Top 10 films of 2012 so far


1.) Dreams of a Life (2011)

(NOT depressing as the description indicates. Most gripping documentary I've seen in 2012. Memorable look at the life of Joyce, we are told her dead body was not discovered until 3 years later, with the TV still on. Her interesting tale is set in the UK and told from the point-of-view of friends and acquaintances.)




2.) Margaret (2011)

(About a confused young woman in a career best performance by Anna Paquin. Love the dialogue and how "novelistic" Margaret (2011) is. Set in post-9/11 New York. Not perfect, but was really surprised how effective this was considering it has gone through production hell. Highly recommended, a gem, finally out on dvd/bluray July 2012. A film you could easily rewatch. I think the length of the film makes us step into a world and see Lisa's mood swings, good days, and bad days, good decisions and bad ones. I wasn't bothered too much by the editing, most novels I've read I think need sharper editing, so it's nothing new to me. Maybe it could have been a mini-series instead, who knows.)




3.) Cafe De Flore (2011)

Definitely among the most underrated and overlooked new films. Two separate stories, a mother's love of her son, and also a parallel tale of a 40-year-old having a midlife crisis. The title is a tune from the beautiful soundtrack. I found script to be original, with (no spoilers) a fascinating and un-guessable twist ending.



4.) Detachment (2011)

(The strongest reactions to cinema I have are when I can relate on a personal level to what I see on screen. Detachment is probably not the best film of the year, and not for everyone. The premise is nothing new, but struck a chord with yours truly. I give the film extra points for bringing us close to the suffering, a powerful story, tough to shake from my memory. Great performance by Adrien Brody. The voice-overs at times reminded me of Malick's Tree of Life. Also the visual style I found to be quite original.)


5.) Littlerock (2010)

(An under-appreciated independent film with a tiny budget released on dvd/blu-ray April 2012. The story is Lost in Translation in reverse, as a Japanese brother and sister visit the US.)




6.) Prometheus (2012)

(Future classic? The true test is rewatchability. For the moment, I would rank it as my 3rd favorite Alien film, behind Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986). Prometheus was very entertaining and occasionally had some food for thought. I think Ridley Scott succeeds in re-energizing the Alien franchise. There are flaws, for example the stupidity of the brilliant scientists, and tough to care about certain characters when they have so little screen time.)



7.) Shame (2011)

(I realize there is a lot of love for Shame in the blogosphere, but I'm not convinced that it is the timeless masterpiece everyone wants to proclaim it to be. Very good and should have been oscar nominated, yes certainly. But is it great? hmm...I don't know. Let me watch it again, and ask me then.)




8.) Intouchables (2011)

(I usually find it difficult to love French cinema, I will have to make an exception for Intouchables. A star is born in the shape of actor Omar Sy. He beat Jean Dujardin at the French equivalent of the oscars, the Cesars. Yes, Sy's performance is THAT praise-worthy. Likeable characters that can appeal to young and old alike)




9.) Into the Abyss (2011)

(Moving, tragic, and important look at the death penalty. What's interesting is you see it from the point-of-view of all sides. Pretty creepy too, I wouldn't watch this late at night...)




10.) Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol (2011)

(Very suspenseful entry, for me better than 2 and 3 in the series. The ending was a bit far-fetched, the Dubai scenes were spectacular)





Lots of 2012 films I have yet to see(I'll save those for an anticipated post). I'm aware that a few of my choices here are "old" and were released in 2011 in some areas. I'm more interested in talking about the film experience than release dates. Take this as a subjective ranking.
Have you seen any on the list? Thoughts on my choices? What are your favorite new films of the year so far?

37 comments:

  1. You are brave to publish a list already now - there are people who release their lists one year after the end of the year or later :).
    It's interesting to see so many films I haven't heard of yet, I'll put a few on my watchlist (like Detachment)... I've only seen Shame (much better than I had thought and Oscar deserving, though I'm afraid to say "masterpiece" yet - perfect ending by the way) and Intouchables (light but profound at times too, I loved Omar Sy).

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    1. @Mette: I could wait, but I'm not worried about being exhaustive ( : Life is too short to see everything as Roger Ebert does, so just some recommendations here really. Thanks for the Intouchables suggestion by the way!

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    2. You're welcome - I didn't realize you watched it because of my recommendation (or partly because of it).

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    3. @Mette: I first noticed Intouchables on your site and sounded like a worthwhile watch, then I discovered it was included in the IMDB top 250!

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  2. Dreams of a Life sounds fascinating, I remember reading about that story before. Will have to keep an eye out for it.

    Margaret: I'm waiting for the extended version, it's supposed to be on the DVD.

    Café: I'm sure it will be on many lists at year's end, but not mine unless I did a best soundtracks list.

    Detachment: I remember hearing about it last year and being interested in the star studded cast. Will give it a rent whenever it becomes available.

    Littlerock: Actually haven't heard of this one, but that concept intrigues me.

    Shame: It's a very carefully calculated and crafted indie art film, but no masterpiece. Fassbender is brilliant, however I'm not entirely convinced about McQueen.

    Intouchables: Amusing and impressive for a French comedy, Sy totally deserved the award, but it's a film I won't remember in six months.

    Into the Abyss: Movies never scare me, but stories like this one do. Herzog has an uncanny ability to always know what question to ask. I recommend also watching his made for TV, Death Row series.

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    1. @Bonjour Tristesse: Thanks for taking the time to comment. I'd be intereted to read your take on all of these films that you haven't already reviewed!

      Dreams of a Life: deserves to be reviewed properly.There's a great article on the guardian.co.uk website to read once you've seen it.

      Margaret: I want to see both versions

      Cafe De Flore: Perhaps it will be a favorite among bloggers, who knows...Thanks for reviewing it!

      Detachment: The cast is great. Powerful drama I thought

      Littlerock: I liked the atmosphere

      Shame: Fassbender is brilliant, yes. I saw Fishtank recently, and he was excellent in that too. Time will tell if Shame is still talked about in 30-40 years as Taxi Driver is. Maybe it will be.

      Into the Abyss: I enjoyed the prison tv-show Oz (1997–2003) a few years ago, I'll take a peak at that series you mention.

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  3. Great list. I'll have to check out Detachment - Brody is one of my favorite actors.

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    1. @Robert: Adrien Brody is outstanding in Detachment, he is a good actor.

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  4. Great to see Prometheus on your list. I haven't seen a lot of films mentioned here but I'm planning to see Detachment soon, great to know it's good.

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    1. @Sati: Detachment, what can I say, the film has had mixed reviews. Some loved it as I did because I had an emotional reaction to the story, others like Alex at And So It Begins didn't think it was so good(he reviewed it and calls it a misfire) Not a film for everyone I guess.

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  5. Great list, Chris. Heard a lot of praise on Margaret. Have got to see that one and The Intouchables.

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    1. Thanks Andina, I'll look out for your thoughts on Margaret and Intouchables then ( :

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  6. Great to see Margaret on there. I watched the theatrical cut yesterday and loved it, but I still need to see the extended cut. Also nice to see Prometheus and Shame make the list. I'm hoping to see Detachment and The Intouchables soon. By the way, thanks for the follow :)

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    1. @Josh: I'd be interested to read your take on Margaret, it's so rich and well-written. I actually thought it was better than Kenneth Lonergan's You Can Count On Me (2000), which to me was a little overrated.

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    2. I'm actually going to have a review up by Saturday hopefully, but I want to see the extended cut first. I also thought it was better than You Can Count On Me. I've almost forgotten that film, but Margaret keeps getting better the more I think about it. Might have to re-watch the theatrical cut again. Keep your eyes peeled for a review.

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    3. @Josh: Will keep an eye out for your review! I guess I'm not the only one then, who feels that way about You Can Count On Me. I agree that Magaret is a film to rewatch and basically own on dvd/bluray.

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  7. Interesting, I've only seen your numbers 6-10, will try to check out the others!

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    1. @Nostra: I can't guarantee you will like them as much as I did,but I would enjoy reading your reviews! Thanks for dropping by again

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  8. Wow I need to check your out all of your top 5! Interesting list!

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    1. @Pete: Thanks for reading. Since you are UK-based AND you enjoy documentaries, I reckon my number 1 choice would be right for you

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  9. I've heard such mixed things about Margaret, I was honestly confused about whether I wanted to see it or not.

    Nice to see Prometheus up there. It got a bit too much flack in my eyes.

    Very interesting list, lots of films I've not seen and some not heard of. Definitely want to check out Dreams of Life after reading your brief little snippet up there.

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    1. @Jaina: I can see where you are coming from with Margaret, there's been a lot of debate about the production problems and editing and the film is not loved by all. The film is also pretty long, but I think it works!

      I thought some of the promotion was interesting for Prometheus, the Peter Weyland audience clip caught my eye. Though I agree the hype got a bit out of hand (the posters especially).

      I was hooked watching Dreams of Life, superb documentary ( :

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  10. Nice list here, Dreams of a Life sounds remarkable. I’m hunting that down ASAP.

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    1. @Alex Withrow: Watch Dreams of a Life...that's an order! ( ; (just kidding)

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  11. Love, love, love that you included "Detachment". I saw it last year on the festival circuit. I know it got mixed reviews but I loved the faux-documentary approach to the film to make it more a subject of reality. Also, I think it was the best I've seen Adrian Brody in awhile (what happened to his career??).

    And yes, Chris, "Shame" is wonderful and brilliant. I want you to feel that way too! :)

    I contend that MI:4 was not better than MI:3 but yes, a far improvement on MI:2.

    Can't say that I've seen most of the films on your list (I've heard of some, some I have not) but I now have a couple to check out.

    Hope you're feeling better!

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    1. @Shala: That's an interesting observation on "Detachment", I hadn't considered the faux-documentary approach.

      Did sound like I didn't think Shame was very good from what I wrote above! I was quite impressed, just felt more like a situation than a story(to call it great I wanted more story )

      MI:3 I didn't think was very memorable, been awhile, though.

      My back/leg injury is neither better nor worse. The main thing is I can tolerate it now with sufficient exercise, thanks for asking ( :

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    2. @Shala: oh, and Adrien Brody's career? I think he went with a few odd choices and that didn't help his star rise. The big budget productions he was in did pretty well (King Kong and Predator made profits) so tough to pinpoint why he's not a big name...He's not a bankable star I guess with stinkers like Splice on his resumé

      Come to think of it, what happened to Forest Whitaker since he won HIS oscar? Weird vanishing act...

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    3. Good point. Yay, there are a number of actors/actresses that hit it big with the Oscar (Halle Berry too) and then disappear or do not follow up with any great projects. It is a shame. But yeah, I think Brody has been having a hard time finding a groove to fit into in the industry, but I do think he is very talented.

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    4. @Shala: I agree about Halle Berry.

      Hilary Swank has also faded since her two oscar wins...I haven't seen Amelia (2009), which did poorly at the box office. 40 mill budget, 14 mill gross. Too bad, she's a good actress who's been in a lot of average movies lately.

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  12. I've never heard of "Dreams of Life" until now. You have definitely convinced me to put it in my queue with your endorsement. The story and the title seem a bit depressing, but I'll trust what you're saying.
    I'm a little thin on the rest of the list, so my commitment is that I will get to some of these in due time.

    Prometheus and the latest Mission Impossible were good but not great. I thought there were some unnecessary convoluted elements in both. Prometheus did seem to fall flat on certain parts, feeling a bit silly and unnecessarily staged. MI:4 was, to me, the best of the bunch, but that's not saying much. Some of the sequences were awesome in terms of the stunt work and production value but I felt that, overall, it was not as action packed and intense as I was hoping.

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    1. @niels85: If you like documentaries, "Dreams of Life" is worth the time.
      These titles on the top 10 are my personal favorites, other films may have been more acclaimed, successful or popular in first half of 2012. Not an exhaustive list, as lots I haven't seen yet.

      Prometheus and MI:4 were not perfect, but I enjoyed both!

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  13. Wow, lots of surprises on this list. I have only seen three myself, but I am really intrigued by Margaret. Keep hearing great reviews about that one.

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    1. @Eric: it's not a predictable top 10 list, which I see as a positive ( : Interested to read your views about Margaret !

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  14. I haven't seen any of these except Shame, and they all look good. I am especially intrigued by Dreams of a Life, Margaret, Detachment, and Into the Abyss.

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    1. @Stephanie: I would recommend all of the top 10. But as I wrote, a couple of the selections are not for everyone, or are personal choices, and there is no guarantee we share the exact same taste in cinema.

      That said, I hope you try one from the list, and enjoy it ( :

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  15. On your list I've only seen Shame and Prometheus. I agree that Shame isn't that great a movie. While I recommended it (3 out of 5 stars) Prometheus will probably not be in a top 10 of 2012 list from me. I haven't seen a ton of 2012 films yet, but among them only one film I've seen will likely be in my Top 10 for the year and that is The Avengers.

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    1. @Chip Lary: Well this is only a half way pitstop, so I'm pretty sure my list will change by the time we reach December...
      Lots of critics and bloggers have been championing The Avengers, so I wouldn't be surprised to see that movie feature on plenty of year-end lists. I'm not sure its my cup of tea, because I didn't care much for Iron Man. Maybe I'll give it a look on dvd.

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