Top 10 Films of 2012

2012

It’s finally here! Welcome to my obligatory annual blogger’s list in which I try to rank incomparable films that share one thing in common – a 2012 UK release date. I tried to limit myself to just 10 films this year after finding 20 a bit too many in 2011. I managed to whittle my list down to 10, then added two I felt I just couldn’t leave out. It’s my top 10, I can have 12 if I want to.

12 - Holy Motors

Holy Motors starts the list in a cautious manner. I slept through a lot of the film and confessed as much in my review. Watching a famously mind-boggling film in French while half asleep was a terrifying experience. I could barely read the subtitles and would often wake up to find the lead actor was playing a different character to when I was last conscious.

The film follows a mysterious man as he travels between appointments in a stretch limo. What appointments are these? I couldn’t even begin to explain. Suffice to say that each time the limo stops a different character step out to play a minor or major role in someone elses lives. The end is so bizarre I thought I had actually dreamt it. One of the Jo(h)ns I saw the film with has tirelessly defended it over the past three months and I couldn’t not include it in my extended top 10. In Jon’s own words:

“It came out of nowhere, it was beautiful, strange, intriguing and was utterly compelling even though I don’t think I really understood it. Just like a girl I used to fancy.”

No other film on this list includes two erect penises.

11 - The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

How could I not? This film about a retirement home in India catering only to British actors of the finest pedigree. It was a film featuring both Dame Judi and Maggie, comprised of a myriad of storylines and was consistently funny and touching for the entirety of its two-hour running film.

Many have said that the success of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is down to its ability to pick up the grey pound. While I admit that this is one of very few films last year that could be said to specifically cater to the older generation I think the appeal expands far beyond the wrinkled amongst us. As I exited the screening at 20th Century Fox in Soho Square (ahem) I instantly texted both my mum and my sister (such is the life of the single blogger) to let them know that their new favourite film was hitting cinemas in a couple of months.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a warm hug that everyone can enjoy and famously (well, not really) made me want to whisk Judi Dench off to India and retire in a dilapidated hotel.

And now for the proper Top 10: Continue reading

Out Now – 3rd February 2012

Allow me to take a moment to draw your attention to the image above. Are you curious to see what it would be like if Adam Sandler was playing any of the characters in Carnage? Of course you are! Simple move your mouse over any of the faces above to see Adam Sandler take on that role. It may be some of my worst Photoshopping to date which is why I have compensated with some mouse hovering fun. And to think all I wanted to do was persuade you to see Martha Marcy May Marlene.

Jack and Jill
Let’s see if I can get through this synopsis without trying to end it all. Adam Sandler THE HORROR!!! plays a family man SAVE ME!!! at Thanksgiving GOODBYE CRUEL WORLD!!! who is visited by his “needy and passive-aggressive” MAKE IT STOP!!! twin sister Jill, MY EYES!!! also played by Adam Sandler NOOOOOOOO!!!.

Man On A Ledge
What a catchy title. In this thriller Sam Worthington plays an ex-convict threatening to end it all. In a plot twist which has somehow become part of the marketing campaign (thanks poster and trailer guys!), it turns out that the man on a ledge is merely there to distract the police from a heist happening across the road.

Young Adult
Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody reunite for the first time since Juno with a film about a writer (Charlize Theron) who returns to her home town to get back together with an ex-boyfriend who is now married. Hopefully Reitman will help keep Young Adult from slipping from Juno quality towards Jennifer’s Body shoddiness.

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island
The Rock, Gabriella from High School Musical, Josh “Almost Spider-Man” Hutcherson and Michael Caine team up to ride around on giant bees. Seriously.

Carnage
Two groups of parents come together after their children get in a fight. What starts as a polite discussion soon descends into petty rivalries brought to life by a fantastic cast. From our review, “If you like to see four good actors having fun with a theatrical script that takes a swipe at middle class values then this is for you. Though if this applies to you, you’re most likely middle class, you hypocrite.”

Martha Marcy May Marlene (limited release)
Such a good film. First time writer/director Sean Durkin and fresh young face Elizabeth Olsen (yes, from THAT Olsen family) bring a harrowing film about a young woman’s time in a modern-day cult and her shaky return to family life afterwards. It may only be on limited release but I insist you seek out this film. Read our full review, most of the sentences make sense.

Bombay Beach (limited release)

Best Laid Plans (limited release)
Classic literature becomes gritty British drama in this adaptation of Of Mice and Men. Don’t worry, you don’t have to seek this one out.

The Best is Yet to Come: 2012

As much as we are obliged to look back over the year just gone, we are obliged to look ahead at the year just beginning. It’s always exciting to look at the next twelve months and all the exciting treats that are coming to our screens. Below are my personal picks of the films worth seeing in 2012, and I’m hoping there will be many more besides, a few gems I haven’t even heard of yet. Continue reading

Mild Concern BFI London Film Festival Awards 2011

Hello and welcome to the second annual Mild Concern BFI London Film Festival awards to celebrate and berate various films screened at the 55th BFI London Film Festival. Today I will be sitting in my tuxedo handing out the feted awards, the Raised EyebrowsTM, to any film which grabbed our attention in a positive or, equally likely, negative way.

Best Use of SymbolismWe Need to Talk About Kevin
A favourite to win a few bigger awards this year, even Best of the FestTM, but ultimately a few surprises took the crown. Instead Kevin is recognised for the amount of time poor Tilda Swinton is cleaning red off of her hands, her house and her car. Red is everywhere in Kevin. It’s not subtle but it’s certainly effective.

Best Use of Jon SnowCoriolanus
Jon Snow’s cinematic appearances are few and far between, it has been too long since Zombie Farm, but they are always a treat. Here he plays a newsreader with some classic Shakespearean dialogue. Best bit of the film.

Best Use of Felicity JonesLike Crazy
As the official Mild Concern crush we had to give Felicity Jones a mention. She is at the top of her game in Like Crazy and the film gives her a chance to show her acting chops, and captures her in a gorgeous light throughout. The more I think about the film, the better it seems.

Totally a Play AwardCarnage
Carnage was a hell of a lot of fun but, with four speaking parts and a set consisting of two rooms, hasn’t gained much in transitioning from stage play to motion picture. You’d struggle to find a theatre gathering this stellar cast though so all is forgiven.

Most Improved Performer – George Clooney for The Descendants
At last year’s festival The American was a major low point in my week, it was a dull and pointless film. Thankfully George Clooney took my criticism and returned this year with two films getting rave reviews. The Descendants takes the award for one good reason: it’s the one I saw.

Most Prolific Performer – John C. Reilly for Carnage, We Need to Talk About Kevin and Terri
John C. Reilly has the unique distinction of having a major role in three quality films at this year’s festival. In every film he is a less than perfect father figure to a troubled young boy. Don’t be fooled into thinking he is just playing the same role again and again, each time he plays a distinct character proving that Reilly is not a one trick pony.

Struggling to Stay Awake Award (Documentary)Crazy Horse
Visually beautiful and with a few nice insights into a famous Parisian club, Crazy Horse is a documentary with nothing to say but plenty of time to spend not saying it. I checked the time three times during the screening, willing the film to end and trying to keep my eyes open.

Struggling to Stay Awake Award (Feature)Last Screening
With Last Screening my battle to keep my eyes open was lost and became a battle to maintain consciousness. A film about a serial killer shouldn’t be boring, this is completely unacceptable.

Biggest Affront to Germaine GreerTales of the Night
In a series of fairy tales women fail to be anything more than pathetic damsels in distress. With the actors within the film amending some of the stories they fail to acknowledge women as competent human beings and give the female characters any initiative. It’s as if Buffy never happened.

Best Mix of Tears and Titters/Best Comedy50/50
I laughed, I cried (almost) and I found Seth Rogan funny throughout a film for the first time. 50/50 manages to fill a film about cancer with humour without ever belittling the disease. Good work people.

Scared to Walk Home Award/Best DramaMartha Marcy May Marlene
Stealing Kevin‘s award is a harrowing tale of a young girl who has escaped from a modern-day cult. A brilliant debut feature for director Sean Durkin and a stellar introduction to Elizabeth Olsen. You won’t ever want to be left alone again.

Best DocumentaryInto the Abyss
Werner Herzog certainly knows how to put together a documentary. Here he presents the story of a triple homicide without comment, simply allowing the people involved to tell the story from their point of view. Includes a moving scene where a man starts to cry as he tells a story about a squirrel.

Best AnimationAlois Nebel
So far from cartoon animation this gorgeous Czech film is a truly adult feature. The rotoscoped performances and mixture of CGI effects with hand drawn images make for a real work of art. Still not sure what was going on though.

Best Short FilmThe Monster of Nix
In a similar vein the best short film mixes live-action, computer animation and hand-painted background to make a gorgeous short film which could easily be extended to a full feature. If you’re listening Rosto, we want an extra hour please.

Best of the FestThe Artist
With so many heavy films the best thing we saw all festival was a French silent film set in Hollywood as the talkies began. Invigorating my love for cinema and hopes for its future The Artist is so much fun you can’t help but fall in love with it. It also has a release date now, get ready to smile on 30th December 2011.

A Note For Film-makers:
To collect your award simply send us an email with the address you’d like it sending to and we’ll post it on as soon as we cobble something together. And in case you’re wondering how to incorporate the award into your marketing campaign, here’s an example using Coriolanus:

If you missed any of our reviews, all films covered can be found by clicking on the appropriate thumbnail below:

Martha Marcy May Marlene – LFF Review

Martha (Elizabeth Olsen) has just escaped an abusive cult, one where she was known as Marcy May, and has moved in with her estranged sister and brother-in-law. Back in civilised society Martha struggles to escape the memories of her time with the cult and live with people who do not share the cult’s values or lack of boundaries.

With his debut as both writer and director Sean Durkin has made an impressive film, confidently shot without any flashy gimmicks. Durkin is happy to set up a few simple shots for a scene, allowing the camera to move and re-frame where necessary, letting his script and actors showcase his talent.

Elizabeth Olsen is superb as the once confident young woman, brutalised by her time being subtly manipulated by cult leader Patrick (John Hawkes). Too often we have to wait years for a fresh new talent to finally find the right film to showcase their skill; Olsen has found it right away. John Hawkes is wonderfully creepy as Patrick, showing that certain combination of charisma and manipulation needed to make people follow you to the dark side. Sarah Paulson too has a layered character to play as Martha’s sister Lucy, forced to choose between caring for her sister and protecting her own family from this disruptive force.

Flashbacks and present day are blended so well that there is still one scene we cannot place in one definitive time frame, Martha is struggling to make sense of her world so we must too. As Martha’s mind is sucked back to her time in the cult we can see the subtle changes in her character and physicality and just why she is finding it so hard to live with normal people once more.

With Martha Marcy May Marlene centred on a woman haunted by memories of a horrific period in her past I can’t help but draw comparisons to We Need to Talk About Kevin. When put side by side it is Martha which comes out on top, a much simpler film without any visual gimmicks. Martha is also the more traumatic, the tension is just as present as in Kevin but without ever getting a proper release.

The film left us reeling and tense, not wanting to head out into the dark night outside so it was a relief to have a Q&A with the cast and crew afterwards. They were a charming, humble bunch whose friendly energy helped to relax the audience again. Sadly most audiences will just be thrown trembling into the real world after the credits roll.

Martha Marcy May Marlene is near perfect, just a few moments where the tension almost became tedium before something would happen to jolt us back onto the edges of our seats.

Martha screens again at the London Film Festival today and on Monday, worth a look as tickets are still available, then is released in UK cinemas on 3rd February 2012.