Monday 24 December 2012

My TEN most enjoyed films of 2012

A prime example of what cinema can do best. Near-faultless, fantastical tale of human emotions, adventure, whimsy and suspense. Scorsese continues to surprise us with the astonishing range of his cinematic artistry. A stand-out production in all respects.

An object lesson in how to adapt from one medium to another with imagination, confidence and panache. It mightn't have worked - indeed, for some, it didn't - but I find it hard to point to anything here I'd like to have changed. Even its modest and digestible length, compared to what the original source might have demanded, was one of its strengths - and that, coupled with acting of a uniformly high order, made it a peak of my cinema-going this year.

Possibly my most controversial choice for inclusion here. Relentlessly funny, though many didn't see it as such. I was on the required wavelength from the word 'go' - watching with delight as those four masks slipped and poses cracked. It's the old cliche about being on a roller-coaster and can't get off, but this is exactly where this quartet finds itself. The trajectory they must follow is advance-determined. Terrific entertainment.

Another funny one, but with more light and shade. Humour concerning manual manipulation of the female leading to the invention of the vibrator. Exceedingly amusing without being overly vulgar. All coupled with top-notch acting equals high entertainment value.

One of the true surprises of the year. A real achievement to make such a suspenseful film out of a fact-based story whose outcome is known, even if the final escape as depicted was somewhat engineered for filmic ends. A hugely significant contribution from Affleck and his team.

Original (to me) story and a gripping family drama. Clooney proves again that he can really pull something out of the hat.

Corrupt police, drug dealing, characters scarily unhinged, bloody violence - what's not to like? Effective drama. A surprise.

Modest, British crime caper involving two caravanners who inadvertantly become serial killers. Despite the sombre subject, some funny moments and, though only seen a couple of weeks ago, I already want to see again. It got under my skin.

I'd have to include this somewhere, though in many people's lists it might be higher than this position. It earns its place for me by being an original concept (at least for these days) and, despite its flimsy storyline, still being compelling entertainment.

Norwegian thriller, twisting and turning with such effectiveness as is rarely seen. Keeps one on one's toes right to the end - and beyond!

And the films I saw which, though well-deserving of a place, didn't quite make the final cut:-

The Iron Lady
The Deep Blue Sea
The Hunger Games
Woody Allen - a Documentary
The Imposter

Films I really badly wanted to see but couldn't or wouldn't - 'Martha Marcy May Marlene', 'End of Watch' and 'Tyrannosaur', the last one I deliberately missed because it starts with the kicking to death of a dog. Pity, as it had everything else going for it.

It's been, on the whole, an exceptionally good year, with real clunkers being less in evidence than at other times. Here's hoping that 2013 follows the pattern!


  1. I agree with you 100% about Carnage.
    loved it!

    1. Thanks Bob. If one isn't tuned in to seeing this as a comedy of social interaction from the moment the couples meet, I think one's going to miss its appeal completely

  2. Your list came out sooner than I thought it would. Have to take some time to compare it with my list, but will do that after the holidays. So delighted that "Carnage" was included. Just loved it when politeness disappeared and verbal warfare took over. The film had me when John C. Reilly uttered the line: "We even bought tulips." On New Years, I watch my favorite film and on the first day of 2013, it will be "Carnage." I also owe you a big "Thank you' for leading me to this treasure.

    1. I'm now having renewed delight, Paul, at your continued liking for 'Carnage' - as Bob above has also done. I've never rented a film in my life but I'm sorely tempted on this one - though, with a bit of luck it may be on TV within the next year.

      I thought it would be a nice festive contribution if I posted this now rather than wait till the year's over. There are only two possible films I've yet to see - 'Pitch Perfect' which has got some pretty good reviews, but the showing times are awkward for me, and 'Midnights Children' which has had mixed reviews but which I should be seeing on New Year's Eve. If either of these would have made my Top 10 I'll have to include them in next year's list.
      Meantime I look forward to seeing your own, though no doubt there will be some I'll have missed.

  3. yikes, I didn't see ANY of these! spouse saw "the artist" and "skyfall".

    I still want to see "anna k".

    yesterday spouse and I saw "hyde park on hudson"; bill murray as FDR. murray deserves his golden globe nomination.

    spouse is currently at the movies watching "hitchcock". perhaps tomorrow (yes, our theaters are open) we will see "lincoln".

    around here, asian restaurants and movie theaters are open for those of us who do not celebrate xmess.

    smooches to you and snorgles to the pussies!

    1. I hope you catch at least some of them sometime, A.M., though if you do they'll of course be on your telly screen, which is invariably a diluted experience. Still, better than nothing.

      I'd LOVE to know your opinion of 'Anna K.' - a profound and tragic story of romance and deception, without being over-shmaltzy.

      We haven't yet had ANY of those three films you mention, though I do know of them. Even 'Lincoln' doesn't open for another fortnight yet. But with that and 'Les Mis' also opening soon, it looks like 2013 is starting out as another potentially rich year for cinema-goers.

      I too send you XXXXs on this Xmas morn, if you can stand it (Xmas, I mean, not the XXXXs) and my pussies ask me to reciprocate to you your wishes to them and to any other furry creatures who happen to be rubbing around your feet.

      Here's a few more - XXXXXXXXX

    2. ok, check out spouse's latest blog post on the movies at

      and thank you for all the kissies, both human and kitty!

    3. I'm getting the 'blog not found' message, A.M. - but will keep trying.

    4. well shit! then go to my blog, and from my blogroll click on arteejee. hopefully that will get you there!

      we saw "lincoln" on 12/30; highly recommended!

    5. Got it! Thanks, A.M.

      There's a backlog of 'significant' films building up which haven't yet opened here - not just 'Lincoln' but also 'Hitchcock' and 'Les Mis', of course, as well as a number of others. Looks like Jan 13 is going to be extra busy.

  4. Oooh, I finally saw Hugo recently, courtesy of Love Film, and was pretty underwhelmed! Am not good with films with kids in the lead, and found it all a bit schmaltzy!

    1. It's very much a cinema experience, Andrew - and I would think on TV it would lack quite a bit of its original charge.
      I usually run a mile from films featuring children in any main role - and only went to see this because it was deemed to be a 'significant' film. However, despite the presence of the kids on screen, I was so won over that it's one of the rare occasions that I've paid to see a film twice in the cinema - first time in 2D (which, even in that flat format, I still found hugely impressive) and then again with the specs.
      Anyway, you wouldn't have put 'Anna K.' anywhere near as high either, would you? :-)

    2. Yes - I had originally wanted to see it in the cinema, mainly to see how Scorcese handled the 3D. Something I had forgotten until I started viewing it...

      As for Anna Karenina, you're right - but I didn't want to be too negative!

      I'd have had The Artist much further up and also The Imposter - although I probably only saw ten films in the year, so a Top Ten might have been redundant as an idea!

    3. Actually, Andrew, since posting that list I've had a few regrets, one of which was not putting 'The Artist' maybe 2 or 3 places higher - but even more, not including the film 'Shame' even as a 'nearly'. But one could go on forever. A 'Top 10' will never reach an absolute 'right', and though I occasionally alter my original posting to tidy up grammar etc, to change any of the key features later would be cheating. No, I've got to accept that that IS IT!
      But I'm really flattered that you returned here after making your original comment. Thanks.

  5. Oh Killer Joe made me cringe so !
    Thank you for the Dickens BBC link - I am going to read that tonight in lieu of the real thing!

    1. Yes, 'Joe' is a tough watch - but a rewarding one for those who can stick with it!

      Great that the Dickens link worked, Dr Spo, but the pleasure is all mine.
      I was wary about sending it to you at all knowing how phenomenally busy you seem to be, with so many more contacts than others have. But when you find/have found the time I think you'll feel it was a satisfying read, learnedly and eloquently put together.

  6. Thanks for the great list. There are several on it that I have not seen...yet.

    Happy Christmas

    1. Thank YOU, H.K. My choices may be rather eclectic, but if they can lead you towards some treats you might otherwise have not 'tasted', then it has been worthwhile for that alone.

      Wishing you all and only the very best for the remainder of these hols - and may 2013 be an exceptional year full of 'goodies' for you.

  7. I liked Hugo's beginning and thought the overall movie was nicely done... but it seemed like the movie morphed from a mystery of the father's death to all about the classic film maker. That was a strange feeling to feel like you were going to be presented with one plot, then another one entirely.

    1. I hadn't seen it like that - even though I paid to see the film twice - but now thinking of what you say you may have a point. But I'd still maintain that the entire film was extra-impressive - though of course that opinion is bound to be subjective.
      Thanks very much for your visit here, Sir.

  8. We have so much catching up to do! Did just see "Hugo" and loved it. Wanted to see "Les Miserables" but, although the songs remain in English, oddly, they've dubbed the few conversations into Spanish. So, we'll wait for it to arrive at a theater here in its original language!

    1. Glad you thought highly of 'Hugo', Mitch. I think it's a film that will be remembered for years to come.

      I loathe seeing films in a dubbed version. Subtitles are so much more preferable, so I'm completely with you in waiting to see Les Mis in the 'original' (albeit translated) language.
      Although it opens here in a week's time - and I'm usually at the very first showing of a really 'major' film - for this one I'm going to wait a few days so I can watch it in my favourite cinema on an extra-big screen, where there are unlikely to be many popcorn-crunching kids - and where I can blub as freely as I expect to do.
      I take it that you know the musical, and have, perhaps, have seen it live? A lot is hanging on this film for me as I'd think too much tampering of this most moving of ALL musicals would be near-sacrilege. Reviews I've read have generally been fairly positive without being ecstatic. But you and I have to make up only our own minds, do we not?