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End of 2012: 15 Favourite Films

Posted on the 06 March 2013 by Shantanu Ghumare @u_me_films
Over the past 4 months, I have been trying to finish the wishlist of 2012 movies as much as possible. To this day, I have seen 75 movies released in the last year. However, with Oscars over, it is time to wrap-up the 2012 once and for all. To start off, I give you the list of 15 Favourite movies of the year. It will be followed by favourite Performances lists, Male and Female, which will leave me free to pursue all the rest of the movies that I have kept aside in last few months. 
2012 was a strong year for movies. I am not saying this only because I saw more movies this year(71) than last year(47). But also because how I rated them. Throughout the year, I kept the list of movies I saw in this calender year on Letterboxd and according to that list, I have 28 movie rated 4 and higher and 52  rated 3 and half or higher. That is really good year !! You can see the whole list here but for now, let us get to this list.
End of 2012: 15 Favourite Films15) The Dark Knight Rises: Part of me still thinks that I decided to do 'Top 15' list so that I could include Rises. I could've done standard Top 10 or Top 20 but I decided to go with 15. I don't know why, all I do know is I can't help being a Christopher Nolan fan-boy. Is it a perfect movie? I am afraid, no. It is not even my favorite of the trilogy but I think this was a very fitting finale of one of the best trilogies. You can talk about all the plot holes in the movie and say it is illogical that Bruce Wayne just kinda walks from his prison suddenly to Gotham city but it DID NOT bother me, at all. So, there you go!!
End of 2012: 15 Favourite Films14) Oslo, August 31: About six months ago, this little Norwegian movie was nowhere on my radar. First I heard about this, I even dismissed this for being just another addiction movie. We have seen enough of them in last few years. Fast forward to now and almost everyone I know who has seen this movie is ready to vouch for it and I am not the one to object. Despite being 'just another addiction movie', it is not exactly that because of the two things - brutal honesty of its script and the excellent execution of it by Anders Danielsen Lie, who will make another appearance in next list, in the leading role.
End of 2012: 15 Favourite Films13) Compliance: Almost everyone who has seen this movie has come out saying its good that what we see in this movie has actually happened because otherwise it is impossible to believe that people can be that stupid. I understand the irony of statement but I have to agree. Almost throughout the movie, I did not believe it for a second that this can actually happen. Imagine my surprise when I realized that not only every word of it is true but it has also happened, over and over.
End of 2012: 15 Favourite Films12) Holy Motors: One of the most controversial, or should I say divisive movies of the year and incidentally not the only one in this list. Reactions for this movie have been all over the place. Denis Lavant and his multiple, outrageous personifications have been the make or break condition for this movie. To me, there was more than enough heart in it to just discard it as a gimmick. I was fascinated by his roles which more than once fooled me, thinking the role he is playing is his real life. Probably my favorite performance of the year.
End of 2012: 15 Favourite Films11) The Perks of being a Wallflower: Perks is one of the movies that I wasn't much excited about until I heard everyone rave about it. They did build up my expectations but now I was running a risk of something being over-hyped. Thirty minutes into the movie, I was sure of it as it really didn't do much for me. I don't remember if there was one point where that changed or it just grew on me minute by minute, but something did happen and it just worked. I was completely taken by the end of it, I was involved in it, I started to care about the characters. I wish I had some better explanation but it just worked.
End of 2012: 15 Favourite Films10) Django Unchained: For the first time, I felt like I know when people talk about Tarantino and his indulgence. But, guess what? I did not give a damn. Its Tarantino. If he does anything, I mean anything, off course, we will all be there, right? So if he won't, who will? And besides, I really enjoyed it a lot. I enjoyed the story which Tarantino seamlessly takes through multiple genres, loved the characters, loved the actors playing them even more. Foxx, DiCaprio and many others in whatever small role they had did a great job. Samuel Jackson kicked some serious ass but Waltz was a real highlight for me and naturally, I was happy to see him get rewarded at Oscars. 
End of 2012: 15 Favourite Films9) Once Upon a Time in Anatolia: One of the most beautiful looking movies I have seen. Before this movie, I never thought that even a barren piece of desert can look so beautiful. Add the subtle humor and social commentary of this movie to it and we have something really different, something that we rarely see. Little over 100 minutes of this movie feature a hunt for a body. As far as that hunt is concerned, this movie progresses at a snail's pace where rarely anything happens but despite that, there were so many interesting things going on with these people involved in it that this became the most fascinating hunt I have seen in long time. It would have been much higher in here if it sustained after they find the body.
End of 2012: 15 Favourite Films8) The Sessions: I never thought I would like this movie as much as I did and for that I have to give credit to John Hawkes' brilliant performance, Helen Hunt's frankness and honesty in her role and most importantly, to Ben Lewis' writing and direction to give the maturity and lightheartedness to the whole movie that is basically about losing virginity and involves so much of nudity. Helen Hunt played major part in doing that but it was John Hawkes' movie from the start and he does wonders under the limitations of his role - Mark O'Brien, a man in an iron lung. I won't complain much but I would have loved to see him getting that nomination he deserved.
End of 2012: 15 Favourite Films7) English Vinglish: 2012 was a great year for Indian cinema as well. At least, at the end of the year I have 5 movies that I can say I genuinely liked, something I had to stretch for in 2011 and 2010. So, the Indian in me is immensely happy that I found a Hindi movie worthy of making into a Top 10. A movie that made it to TIFF is also the one that marks return of Sridevi, one of the most sought after actresses of 80s and early 90s. Director Gauri Shinde's first directorial attempt is pure bliss, a perfect movie even in its imperfect moments such as Shashi's speech at the end. For an Indian living abroad, even though none as humiliating, I have gone through few similar incidents myself and Shinde captures them rather beautifully.
End of 2012: 15 Favourite Films6) Cloud Atlas: If you go back to the excerpt I wrote when I saw it back in November in that month's wrap-up post, I said that one thing I appreciate most about Cloud Atlas is for a movie with such a scope, it had lot of heart. From the moment we all saw its first trailer, I am sure we all knew that this movie had a gigantic scope - Six stories, hordes of characters, story lines spanning multiple centuries, even millenniums and three directors. That was never a surprise, I knew that I will have to watch it multiple times to really get it. All I wanted was for it to engage me enough to warrant those re-watches. What made Cloud Atlas appear in this list is not only that it succeeded in engaging me, it surprised me with its heart.
End of 2012: 15 Favourite Films5) The Master: Just after getting out of the theater after watching The Master, I was trying to gauge what my final reaction to it is. I still haven't finished. There is lot to like - amazing cinematography, beautiful score, some great scenes - their first processing, The Amy Adams scene or Hoffman's explosion both times he is questioned and three performances, powerful and subtle or may be not at all subtle, either way. But I could not stop thinking about it. Every time I thought I am reaching a verdict, I would think of something else and process would start again.but I never stopped thinking and no movie has done that to me in a long time. Result: No. 5 on my end-of-year list.
End of 2012: 15 Favourite Films4) Intouchables: A Quadriplegic man hires a young man from projects to be his caretaker. What would you think this movie can be about? War between two different worlds, two classes, races the men come from? Not really. How we can get help from most unlikely sources and change our lives forever? Most Certainly. But from all this, would you expect such a movie to be humorous? Most memorable thing about Intouchables was the amount of comedy in it without loosing the seriousness of the topic. There were multiple moments in the film where I found it hard to contain my laughter. How this film wasn't nominated this year for Foreign Oscar is absolutely beyond me.
End of 2012: 15 Favourite Films3) Argo: This year's big winner with Best Film and Best original screenplay. It made a lot of headlines over the whole award season with winning almost everywhere and as it started winning, people flipped all over it. Apparently then, it wasn't good enough for many people as soon as it made Awards splash. For me, it always was, since the day I saw it. I am currently reading Sidney Lumet's amazing book - Making Movies, in which he says that a good movie is usually bigger than the sum of all its parts. Argo was one such movie for me. There is no one department that stands out but as a whole, I loved that product. Apparently, the fact that I had no idea about the actual event it is based on helped immensely but then again, it is not as much about the end result as about the arches of all the characters. 
End of 2012: 15 Favourite Films2) The Imposter: Another movie I am glad is a true story since I would've never believed it to be true. It is too nifty for its own good. So slick that from the first minute of it I never believed it is true, even though I knew it is. The way Bourdin looks, his accent and even the way he behaves wasn't helping his cause. When Nick's sister comes in and takes him for her brother, I could not think of why would she? except, maybe as he himself says later, because they Want to believe it. But what elevated The Imposter to this rank in the list is the last half hour of it, after Bourdin's true identity is revealed and story of what really happened to Nicholas starts to unfold. Also, bone-chilling calmness with which Bourdin tells the whole story. There is not a hint of remorse on his face anywhere. He is rather enjoying this sick, psychopathic play and for the life of me, I can't fathom the fact that such a person even has a life.
End of 2012: 15 Favourite Films1) Amour: Second year in a row where Foreign film tops my end of the year list, and another movie that as much as I love, I am in no hurry to go back to. Last year it was Incendies(2011); this year it is Amour, Michael Haneke's Palm d'Or winner. Haneke's depiction of an old couple in the last few days in wife's life has been called slow death, it has also been denied being called even a movie. I completely understand every criticism against it, I also see where that comes from. I imagine myself in that same position, especially given the reaction to Haneke's other movies, had I not been through what I have in my own world. I just think I understood what he was going for and it touched me somewhere deep down. It is extremely well acted, Emmanuelle Riva was my pick of this year's Best Actress nominees and technically perfect. Haneke's movies almost always have been provocative, at least in a way they evoke emotional response from the viewer. However, one thing I liked about Amour is he kinda takes a step back in here from delivering the final fatal blow that Haneke mercilessly does in his other films. I guess, that might have been the ONE thing that did the trick for me.
Next up will be my favorite Male performances of the year. Please let me know what do you think of this list in the comments.

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