July 8, 2012

2012: The Best... so far

The Best of 2012: not this.
So, seeing as how we're just over halfway through the year and with the New Zealand International Film Festival on the horizon, I thought it might be a fine opportunity to take a quick look back at the months that were.

As you're aware, my writing on here has taken a backseat recently due to the workload associated with my MA in Scriptwriting. It's unfortunate, as one of my stated goals for this blog was for me to write about every film I see in a cinema during the year.

When putting together this "Best so far" though, it was interesting to me that there have been no real stand-out films since my writing about them dropped off. Take that as you will.

For reference, here's my "2012: Looking forward" post. Interestingly enough the first four films on that post are mirrored here.


Martin Scorsese's 3D kids film was a wonderful love letter to the early pioneers of cinema, and to cinema in general. Something about it absolutely clicked with me and just fired me up. With a rare kind of joy just seemed to radiate from every frame Hugo was a fun, adventure filled call-to-arms that captured me utterly.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

You know how, sometimes, when you've been anticipating a film for a long-time, the kind of film that builds up a fair amount of overseas critical buzz, and when you finally see it the film doesn't hold up for you? This was not one of those films. Tomas Alfredson's adaptation of the John le Carre novel held me entranced as Gary Oldman's tired old spy set about.

Young Adult

Diablo Cody knocked it out of the fucking park for the script on this one. Mavis is a horrible, self-absorbed, impervious to change character but the way Cody writes her and the way Charlize Theron owns the role are, simply, inspirational to me. Not only is it a great, female-centric answer to the rash of "man-child" films that have seen release over the last few years, it effectively thumbs its nose at them and flips 'em the bird.

The Raid

Director Gareth Evans and star Iko Uweis took a gigantic leap up from their previous film together, Merantau and delivered the most intense, frenetic, kinetic, utterly enjoyable action film in years. This is a film you need to see with an audience; you all need to be wrapped up in the face-punching, flying-kick, elbow-smashing fighting, laughing, whooping and wincing together. But the boys don't just rely on the intense physical-interplay between cops and henchmen, they also layer in some simple but honest emotional beats and amp up the tension with consummate skill.


Simply put, this is the best performance of Anna Paquin's career. Off cavorting with vampires and fairies now but way, way back when Margaret was filmed she dug deep into something honest and confronting and, yes, profound. Her character Lisa is hardly ever likeable, but she is empathetic. She's a young woman, struggling to make sense of and process the world around her - and that's key, really. The world around her; everything and everyone revolves around her, in her privileged teenage worldview. Margaret is shaggy, shambolic, frustrating, emotional, honest and more besides.

The Avengers

The pinnacle of comic-book filmmaking. I mean, how much do I really need to write about this film? Everyone saw it didn't they? It was absolutely everything I wanted and expected and even more besides. Even now, some months after last seeing it, I want to see it again. I love it, top-to-bottom, no questions, hands-down, flat-out love it. While not every comic-book movie needs to be (or even should be) like The Avengers, Joss Whedon and his tights'n'capes crew proved that smart, escapist fun done well still works.

So, that's a quick rundown of my favourite films so far. Feel free to share yours in the comments below; it's always interesting to see what clicked and didn't click with others. And even if you think the last 6 months have been absolute balls at the cinema, the rest of the year is shaping up to be a cracker. The films I'm still looking forward to: Cabin in the Woods, Looper, Django Unchained, The Master, Argo, Lawless (formerly The Wettest County) and Moonrise Kingdom. I feel the best is yet to come. 

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