Since everyone has been calling out for me to make one of these lists, I’ve finally gotten around to making it. Although there are still a few films that I haven’t seen that could possibly make the list, I’ve decided to do this list before I see any films from 2013. The films in the list are taken from the US cinema release date. I am disregarding festival showing dates.
Killer Joe dir. William Friedkin
5. Killer Joe is both absurdly dark and hilariously unbelievable and it is these two elements that really make this film standout above anything else this year. Ultimately, this film is a character drama and by the end, I almost felt it could have been written as a play. Every member of the cast gives a fantastic performance. From Matthew McConaughey’s twisted Killer Joe Cooper to Juno Temple’s adorable Dottie Smith, every actor is given a chance to shine in some of the most memorably haunting scenes of the year. William Friedkin flawlessly creates a disturbing world filled with treachery, murder and humiliation that is not to overlooked.
The Grey dir. Joe Carnahan
4. For me, The Grey is this year’s biggest surprise. Written and directed by Joe Carnahan (the same man behind 2010’s The A-Team) and starring the reborn action star Liam Neeson, I have to admit that I wasn’t expecting much. However what I got was a terrifying and tense modern day White Fang. This not a film about Liam Neeson fighting wolves, it is a film about life and death and in that sense, I view the film as an allegory. Perhaps my low expectations explain why I rate this film so highly but for the moment, The Grey has been one of the best film experiences this year. Ultimately it reminded me of how such a simple story can speak so loud.
Cloud Atlas dir. Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski
3. In contrast to The Grey, Cloud Atlas demonstrated how such a complex idea can be demonstrated beautifully and poetically on the big screen. Each story weaves into another seamlessly and sucks you into each character’s dilemma. And though essentially each story follows the same pattern, they all feel different. This speaks volume about cinema itself by demonstrating that although every story has been done before, it can still feel fresh. Cloud Atlas also did a remarkable job at creating a big cinematic experience with heart, something that is often missing in today’s blockbusters.
The Master dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
2. The Master is a difficult film to understand. It is unconventional. Most masterpieces are. Paul Thomas Anderson has gone from building his films around homaging cinema of the past to creating cinema of the future. In a similar way to how Terrence Malick has become ‘pure cinema’, Paul Thomas Anderson has become ‘pure character cinema’. Not only does The Master focus solely on combining vision and movement in its purest sense, it also focuses solely on creating pure characters in place of a storyline. It can almost be read as Freddie Quell’s (Joaquin Phoenix) life memoirs. Moments in a man’s crooked perception of the world and his quest to find meaning within it. Featuring the two greatest performances of the year; Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, and potentially the greatest score of the year by Jonny Greenwood, The Master is 2012’s masterpiece
Seven Psychopaths dir. Martin McDonagh
1. When I walked out at the end of Seven Psychopaths, I knew that I had seen my favourite film of the year. I couldn’t stop smiling. Everything thing in this film worked for me. The plot takes every direction that I expect it to as if I had written it myself and yet it still feels unpredictable. The entire cast is brilliant, especially Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken who give their best performance to date. And once again Martin McDonagh, whose previous film was the brilliant In Bruges, shows in the most entertaining way how a film can twist your emotions from laughter to tears, become self-aware and speak about filmmaking itself and finally at the same time intelligently satirize the crime genre.
So another year and another list done almost 2 months after the year has ended. What surprises will 2013 bring? No doubt you’ll find out next February.