellent partnership and we won’t have to wait another 4 years till their next endeveaour with Twelve Years a Slave due for release next year. Shame tells the story of Brandon (Fassbender) and his addiction to sex. Showing the lengths he goes to to satisfy his crippling urges, we are left in no doubt that sex addiction isn’t as appealing as it first seems. With hallmark long tracking shots from McQueen and flawless performances by Fassbender and Carey Mulligan, it puts most subsequent films, wait for it, to shame. (I thank you).
Read my original review: Fool me anytime you want – ★★★★★
1. The Master
Paul Thomas Anderson’s first feature since There Will be Blood didn’t disappoint in any way. With outstanding performances by Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams each scene brims over with tension and unease. Not merely an examination of Scientology but organised religion in its entirety, The Master left me pondering its message for weeks. Unmissable.
Read my original review: The Devil in Disguise – ★★★★★