2012 was a terrific year at the movies. 2010 and 2011 both felt a little underwhelming at the time. There was some good work, to be sure, but the amount of work that felt new or exciting was less and less. However, this last year felt like an embarrassment of riches at times. Good stuff was coming out every week, and a lot of it had real merit. Below is my list of top 10 films for 2012.
Young love isn’t the easiest thing to accurately represent. The highs and devastating lows of teenage infatuation have surely and wholly consumed most reading this at some point, and, when depicted well on screen, can take us right back to the pain associated with these confusing times. The Perks of Being a Wallflower, written and directed by Stephen Chbosky (based on his own 1999 young adult novel), revels in this pain so thoroughly one has to assume it’s at least partially autobiographical.
In honor of The Hunger Games, Spencer and Greg discuss child deaths in film. Then they discuss the theme of “one vs. many,” and give DVD picks of the week.
When you have Tilda Swinton’s face available to you for use as a storytelling tool, you employ it for all that it’s worth. Lynne Ramsay, in her new film We Need to Talk About Kevin, finally opening in the U.S. today, understands this truth. Swinton is Eva Khatchadourian, a woman who has been through some type of terrible trauma that the film takes its time spelling out. She wakes up alone on the couch in her small, untidy house, seemingly hungover, with the definite aura of someone for whom this is not an uncommon occurrence. Something in the light in the room is off; it dawns that this is because the sunlight streams through windows that have been splattered with red paint. The marks of a community lashing out against a pariah. And in Swinton’s face, weariness.
If there’s one thing I hope I’ve done with this column so far, it’s show that though the overall percentages may be very skewed toward male filmmakers, there are many, many interesting projects out there being made by women. The numbers are getting better all the time, too—for this list of my five anticipated projects, I really had a hard time narrowing things down. Creating excitement and buzz for these films before they’re released is almost as important as seeing them when they are, so if I can contribute to that just a little bit, I’ll be a happier person.
There are many films that rest on the premise that people are awful to each other. Sometimes these films can be difficult to watch. The most difficult ones, for me, are the ones that show how awful children and adolescents can be to each other. In Ratcatcher (1999), from writer/director Lynne Ramsay, there are story threads to this end that absolutely broke my heart—especially as they contrast with moments of genuine kindness and connection, that always end up pushed aside because of group social pressure. Childhood looked at without a lens of nostalgia can be brutal.