The Best of 2012
38 5.6 5.920. Clip (2012)
I'm not quite sure, if the few Serbian films that I've seen are luring me to Serbia or to stay as far away Serbia as possible. One of these films is A Serbian Film, which is very difficult one for me, when I haven't yet even decided whether like it or hate it. And of course, the other Serbian film is Clip. Both of them are showing the dirty picture of the country and I'm just curious, if it is actually better or worse than I've seen from the screen. Where A Serbian Film was pushing the limits a bit, Clip tells more humane story of a teenage girl, Jasna. You feel both sympathy for her as well as you are disgusted of her behaviour. She is in love with a total prick but as it seems, good guys are a little rare sight in the town. Disturbing images are both sexual and violent and the dirtiness off mental state is quite something.
431 5.8 519. Cosmopolis (2012)
David Cronenberg's career has had few bumps down on the road lately. A Dangerous Method (2011) was the first one and in 2012 there was Cosmopolis. I'm not saying that Cosmopolis was a bad film. If it was, why would it be on this list? Well maybe just for filling the list but still. The infernal limousine ride of a millionare through the raging New York City just to get a hair cut seems silly and that is just it's meant to be. Film states the twisted values of life in the 21st century, where money runs (and actually ruins) everything.
I've always been quite prejudiced towards Robert Pattinson because of the Twilight films. There is one exception in his careed that I've witnessed, when he actually has done a good performance, and that one is Water for Elephants. I'm more than glad and satisfied that Cosmopolis is now added to that list.
114 7.2 7.218. Pieta (2012)
Pieta is an interesting film by Ki-duk Kim - the film that also won the Golden Lion in Venice. It tells a story about a cruel loan shark, who suddenly one day gets an unpleasant visitor - a woman who claims to be his mother. Although the concept is interesting, it is rather a shame that the result isn't at the same level. I mean that Pieta is nice, but also a bit annoying film. At some levels, the narration is as interesting as the film but also there are some blind spots, when the viewer is stupidly underrated and every single event has to be grounded with long and unnecessary takes. Sexual and violent content gives a little disturbing look and atmosphere and sometimes viewer might even feel little guilty for laughing the events. Min-soo Joo's performance is ultimately dull as the character herself but then again Jeong-jin Lee's is quite good.
2123 7.8 8.117. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012)
I've always been a little fan of Tolkien's work and ever since the rumours around The Hobbit project started, I started eagerly waiting them. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey starts the trilogy in an interesting way, when the story expands out of the book bringing other stories of the Middle Earth. And maybe because of I've read the book, after the first film of the series I'm maybe more interested about the Necromancer than about the Bilbo's journey. The narration of the film is a bit childish and we are made quite clear that which of the dwarves are important characters and which are not so, when the introduction and screentime with some of them is not so great. I'm not a fan of 3D and actually I hate the whole thing, but most surprisingly in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey I didn't sometimes even pay an attention to the fact that the 3D glasses felt so freaking anoying. The film uses 3D effect quite nicely, when there is not a single scene where the objects are flying towards the viewer (if I recall correctly), but the viewer is swallowed into the story.
1332 7.3 7.516. Looper (2012)
I don't want to talk about time travel because if we start talking about it then we're going to be here all day talking about it, making diagrams with straws. -Joe
Time travelling in films is always something that you might call a big complex. Looper isn't even trying to explain the whole large scenario and leaves just the audience making diagrams with straws and frying our brains. And that is just great! If the movie even tried to explain it, it would most likely take few stupid extra minutes and would still leave some holes in the logic and the audience would therefore have one more reason to hate this film. This way the film is just best, but still not a masterpiece.
652 7.2 715. Dredd (2012)
From current blockbuster superhero movies, only Nolan's Batman films have been tolerable - alongside with Dredd. Dredd is here an exceptional superhero film, because of it's rated R. Before Dredd, I think the only superhero film that was rated R in Finland was Punisher. I haven't seen that one yet but I've intended to do so for quite a while.
That age certification gives this film some privilege. Graphical violence is so cruel that it hurts to watch and the bloody looks are something that you cannot easily forget. Sci-fi world in near future is interesting with these Mega Cities and the concept of Judges is something quite brutal and therefore thrilling. Slo-mo drugs with the effects of it are shown of course with actual slow motion shots and I think I really liked it. There is only one scene where the slow motion irritates a bit, when a whole shootout scene is shown in slow motion but since there is a logical reason, it is just that 'bit' that irritates me.
Soundtrack is one of the greatest of the year. Justin Bieber (slowed down in 800 per cent) and Vitalic are just some examples of its superb science fictional soundtrack. The leading actors - Karl Urban as almost faceless Judge Dredd, Olivia Thirlby as rookie Anderson and Lena Headey as drug queen Ma-Ma - are all making good performances.
1430 7.5 7.814. Skyfall (2012)
I've never been a fan of 007. Threrefore James Bond from Craig era with less gadgets haven't let me down and actually, I find myself liking these maybe even more than the older ones. Some effect on this might also be the fact that I don't remember when was the last time I saw older Bond film starring someone other than Pierce Brosnan or Daniel Craig.
Daniel Craig fits the role perfectly and Skyfall is a great comeback from 007 after poor Quantum of Solace. 007 is derelict agent after failing a mission. He is suffering from a drug and alcohol addiction and the way to the top isn't easy. Film introduces also one of the greatest villains of the year, Silva, whose ethics and actions reminds me something like the Joker from The Dark Knight. Cyber terrorism is a real, worthy threat of our time and that is also shown really well.
I find the two Bond films directed by Martin Campbell the best, and these films are The Golden Eye and Casino Royale. It is more than adorable that Skyfall is almost quite as good as those two.
222 5.6 5.813. The Paperboy (2012)
I saw Precious only few weeks before seeing The Paperboy and maybe therefore I had no prejudice towards what was I waiting for. And also because of the fact that Precious was more or less a bad film. Around The Paperboy was this rumor about brutal visual violence. This was an interesting rumor, since the film was rated R and it was also starring a High School Musical star Zac Efron, alongside with Nicole Kidman, John Cusack and Matthew McConaughey. I'd been that privileged for the day that I hadn't seen any High School Musical before seeing The Paperboy and I haven't even intended to.
It is interesting, how a journalists thriller about getting a death sentenced prisoner free, turns to shut down the interest of the main thriller onto the relationships of the people around the case. Moral sermon of the love story is tense and the values of the contemporary society are in that policy too. Nicole Kidman performs greatly a white trash role and Efron has problems of keeping his shirt on - but wouldn't we all have in a such a heat.
613 7.2 7.312. Lawless (2012)
Lawless is one of these films of 2012 that just came out from nowhere for me. I had maybe seen some of the screenshots with Tom Hardy but had paid absolutely no attention on them whatsoever. This film was introduced in Finland in a film festival and I'm more than glad that I ended up being there. I'm just a fool for gangster films and maybe that's why Lawless hit me this hard and all of a sudden. Tom Hardy really has that special something. His charisma as Bane was huge but there's some great amount of that also in Forrest Bondurant as well. Lawless might be a serious film but it is really nice that it gives some great laughs also. Violence in the film is a little distressing and the 30's looks is absolutely fantastic.
2644 7.9 8.611. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Batman (or Bruce Wayne) is interesting superhero, because he can do his business without any actual superpowers. But maybe even more interesting than Batman himself are the villains. In Batman Begins there is Scarecrow, The Dark Knight has Joker (performed ingeniously by Heath Ledger) and in The Dark Knight Rises there is Bane. And Bane is massive. Tom Hardy really puts himself into his roles and TDKR is again one example for that. The charisma of his is enormous with that perfect voice. There is some similarities with Bane and Joker and maybe that is also something that makes you even more attached into him.
There are some anti-climatic scenes in this but it is just adorable that how 165 minutes doesn't feel too much at all. Action scenes (especially the beginning) look fabulous and the special effects are something worth a mention too.
1902 8.1 8.510. Django Unchained (2012)
Tarantino is Tarantino, and when a new film comes up from him, it is something that isn't even possible to ignore. Three years after Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained had gathered great hype behind it and was probably one of the most exciting films of the year for many.
The film starts up nicely and bounty hunting is surely interesting and well done, but soon enough we are made clear the message of the film: Dr. Schultz is the one whose around the film is made for. He is the one with funny lines in the dialogue and he is the good guy against slavery and everyone else is making pretty clear that slavery is natural and therefore filthy scums. I can't say that I didn't enjoy watching this, since this is quite entertaining. Django Unchained isn't just quite as smart film as we are used to see from Tarantino. The film also suffers from its length.
1611 6.9 7.19. Prometheus (2012)
Good science fiction films are rare nowadays. Or am I just looking from a wrong place? There are two of them in the year 2012 and Prometheus is that better one. Ridley Scott's space travel looks absolutely excellent. I see a lot of money spent but seeing the result that the money got, you just have to adore the result. The idea of an Earth-like planet in interesting and the way that it is introduced is brilliant.
Casting of the film is also terrific. Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Charlize Theron are the big names making great performances but the not so familiar faces are doing great job as well.
1230 7.8 7.88. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
Wes Anderson is definitely one of the most interesting directors from the US of A. His humour is unique and the characters of his films are even more unique. It is fun how he rotates his few favourite actors from film to film and in Moonrise Kingdom familiar faces from his earlier films are Jason Schwartzman and Bill Murray, who has starred in every feature directed by Wes Anderson except Bottle Rocket.
Moonrise Kingdom tells a story of the great escape of two little lovers. One of them is a boy scout, other is less ordinary girl from a less ordinary family. Through the journey little lovers become more and more independent youngster and more and more dependent couple, and the mental growing of them in few days is again one great example of Anderson's smashing work. Moonrise Kingdom might be Anderson's most graceful film.
92 8 87. The Punk Syndrome (2012)
The Punk Syndrome represents Finnish films at its bests. This is a documentary about a punk band called Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät (Eng. Pertti Kurikka's Name Day), which consists of mentally handicapped people. It is rather lovely that the film leaves no character behind and shows each character equally, telling the honest story of the life with the uphills and downhills, and mostly with all the love and hilariousity.
602 7.9 7.86. Amour (2012)
There is no doubt about my interest of every upcoming film by Michael Haneke. Almost without and exception (the only one would be Time of the Wolf), his every film has been great or even a masterpiece. Even the remake of Funny Games. Amour isn't an exception and is definitely one of the most interesting films of 2012.
Amour tells a story of an old married couple facing the problems of ageing and the limits of love. How does love connect and separate people from each other, and how do we want to love or be loved? Haneke uses his minimalistic style brilliantly and the use of music is within that scale, when the music is mostly used only when the source of it is visible. Leading actors - Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva - are both tremendous.
301 7.1 7.55. Rust and Bone (2012)
Before Rust and Bone, I had only seen A Prophet by the director Jacques Audiard. He really showed his potential as a director and I really got interested. Now working with Marion Cotillard (as Stéphanie), one of my favourite actresses of the decade I just couldn't wait for this one. And the film didn't let me down at all.
The film relies on the leading characters really well making them anything but dull. What is happening between Ali and his son? How about Ali and Stéphanie? Relationships are sympathetic and that is when you know that the film is really going to be something. You become attached and worried of the characters - especially about Stéphanie, when Ali is drifting from woman to woman and she is in a difficult situation. Story brings the two of them hanging around together in such brilliant way of illegal fighting bets.
This film has also the looks. Once you see the sunny side of the French Mediterranean climate and people design clothes but next you see the dirty and poor suburban side of the shore. Schoenaerts (as Ali) and Cotillard are both great in their roles and you just got to respect the killer whales in fear. Good film also makes the viewer fell something deep inside and brings up something personal. Rust and Bone has it all and makes those feelings come up too.
103 7.4 7.64. Beyond the Hills (2012)
I'm not the most familiar with Cristian Mungiu, but the two films that I've seen them have been really convincing. The first was an absolute masterpiece, 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, and then in 2012 there came Beyond the Hills. The film tells a story of two old friends - Voichita and Alina - that grew up and fall in love together in an orphanage. The got separated and years later they see again. And what could be more devastating thought than one could have found a new, greater love.
The contrast of the girls is quite prominent, when Alina in her sweat suit arrives in the Orthodox monastery, closed little community of religious folks. The relationship of the two gets quite soon a bit awkward, when Alina doesn't get so familiar with the community and starts to test the rules because of the fact that there is a new greater love in Voichita's life - the love for God. One is desperately trying to get one's attention while the other is seemingly confused about it all and maybe even trying to hide all the feelings that she once felt and now are trying to come up a little again. She has left her old life beyond the hills.
The pressure of the community and the nervous breakdown are breathtakingly strong and all by that Beyond the Hills gets an oppressive atmosphere. Countryside gets a pulchritudinous naturalistic look with the wide open view and altogether the film is absolutely goregeous-looking. The leading two makes stellar performances.
465 8.1 8.33. The Hunt (2012)
Ever since seeing The Celebration, I've been a fan of Thomas Vinterberg. I think that is somewhat three years from this moment. I love how he handles serious matters of people in general and family relationships. In the middle of this movie, The Hunt, there is divorced man, Lucas. He's got a new job in a day care center after quitting his job a techer since the school that worked in got shut down. One day, the most bizarre rumour starts worrying people, when a kid in the day care center claims that Lucas has harassed her sexually. Everything gets out of control and the reputation of an honest man is on stake.
It is certainly marvellous that The Hunt isn't just focused on the frustration and bitterness of the characters. Narration shows the perspective through many characters and so we get more sense how we could feel in a position of the others. Of course the main attention is on Lucas, who is performed by Mads Mikkelsen in the most brilliant way. Mikkelsen won also an award for his role in Cannes Film Festival.
The emotional story affects on viewer so well that within a minute one shall have the most tasteful laughs and the most bitter tears. The Hunt is most certainly the greatest film by Vinterberg since The Celebration.
317 7.5 7.12. Holy Motors (2012)
Holy Motors is definitely one of those movies that the less you know about it before actually watching it, the better. The most absurd and agonizing story of Monsieur Oscar starts from a surreal scene from a cinema and soon enough we see the main character leaving his home. 'Work hard', we hear his family screaming, while he enters his limousine. On the back seat of the limo, Oscar starts making himself up to look like an old lady and few moments later fabulous Monsieur Oscar is limping with crutch and begging money from the people. What on earth is going on?
Almost as clear as it gets, audience comes to known that Oscar is an actor of some sort of. But more roles he plays, more confused you get what actually is his real role and what happens for real, what is only for the show. And of course, who are in this creepy show by their own will. The name of the film refers a little about the longing of the nature by modern society, longing of the good old days. Oscar is doing all this crazy stuff but for who? Cameras has gone smaller and whereas Oscar makes his appearance and social status well known for the society while driving around the Paris with his ridiculously big limousine. Motion capture technique shows us virtual sex and not to even mention about the ingenious ending.
The leader of the show is definitely Denis Lavant, whose multi-performance is just outstanding. I'm not going to list all the characters he performs just for your own good, letting you to see them all by yourself. Eva Mendes' performance breaks every prejudice definitely by appearing in such a way and that is again just pure example of genious casting. Kylie Minogue is also a joy for both eye and ear. Holy Motors refers cinema classics beautifully with single scenes or with make-up.
Also love the use of Kylie Minogue's music in this alongside with everything else. Holy Motors might be a little underrated masterpiece of cinema, definitely one of the greatest of this decade so far.
744 7 7.11. The Master (2012)
Paul Thomas Anderson is a director whose work I would see rather more often than I'm used to. Within his 16-year career, he has made only six features. Before The Master, his latest was amazing There Will Be Blood, which was released five year before this one. And before There Will Be Blood, there was five years of time between his latest film at the time, when his Punch-Drunk Love was released in 2002. So when rumours around Anderson's latest film started and first teaser trailers came out, there were some expectations. The war has ended and it is time to come home. The problem with alcoholic Freddie Quell is that it seems rather impossible for him to fit again into the society. After times of roaming and drinking, he founds himself in a boat that belongs to charismatic Lancaster Dodd. He is a cult leader that becomes fascinated in Freddie with his rather backward presence and interesting cooking skills.
Freddie Quell is definitely the most interesting character of the film. His mental state is made quite clear and his traumas are brought up in the most emotional way possible. His bad manners seems even funny sometimes but then again his actions are sometimes extremely worrying. He is violent and alcoholic and also unpredictable - which he himself claims he is not, which is exactly what unpredictable people tend to say. His relationships with women are hollow and the story behind his hollow behaviour is explained in the most beautiful way. More than his relationships with women, we are interested in his relationship with Dodd. Bromance (some might say even 'romance') between the mentor and son is mostly sympathetic and touching, since Dodd seems to be the only person on earth that cares actually abandoned Freddie the way he is. Freddie needs Dodd, The Master and The Master needs Freddie. So the need is mutual and nether one of them gets through the day without the other. And when the story of Freddie is told pretty straight forward in the beginning of the film, Dodd seems to be more mysterious one. We see him drinking and drowning from the mad mad world with Freddie, but his story is mainly told by third person than by himself. His safe haven is his strong wife Peggy that keeps him sane.
It is nice that the film does not criticise the cult itself too much and gives the viewer to get his own point of view. There are three or four scenes when somebody says something bad about Dodd or the cult, and all those are followed by - well, if I say not-so-abrupt actions or arguments, I would not spoil too much of your joy. The film ends in the most graceful way, which becomes somewhat pretty soon although the running time of the film is 144 minutes.
The stars of the film are absolutely blazing. Of course the shiniest star is Joaquin Phoenix, whose wounded character has incredible strength with his body language and behaviour. By far the greatest performance of the decade on the big screen. Philip Seymour Hoffman makes another great performance in Anderson's film and this might also be one of my favourites from him too. Amy Adams as Peggy makes also great performance. Shot on 70 mm, film has its own unique look that serves the time that the film is set beautifully. It's been a long time since I've seen anything this strong film that gets into the head in so monumental way, and therefore there is no doubt about The Master being in this position of the list.
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