Favourite Films of 2012 Part 1

2012 turned out to be a pretty banner year in movies. In honour of the new year I’ve compiled a list of my favourite movies of 2012. The films I’ve chosen aren’t the films I expect to sweep the Oscars,  they weren’t chosen for their artistic merit. I chose these films because they were the most fun I had at the movies in 2012. I’ve always hated year end top 10 lists. Modern critics seem to have forgotten how to enjoy movies. Now there’s definitely something to be said for technical marvels, fascinating character pieces and general Oscar bait but that exciting movie going experience is what puts butts in the seats. So these films were the ones that had me on the edge of my seat. The ones that kept my eyes glued to the screen. Had me hanging on every word or just had me in stitches. In no particular order my favourite films of 2012.

Directed by Rian Johnson
Joseph Gordon Levitt;Paul Dano

Joseph Gordon Levitt & Paul Dano

Rian Johnson finally fulfilled the promise that was his noir masterpiece, 2005’s Brick. His sophomore effort, 2008’s The Brothers Bloom was a disappointment. But Johnson’s redeemed himself with this wholly original sci-fi yarn about a trigger man forced to kill his older self in order to stay alive. Through prosthetics Joseph Gordon-Levitt was transformed into a very passable, younger Bruce Willis but it was through his swagger and subtle nuance that he really connected to the two men as sides of the same coin. Great supporting cast helped to establish Johnson’s world, but this was the JGL show. Endlessly cool, thought provoking and with a little old-fashioned action thrown in made for an incredibly engaging sci-fi thriller.

The Dark Knight Rises

By Christopher Nolan

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises

For sure the most anticipated film of 2012 due to 2008’s The Dark Knight, Nolan has crafted a thrill ride that hits all the soft targets. Not as towering an achievement as his previous foray behind the cape and cowl but few expected him to surpass it. Heath Ledgers iconic portrayal as Gotham’s clown prince of crime will forever be engrained into our collective conscience so it was a smart move for Nolan to go back to his roots. Dusting off the League of Shadows, Batman seemingly faces his past while trying to figure out his future. A broken and battered Bruce Wayne(Christian Bale) comes out of a self imposed exile just as a masked mercenary named Bane(Tom Hardy) begins to systematically bring down the city of Gotham. With the help of a young beat cop, John Blake(Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and a seductive cat burglar(Anne Hathaway) Bruce dawns the mask once more. The odds have never been less in Bruce’s favour and we believe it. Nolan amps up the jeopardy here and with a thrilling third act he caps off what has to be the most influential series in modern cinema with a bang.

Django Unchained

Directed by Quentin Tarantino

Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx star in DJango Unchained

Christoph Waltz and Jamie Foxx star in DJango Unchained

It’s nice to know the groundbreaking filmmaker from the 90’s has successfully continued to trail blaze. After his WWII opus, Inglourious Basterds Tarantino had the tough task of one upping himself once more. He’s certainly upped the ante with this epic spaghetti western or as Tarantino coined; a southern. Following the exploits of a freed slave and a German-ex-dentist-now-bounty-hunter as they travel across America and explore the finer points of the bounty hunting business. Through their travels and bonding Django(Jamie Foxx) expresses his desire to find and free his wife, Broomhilda(Kerry Washington). Feeling a responsibility to Django, Dr.King Schultz(Christoph Waltz) tracks Broomhilda down to a Mississippi plantation called Candyland and it’s tyrannical owner Calvin Candie(Leonardo DiCaprio). What follows is an exceptional study in tension as Tarantino has his characters engage in a series of ____ where everything’s just about to boil over. With nods to everyone from Leone to Corbucci, including an appearance from the original Django; Franco Nero Tarantino’s crafted another genre mashing masterpiece. Excellent performances across the board, a killer soundtrack and that classic Quentin wit has you smiling for nearly 3 hours straight.


Film Focus

By Adrian Nathaniel Groves

In no particular order, 100 films I’ve enjoyed over and over again!

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)
Director: Steven Soderbergh

Fresh out of prison, Danny Ocean sets up a dream robbery, roping in ten other experts to help. His object: the vaults of the three biggest Las Vegas casinos. Along with a cool $150 million, he hopes to win back ex-wife Tess, who just happens to be dating a big casino owner…

With neither a badly-pressed suit nor a redundant scene in sight, Ocean’s Eleven is as slick as they come – and that’s a compliment rather than a criticism. Joyfully entertaining and effortlessly re-watchable.

Brick (2005)
Director: Rian Johnson

After receiving a panic-stricken phone call from his terrified ex-girlfriend Emily (de Ravin), high-school loner Brendan (Gordon-Levitt) sets out to infiltrate the illicit cliques she left him for, aided by sidekick Brain (O’Leary) and the mysterious Laura

With a superb lead turn by rising star Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Rian Johnson’s debut is a smart, original neo-noir that works as an ingenious mindgame as well as a slick Hollywood calling card.

Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Director: James Foley

A ruthless boss sets his sales office a challenge with no rules and strange rewards

A searing indictment of all sorts of American dreams, Glengarry Glen Ross is a welcome if foul-mouthed reminder of just what it takes for a lot of folk to make it through the working day.

Dog Day Afternoon (1975)
Director: Sidney Lumet

On a hot day in New York, three men set out to rob a bank. It’s supposed to take ten minutes, but things start going wrong from the beginning when one of them bails at the last minute. Four hours later, the bank is surrounded by police, a media circus, and crowds of well wishers.

Pacino simmers in this daring and brilliantly constructed treatise on the many facets of a crime.

The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford (2007)
Director: Andrew Dominik

As his gang and legend begin to fragment, train-robber and outlaw Jesse James (Pitt) is a haunted man. He can feel his death approaching, but can he foresee that fringe gang-member Robert Ford (Affleck) will be the man to pull the trigger?

An extraordinary and visionary study of a legendary murderer’s famous fate, within touching distance of Oscars.

Caché (2005)
Director: Michael Haneke

A TV book show host (Auteuil) seems to have the perfect marriage. But cracks appear when he decides to act alone after he and his publisher wife (Binoche) begin receiving videotapes from a stalker who seems to know a great deal about their lives…

Whether viewed as a political allegory or a domestic drama, this is the most accessible film yet from one of Europe’s very finest filmmakers.

Le Cercle Rouge (1970)
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville

Noir-ish urban Western which sees Jean-Pierre Melville bond three desperate men in crime.

A classic cornerstone of the heist genre from a master of the nouvelle vague.

Crimes And Misdemeanors(1989)
Director: Woody Allen

In two seperate stories of adultery; a New York doctor resorts to desperate measures to cover up his long-term adulterous affair. An unhappily married documentary filmmaker fights an adulterous temptation while making his latest movie on a TV producer.

The little man again proves to be an absolute master at the craft of injecting sufficient wit, intelligence and compassion to make the end product a marvellously entertaining and provocative piece of work.

Dazed And Confused (1993)
Director: Richard Linklater

t’s the last day of the school year in 1976, and everyone’s ready for a party. First, however, the incoming freshmen students must go through bizarre initiation rituals organised by the soon-to-be-seniors, while everyone does their best to get stoned or get laid.

Despite some gags which use the benefit of hindsight too much for their own good, this is a smart piece of filmmaking which suggests Linklater is already one of the more formidable talents of the 90s.

Shaun Of The Dead (2004)
Director: Edgar Wright

Shaun, a North London loser, is a disappointment to his girlfriend, family, friends and flatmate. Only his mate Ed, an even bigger loser, looks up to him. Then flesh-eating zombies overrun the city and Shaun is forced to take responsibility for the survival of his corner of humanity…

A surprisingly good TV transfer for the Spaced crew. It may not exactly be Ealing, but it’s funny for long stretches. Even when in danger of self-destructing, it cadges laughs with smart lines, silly observations or blokish inside jokes about zombie movies, video games and pub nibbles.