Monday, 1 October 2012

My Top 10 of 2012 - So Far...

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We're three-quarters of the way through 2012, with the summer blockbuster season over and awards season not too far around the corner. Hence I thought I would take the time to briefly post my current Top 10 for the year, as it stands on October 1st 2012.

For each entry, I'll give a brief summary of my thoughts and a link to my full-length review here on the site. Bear in mind that I'm aiming to see a lot more films over the next three months, and catch up as much as possible on what I've missed. Therefore this list may change drastically by the time I post the final list on New Year's Eve 2012.

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10. Prometheus (dir. Ridley Scott)

It's an indication of how relatively few films I've managed to see this year that a three-star film makes it into my current Top 10. But while Ridley Scott's return to sci-fi is ultimately hamstrung by its narrative inconsistencies and too many characters, it's one of the year's most visually stunning films and its ideas are well-developed enough to compensate for its flaws - just about.

Read my full review here.

9. The Avengers (dir. Josh Whedon)
This will probably be high up on everyone's Top 10 list, and I'll readily admit to not liking The Avengers anything like as much as most people. But while Tom Hiddleston's performance annoyed me and the Hulk still hasn't been done complete justice, I was impressed by how much Josh Whedon managed to make the film about the people trapped within the circumstances. It's flawed and very silly, but enjoyable.

Read my full review here.

8. The Woman in Black (dir. James Watkins)
I've written about this film quite a bit, both on the blog and at WhatCulture!, so I'll keep this brief. Hammer's first big hit since its official relaunch is a very satisfying and creepy adaptation of Susan Hill's gothic novel. Daniel Radcliffe is impressive in the lead role, the design of the house has an appealing bleakness to it, and while it never quite lives up to the experience of the stage play, it's still pretty damn scary.

Read my full review here. Also check out my WhatCulture! article on the film here, and my other on Hammer here.

7. In Darkness (dir. Agnieszka Holland)

My review for In Darkness is being written as I speak, so I won't say a great deal - other than it's really good. Directed by Agnieszka Holland (Europa Europa, The Secret Garden), the film follows a Polish sewer worker as he takes money to shelter Polish Jews from the Nazis by hiding them in the sewers in which he works. I found it a moving and engaging take on a difficult subject which succeeded where Schindler's List ultimately came unstuck.

Review forthcoming.

6. The Dark Knight Rises (dir. Christopher Nolan)
Again, a few people may be surprised to see this so low on my list. I love Christopher Nolan, and while his Batman films have never been quite as good as the stuff he's done in between them (The Prestige and Inception), they're examples of how intelligent blockbusters can and should be. Despite its length and flawed ending, The Dark Knight Rises is a powerful conclusion to the trilogy which improves on its predecessor and finds both Tom Hardy and Christian Bale in sparkling form.

Read my full review here (my most popular review).

5. The Pirates! In An Adventure with Scientists! (dir. Peter Lord)
The first truly great film on this list is my favourite children's film of this year (I will try and catch up on ParaNorman, but no promises). The latest offering from Aardman animations is a hilarious pirate film with a great performances by Hugh Grant, Imelda Staunton and Brian Blessed in a role that only he could have played. While not as ground-breaking as the company's early efforts, its attention to detail and unrelenting barrage of jokes ensure that it will stand the test of time.

Read my full review here.

4. A Royal Affair (dir. Nikolaj Arcel)
For all the craze surrounding Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs and most recently Parade's End, this is probably the best period drama I've seen since Gosford Park - if nothing else because it demonstrates that the genre can be about politics and philosophy, and not just pretty frocks. Nikolaj Arcel crafts a slow-burning, moving tale of a love triangle that destroys Denmark, using Danish history and Arthurian legend as a platform to explore issues of power, religion, sex and the Enlightenment.

Read my full review here.

3. The Hunger Games (dir. Gary Ross)
Even after all the backlash and the comments about it being Battle Royale-lite, The Hunger Games remains this high on my list for its intelligence and how emotionally involved I was in its story. Gary Ross draws from the deep well of 1970s dystopian sci-fi to give us a film aimed at teenagers with genuine political and social depth. I maintain that it is better than Lord of the Flies as an examination of social disintegration, and its violence scenes are as painful and repulsive as they should be.

Read my full review here.

2. Martha Marcy May Marlene (dir. Sean Durkin)
One of this year's earliest offerings is also one of its most unsettling. Drawing on films as diverse as Repulsion and Deliverance, Sean Durkin gives us a deeply creepy film about a young girl traumatised by a sinister cult, held together by the outstanding central performance of Elisabeth Olsen. Its exploration of female exploitation and identity is married to unbearable tension, and its ending will stay with you for days.

Read my full review here.

1. Berberian Sound Studio (dir. Peter Strickland)
Again, my review for this film is forthcoming so I won't say much - other than if you're a fan of David Lynch, you need to see it. Tobey Jones (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) plays a sound engineer and Foley artist who is brought to Italy to create the sound for an Italian giallo horror film whose visuals we never see. The film is simultaneously a tribute to Dario Argento and an experience so terrifyingly surreal that it occasionally rivals Mulholland Drive.

Review forthcoming.

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Thanks for reading my current run-down. If you want to let me know your Top 10 so far, or give me a list of films to catch up on by December, drop me a comment at the bottom. Thank you!

Daniel

P.S. My next review, In Darkness, will be the first with my new review symbols, designed for me very kindly by Thomas Wales. Watch this space...

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