AMOURThe most beguiling devastating film of the year. In presenting an unsentimental but moving portrait of the inevitability of life's end, Michael Haneke gave us a most necessary experience. There are so many humanly recognizable moments that had jolts go through my heart and body. This is art in the best sense moving, recognizable and a reflection of life. A masterpiece.
MAGIC MIKEThis was the most fun time at the movies in 2012. Not just for the man eye candy, but for the charming Tatum Channing, the on point choreography, Matthew McConaughey revealing his body and soul and surprising acting chops of Olivia Munn. On the other hand the movie didn't shy away from presenting the ugly underbelly of a stripper's life. In a summer full of stock super heroes Magic Mike gave us fully realized characters, and what a gift that was.
Rust And BoneA brutal and uncompromising story that rises above the conventional trappings of "two lost souls finding each other'' up until the melodramatic happy ending. Nonetheless Cotillard and Schoenaerts set the screen ablaze with intensity and passion. Cotillard proving that La Vie En Rose was no fluke and Schoenaerts becoming a major star and an actor to watch and idolize.
MIDDLE OF NOWHEREPreviously reviewed.
ANNA KARENINAAbsolutely the most gorgeous movie of the year. It's a feast for the eyes with sets and gowns that are vivid and sumptuous. The much talked about theatrical setup works giving the story artifice that resonates and makes it wholly original. Keira Knightley, in the title role, is always best when unlikeable but here shines also when awash with desire and longing. Karenin is surprisingly sympathetic in this version and Jude Law imbues him with calm dignity and weary duty alleviating the performance to best in show.
ZERO DARK THIRTYControversy aside Kathryn Bigelow has given us a taut thriller that is firmly of our time. In the story of Ussama Bin Laden's hunt we get the most brilliant behind the scenes expose since All the President's Men. The movie presents the story as is, with no judgement, no rah rah triumphs and no emotional manipulation. Just thrilling filmmaking.
THE SESSIONSA deeply moving simple story. While on the surface it's about a man's quest to lose his virginity, it is really about the need we all have to connect with other people. The movie becomes alive because of two marvellous performances. John Hawkes with wry wit and humor and Helen Hunt, smart, naked, honest give us the ultimate mating dance.
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILDWas there a more original work than Beasts in 2012? I think not. Creating an other worldly world that is firmly rooted in both fact and fable simultaneously and characters like you've never seen before, Benh Zeitlin announced himself a major cinematic promise. He also discovered two promising acting talents in Quvenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry.
PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWERAh teenage years. The 90s. A pixie dream girl. A rebel. A awkward introvert who you know will turn into an accomplished artist. Sounds like a collection of movie cliches. However with Stephen Chbosky adapting his own novel and Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller's beautiful performances this was a lovely rumination of growing up and making life long friends.
END OF WATCHWhat could have been another routine cop movie is instead a visceral portrait of male bonding. Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are the couple of the year.
Other movies I enjoyed but didn't quite crack my top ten include The Impossible, Lincoln, Bachelorette, A Royal Affair, Pitch Perfect , On the Road, Life of Pi and Looper. It was a good year for movies. What movies did you like in 2012? Tell all in the comments.