Movies, albums, gigs – this is how I’ve come to judge years past. Best of/worst of lists from over the years are where I can pinpoint exactly where I was and how I was feeling at the time. 2012 has been no exception, with a smattering of great releases. There were also some absolute stinkers in there too, but in the interest of staying positive I’m gonna focus on the best films of 2012. So without further ado, here’s my top 5:
5. The Dark Knight Rises
After ‘Prometheus’ broke my heart this summer, I vowed to never get excited about any big blockbuster ever again. Hence I wasn’t exactly thrilled about The Dark Knight Rises. I think it has probably earned its place here on my list out of pure relief! An altogether darker and more po-faced superhero movie than, say, ‘The Avengers’, Christopher Nolan undoubtedly put on a masterclass here in how to wrap up a trilogy properly and bow out gracefully. That ending/reveal was also my number one fist-clenching ‘fuck yeah’ moment of 2012.
Hooray for an intelligent sci-fi movie with a production budget of $30million and a worldwide gross of $160million. Take that every bloated Hollywood misfire of 2012! Rian Johnson’s ‘Looper’ wasn’t afraid to forge its own path, taking its time to tell us its tale of time travel, fate and choices. Both Bruce Willis and an impersonating-a-young-Bruce-Willis Joseph Gordon-Levitt shone here, and like ‘Inception’ before it, ‘Looper’ proved that there is a paying mainstream audience out there that doesn’t need to be spoon-fed every last plot detail. For that alone I am grateful.
3. Sleep Tight
Or Mientras Duermes to give it its proper Spanish title. I saw this little gem at a horror festival in London. To classify it as a straight-up horror film would be a mistake though, even though some truly horrifying stuff does go down. It’s more of a Hitchcockian suspense thriller that really takes hold of you, twisting and turning right up until the final reel. Luis Tosar, cast in the lead role as the lonely janitor is incredible in this. Not sure what the story is with UK distribution on this, but you should definitely try and track it down.
2. The Angel’s Share
Now this was a pleasant surprise. Ken Loach’s ‘The Angel’s Share’ was a fantastic piece of independent British cinema that not only made me thirst for whisky, but also pine for the rougher edges of Glasgow that I once lived near. Fantastically acted by an ensemble of unknown local actors, The Angel’s Share couldn’t help but warm the coldest of hearts with its tale of friendship and redemption. Look, I was dragged by my girlfriend to see it against my will one rainy night in Bristol and now it is number 2 on my list. You really should track it down.
1. The Raid
Lean and brutal, Gareth Evans’ ‘The Raid’ showed that flashy CGI and big-name casts are wholly unnecessary when it comes to making a kickass action movie. I’m not exactly a martial arts fan by any stretch, but the fight scenes in this movie were nothing short of breath-taking. This was a treat to watch in the cinema too, with the audience whooping and hollering as wave after wave of goons were disposed of in increasingly spectacular fashion. Scant on backstory and heavy on carnage, The Raid roundhouse-kicked Hollywood right in its face and has set the standard for all other modern action films to live up to.
*Honourable mentions: Killing Them Softly, Chronicle, The Grey, 21 Jump Street, Cosmopolis, Judge Dredd, Berberian Sound Studio, The Innkeepers, that one Jason Statham one where he beat up both cops AND robbers.