Home > Film, Reviews > Decalogue: The Top 10 Films of 2012

Decalogue: The Top 10 Films of 2012

As Random Dangling Mystery’s content silos has been gradually conquered by my multiplying movie reviews, I have managed this calendar year to see enough new films to complete a list of the year’s best releases in cinemas (at least those that I managed to see, with my limited funds and time). Write-ups on certain titles here will soon be appearing on year-end movie lists at PopMatters, but this is a rough Top Ten of the year’s best film products, from my standpoint.

1. Argo (Directed by Ben Affleck)

“Simultaneously conscious of its historical fidelity, contemporary political applicability, and entertainment imperative, Argo succeeds at all three disciplines. It manages to be a tense espionage thriller, a resonant social-political document, and a sharp send-up of Hollywood artificiality, often melding the genres to the point of erasing the supposed boundaries between them.”

Review – October 21, 2012

2. The Queen of Versailles (Directed by Lauren Greenfield)

“A remarkable portrait of the heaped symbolic excrement of American capitalist excess, Lauren Greenfield’s mind-boggling documentary of a bloated, self-consuming carnival send-up of the American Dream is often hilarious, sometimes poignant, but always really kind of depressing.”

Review – September 17, 2012

3. Cloud Atlas (Directed by Andy Wachowski, Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer)

“Both its maximal scope and technical accomplishment smooth out the frequent wrinkles, and the sheer ambition and visionary quality of the picture is the conduit for its rare magic. Tykwer and the Wachowskis have made a memorable, often beautiful picture that does not telegraph its messages and trusts its audience to stick with it and put things together as they go.”

Review – October 31, 2012

4. Girl Model(Directed by David Redmon and Ashley Sabin)

“From its opening sequence of pale, waif-like, bikini-clad teenage Siberian girls queuing in an auditorium for an audition of a few scant seconds in front of a talent scout to the pathos of scenes of Nadya’s struggles in Japan, the camera pushes right up to the faces and bodies of its female subjects. The close-ups become unsettling and even intrusive, but reflect the similar unsettling, intrusive voyeurism that lurks just behind the flashbulbs of the fashion world.”

Review – April 16, 2012

5. The Imposter (Directed by Bart Layton)

The Imposter gives itself away in its very title, and yet the film’s gripping interest lies in how the elaborate and imaginative false-identity con is unveiled and just how many of its participants, even its ‘victims’, are deeply implicated in its perpetuation. The answer is that everyone is implicated, but that is a very lonely answer, as Layton’s film declines (or is unable) to provide many more.”

Review – December 26, 2012

6. The Other Dream Team (Directed by Marius A. Markevicius)

“This documentary comprehends very well that the team represented a fresh conception of the liberation theology of the game. The journey of Lithuania on and off the court was not a classic story of escape from difficult circumstances. Instead, they pursued a more challenging freedom, to remake those circumstances into something less difficult, something more human. There at the crossroads of rock and roll, political upheaval, and quick-passing basketball, freedom stands, sure of recognition. The Other Dream Team slows down just enough to offer it a friendly wave.”

Review – October 4, 2012

7. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (Directed by Peter Jackson)

“If it does not share the iconic burnish, the narrative gravitas, or the general cinematic near-perfection of the LOTR trilogy kickstarter The Fellowship of the Ring, then An Unexpected Journey is still fun, clever, exciting, impressively-made, and even, sometimes, surprising.”

Review – December 17, 2012

8. Life of Pi (Directed by Ang Lee)

Life of Pi is pure, experiential, transportational cinema for its fantastic central half-to-two-thirds. Kickstarting with the freighter’s gut-churning demise in the midst of a nocturnal squall, the adventure-story element of the tale is brilliantly envisioned by Lee and his team. The fastidious details of Pi’s survival practices are imparted with intelligence and humour, the mortal threats that face him feel real and menacing, and the sheer, overwhelming beauty unleashed by Lee on several occasions cannot be easily shaken.”

Review – December 4, 2012

9. The Dark Knight Rises (Directed by Christopher Nolan)

The Dark Knight Rises is overstuffed with good ideas, bad ideas, big ideas, and dangerous ideas, and the distinctions between them are not too keenly felt. Nolan’s film is not without emotional heft, dramatic momentum, or committed performances. Indeed, it is often pure heft, momentum, and commitment, with only the briefest interludes of weighty wit for breathing room. It also presents multiple contending and even contradictory ideologies without ever adopting any of them.”

Review – August 5, 2o12

10. The Hunger Games (Directed by Gary Ross)

“The antidote offered up to this smothering (and occasionally deadly) conformity is, as usual, personal integrity and individuality. That this avenue of pursuit amplifies rather than dampens the social ills critiqued with Collins’ broad generic strokes seems not to have occurred to anyone involved. Still, at least The Hunger Games is able to diagnose those ills, even if its medicine is at best a painkiller and at worst a placebo. Youth-oriented blockbusters could do worse, and very often do. One that depicts and seeks to resist capitalist hegemony deserves our qualified appreciation.”

Review – September 3, 2012

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Categories: Film, Reviews
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  1. January 2, 2015 at 3:09 pm

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