It’s hard to say what makes a vintage year. I don’t think 2012 was one (2011 offered more gems, in my opinion), but we did get some nuggets of gold. Michael Haneke once again proved he is the master of deep, emotional cinema. Leos Carax succeeded in stunning crowds and puzzling critics. And Bond returned in style. But among the brilliant delights lurked some truly awful specimens. Project X demonstrated how misogyny is still fair-game in Hollywood. Ted stretched a weak joke for far too long. And Jason Statham put audiences through Safe, perhaps the worst picture of his career. This article lays out my Best and Worst lists for 2012. It will be followed soon by the lists of Edge contributors. So enjoy reading, agreeing and disagreeing, and I wish you a very Happy New Year.
The Best Films of 2012 (In order of greatness)
Michael Haneke’s latest is that rare thing; a truly immersive film. The 3D crowd can bang on about how Avatar truly immerses the viewer for as long as they like, but it will never match the genius of this film. It pulls you into the frame and never lets you leave.
2. Holy Motors
Astonishing, weird, wonderful, mad, bizarre. There are many words one could use to describe this carnival of the strange, grotesque and beautiful. And none of them would do it justice.
3. Killer Joe
Deserves its place just for sheer nerve. This drama from The Exorcist director William Friedkin is one of the most surprising and effective films I’ve seen for many years. It gets dark, and then oh-so-dark, and then Jesus-Christ-where-are-they-going-with-this dark. See it.
4. Liberal Arts
Pure joy on film. Liberal Arts has the power to lift your spirits and make you feel happy and optimistic about life. I loved it.
5. The Descendants
I was cynical at first about this film (the awful trailer made me dread going to see it) but I was delighted to find it a superbly written, excellently acted family drama. Very moving, too.
Markus Schleinzer takes on a subject most filmmakers wouldn’t tackle – paedophilia – and uses it to craft a film that is sensitive, well-acted, and quietly devastating. Masterful.
7. The Raid
Ultraviolent, furiously directed and outrageously exciting to watch. This is an action movie to end all action movies.
8. Martha Marcy May Marlene
A terrifying horror movie without monsters or graphic violence. Eizabeth Olsen gives a remarkable performance.
Even though I really liked Quantum of Solace, this entry into the franchise blows it out of the water. Smart, stylish and gorgeous to look at. This is one of Mendes, and Bond’s, best.
10. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
A marvellous adaptation of the novel, this perfectly brings to life the worries and joys of school life. A real gem.
The Six Worst Movies of 2012 (In order of awfulness)
1. Project X
How bad can a movie be? Very bad, was the answer Project X gave. This Todd Phillips-produced nastiness was unbearable to watch. A boring, badly written party movie that celebrates misogyny, homophobia and drug abuse? No thanks.
2. Jack and Jill
There are no words.
Jaaaaaason Staaaaathaaaam!!! And he doesn’t act. He grunts in that strange half-London, half-American accent he reserves for really dire movies.
Almost as nasty as Project X, this painfully unfunny comedy from Seth McFarlane demonstrated how an interesting idea can really go horribly wrong. Vulgar, tiresome and really rather horrible.
5. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
The worst film ever to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Stephen Daldry has made some fine films (The Hours is my favourite movie of all time) but this was a really ill-judged mistake.
An obnoxious remake of Nicholas Winding Refn’s original, relocated to Hackney. It allows Agyness Deyn to try out acting. She can’t.