*I don’t do a year-end top 10 list because there’s no point to it. Having been unable to see Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, The Master, or even Silver Linings Playbook, I have no right to embark on such a venture anyway.
Oslo, 31st August: Movie that chronicles a day in the life of a depressed young man. If you’re not a happy-go-lucky, i.e foolish, person, this movie should strike a chord. The amount of time you spend alone with your thoughts might be in direct relation to the amount you’ll like this super-dark movie from Norway.
Cabin in the woods: I’ve normally held slasher movies in contempt but this one’s so good that no amount of prejudice could have kept it away from the year-end list. One word which instantly comes to mind is ‘Insane’.
Looper: Time travel, fucking hell. I just love the concept of time travel. Is it because it is the most complex concept I can begin to warp my mind around? I just love tearing my hair out while trying to grasp the intricacies of time travel. I feel sad to say this but the weakest point of the movie for me was Emily Blunt. Why did she feel so horny out of the blue?
Avengers: Directed by the man who co-wrote the insanely original Cabin in the woods, is there any doubting that the first half of 2012 was Joss Whedon’s oyster? Was particularly impressed with how he let every character have his moment under the spotlight.
The Dictator: Sorry but it’s the funniest movie of the year. Boasting a cutting edge humor and lines like “Oh it’s a girl. I’m so sorry. Where’s the trashcan?”, General Aladeen seamlessly exposes the values held by some among us and mocks them with aplomb. That monologue on democracy at the end? Brilliant!
Cosmopolis: Yeah yeah, what’s an R-Pat movie doing on the list? Are you a fucking Twihard? No, I am not. The reason the movie makes the list is because of its vibe and the one-liners about economics and sex and whatnot.
Rust and Bone: This one comes from France and is directed by the man who made the supreme Un Prophete, and stars Marion Cotillard. More impressive than Cotillard is her compatriot, Matthias Schoenaerts. Quite visually striking too.
Breaking them down genre wise, and having the opportunity to club them all together, I am inclined to do that from now on.
Comedy: Haven’t checked out Greta Gerwig’s either of Damsels in Distress or Frances Ha. The latter, featuring Adam Driver from HBO’s Girls, is said to be particularly impressive. Seven Psychopaths, starring a mega-ensemble, too finds its way into the ‘haven’t seen’ section. A special shout-out to the largely uneven but ultimately decent Bachelorette for showing the world the talent that is Lizzy Caplan. Finally, how could I forget Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill’s 21 Jump Street.
Action: Soderbergh’s Haywire was fun, Liam Neeson’s The Grey finally convinced me of the memes about the man making the rounds ever since Taken, Sam Mendes’ Skyfall has an unbelievably underwhelming climax in Scotland but before that, the cinematography in Hongkong is breathtaking, Jeremy Renner’s Bourne Legacy isn’t deserving of the Bourne title but the presence of Rachel Weisz makes it hard for me to have anything but a positive disposition towards it, Olivia Thirlby and Karl Urban’s Dredd is what most action movies try to be but then the genre itself isn’t known for high standards. Incidentally, Norway’s Headhunters is a better action movie than all those aforementioned.
Indies: Introducing my favorite genre would be the Duplass brothers’ latest effort Jeff, who lives at home. Sure, the movie would’ve been better had it not been for the compulsions of American heroism and corny romance but then it was made by and for the American audiences. So judging it by European standards would be both harsh and unfair. Speaking of the Duplass family, one of the Duplass’ stars in a movie with Rosemarie Dewitt and Emily Blunt. How can you resist them two together! Your Sister’s Sister is the name of the movie, and the movie itself isn’t, as improbable as it may be thanks to the plot, half as bad. One last Duplass film I’d like to pimp is Safety not guaranteed set in the beautiful state of Washington. The movie isn’t what you’d call a special one but the charisma of Aubrey Plaza and the tease of time-travel make it worth checking out.
Sarah Polley’s Take this Waltz’s strongest suit happen to be the ridiculously beautiful filming locations. Starring Seth Rogen, Michelle Williams and a new guy, the film’s strangely gratuitous with nudity for no reason, and that’s only an observation; it isn’t a factor.
Breaking with the American tradition is the gritty Beasts of the southern wild, set amidst the ruins of what is Louisiana. It features a landscape which most studios would pour millions into to create in order to depict a dystopian future and most importantly, has a rousing soundtrack.
Sleepwalk with me is about a stand-up comedian struggling to get a break, and when he finally succeeds, his relationship begins to fall apart. In fact, his success comes from him poking fun at his failing relationship. Yup, one needs to be miserable to be a comedian. Has one epic ‘holy shit’ moment. Bonus points for guessing.
Zoe Kazan’s Ruby Sparks has a script which can claim to be Charlie Kaufman-esque. The execution might be a touch lacking but the inventiveness is to be applauded. Josh Radnor’s Liberal Arts is a much better effort than his debut film. Much might not happen in the way of the movie but the conversations are quite striking. The lovely Brit Marling had two movies up her sleeve this year, Arbitrage and the even better Sound of my voice. Sound of my voice was written by her, so that might be the reason.
Animation: Missed out on both Wreck-it-Ralph and Frankenweenie, Brave was meh, Paranorman was the best of the rest. The supporting cast of Paranorman is what makes the movie tick. Great voice casting.
Klown, Sister, and Holy Motors might have made the list, had they been seen.
Movies that you’d expect to be mentioned but weren’t:
Cloud Atlas (overlooked it)
Moonrise Kingdom (romance between pre-teens makes me squirm and Wes Anderson’s quirkiness works better with animation. Still swear by Fantastic Mr.Fox and mourn its Oscar loss to Up)
Life of Pi (visually striking, but 3D? That’s a strike, all right)
Argo (decently made, decent humor, but felt no suspense, didn’t fear for the safety of the Americans even for one instant)
Lincoln (probably the best performance by an ensemble this year. Works well as a political thriller when horse-trading is on, and Lincoln’s anecdotes are funny, but when Spielberg fills a movie with stirring speeches against the background of his score, you tend to view it as crowd-pleasing hokum)
The Dark Knight Rises (Remember the anticipation, both from trailer no.2 and movie no.2? Remember how Rotten Tomatoes was left with no option but to disable comments for the first time in its history owing to the hate-filled passion of the fanboys? This movie was a victim of its own hype. It failed to aspire to the levels of TDK and played as a conventional crowd-pleaser, and that’s why.)
Raid Redemption (A 10 year old me would have dug it alright.)
Alternate people of the year: Richard Jenkins, Mark Duplass.