So having shared our top tens yesterday (combined, Páraic, Nigel) we’re all listed out so throw it over to you all to share your top 10s. A number of film nuts have already been in touch and we feature their top 10s below. Email us or just use the comments section at the bottom of the post to share your lists and/or links to lists!
Mick McGovern’s Top 10
1. Beasts of the Southern Wild
Completely floored me, knew nothing about it going in and just completely went with it, really evocative and pulled at the heartstrings (basically spent the last 20 mins trying not to cry). Amazing what can be done with very little money but huge ambition.
Absolute joy to watch, really funny and brilliantly acted and with a main plot that is scarily believable. Wheatley, over three films, has managed to find humour in some ridiculously dark places and long may he continue to do so.
3. The Master
Loved every second of it, everything about it is beautifully done, it really needs you to be engaged with it and haunts you long after you’ve watched it, so much going on, so many possible interpretations. Particularly loved Hoffman’s rendition of Slow Boat To China.
4. What’s in a Name? (Le prénom)
It could have been “Carnage”, as in this was a French play brought to the screen, but thankfully it’s more expertly crafted. It’s very well cast, has fantastic characters and is funny as hell, really simple plot – dinner party where a seemingly innocuous discussion about a soon to be born baby’s name causes chaos.
5. Silver Linings Playbook
Screwy-ball romance, convinced I wouldn’t like it going in but laughed my ass off every couple of minutes. Leads are both great but everyone in the supporting cast nail their roles as well, which makes it even more special.
6. Into the Abyss
Like The Master this was a film that was in my head for weeks after, Herzog’s documentary about two men on death row and the families and loved ones affected is simply outstanding, and Herzog does a great job of not being on any one person’s side.
7. Sleepless Night (Nuit Blanche)
Favourite film from JDIFF, dodgy cop steals drugs from the wrong drug lord and then has to save his son from him. The film’s pace is breakneck, full of great fight scenes, tough posturing, laughs and a great central performance by Tomer Sisley.
8. Rust and Bone
Most people I talked to about this can’t seem to get over its use of whales and bare knuckle boxing in the plot but I loved it, really well shot, looked amazing and two great central performances.
9. The Imposter
Really well made documentary about someone claiming to be the missing child of a Texan family that keeps you guessing by ever so gently adding in more and more mind-blowing details of the case as the film goes on.
Eithne Shortall’s Top 10
My first thought was ‘I want to live in a Parisian apartment again’. It quickly shifted to ‘I want to stay forever young’. Michael Haneke is a cruel taskmaster; he removes all hope in the first scene. The anguish that follows, however, is as visceral and beautiful as cinema got this year.
2. Martha Marcy May Marlene
Best. Ending. Of. 2012.
3. Shadow Dancer
Beautifully shot, beautifully acted and another reason that Domhnall Gleeson is fast climbing my favourite actors list.
4. What Richard Did
The film was inspired by a single tragic event but the end result is a compassionate examination of a whole section of Irish society typically portrayed as two dimensional. Worth seeing twice.
Oh the suspense! They played me like a cheap piano and I sang every anguished note. It’s funny how Ben Affleck grew a beard and suddenly became an excellent film maker and likable actor. Three cheers for facial hair.
6. The Hunt
This tale of a man wrongly accused of paedophilia is voyeurism at its best. It’s the situation you never want to find yourself in, but can’t help but be utterly fascinated by it on screen.
All I remember is the art, a man covered in excrement and how much I loved this Jo Nesbo adaptation.
Giving credibility to the notion of sex addiction, I relished all that was left unsaid in Steve McQueen’s second feature film. It was also beautifully shot – as you would expect from a former video artist.
9. The Impostor
With an undeniable slant, I’m not sure that this was a brilliant documentary but it was a riveting film. The story of a grown man who hoodwinked families into thinking he was their missing children.
Darragh McGrath’s Top 10
1. Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson never reinvents the wheel with his films but he’s finally perfected the one wheel he’s been using since Rushmore. If you’ve never liked his previous work, this ain’t going to change your mind but it’s probably the best thing he’s ever done. It’s sentimental, it’s nostalgic, it’s quirky – all things that usually work against a film for me – and yet, it all works beautifully.
2. The Master
Made all the more satisfying due to its narrative looseness and preference for character over plot, PT Anderson creates an unsettling portrait of post-war America, of a nation and a man going through post traumatic stress disorder and fruitlessly searching for a meaning to life that justifies the horrors of WWII. Also features an astoundingly good soundtrack and a career-best performance from Joaquin Pheonix.
A dark, twisted little thing. Ben Wheatley continues in his mash-up genre mode but with a more comedic twist than his previous headfuck Kill List.
4. Killing Them Softly
Andrew Dominik has made three very different, very interesting and very bloody good films. KTS is arguably his weakest effort to date but it’s still head and shoulders above most film-makers these days. Fantastic performances from Brad Pitt, Scoot McNairy and the creepy, gleaming Ben Mendelsohn, it also features my favourite final scene (and line!) of a film this year.
5. Martha Marcy May Marlene
A disturbing look at a young girl’s experience with a small mid-American cult with great performances from Elizabeth Olson and John Fawkes.
6. Queen of Versailles
A ridiculously entertaining documentary looking at one of the richest families in America and the devastating effect of the ’08 recession on their pampered lives. Though venal, greedy and absurd, their experience strangely acts as a microcosm for what many families went through at the time, though their wildly extravagant lifestyle helps to provide plenty of laughs. The film is held together by the insecure but ultimately good natured matron. The richer they are, the weirder they fall.
7. Cabin in the Woods
More fun than Whedon’s other film this year The Avengers, this Drew Goddard-directed teen horror sends up everything in the genre from slasher flicks to torture porn and Japanese horror. Oh and extra points for not copping out on its ending.
8. What Richard Did
An Irish film that actually has something to say about Irish culture, Lenny Arahamson’s third feature will hopefully encourage more homegrown talent to stop looking outward to Hollywood and British gangster films for inspiration and start focusing on issues a little closer to home.
9. The Woman in Black
Hammer Horror continue their resurgence with this well crafted, simply told ghost story. Plenty of creepy scenes and Daniel Radcliffe does a fine job of providing the film with an emotional heart. A rare example these days of a straightforward genre film done well (See also: The Grey).
One of the most divisive films of the year, Prometheus had its flaws but, for me, they were outweighed by its sheer ambition and spectacle. Michael Fassbender’s David stole the show and Scott’s high concept action science fiction was a welcome return to form for not just the filmmaker but the genre too.
Conor Bent’s Top 10
1. Martha Marcy May Marlene
The film features a brilliant flashback structure showing the life in a cult that an ex-member (the otherworldly Elizabeth Olsen) has escaped from by visiting her sister at an idyllic lake location. This structure gradually introduces you to the dynamics of a cult ruled by a scary leader (played by John Hawkes with a subtle menace) and reveals the damage it inflicted on the psyche of a recovering fugitive. The revelation of unresolved tension between the sisters adds to the creeping sense of dread as it becomes harder to tell immediately whether a scene is set the past or present. I left the theatre feeling shaken as if I had escaped my own cult, though this particular cult experience is one I’d recommend to everyone.
2. The Master
It featured my favourite scene of the year when Joaquin Phoenix in his almost feral performance is first processed by the mercurial Hoffman in stunning confrontation that sets the stage for the the relationship examined in the rest of the picture.
3. Berberian Sound Studio
A bizarre film that exposes the artificiality of horror film in a manner that makes it all the more terrifying.
4. Avengers Assemble
The first truly great Marvel film. Whedon pulled off the seemingly impossible in combining characters that don’t seem to belong in the same film let own alone exchanging witty repartee in the same room.
5. Sleeping Sickness
Ulrich Köhler’s hauntingly naturalistic exploration of the culture clash between Africa and Europe. It asks some controversial questions about the effect of foreign aid in Africa in a way that doesn’t lead to sermonising.
6. What Richard Did
A moody character study and an insight into a side of our culture not often explored in Irish cinema with brilliant performances. With a slightly tighter edit it would be much higher on my list.
7. The Cabin In The Woods
An hilarious, fun and passionate critique on the archetypes and cliches of the horror genre.
Captures the tone of the classic Spielberg produced family films from the 80’s with beautiful stop motion animation and a brilliant score by Jon Brion.
9. War Horse
With Spielberg and Richard Curtis teaming up I was afraid it would get bogged down in mushy sentiment but it had a feeling of the traditional films of John Ford with a sweeping majesty and scope.
10. The Raid: Redemption
An all killer no filler martial arts thrill ride.
11. Silence (we let Conor’s 11th choice sneak in as it’s not getting a lot of love!)
A film about finding silence in modern Ireland. It made me want go exploring Ireland again and find my own hiding places.
Dave Corkery’s Top 10
Clever time-travel and sci-fi action would have been enough, but Bruce Willis face and random Omen child sealed the deal for me. Batshit brilliance.
2. Marvel’s The Avengers Superheroes Assemble Movie (not the one with the bowler hat)
Made me feel excited about big movies again.
3. Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson, continuing to make the same movie over and over again, in a more successful manner than Tim Burton.
Tim Burton, finally remembering how to make that movie. The Unofficial Pixar Film of the Year.
5. The Cabin in the Woods
A mixed bag of fun horror references and stupidly original and amazing nonsense.
6. 21 Jump Street
The surprise movie of the year for me.
7. Safety Not Guaranteed
In the wrong hands, this could have turned out as a bad Ben Stiller/Vince Vaughn comedy. In the right hands, it became a suprisingly touching and odd comedy.
Comedy has never been more suspenseful.
9. The Sessions
Polio has never been more sexy.
Niall Sheerin’s Top 10
Loved this film. Strange cause, like The Master, don’t remember liking it that much on first viewing. But then, having seen it a couple of times, I’m mesmerized. Fassbender really conveys that obstinate burial of emotion. You can just see it bubbling and filtering out through every scene. And then when it comes out and displays itself fully, you really feel for the character. This raw self-destructive emotion! And the film leaves you questioning and craving to know (what happened to them in the past) but it doesn’t matter cause all you’re left with is what’s on screen now. Just these lost souls who seem to have been totally destroyed by the past. And it holds on them and we watch them quietly. The heartbreaking two-hander where Brandon and Sissy argue (‘you are a burden on me’) as they sit on the couch is a great example of this. Pure theatre in the middle of one of the most visually striking films of the year. Can’t speak highly enough of this one!
2. Martha Marcy May Marlene
This just gets under your skin. It has that ordinary everyday feel throughout and yet this clashes with the danger that lurks underneath, creating unbearable tension at times. The ending is classic.
A Josef Fritzl story where we get in close on the psyche of both capturer and captive. Very Haneke in its wide-shot staging. And so the performances have to be up to this. Which they are.
4. Magic Mike
Surprise of the year. Reminded me of Good Will Hunting. Your classic Hollywood storytelling but infused with Soderbergh’s reliance on strange but brilliant camera angles. Matthew McConaughey is hilarious!
5. The Kid With A bike
Typical Dardenne Brothers in the pace and drama of the storytelling.
6. Margin Call
Great insight into the big financial crash, with interesting characters that you root for. Necessary enlightenment, this film.
7. Silent Souls
Slow ponderous storytelling with magical cinematography. Felt like I was on drugs!
8. The Master
Didn’t enjoy it so much when in the cinema but it stayed with me. And scenes were coming back to me for days after. In fact, I can’t wait to see it again!
9. Rust and Bone
Loved this film for some reason. Wasn’t much of a story to it but some of the scenes were incredibly powerful.
Louise Bruton’s Top 10
1. Silver Linings Playbook
Normally, Bradley Cooper’s name is enough to make me avoid a film but his performance in Silver Linings Playbook isn’t the only surprise this film throws out*. Mental illness is at the core of this film but instead of making our lead stars (Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence) out to be victims, it normalises them. It brings huge levels of humour, without making it the butt of a joke, and reality, without being overly sentimental or patronising, to mental health. It shows the many layers of depression and anxiety and by having the “non clinically insane” characters appear even more insane than our leading duo, it doesn’t segregate the diagnosed crazies from the non-diagnosed crazies. At the end of the day, we’re all a little fucking crazy and that’s what makes this film so wonderful. *Another big surprise in this film is that Julia Stiles is in it and she’s sort of great as the bunny boiler wife.
2. What Richard Did
Based loosely on real life events, Lenny Abrahamson’s What Richard Did captures a timeframe and one Dublin society so well, that it is like watching a documentary about southside teens. With Jack Reynor graciously taking on the lead role of Richard, our adored and popular rugby-playing hero, he swoops from glory to despair following the death of a romantic rival. Social class aside, this is a film that hits a nerve for many people. The elongated scenes make Dublin and its surrounding locations look stunning but also leave room for the viewer to take on board the chilling fragility of youth and the lifelong effects one bad move can cause for everyone around them.
3. Perks Of Being A Wallflower
I went into Perks Of Being A Wallflower knowing very little about the plot and nothing could have prepared me for it. The first half captures all the worries and glories of being a teenager but then the second half, sweet Moses. Wave after wave of terrible things happen to form some sort of life lesson for us all and between bawling like a baby and being astonished by the fact that Emma Watson wasn’t annoying in this, I truly regret not having Perks Of Being A Wallflower the book in my life when I was a teen.
Marketed as the ‘female Hangover’, this could not be further from the case. Yes, it’s about pre-wedding shenanigans that mostly consist of a hen party but, Jesus Christ, it is hilarious, dark and features more cocaine-induced nosebleeds than any nightclub toilet cubicle. It also further proves that Isla Fisher is a comedic gem and we should treasure her for always.
5. Magic Mike
Male strippers? Abs (not from 5ive)? Decent dialogue? Humour? More abs? Ginuwine’s ‘Pony’? Magic Mike ticks all of those boxes and hand delivers the role that Matthew McConaughey was born to play – a seedy, strip club owner who has a thousand and one uses for baby oil.
6. The Dark Knight Rises
There’s nothing that I can say about the third installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy that hasn’t been said before. So I won’t. It’s obviously an extravagant film in every which way but the fact that Michael Caine could make me cry as our sturdy Alfred, speaks volumes. Why’d ya make me cry, Michael, why?
7. Katy Perry: Part Of Me
If you think that pop music isn’t hard work, then check out the blood, sweat, tears and glitter that Katy Perry put into her 2011 California Dreams world tour which is the ultimate purpose of Part Of Me. Even if it washes over bigger things like her high-profile divorce from Russell Brand, it highlights the large scale production and expense (monetary and otherwise) that goes into a pop show.
8. The Five-Year Engagement
The romcom formula has been beaten about badly over the years with Katherine Heigl flipping the whip but The Five-Year Engagement punctuates the com more than the rom. Taking on a gender role reversal, our female lead, Emily Blunt, is the one who covets the cold feet stance as she puts her career over her engagement to Jason Segel, who co-wrote the script. Although it’s an hour longer than it should be, it’s worth tuning in to see Segel go through his ‘wilderness’ phase and the excellent supporting roles from Chris Pratt and Alison Brie.
9. Shut Up And Play The Hits
Even though James Murphy didn’t shut up and play enough hits in this, any LCD Soundsystem fan would have a lump in their throat in this film which follows Murphy in the days running up to LCD’s last gig (ever?) in Madison Square Garden, New York. Be warned, there are close ups of Murphy clipping his nose hair.
10. The Cabin In The Woods
Just when we thought that Urban Legend was the ultimate take on scary movie clichés (didn’t we?), The Cabin In The Woods comes along and blows the lid of that and takes it further by putting a new twist on reality TV.
So add all of them up and Martha Marcy May Marlene comes out on top!
Aaaaand now it’s over to you. To the comments section!
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