Monday, 31 December 2012

Top 10 Films Of 2012

Until the already much anticipated year of 2015 dawns upon audiences, it's justified to say that 2012 has been a year dominated by 'epic blockbusters' hauling in billions with the aid of less than impressive 3-D. With the top two highest grossing films of the year being superhero movies it seems as though the genre has taken over becoming the easiest and most popular genre in which to create top dollar. The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises were of course these two films and whilst they may have not been the most impressive films of the year they certainly supplied much needed high end entertainment that cannot be argued with. Whilst all this buzz was surrounding these and similar blockbuster events, a realm of independent films formed in the background providing the quality products that will eventually most likely end up with Oscar Nominations. Leos Carax's Holy Motors baffled critics praising it for it's outlandish themes and it's study into film production, it may have not been exhilarating entertainment but it certainly provided something totally original for the art-house craving audiences

 As previously mentioned there were a plethora of brilliant films to be released this year in the UK (meaning films showing in America at the moment may not be released in the UK meaning they will not be on this list), too many in fact that they couldn't all fit on a list of 10, here are some films that just missed out.

The Cabin In The Woods- A much more meaningful and impressive film than it imposes to produce, it's a deeply interesting and entertaining view on the cliches of cinema.

Dredd- Not excellent but most certainly entertaining, it sticks to it's source material with precise honesty displaying a suitably violent thriller which lives up to it's name.

The Perks Of Being A Wallflower- A sweet and beautifully depicted study into childhood and it's coinciding issues. Relatable and alluring if occasionally whimsical.

You've Been Trumped- One of the most powerful documentaries to be released this year riveting the audience to the screen where they'll be red with anger.

 Jeff Who Lives At Home- A wildly overlooked indie drama that tells the heartwarming story of a troubled man controlled by fate. Boasts originality and fantastic performances.

The Raid- An insane unrelentless action film that is as physically painfull as it is momentously entertaining.

Safety Not Guaranteed- A heartwarming rom/com with a meaningful message and excellent cast to match.

Onto the top 10 beginning with

10- Beasts of the southern wild
Following the story of a tenacious young girl and her relationship with her father and the world around her Beasts of the southern wild is a fantastic adventure told through the eyes of the innocent. Constantly in danger from impending floods due to the melting of the ice caps this story is as realistically relatable as it is an artistic portrait with a plethora of colours and rich messages. The central performance here is absolutely astounding from Quvenzhane Wallis, at the mere age of six years old her performance is as good if not better than any adult female performance of this year. The fantasy does begin to get marginally convoluted as the it draws to a conclusion but thankfully it ends on a perfectly understandable and charming way tying together each message, giving hope to the lead character of Hushpuppy; which is only aided by the fantastic score. This film should surely receive plenty of Oscar buzz and hopefully an unprecedented win for the outstanding performance of the young Quvenzhane Wallis.

Full review-

9- Rust And Bone
The first of two french releases on the list Rust and Bone concerns the story of two unlikely lovers a single father and a majestic killer whale trainer after she suffers from a tragic accident. Not only does this film respectively delve deep into the tolerance of disability but it is also very much a character study of two contrasting people. The acting here is fantastic with both leads displaying heart and emotion in their performance which ultimately drives the story to into it's heartwarming conclusion. This allows for a perfect connection between character and audience to be made, making each move of the characters seem all the more meaningful and relatable. This is a beautiful film with some truly powerful themes that shouldn't be missed. Forget the wrongfully acclaimed silver linings playbook, Rust and bone is the best romance of the year.

Full review-

8- The Intouchables
Similar to the previous film in a variety of ways, Intouchables follows the story of a quadriplegic man and his newly appointed assistant who proves to be more sensitive than initially believed. Beginning relatively slow this film more than makes up for it in it's remaining minutes displaying scenes of pure beauty and heartfelt emotion. The performances here are fantastic from Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet, their chemistry only makes the film that more believable and alluring. It's a film about finding trust in the unlikely and it achieves in portraying this message in a terrific way. Never does it prove to be cheesy or cliched, it may not be the most riveting of cinema but it certainly warms your heart from the opening minutes to the overwhelmingly loving conclusion. The various tones that it clearly set out to coagulate is achieved perfectly, appropriate heart is supplied as well as fitting comedic moments. Watch this classic before the inevitable American remake.

Full review-

7- Looper
Much like 2010's Nolan epic Inception, Looper brought complicated yet eventually understandable sci-fi elements to the attention of the general audience. Set in 2074 where Time travel has been invented but it's very much illegal a gang use it's properties to send people back from the future and exterminate them in the past, so that they never existed. Although occasionally bewilderingly confusing Looper does a good job in making sense of it's narrative and making it accessible to a worldwide audience. The story works on multiple levels until it's unpredictable climax and just goes to show that blockbusters can be intelligent as well as being  entertaining.

Full review-

6- Skyfall
Ever since the abysmal Quantum of solace audiences were skeptical that Bond would ever return to quality form and thankfully the worlds worry's were quelled as Skyfall was released, taking the world by storm. Claiming the worthy title of the best Daniel Craig bond film and perhaps the best ever since the Sean Connery era, Skyfall made James Bond suave once more just in time for his 50th birthday. This was achieved through an excellent coagulation of old and new, the cheesy volcano lairs of 60's Bond films are of course absent however no longer are all of their novelty gadgets and death sequences a thing of the past. Paying homage to early Bond, Skyfall did a brilliant job in integrating the old into the new as well as creating it's own identity with some excellent action scenes and sophisticated humor  Perhaps for the first time ever Bond felt oddly relatable as he fought his physical hardships and fought against the emotionless psychopath Silva, played by the brilliant Javier Bardem. Action scenes were intensely thrilling and each hit was felt by not only Bond but also the audience as we rooted for him like never before.

Full review-

5- The Grey

Due to recent half-hearted action flicks Liam Neeson has become partially typecast as a 'badass OAP' with the likes of Taken and Unknown of the last few years. Nearly all hope had depleted until earlier this year when the totally unexpected critical acclaim for his newest film became evident. With a seemingly cliched narrative of plane crash, survivors looks for civilization  this film shouldn't be shunned as this may not be the story from the basic exterior however as the story progresses and plot points are uncovered this proves to be a surprisingly deep study into fate and courage. A shining performance from the fantastic Liam Neeson can be witnessed here providing so much emotion behind his performance, a scene where he desperately shouts to the heavens proves to be one of the most powerful in the whole film as well as one of the most poignant scenes of the year. The finale ties up the events perfectly as well as supplying it's own satisfying, heartfelt twist which will alter your perception on the previous hours, making the film that much greater. Don't dismiss this for 'another survival action'.

Full review-

4- Argo
For a film with the credentials of a political thriller this is by no means a dialogue heavy bore, with Ben Affleck proving once again that he's more than just a fantastic actor. Argo follows the unbelievable true story of 6 American diplomatic personnel being extracted from a revolutionary Iran. Yes the story may be rather dramatised with the climactic scenes feeling more like a Bond sequence rather than an intelligent get-away, however this tone was vital in making the film what it is, appealing to the masses. If you marketed Argo as a political thriller following the guidelines precisely, a predictable target market would be drafted however stick to the event and make it dramatic, now you've got an audience. The final scenes of this film are more intense than any film of the last year, to create such tension behind a story with little actual action and a near total lack of violence is unbelievably commendable.

Full review-

3- Sightseers
Ben Wheatley is quickly becoming a force to be reckoned with despite this being only his third feature film, having an evident knack for dark horror in his 2011 epic Kill List, Wheatley converted his knowledge and mixed it with very British humour creating his hilarious comedy Sightseers. This follows Chris and Tina, two slightly obscure yet traditional adults who take a caravan holiday only to watch it spiral to disaster after a very wrong turn. Being by far the best and most inventive comedy of 2012, Sightseers brings comedy and makes it both delightfully awkward and deeply insidious. With the plot however does a come a message which is both heartwarming as it is deeply unsettling and not to mention horrifyingly relatable. Far too often have holidays taken a similar turn, people met along the way could very easily be 'that weird couple on the campsite'. Sightseers does an absolutely perfect job in nailing that tone, making the audience as paranoid as the characters as they face their annoyances. It's God bless Americas British counterpart but it's miles more accomplished.

Full review-

2- Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson, king of the quirky returns with Moonrise Kingdom a heartwarming tale of an intelligent American scout as he finds love and experiences adventure. Coming of age films have been done to death however few have delved into the young age bracket and none have done so with the prowess of Wes Anderson. By viewing the story through these innocent eyes messages arise and plot points become ever more interesting and alluring. It's a fascinating scope that is perfectly portrayed with the help from the two leads who feel more like adults than there supposedly naive age insinuates  This is a loving drama that perfectly captures the innocence of childhood as well as the gradual steps to maturity.

Full review-

1- Life of pi 

If stated after 2003's Hulk that the director Ang Lee would continue to adapt one of the most acclaimed yet 'unfilmable' books of all time onto the big screen, it would be greeted with hysterical laughter and criticism. However now that Life of Pi is a critical smash, Ang Lee is sitting smug in his comfortable armchair soaking up the praise and quite rightly so. Life of pi is an absolute masterpiece. Any director able to stimulate an audience with two characters in relativity the same setting for a good hour is commendable enough,  any director who does it with so much meaning and power is truly outstanding. The acting throughout the whole cast is brilliant most notably Pi (Suraj Sharma) carries the entire film on his shoulders especially considering the fact that he's acting against blue screen with a similar CGI character to interact with. The visuals are overwhelmingly fantastic looking even more triumphant in one of the only useful uses of 3-D to date. It's truly magical storytelling with some beautifully subtle symbolic moments which can be easily withdrawn and used as valuable messages. Life of Pi is the film of the year.

Full review-

Calum Russell

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