#BestOf2012: The Year In Film

With all the Oscar contenders finally in our theatres and having already seen the good, the bad and the ugly among them, the time has come for our annual recap of the last twelve months in film. From Today and until the Oscars ceremony officially puts an end to the awards season we will be taking a look at this fantastic year for movies, beginning by venturing into the dark side for a quick glance at the biggest disappointments of 2012; followed by the nicest surprises and finishing with our Top 50 favourite films.

2012 was a year of two very different halves. The first one was marked by the Olympic Games stealing everything else’s thunder and prompting a rather lacklustre selection of titles available; with distributors afraid of competing with the event of the year. Then, the second half brought an embarrassment of riches, when all the titles left on hold were finally released, rapidly followed by those in contention for award recognition, which this season were of a superior quality.

The festival circuit was enhanced by a number of remarkable masterpieces, in Sundance Benh Zeitlin’s debut ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild’ gained unanimous acclaimed which has built up through the year paving its way to four Oscar nominations. From Cannes, Michael Haneke’s moving ‘Amour’; Leos Carax divisive and unique ‘Holy Motors’ and Pablo Larraín’s final instalment of his Chilean Trilogy ‘No’ and later on the year, in Venice, Paul Thomas Anderson impressed everyone once more with ‘The Master’.

Box offices beat records in the States with ‘Marvel’s Avengers’ and in the UK with ‘Skyfall’, the best received Bond in decades thanks to the assured direction of Sam Mendes; also the highest grossing film of all times in the British Isles. Christopher Nolan finished his Batman trilogy with ‘The Dark Knight Rises’, which, if it didn’t reach the level of its former parts, it was still an enormous success and a decent conclusion to one of the most successful trilogies in history.

To make thing even better, the award hopefuls crop has been the strongest for as long as we can remember, with ‘Argo’ coming as an early favourite, keeping its frontrunner status until now, and the return to form of some of Today’s best American directors becoming its formidable opponents in the race, among them Spielberg’s take on Lincoln’s political dealings to pass the slavery aboliton’s bill; Tarantino’s Western also set during slavery times ‘Django Unchained’ and Kathryn Bigelow’s narration of the killing of Osama Bin Laden in the superb ‘Zero Dark Thirty’.

The golden era of the documentary was once more reaffirmed with no less than seven of them among our top films of the year and many other equally worthy efforts left bubbling under (from poignant portraits of contemporary artists such as Marina Abramovic; Ai Weiwei; Woody Allen; Bob Marley; Harry Belafonte; etc. to controversial issues such as the conflicts in a small Palestinean village bordering the Israeli frontier in ‘Five Broken Cameras; the Draconian, prejudice boosting law against gays in Uganda in ‘Call Me Kuchu’; the blatant miscarriage of justice in the States when FBI infiltrates agents among activists to find a way to imprison them in ‘Better This World’ or the astonishingly beautiful ecology experiment to prove the melting of the polar glaciers in ’Chasing Ice’).

The arthouse scene had a brilliant year too, boosted by filmographies from all over the globe delivering strong works that easily matched or bettered their Anglo-Saxon’s counterparts. Among them, Portugal’s exquisite tribute to Murnau, ‘Tabu’; Turkey’s Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s masterful epic ‘Once Upon A Time In Anatolia’; Germany’s Stasi era drama ‘Barbara’; Greece’s Giorgios Lanthimos ground-breaking follow-up to ‘Dogtooth’, the equally assured ‘Alps’; Switzerland’s Ursula Meier second feature ‘Sister’ and Japan’s superb contemporary children story ‘I Wish’.

Altogether, they have shaped one of the most enjoyable exercices for cinemagoers in recent memory.

This post is also available in: Spanish