2012 in Review: Honorable Mentions

2012 in Review: Honorable Mentions

2012 is over. 365 days, 52 weeks and hundreds of films: it has now come to the time of the year where those who look at films critically pick the highlights and lowlights of the year’s film releases. There are rules for this type of thing, films that were released theatrically in the year in question. Sounds simple enough, but there is a hand full of films that would be here, but they only received festival runs in 2012.

21.  My Way (Dir. Kang Je-Gyu)

In the scheme of Korean directors to make the transition to the West, Kang Je-Gyu doesn’t feature. Now if you mention his epic war Melodrama, Brotherhood, people will start to become more receptive. Everything he did in his earlier film is improved upon in My Way. The growing friendship between two enemies over a series of world war two war zones develops the directors themes and fascinations. His skill at framing a war zone, his development of character and above all else his absolute talent at evoking emotion, it’s all here.  Whether you want to or not, my way will run the gamut from loss and happiness to the uncontrollable chaos of war.

20. The Grey (Dir. Joe Carnahan)

Joe Carnahan surprised right out of the blocks. Not much was expected from the A-team director and the promo suggested that The Grey was ‘Liam Neeson wolf Puncher’. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The Grey is a taut and occasionally terrifying survivalist and existentialist thriller which sees man pitted against nature. Whether it’s one of the best plane crashes committed to cinema or the relentless wolf packs that hunt down the survivors, The Grey is a superb package. While the second half doesn’t pop like the first, it still makes Joe Carnahan and the Grey a film to be reckoned with.

19.  Kotoko (Dir. Shin’ya Tsukamoto)

Director of Japanese grunge, Tsukamoto, has been missing in action of late. He resolved that with his response to the Japanese tragedy in Kotoko. With a heart-stopping performance from Japanese musician Cocco, Tsukamoto stripped back all the layers to make a lo-fi drama about a woman coping with an increasingly aggressive mental unease. Losing her child and meeting a potential lover, she tries to cope with life. The film is disturbing, touching and reclaims stylized tropes to tell a genuinely disturbing tale. If he keeps this up, comparisons with Master of venereal and thoughtful horror, David Cronenberg, will be coming thick and fast. The film also owns the single most shocking moment in any film this year – or any year, for that matter.

18. Himizu (Dir. Sion Sono)

Based on a manga and it shows, the first of Sion Sono’s earthquake trilogy lives in an emotionally heightened and exaggerated world that will alienate many. With exquisite performances from Shota Sometani and Fumi Nikaidô, as the two young leads, Sono exploits their contemptible home lives to evoke a suffocating aura of dread and desperation post-disaster. Atmosphere aside, it all comes back to Sometani and Nikaidô to give the film an incredible emotional weight which is expressed through screaming histrionics like only the Japanese animated form knows how. A word of warning though, the film has a troubling relationship with domestic violence.

17. The Imposter (Dir. Bart Layton)

Without going into plot detail, as this is an exceptionally easy film to spoil, Layton presented an incredible true story with boldly framed and atmospheric re-enactments similar to Errol Morris in a film where the unbelievable truth just keeps on growing and growing. Leaving the film, you’ll either be angry that this happened or doubtful whether anybody on either side actually told the truth, whatever you leave the Imposter feeling; the truth remains that you will be putty in the director’s hands.

16. The Dark Knight Rises (Dir. Christopher Nolan)

Up there with the disappointing Prometheus as one of the most anticipated films of the year is number 18, Christopher Nolan’s final entry into his Batman Trilogy – the dark knight rises. This is the only film that could have come after the dark knight in Nolan’s consequence laden Gotham; its patience caps the trilogy in fine form. What makes it worthy of mention in this list is the character drama and build up that is impeccably played. From Wally Pfister’s extraordinary cinematography to the performances of the entire ensemble, little more could be asked for. If anything holds the film back it’s that the finale settles for simple-minded running clock set-up. There are two rather simple headed plot beats to contend with, still, a great blockbuster is a great blockbuster.

15. 21 Jump Street (Dir. Phil Lord & Chris Miller)

Every year has its best comedy, 2010 had black dynamite, 2011 had Tucker & Dale versus Evil, and now 2012 has Phil Lord & Chris Miller’s 21 Jump Street. Nobody expected this to be anything other than another lazy rehash of old material; no-one expected it to have such a satirical and surreal streak. Lord and Miller together with leads Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum make fun of 1980s tropes and the cleverly twist expectations of the high school genre. Clever comedy may be one thing; this is also spectacularly funny for those that enjoy a sense of anarchy in their comedy.

14. The Cabin in the Woods (Dir. Drew Goddard)

Another clever film hits the mark at number 14, with Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s deconstructive horror Cabin in the Woods. Not only is it fantastically entertaining, with a final third that offers much in the way of re-watchability, it also satirises the very existence of horror movies. Whether it was that white board or the general tone of the ‘other scenes’, Goddard and Whedon have made the most entertaining thesis on horror tropes for years. Why do we enjoy watching people being grotesquely killed off? Well, cabin in the woods knows why and as well as providing the best ‘horror as spectacle’ film of the year, it’s also the best ‘cabin in the woods’ film since Sam Raimi gave us Evil Dead 2.

13.  The Innkeepers (Dir. Ti West)

A much more traditional horror film now, from keeper of the old way Ti West. Nothing in 2012 (2011) showed how impatient horror fans are. Instead of favouring gore, jump scares and visceral film making that the genre has been known to support, Ti West is more of a classicist. With more in common with Polanski’s horror trilogy or the sedate character horror of the 50s-70s, West builds up the tension brilliantly through developing his two leads. Only when he is good and ready does he allow the film to become shocking as a genre piece. Then he has the bravery to pose a sense of doubt over what happens in the final third. There are few auteurs in horror as brave or good as Ti West; long may the young director’s ascendancy continue. Pity about the cameo from Lena “me-me-me” Dunham.

12. Cosmopolis (Dir. David Cronenberg)

Difficult and demanding patience, no two words could sum up number 12 greater. Cronenberg’s adaptation of Don Delillo’s novel Cosmopolis doesn’t exactly welcome viewers with open arms. It’s hard, obtuse visage with its otherworldly worldview and language, the first half of Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis is horrible. Then around kicks the second half. We get a fantastically self-destructive performance from Robert Pattinson and that sense of other that permeates the film, so proudly, finally makes sense. The film is viewed from Pattinson’s perspective, he is divorced from the real world and the film grows to reflect his alien perspective, echoing Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth.  By the time Paul Giamatti turns up the film has grown into something quite remarkable.

11. Shame (Dir. Steve McQueen)

Featuring in many 2011 lists, Steve McQueen’s sophomore effort finally arrived in UK cinemas in 2012. Alongside his muse in Michael Fassbender, McQueen’s film is an uncompromisingly honest character study of a sex addict in New York. With an actor of Fassbender’s intensity in a film like this the result was bound to be good. Through his unflinching gaze and adoption of long take camera work, McQueen brings his visual art onto a living frame. With the directors debut he proved that he had a predisposition towards dark subject matter and he has followed up Hunger with one of the best movies about addiction ever to be committed to cinema. It is as simple as that.

Rob Simpson

With a love of movies kicked off by Hong Kong Action and Claymation Monsters, Rob has forever been cradled in the bosom that is Cinema. A fan of video games dating back to the Master System, Wrestling back to the mullet and music, filthy dirty evil hipster music. Rob has his hands in many a pie.

8 thoughts on “2012 in Review: Honorable Mentions

  1. While I appreciate Family Guy for some of its humor, but I’m not huge into it. That’s mostly because I think the creators of that show (Seth Macfarlane & others) portray a specific political message whenever it can within the context of the show and use the cultural popularity and humor of the show to influence the audience. Anyways, while I respect the talent and humor present in those shows, I generally have a dislike for the people behind them.

    I too thought 21 Jump Street was an excellent comedy. Initially, I thought it was going to be really stupid, but I ended up picking it up at a Red Box and was pleasantly surprised by how funny and entertaining it was, plus I liked how they creatively snuck original cast members Johnny Depp and Peter DeLuise into the movie, which had an actual real tie-in with continuing a bit of the story from the old TV show.

    I watched the Hobbit twice in theaters. The first time was for the premier showing and my friends and I were late to reserve tickets so our seats where in the 3rd row. I’ll tell you what, never ever EVER again will I go to see a 3D movie if I can’t get seats in the middle to back of the theater. I got a pretty nasty headache from sitting through that. I was constantly rubbing my eyes which watered up whenever there was a lot of motion blur occurring on screen. One of my friends actually left to go throw-up… lol. The second time I saw it, I figured it be a way for me to give a better judgement of the film, plus I was curious as to comparing the differences between the 48fps to 24fps. While it was a much better experience watching the film further back I still found my eyes watering up occasionally, which doesn’t usually happen to me with 3D movies. Also, I was able to get much more immersed into the realm of the film with the 24fps method verse the 48fps. As far as the film as a whole, I still couldn’t make up my mind on it. I did think that there was way too much CGI occurring throughout the film which was another major factor in being able to get immersed and it seemed like the 3D was way overdone throughout the entirety of the movie, which I think lead to the eye watering. On the other hand, I thought Martin Freeman did an incredible job as the young Bilbo Baggins and as far as the story went I thought it was pretty good, minus the ending. Now, perhaps this is just nit-picking, but I just don’t get those giant Eagles. Why drop them off at the top of a tall mountain plateau? Why, not fly them all the way to their destination since they’ve already picked them up and all, you know? Nevertheless, I thought the story was fine, but I did take issue to too much CGI, the amount or method of integrating 3D, and lastly the way 48fps came across… it made me feel like I was watching a live theater play instead of a film.

  2. Oh, yeah, I still love Haywire. But it just goes to show how good a year 2012 was, movies that I loved didn’t even make it into my top 25, we were that spoiled for choice. I could have happily done a top 50. I liked Brave too, but I preferred Paranorman and Frankweenie, making it my third favourite animation of the year which is a big statement in itself. Usually most years don’t have one, never mind three. Its one of those films like John Carter that really got beat on for no real reason. Amazing Spiderman was a better drama than it was a superhero film, for me, the weakest things about it was the action spectacle. Super chemistry with Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone.

    Ted was good if your a fan of family guy and all those other shows, but as someone who isn’t too fond of them the years best comedy was easily 21 Jump Street. Hell even Goon was better than Ted.

    Oh, and I will say, I didn’t like The Hobbit. Although the way people are with it, it almost seems like that isn’t allowed. http://noframeof.com/2012/12/16/the-hobbit-an-unexpected-journey-review-more-of-the-same-peter-jackson-is-better-than-fan-service/

  3. “I liked how I wasn’t sure how the ending was going to turn out and could see how either the contraption working or not working would have worked well within the film, but I think they made the right choice. Things building up to an anticlimactic, but more realistic ending probably wouldn’t have left me feeling as good about watching the film.”

    – This comment was in regards to Safety Not Guaranteed

  4. I thought Haywire was a very underrated action suspense film, thought it could have been an easy top 25. Plus, I recall you gave it a pretty good review, which had me a bit baffled as to its lack of mention.

    I really liked Flowers of War and thought you would have too. I really thought I’d see it on your top 10 list (I read your worst of first, then honorable mentions and lastly your top 10) and was again quite surprised to find it missing, but I guess if you haven’t seen it then that explains that.

    Arrietty was 2012 here (America) I believe, so that’s why I mentioned it.

    I too thought John Carter was under appreciated. It was much better than I anticipated considering the reviews I read, but maybe that’s in part why I mention it. Quite often films are scored by people’s expectations. Take the Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure for instance, I still don’t know what to make of that movie, because of the incredibly high expectation I had for it and discovering that it didn’t meet that preconceived standard.

    The Hunger Games was indeed a strong film for the year and I did feel similarly about the action scenes within the “games”, but I still think the film was good enough to make a top 25 list. I thought it was better than the 3rd Batman movie in Nolan’s trilogy.

    The Avengers was great fun and that fun was so good that I thought it could pretty much allow the movie to stand up to many of the other good movies for the year. Hulk and Iron Man were fantastic, but I agree that the movie was littered with questionable story decisions.

    I liked how I wasn’t sure how the ending was going to turn out and could see how either the contraption working or not working would have worked well within the film, but I think they made the right choice. Things building up to an anticlimactic, but more realistic ending probably wouldn’t have left me feeling as good about watching the film.

    I haven’t even seen Ted yet, but all of my friends tell me that it was easily the best comedy of the year, so I through it in.

    I’ve read many reviews on Brave and it seems like the general consensus is that it was a disappointing film for Disney/Pixar, but I really though it was quite entertaining. I’m not saying that it was a top 5 or even 10 as far a all time Disney movies, but I thought it was much better than the reviews were making it out to be. It’s probably the only film I’ve watched this year 3 times, but the 3rd time was only because my daughter REALLY wanted to see it again, yet even on the third watch I found it just as enjoyable as the previous two and not a choir to get through.

    I get that The Amazing Spiderman isn’t a film without it flaws, just as nearly all the comic movies are, but they biggest draw is their fun factor and to be honest I thought The Amazing Spiderman was more entertaining, more “fun” than The Dark Knight Rises despite some of its issues.

    Hmmm… you thought The Bourne Legacy was terrible? I guess we do differ quite a bit there. I had a friend who shared that same sentiment and I couldn’t really understand why he felt that way either. I liked how it provided an opportunity to see a different take on the Bourne realm and I thought the actors and actresses gave very good performances throughout and I thought the story was very engaging. The only qualm I had with the film was that I didn’t quite fully understand why Jeremy Renner’s character Aaron Cross required a genetic modification to retain his improved intelligence where as Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) didn’t require anything like that in the previous three movies. Now, perhaps an easy explanation for that is that Aaron Cross had an extremely low IQ initially, so he had a much greater dependence on the intelligence boost provided by the blue pills, where as Jason Bourne may have been blessed with a naturally high intelligence despite any boost provided by a blue pill and so he didn’t really suffer from “viraling off” of it.

  5. Haywire was knocking around on the edges of my list. Never saw Flowers of War. Arrietty was a 2011 release in the UK. John Carter was under-rated, while not a great film it was unnecessarily bashed. The Hunger Games was strong but let down by the hopeless direction of the action scenes. The Avengers was great fun, as a I said at the time: its the best incredible hulk movie ever made, and that is enough for me. Not best of year material, but good fun. I enjoyed Safety not Guaranteed but the ending wasn’t quite as fascinating as the filmmakers believed, but the film was really strong. Wasn’t fussed brave, ted, the amazing spiderman or borne legacy. In fact legacy was terrible. Each to their own though, everybody has their own taste.

  6. There were some movies that I probably would have had to of considered for the list that you didn’t mention. I don’t remember your reviews for them, but what did you think of the movies below in regards to a Best of 2012 list?

    Haywire
    Flowers of War
    The Secret World of Arrietty
    John Carter
    The Hunger Games
    The Avengers
    Safety Not Guaranteed
    Brave
    Ted
    The Amazing Spiderman
    The Bourne Legacy

  7. Glad to hear that I’ve turned you onto these new movies, some are easy to watch and some very difficult – Amour and Anatolia in particular. I would give Holy Motors a go, I didn’t like it as much as most, but its one of those films that needs to be seen by films fans regardless of their reaction to it.

    Thanks for the reply.

  8. Looking forward to watching the ones I either missed or didn’t know about. My preference for watching these films that I haven’t seen yet would be…

    (1) Looper – Was suppose to have seen in the theaters, but the timing never worked out with friends.
    (2) The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists – Very interested in picking it up to watch with my daughter.
    (3) Moonrise Kingdom – Was pretty excited to watch this film when I saw previews for it long ago.
    (4) End of Watch – Wasn’t sure about this one, but your review of it certainly has me very interested in see it.
    (5) The Innkeepers – I liked the trailer for it and paired with your review I’m looking forward to watching it.
    (6) Silver Linings Playbook – I honestly hadn’t seen or heard anything about this film until here. Looks really interesting.
    (7) The Cabin in the Woods – Had an opportunity to see this with friends in the theater, but choose not to. My thinking was that it would probably be best as a rental.
    (8) The Imposter – A very intriguing film. Definitely one I plan to watch eventually.
    (9) My Way – Another film I knew nothing about, but looks like one worth watching.
    (10) Shame – Wasn’t sure about. I’ll probably pick it up at some point.
    (11) Wild Bill – Didn’t know about it, but the trailer that I just watched looks pretty good.
    (12) Martha Marcy May Marlene – Wasn’t sure about this one, but if you’re mentioning it as an honorable mention, I’ll get around to checking it out.
    (13) Cosmopolis – The trailers I’ve seen of it made me not want to watch it. The only thing that interested me at all was the fact that Paul Giamatti was in it, however seeing that you’ve listed it at number 14 for the year, I suppose it’s worth picking-up eventually.
    (14) Amour – Looked like a film I might have some mild interest in watching at some point.
    (15) Once upon a time for Anatolia – Didn’t know about, but your ranking of it has me somewhat interested.
    (16) Kotoko – Didn’t know about, but looks somewhat interesting, however I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to pick it up.
    (17) Himizu – Another I won’t go out of my way to pick-up, but I wouldn’t mind seeing it.
    (18) Beasts of the Southern Wild – Yet, another I won’t go out of my way to pick-up, but I wouldn’t mind seeing it.
    (19) Holy Motors – Unlikely to watch this, but maybe.

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