Once again, it’s that most wonderful time of the year: the season of self-delusion, when critics the world over convince themselves that their readers want nothing more than lists of the best this, that, and the other. It’s the time when the critical hive mind begins the important task of sorting the best from the worst in anticipation of another exciting awards season — and who I am to go against the collective grain?
My go along to get along bona fides now firmly established, please enjoy my list of favorite (and least favorite) films of 2012 – bearing in mind that I’ve so far missed such notable releases as Amour, Argo, Life of Pi, The Hobbit, and that Batman movie that hated on Occupy. I did, however, find time to see The Expendables 2. Hey, priorities.
Favorite films of 2012
1. The Fairy (La fée) – I’m a bit surprised this ended up being my favorite film of the year, but there was no real competition: The Fairy was both the funniest and most inventive film of 2012. I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next Dominique Abel-Fiona Gordon production.
2. Skyfall – Bond’s back, and this time he really is better than ever. Though one does wonder quite how he survived plunging into a raging river after being shot. Eh, whatever.
3. The Waiting Room – Now on the Oscar shortlist for Best Documentary! Does Oscar glory await the East Bay?
4. Yellow Submarine (reissue) – Quite simply, this animated classic never looked or sounded better than it did during its long revival run this summer at the Elmwood Rialto.
5. Five Broken Cameras – Haters gonna hate, but even Avigdor Lieberman couldn’t complain too much about this examination of non-violent Palestinian resistance to the Occupation.
6. Generation P – Not universally admired – some critics, including Roger Ebert, found it much too Russian – but I really enjoyed trying to figure out what this film was about: psychedelic mushrooms, Sprite, and Boris Yeltsin. Simple!
7. Wake In Fright (reissue) – Not quite the masterpiece I anticipated, but still a tremendous piece of filmmaking guaranteed to put you off ‘roo hunting for life.
8. Searching for Sugar Man – Another film that’s enjoyed a well-deserved extended run at the Elmwood, this documentary about a rediscovered musical genius occasionally wobbles into VH-1 territory but is still well worth seeing. Heck, the music alone is worth the price of admission.
9. The Master – A hard film to like, but Joaquin Phoenix’s performance makes it all worthwhile. Anticipate an Oscar for the puckish former hip hop artiste come February.
10. Unfair World – Greek tragedy for the 21st century. Pass the hemlock.
11. Beauty Is Embarrassing – Bar none, the funniest documentary of the year.
12. The Central Park Five – Bar none, the least funny documentary of the year.
13. London: The Modern Babylon – Julien Temple’s epic tribute to The Big Smoke hasn’t opened in the US yet, so I’m cheating a bit here. An enthralling history lesson and love letter to Doctor Johnson’s favorite city.
14. A Cat In Paris – Kiddie animation that won’t rot your brain – or your child’s.
15. Lincoln – Daniel Day-Lewis has an impossible task – humanizing one of America’s most iconic Presidents, but he does a pretty decent job. Sally Field, however, does a better job humanizing the oft demonized Mrs. Lincoln, while Tommy Lee Jones and his unfeasible wig help restore Thaddeus Stevens to his rightful place in history.
Least favorite films of 2012
1. Polisse – I’m still trying to cleanse my soul of the stain left upon it by this repulsive film.
2. Red Tails – Stick to Star Wars, George.
3. Beasts of the Southern Wild – I know I was supposed to love this film, but it lost me as soon as those giant hogs started rampaging across the screen.
Berkeleyside’s film writer John Seal writes a weekly movie recommendation column at Box Office Prophets, as well as a column in The Phantom of the Movies’ Videoscope, an old-fashioned paper magazine, published quarterly.
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