Welcome to the JSHmoviestuff REVIEW OF 2012.
“A hero can be anyone”. – THE DARK KNIGHT RISES
Indeed they can, Mr. Wayne. And this year in the movies, I thought this line from THE DARK KNIGHT RISES really summed up the films that have made a big impression on me as we’ve had our share of heroes to make a memorable 12 months in the cinema for the JSHmoviestuff REVIEW OF 2012. We’ve had heroes from the dawn of motion pictures, heroes from the world of sport, heroes (and heroines) overcoming tragedy, heroes whose name you’ve never known until now and of course the superheroes, battling all manner of evil for the greater good of all.
So read on about the films I’ve chosen as my pick of the year and see if you agree with me about the not-to-be-missed gems from 2012. For my full review, simply click on the movie’s title…
First up is Michel Hazanavicius’s totally deserved Oscar-winning THE ARTIST, an absolutely mind-blowing love-letter to the magic of the silver screen. Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo dazzled as the movie star and up-and-coming starlet respectively, who realised how their paths were interlinked with not only each other but also the changing face of motion pictures. And yes, there was a dog in it as well! Uggie was pretty funny as Dujardin’s canny pet but he couldn’t really top the core of the film – one of the most terrifically nuanced and delightfully told love stories I’ve seen. Tres bon!
Then it would have to be Bennett Miller’s phenomenal MONEYBALL with its career-best performance from Brad Pitt. This film blows me away with every viewing and confirms what a great film-maker Bennett Miller is. On the surface, you think this a film about baseball but it’s not really, that’s just the backdrop for a story about how believing in an idea can change your life completely. Jonah Hill really showed himself an actor of great dramatic promise as Pitt’s partner in the seemingly crazy Moneyball idea, to re-invigorate the ailing Oakland A’s baseball team but it’s Pitt who dazzles throughout this amazing true story with an understated gem of performance – he really knocked it out of the park.
Next, I have to include Asif Kapadia’s documentary SENNA, as it had me in tears for its sheer power and simple brilliance in telling the tragic story of the motor racing prodigy Ayrton Senna. What was extraordinary about the film was that it didn’t employ the usual technique of documentaries, where we see interviews with people connected with the subject matter but instead, every frame contained footage from the actual time, so that you are carried along with Senna’s story as it happens – brilliant. It’s certainly one of the very best documentaries I’ve ever seen and even though you know how the story turns out, believe me, you’ll be on the edge of your seat in the last 10 minutes.
I can’t leave out Wes Anderson’s MOONRISE KINGDOM from my list, as it was just the most sublime mix yet I think, of moving drama and wacky comedy from this sensational director. This time in a story of teenage runaways, dynamite actors Bill Murray and Jason Schwartzman from Anderson’s usual ensemble, are joined by Bruce Willis on top form, an inspired Edward Norton, a beautifully wistful Frances McDormand, a superbly icy Tilda Swinton, together with very talented young stars Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. It’s hilarious and touching in equal measure and is possibly Anderson’s best movie so far.
And I must also include Jacques Audiard’s searing RUST AND BONE, featuring two of the very best pieces of acting this year (or any year for that matter), from new discovery Matthias Schoenaerts and Oscar winner Marion Cotillard. Wow, absolutely gut-wrenching emotional stuff here, in the story of how a tragedy brings together two very different people in a most unusual and affecting love story. Audiard really is one of my absolute favourite directors, as he constantly delivers devastating emotional stories that really pack a punch – I’ve been a fan of his work since being bowled over by Read My Lips way back in 2001. Knockout.
No collection of the best movies of 2012 should be without Ben Affleck’s ARGO, a completely superb recreation of the 1980 Iran hostage crisis, that was a thrilling as it was moving. Affleck’s third picture as the director is his best yet, with a marvellous supporting cast surrounding Affleck himself as the CIA ex-filtration agent tasked with the unenviable mission to rescue six Americans from a volatile Tehran. Alan Arkin and John Goodman are the movie people he brings to create the fake sci-fi movie ‘Argo’ that’s the cover of this outrageous plan, the peerless Bryan Cranston is on hand at headquarters to provide the requisite gravitas and Scoot McNairy is the standout hostage who holds the success of the operation in the balance. I really hope it does well at the Oscars because a picture this well made thoroughly deserves to.
And finally, it was the end of an era this year. With THE DARK KNIGHT RISES, we saw a fitting climax to Christopher Nolan’s extraordinary Batman trilogy. Featuring the most beautifully powerful performance of the series from Christian Bale, it had everything. A towering nemesis in Tom Hardy’s Bane, a very winning ally in Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, a fresh and passionate Joseph Gordon-Levitt as … well, you’ll know if you’ve seen it, another startling performance from Gary Oldman, amazing effects (the football field sequence is particularly jaw-dropping), a top-notch score and an ending so perfect, it gets me every time I watch it. Thanks, Mr. Nolan for changing cinema with this surely never to be equalled series of films.
So there you have it – the movies that made my year.
I should also squeeze in a mention for a couple of films that didn’t quite make my list but that I enjoyed immensely: Joss Whedon’s The Avengers – I’m sorry but I just can’t bring myself to call it Marvel’s Avengers Assemble!! – which brought together all of the recent Marvel superheroes and was about as much fun as you can have in the cinema over two hours; and also Gary Ross’ striking version of Suzanne Collins’ dystopian fable The Hunger Games, featuring a new heroine for our times in Katniss Everdeen, fantastically played Jennifer Lawrence.
Let’s see what 2013 has in store!