My Top Ten Movies for 2012–Reviewed, Not Necessarily New

Happy New Year–the Year of the Snake in 2013!  Most of all, I want to again thank all of you for your responses and comments, and for continuing to read my blog!

With 2012 coming to an end, I wanted to take a look back at the movie reviews I wrote this year.  When I counted the reviews I have written this year (=21), I wanted to see what would be my top ten favorites.  It wasn’t easy, especially for independent films.

This list is not ranked –only my top ten for 2012, grouped by genre.

INDIES and FOREIGN CINEMA

1) A Separation  (March 23 review)– An Iranian “Rashomon”, this cinematic masterpiece offers a rare view of ordinary Iranians–both affluent and struggling. Minor misunderstandings morph into a slow-motion nightmare that threatens to destroy everything and everyone in its path.

2) Jiro Dreams of Sushi  (April 29 review)– This documentary is much more than a movie about the perfect slab of sushi.  “Jiro Dreams Of Sushi” is a hauntingly elegant meditation on work, obsession, family, and the art of perfection, chronicling Jiro’s life as both an unparalleled success in the culinary world, and a loving yet complicated father.

3) Memory of a Killer (June 18 review)– With a fresh take on the revenge drama, this nail-biter transforms the hired assassin into a kind of moral hero: an aging killer with a conscience.   With an electrifying visual, almost palpable energy, “Memory of a Killer” is a highly original, disturbing and unforgettable thriller.

4) Scottsboro (July 10 review)– The history and analysis of this case deserves to be in every history book of 20th Century US civics. The landmark trial magnified rampant racism, denial of due process, and the continued North-South animosity that existed almost 70 years after the Civil War had ended.

5) Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (September 2 review)– The home-video footage of the explosive black waves surging towards the coastline of Sendai will render you speechless.  The scale and imagery are overwhelming. This superb film reveals healing wounds and healing people, even in times of disaster.

6) Between the Folds  (August 6 review)– The intersections between origami, mathematics, and science are manifested in a magical sleight-of-hand. I promise you–if you see “Between the Folds”, you will never look at origami, the same way ever again!

7) The Garden (December 3 review)– Juggling politics, race and religion as well as the rights of property ownership in a free-market society,  “The Garden” is an investigation into a complicated case of backroom dealings, racial tensions and the question of just who represents a community.

COMEDIES

8) Best Exotic Marigold Hotel  (June 30 review)– This charming movie, while a paean to the aging baby boomers who are cinephiles,  is also   a shout-out to chasing your dreams, regardless of age.  The hopeful message: it’s never too late to make things happen.

BIG STUDIO MOVIES:

Political and Sociological

9)  Iron Lady (January 12 review)– Meryl Streep’s award-winning performance is achingly honest in its interpretation of  Margaret Thatcher’s powerful intellect, motivations, even perhaps her unconscious.

10) Arbitrage (September 29 review) In this film we witness unrelenting evil and an underlying fear of capture, committed in the pursuit of money and glory.  No one is spared.  This is a morality tale–a tale of hell in a financial guise. Richard Gere gives a virtuoso performance as a man who has lost his way on Wall Street.

Honorable Mention in Action: 

11) Safe House  (February 21 review) Though this is first and foremost a guy’s action-packed blockbuster, there is something for the rest of us. What do people sacrifice in service to the government that others don’t know about and don’t care to know anything about?  Denzel Washington superbly plays the anti-hero in “Safe House” and retains his integrity!

 

5 comments on “My Top Ten Movies for 2012–Reviewed, Not Necessarily New

  1. Diana:
    Greetings from the last date of 2012. Thanks for this list. Although I follow your blog, I seem to have missed some of these reviews. It is great to add them to our list for 2013. Best wishes as you embark on the first year with a new grandchild.
    -Matilda

  2. I totally agree with “The Separation”. The film is flawlessly directed. The viewer is guided to a pre-destined conclusion, but it demonstrates that subtlety reigns. You’d be hard pressed to find a film that has received more praise over the last year… Also rated in the 100 best films of all time. It’s a wonderful movie.

    My question is why “Beasts of a Southern Wild” isn’t on your list? Yes, it relies on a 6 year old’s imagination , the plot is muddy and it’s a chore to watch. It’s a challenge… In many ways it uses fantasy and magic as a storyline in the context of the bayou. Dwight Henry, as Hushpuppy’s father , in real life, was a survivor of Katrina and co-owner of a bakery in New Orleans. He had never stepped on a film set in his life, and yet captured such a demanding role.

    You can’t deny the movie’s beauty “when you channel your inner child”—that is when the film clicks. As the survivor of poverty, Hushpuppy has nothing to save her but her imagination… she finds the beautiful in the ugly. Unconventional for sure, but the film with the biggest heart of them all in 2012. Just my 2 cents…

    • Thanks, Celeste, for your comments! While I absolutely was spellbound by the six-year old actress who played “Hushpuppy”, I eventually decided that the movie was not going to be included on my Top Ten list. Many others disagree with my assessment of this Sundance winner. Loved the experimenting with looking at the world of a young child through her eyes, a Hushpuppy version of how to cope with what is beyond her control. But as you said in your comments, the narrative was not sufficiently clear to pull all the threads together. Still, the movie deserves all the accolades it has received.

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