Sunday, 30 December 2012

And my favourite film of 2012 is...

2012 began with a great film and ended with a great film.

In January, Steve McQueen's Shame was released in the UK. I can't begin to describe the impact this film has had on me, months later and it still haunts my imagination. The story of a sex addicted drone (Michael Fassbender) and his mentally unstable sister (Carey Mulligan) was treated with such sensitivity and compassion that it became almost unbearable to watch. For me, one of the greatest pieces of pure cinema occurs in this film: an extended tracking shot of Fassbender jogging through a nocturnal city, desperately trying to sweat out of his system his distorted, contradictory passions. Technically, the most amazing tracking shot since Touch of Evil and Raging Bull. Existentially, the most poetic summary of the contemporary predicament.

In December, I saw Amour - Michael Haneke's penetrating examination of old age, sickness and death. There's not an ounce of sentimental fat on this film. The story of an elderly husband who cares for his wife is told with a fierce tenderness and humanity. Every frame of this film has a painterly quality. Every emotion on the screen is delivered with gamma knife precision. Cinema for adults only.

And so, there is no favourite film this year. For me, Shame and Amour both take the top spot. They share the laurel crown.

And my other favourites:

Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master - Anderson is the new Kubrick. Joaquin Pheonix gave a performace of such feral rawness and strangeness that it tore up the screen.

Leos Carax's Holy Motors - it is demented, punk, exotic and completely mesmerising. People use the word "surreal" about things that are merely strange. But this film is surreal. Holy Motors takes its place alongside Dali and Bunuel as a surrealist work of art.

Sam Mendes' Skyfall - this Bond movie looked a million dollars and that was thanks to the remarkable cinematographer, Roger Deakins. It was tense and exciting, until the anti-climactic final scenes (big Scottish pile in the Highlands blows up...yawn). It also had the campest villain in any multiplex film I can recall. Javier Bardem channelling Kenneth Williams and Augusto Pinochet.

Gareth Evans' The Raid - kickass entertaiment.

Dexter Fletcher's Wild Bill - the gangsta movie reinvented.

So what were your top five films of 2012?

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