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Top 5 Films of 2012

December 19, 2012

Admittedly, this hasn’t been my best year for film-going – what with my work commitments and travels. Still, what the cinema-going lacked in quantity, I feel my top 5 makes up for in quality.

In no particular order, my top 5 is:

Carancho (Pablo Trapero)


Appropriate given I spent over a month this year in Buenos Aires, Carancho is a gripping Argentine thriller that brilliantly thematises that city’s air of crackling mania, corruption, and the exploitation of its poor citizens. Ricardo Darín excels as the rogue injury lawyer who has his conscience pricked, and director Pablo Trapero wraps his parable up in a thriller framework that would shame the majority of Hollywood’s action directors.

Full review:

This Must Be the Place (Paolo Sorrentino)

This Must be the Place

One of the most ambitious films I’ve ever seen – both in terms of image-making and storytelling. In the space of the film’s length we go from impressionistic depiction of rock-star ennuito family drama, to commentary on Americana and the American landscape, to a Nazi parable. Even if the film does end up being an incongruous mish-mash of disparate elements, you have to applaud the sheer lustre of the filmmaking, with some truly great sequences and a fantastic soundtrack.

Full Review:

Gone (Heitor Dhalia)


Indulge me on this one….It came and went with barely a ripple on the Springtime box office, however, this is really enjoyable, well-made Hollywood hokum (incidentally, this is made by a Brazilian, which may explain why it has that certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ compared to other humdrum thrillers). Even though the plot doesn’t really stand up to much scrutiny, I think the drab, rainy Portland setting is a really great, atmospheric backdrop, Amanda Seyfried does a really good job as the ‘girl in peril’, and I was on the edge of my seat for much of the running-time. Just leave your brain at home….

Full Review:

Killer Joe (William Friedkin)

Killer Joe

I really like William Friedkin films: unpretentious, competently-made thrillers – all the way from The French Connection to the criminally under-appreciated Benicio Del Toro / Tommy Lee Jones two-hander, The Hunted. This is basically a fable about how an awful, squalid, trailer-trash Texan family get more than they bargained for when they let Matthew McConaughey’s crooked cop in on an insurance scam. The end scene is utterly memorable, and McConaughey totally nails and embodies his symbolic ‘Devil’ role.

Full Review:

Carnage (Roman Polanski)


Slightly theatrical in set-up and premise, although in Roman Polanksi’s hands, Carnage still manages to be a cinematic treat – a great farce about New York pomposity, injected with a Haneke-style frisson of psychological horror and social commentary.

Full Review:

Incidentally, here’s what the BFI made of cinema in 2012

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