2012 is already over, but it’s always fun to indulge in more of the year-end awards and Top 10 lists. You can find my Top 20 films here and here, but in this post I list my favorite performances of the year, both lead and supporting, the best scenes of the year, and my favorite: the year in miscellaneous superlatives.
Denis Lavant in Holy Motors
Best Lead Performances of 2012
- Denis Lavant – Holy Motors
- Joaquin Phoenix – The Master
- Emmanuelle Riva – Amour
- Jean-Louis Trentignant – Amour
- Rachel Weisz – The Deep Blue Sea
Best Supporting Performances of 2012
- Simon Russell Beale – The Deep Blue Sea
- Michael Fassbender – Prometheus
- Dwight Henry – Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master
- Ana Moreira – Tabu Read more…
This week I’m happy to share my Top 10 films of 2012. You can see numbers 20-11 here, and a ranked list of all the films I saw this year here, but I’m excited about the range and quality of these picks. Since last year, I’ve made my list a top 20 in order to spotlight some picks that might be a bit more eccentric or overlooked, but each year a crop of films emerge that are too good to ignore. 2012 was no exception, reinvigorating both challenging North American filmmaking as well as the international festival favorites.
Regrets: Photographic Memory
Honorable Mentions: Lincoln, The Hole, The Gatekeepers, Chico & Rita, The Kid with a Bike
An eclectic mix of animation, festival favorites and grimy genre films makes up numbers 20-11 of my top films of the year. Stay tuned for the Top 10 later, but in the meantime you can pad out your Netflix queue with some of these 2012 gems.
This Is Not A Film
20) 21 Jump Street / Phil Lord & Chris Miller
21 Jump Street is the funniest film of the year and a good example of how to smartly make dumb comedies. The film largely succeeds on the likeability of its pair of in-over-their-heads undercover cops—Jonah Hill and especially Channing Tatum, who had a breakout year—but the film shows more a bit more wit and intelligence than we’ve come to expect from this brand of comedy (see: The Campaign). Take, for example, the breezy establishment of the pair’s unlikely friendship and the social changes they experience living through high school a second time. Read more…
Cineaste – Winter 2012
If you find yourself around a bookstore or newsstand for some last minute holiday shopping, or holiday returns, look for the new issue of Cineaste Magazine. The Winter 2012 issue has some great features and articles, including my review of David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis starring Robert Pattinson.
It’s one of my favorite films of the year, and I argue that it already deserves reconsideration after being coolly received by audiences and critics. While it may seem a departure from Cronenberg’s body horror classics of the 80s, Cosmopolis too transposes the fears and fascinations of contemporary society into monstrous amalgamations of man and machinery. In today’s world of global economic meltdowns and polarized class rhetoric, however, humans no longer meld with televisions or the DNA of flies, but rather with streams of information—vast, unknowable, and meaningless.
If you’re in New York City this weekend, please come out to see my film New Jersey Transit. It’s playing as part of the The New School’s FINE CUTS screening series featuring student video work. The event will be Friday, December 14th at 7pm in the Tishman Auditorium, located at 66 W. 12th Street between 5th and 6th ave.
There are 10 other great student films screening, and the event will feature a Q&A with all the filmmakers, a public reception, plus an audience vote for favorite film. FINE CUTS is free and no tickets or reservations are required.
New Jersey Transit is a 6-minute short “city symphony” film shot in Hoboken, originally posted here.
Frances Ha / Noah Baumbach / 2013 /
Active Ingredients: Greta Gerwig; Affably casual and emotionally honest
Side Effects: Occasionally over-scripted; Tone of digital B&W images
Greta Gerwig in “Frances Ha”
[Frances Ha plays at the New York Film Festival on September 30th, October 4th and October 10th.]
There’s often a whiff of “1st world problems” in the subgenre of the urban quarter-life crisis dramedy that can be a bit hard to shake. In Frances Ha, a young woman struggles with her relationships with men and her best girlfriends, while also halfheartedly searching for the drive to take the next step into maturity. We know Frances will turn out OK—she’s too smart and plucky not to—but her’s are still relateable and recognizable real-world problems, and I think Frances Ha has the sincerity and conviction to speak to a lot of people. Read more…
Final Cut – Ladies and Gentlemen / György Pálfi / 2012 /
Active Ingredients: Maintaining a story through recycled film clips
Side Effects: Misuse of form; Distracting music; Reductive gender roles
[Final Cut - Ladies and Gentlemen plays as part of the New York Film Festival's "Cinema Reflected" sidebar on Monday, October 1st.]
Just as DJs can repurpose music to create something qualitatively new, just as artists can assemble found material into a collage, so too can a filmmaker create a brand new film without shooting any new material. Montage films have existed for some time, but with digital technology and over 100 years of recorded images to remix, artists are now more equipped than ever to experiment with the unlimited new effects that can be created using found footage. Montage films are a perfectly valid art form, and they can be masterful in their own way without owing anything to the fragments that comprise them. Like all art, however, the form must be used for a purpose to succeed, and, if nothing else, Final Cut – Ladies and Gentlemen demonstrates the wrong way to make a montage film. Read more…