Monday, 31 December 2012

Ten films from 2012 that were better than all the others, if you ask me

"Something was being hidden, and I didn't know what that was"
It's rare that a documentary ever makes it into my annual top ten; partly because I'm an uncultured swine, and partly... actually no, I'm just an uncultured swine. But The Imposter reeled me in from the word go, and as manipulations on screen twisted themselves around manipulations behind the camera, it soon became clear that this was no ordinary documentary. Tightrope-tense and infused with malign foreboding, this was a true story more incredible than most of cinema's imaginings in 2012.

"There's something wrong with Andrew"
The found-footage conceit was stretched further than is entirely comfortable, but if Chronicle turns out to be at the tail end of the sub-genre then it's a bloody good way to go out. Sympathising with any teenager who's ever felt different, then making them thank Christ they're not this different, Max Landis' debut feature script was brought terrifyingly to life in a whirlwind of seamless effects and spotty angst. In a year owned by heroes and super-heroes, it was nice to see super-anti-heroes showing how good it was to be bad.

"I seriously believe something weird is going on"
Of all the "groundbreaking", "game-changing" things Joss Whedon achieved with his script for The Cabin In The Woods, by far the most earth-shattering was making a horror comedy that even I enjoyed. Where most horrors try their hardest to find new and inventive ways to kill people, Whedon and director Drew Goddard found new and inventive ways to slay the audience, and they didn’t get more surprising than this. Whoever thought the end of the world would be this much fun?

"I'm James bloody Bond!"
Ninety minutes of people talking about James Bond was never going to be a hard sell where I was concerned, but this distillation of the hundreds of hours of Bond documentary footage I've already seen was executed with such consummate style that Everything Or Nothing was almost as much of a surprise as The Cabin In The Woods. New interviews with all the Bonds bar Connery were the highlights: I think Timothy Dalton said it best when he said "BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM! BAM!"

"All good stories deserve embellishment"
Yes, it's too long, and yes, it's basically a sloppy remake of Fellowship, but The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey still delivered the goods: more than its fair share of the year's best action sequences; Peter Jackson's exquisitely-realised Middle-earth; the return of the ring and its wondrously appalling owner, and a genuine sense of adventure and fun that's effortlessly carried over from Tolkien's book. Just don't mention those bastarding eagles.

"Show me your world, Chris"
The apparently unconnected worlds of serial murder and caravanning collided hilariously in Ben Wheatley's black comedy about two terribly lovely but mildly psychotic middle-Englanders who fail to adhere to the Countryside Code in spectacular style. In a disappointing year for British film after 2011's myriad homegrown successes, Sightseers reminded us that we can still make 'em like we used to. You know, twelve months ago.

"Never let your target escape"
Finding new and interesting things to do with the time-travel subgenre is usually the domain of the extreme low-budget filmmaker, so it was a relief to see the wallet-punishing likes of Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt getting involved in something as imaginative and entertaining as Looper. Director Rian Johnson proved once again that he’s a unique voice in cinema, only this time he actually said something worth listening to.

"These people may be isolated; unbalanced even, but I believe
with the right push they can be exactly what we need"
By far the most flat-out fun to be had in cinemas in 2012, Marvel Avengers Assemble saw Joss Whedon pull another minor miracle out of the bag by taking the best bits from five average films and creating something that had no right to be as good as it was. A near-perfect balance of action, LOLs and Scarlett Johansson's PVC-clad buttocks meant that the world is now left in the unexpected position of looking forward to another film featuring The Incredible Hulk.

"What did you expect, an exploding pen?"
After making me wait four long years for a new Bond film (and six for a great one), Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli delivered something so totally unexpected in my lap with Skyfall that I didn't quite know what to make of it. After some thought, I decided it was ace. Happily, for me and the future of the franchise, so did pretty much everyone else. It's not without its flaws, but Sam Mendes pulls off the script's intelligent blend of respect for the series' past and signposts to its future with such gusto that you'd have to be Giles Coren not to be impressed.

"The idea was to be a symbol. Batman could be anybody.
That was the point"
It was an incredibly close tussle at the top between my two lifelong heroes, but old pointy-ears (and I don't mean Daniel Craig) won in the end for not dicking around too much with his own continuity. Final acts of blockbuster trilogies have no business being as thematically bold, sprawlingly ambitious and rewardingly dense as The Dark Knight Rises, but the game has changed forever now thanks to Chris Nolan. Bonus points for the most audacious use of characters from the canon too: Selina Kyle's in it but isn't Catwoman? There's no way that should work, but it does. And like the comics, Batman's next screen incarnation could literally go anywhere. I can't wait.

Stuff I really liked but not as much as that lot:

Stuff everyone else liked which I didn't really go a bundle on:

Stuff that might (but probably wouldn't) have made
my top ten if only I'd got round to seeing them:


  1. Looking at your review of Holy Motors, it looked like you really enjoyed it.

    P.S. Have you seen The Grey?

    1. I just couldn't decide whether Holy Motors was staggering genius or pretentious cack, so I went with the safe "didn't go a bundle on it" option in the end. Worth seeing, but maybe only once.

      And no, The Grey has eluded me. Enough people have recommended it for me to have a go on it though.

  2. Ive only seen three of your top ten.

    Looper - had more holes than Prometheus. But I loved it.

    Skyfall - Fuckin Ace.

    TDKR - Selena Kyle was referred to as The Cat...and her awesome multi-purpose goggles very cleverly made her ears :-)

    And yes I fucking loved that too.