Saturday, December 15, 2012

Top Films 2012

My list of the top films I've seen this year.  There is no particular ranking.  Some of these films are new releases and some are old.   Also, it would take me weeks to give all of these films the special attention they deserve. 


Symbiopsychotaxiplasm (1968)
William Greaves
A significant experimental documentary about the process of filmmaking.  Worthy of noting is Greaves' creative use of split screen processing.  I hope more people discover this film. 


The Exterminating Angel (1962)
Luis Bunuel

Simon of the Desert
Luis Bunuel
One of the first films I watched in film school was Un Chien Andalou (1929) and I remember being shocked by its experimentation.  The ending of Simon of the Desert is surreal, outrageous, and absolutely brilliant. The chamber drama of The Exterminating Angel had me laughing.  At the same time, I kept thinking - he shot a masterpiece that takes place in a music room!

Fish Tank (2009)
Andrea Arnold
  

A British film about Mia (Katie Jarvis) a 15-year-old lonely and isolated teenager who has a talent for dancing and becomes attracted to her mother's boyfriend, Connor (Michael Fassbinder).  This is a gritty and emotional drama.  It is interesting to compare this film with Silver Linings Playbook...

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
David O. Russel
I love David O. Russell's work.  This is a mash up of genres and a lot fun.  Reminded me of the madcap films of the 1930s. Great acting - especially De Niro's performance. 


Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Wes Anderson
Wes Anderson continues to make interesting coming of age drama/comedies.
Skyfall (2012)
Sam Mendes
This is clearly up there with the great films of the Bond franchise.  Javier Bardem's long take entrance and monologue about rats was absolutely brilliant.  Great action film that actually raises some interesting points about transparency, surveillance, and terrorism in the digital age.

Room 237 (2012)
Rodney Ascher
 
A highly engrossing documentary about the various interpretations of Stanley Kubrick's The Shining.  This documentary demonstrates how time-shifting technologies are impacting spectatorship, allowing viewers to closely exam the moving-image. 

The Leopard (1963)
Luchino Visconti
Made by one Italy's best filmmakers.  Long, slow, beautiful, and ethereal.  The wedding sequence at the end is unbelievable.

From Here to Eternity (1953)
Fred Zinnemann
Excellent melodrama before the attacks on Pearl Harbor.  Important film for its depiction of sexuality in the early 1950s. 
  
Bernie (2012)
Richard Linklater
 
One of the best performances of the year.  Black should be nominated for an Academy award.  I love the structure of the film - reminded me of Bob Fosse's Lenny (1974).


Death of a Cyclist (1955)
Juan Antonio Bardem
Made by Javier Bardem's uncle, great thriller from Spain in the Hitchcock tradition.
 
49th Parallel (1941)
Michael Powell
See my random review.


Amreerka (2009)
Cherien Dabis
   
Great melodrama about a Palaestian mother and her son who move to Illinois.  At times a bit sappy, but I really liked this film.

 Advise and Consent (1962)
Otto Preminger
Long and excellent film made by one of the greats of the classical period.  With all of the sex scandals in politics, this film is even more important today.  Betty White has a small role.


The Guard (2011)
John Michael
Hilarious and smart movie.  Great dialogue.  I particularly loved the gangster's conversation about Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Bertand Russell early in the film - very funny.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011)
David Fincher
David Fincher continues to make great movies.  The chemistry between Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara works very well.  I love how the film combines digital technologies and physical materials such as documents and photos to solve the mystery.

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