2012 is over, and it’s time to sum up the movie year, but making a ranked list of this year’s movies is proving difficult. At the best of times I struggle to rate movies, and having to compare movies of completely different genres and qualities is next to impossible. Some movies are watched for their quality, some for their contemplative effects, and some for their special effects or simple entertainment value.
I find myself stuck with one dilemma in particular: two of my favourite movies from this year are strictly speaking 2011 releases (*), but they were released at the cinema here in January and May respectively. How to treat the movies that aren’t released in Norway until the year after original release? Some movies take ages to be released in other countries; some are screened at one or two festivals and then not seen or heard of for ages; some just take forever to be released. Should they go unmentioned, or should they take up slots on the list that would otherwise have been occupied by titles which rightfully belong?
With all this in mind, I’ve decided to disregard a traditional top 10 list, instead picking a selection of this year’s most mentionable watches and categorising them in other ways. Out of the 40 new movies I’ve seen at the cinema, and another 25 or so watched online or at home, I really feel there are so many movies that deserve a mention, but with great self-restraint, here are some of the best and worst of 2012:
Most memorable – aka the favourites:
These three movies all kicked me right in the guts. How Steve McQueen’s ‘Shame’* did not win more awards for its direction and acting performances is an outrage and will remain forever a mystery, because this haunting movie about a man’s dysfunctional life is a masterpiece. ‘Weekend‘* is in many ways Shame‘s opposite: an intimate story of connection and growing attraction. What the two movies have in common is their stripped-down display of honesty and vulnerability. As for ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower‘, it’s been mentioned so many times on this blog already that I hardly need to add a justification here. All three will be stuck with me for a very long time.
Follow-ups: ‘Life of Pi’, ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’, ‘Killer Joe‘.
Most enjoyable cinema experiences:
There have been a lot of great blockbusters this year. These may not be the best movies all things considered, but they were an absolute blast to watch at the cinema. I can’t remember the last time I had as much fun at the cinema as I did watching ‘The Avengers’. ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ was a refreshing and surprising horror flick, and ‘Looper‘ was a thrilling, action-packed sci-fi adventure. All three movies had me alternately grinning from ear to ear and gripping my seat in suspense.
Follow-ups: ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’, ‘Skyfall’, ‘Kon-tiki‘.
Some movies had great potential, but sadly didn’t manage to live up to the expectations facing them. Sadly this was true for two of the most anticipated movies of the year. Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ was by no means a terrible movie, but after the two preceding movies in the Batman trilogy, which are both masterpieces and among my favourite movies, I had really hoped and come to expect that this would be a lot better than it turned out. Ridley Scott’s ‘Prometheus’ was another movie facing massive expectations, but as impressive as the cast list and the visual effects were, a poor manuscript dragged this movie down into mediocrity. ‘Cosmopolis‘ was an interesting attempt at a satirical commentary on capitalism, but sadly the movie failed in every way that its thematic predecessor (and another favourite of mine) ‘American Psycho’ succeeded.
Follow-ups: ‘John Carter’, ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’.
The lucky discoveries:
Actually, a fair few of the movies I’ve seen this year belong in this category, including a few of the previously mentioned, but these are a few of the movies I went to see without knowing anything about in advance, and which I greatly enjoyed. ‘Take Shelter‘ is a low-key, apocalyptic thriller (if you can imagine such a contradiction); ‘Tomboy‘ is a small and simplistic story about a big and complicated topic; ‘The Deep Blue Sea‘ is a tragic chamber play with outstanding acting performances.
Follow-ups: ‘Laurence Anyways‘, ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin‘, ‘Tyrannosaur‘.
All in all I’m pretty satisfied with the movie year 2012. It’s been a year of many big, long-awaited titles, and some mindblowing demonstrations of visual effects, though sadly too many of these movies have been disappointing in terms of substance. It’s the smaller, darker, contemplative movies that have really shone this year, and thankfully I’m a sucker for those too.
Happy new year!
PS: I would love to hear which movies in 2012 were your favourites, and which you found most disappointing or surprising.