I love lists, especially year end list for movies! Last year when i had an opportunity to make this list, I had jumped to the occasion and this year fortunately (or unfortunately) for readers, I am churning out a list of my best films of 2012. Personally, for me, this year has been good with regards to movie especially with resurgence of Malayalam Cinema. If you ask me to describe 2012 at movies in one word, then it has to be “FANBOYISM”, we witnessed it with Agent Vinod in Bollywood, Gabbar Singh in Tollywood, and even in Hollywood with the release of The Dark Knight Rises. Whether fanboyism is good or bad for industry in the long run is altogether a different matter. Coming back to the list, this year has been bit difficult, probably due to many choices. Also after watching so many movies one tends to become desensitized while watching films, but it is always good to see some good work of art which touches your heart and moves you. Oh, and lastly, the list is not in any particular order. So here goes my Best Films of 2012:
Should l go on playing bridge and dining, going in the same old monotonous circle? It’s easy that way, but it’s sort of committing suicide, too.
- The Day He Arrives – This beautiful, melancholic slice-of-life Korean film is directed by Hong Sang-Soo who gave us last year the brilliant HA HA HA. The movie revolves around a film maker returning to town to meet his film critic friend. The movie traces the journey of 3 days of the movie maker in town, but this Korean Groundhog day is more profound and looks at mid-life crisis about men. What is life? What is love? And many other things. Shot in Black and White, this is one of the Best Korean Films of 2012.
And there are people who forget what it’s like to be 16 when they turn 17
- The Perks of Being Wallflower – Based on the highly popular novel written by Stephen Chboksy, the film is also directed by the author himself. This coming of age story deals with an introvert Charlie who has to deal with his first year at high school, along with death of his best friends. He eventually discovers himself with help of his seniors who introduce him to music, drugs, love and friendship. At the same time we have the story of an English Teacher who helps him discover books and also his passion for writing. How many times do we get to see a film directed by the author of the book its based on?
A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets.
- A Royal Affair – I personally love historical dramas,when I had the opportunity to watch this at MAMI 2012, I did make use of it. Click here to read more about this movie.
- Polisse -Based on true incidents of Child Protection Unit of Paris,the film deals with child abuse and trauma associated with it. Directed and written by French Actress Maiwenn who also acts in this movie, Polisse has won Jury Prize of Cannes Film Festival 2011.The film does not lose it’s focus even though there are many characters and it takes times to identify who is who.The film also looks at how children are loosing their innocence in pre-teen year and have no qualms about sexuality and experimenting with sex.This one will surely will leave you with a lump in your throat after watching .The sexual abuse and exploitation of children is one of the most vicious crimes conceivable, a violation of mankind’s most basic duty to protect the innocent.
How much is enough?
- Arbitrage – Last one year I have been bombarded with words life profit,ratios,debt equity thanks to my B.School. Sad thing about B.School is they do not touch or teach about faults with capitalism or greed,but then that is other story. We all love Villians more than heros, be it Heath Ledger as Joker in The Dark Knight or our very own SUPERSTAR RAJNIKANTH in Baasha.We want them to do wrong things and get away with it. Richard Gere plays role of Robert Milller who is involved in a multi-million fraud,which might be out soon. He cheats on his wife, does not care for his mistress. Yet somehow we want him to come out of the crisis unscathed, full credit to Richard Gere to bringing this character to life, and makes us empathize with this character.
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation
- The Imposter – This documentary is directed by the Bart Layton who earlier helmed Locked Up Abroad. This documentary is narrated in thriller cum whodunit style and keeps you on edge of seat for most of times with twists. Based on real story of 23 year old French man impersonating 15 year old American Kid. This documentary again reinstates the fact you do not need big budgets to make good thrillers but it depends on how you unfold the story to your audiences.
Cinema is a matter of what’s in the frame and what’s out
- This is Not A Film – The making of this film it self can be made into a film. Jafar Panahi has been banned from making films and was under house arrest. This film was made with help of a friend and the footage of the final film was smuggled in a pen drive hidden inside a cake to France. The movie chronicles a day in life of Jaffar Panahi and his struggles with Iranian Censor Board. One of the high-points of the movie is when Jafar breaks downwhile narrating the screenplay of the movie he wants to make. This is a must watch if you ever wanted to make films in your life time. Jafar Panahi, currently, is serving six years imprisonment in Iran and he has been banned from making films for 20 years.
You can’t stop a teacher when they want to do something. They just do it.
- Monsieur Lazhar – One of the most difficult thing in life I feel as child is to deal with the death of people close to you, especially when people commit suicide and they do not leave any note or explanation. I had to deal with one such death at the age of ten and I still once in a day think what if the person could have told us the reason, what if we could have prevented it. I learnt to live with that guilt now. This movie opens up with suicide of school teacher who hangs herself in classroom and this is discovered by two ten year old kids. Bashir an Algerian Immigrant appears out of thin air for the job, who is learning to deal with his past. While discovering students and different culture, Bashir helps children in overcoming their grief.
There’s no love like the first
- Shaala – This is on the list, for many reasons one being I feel this is one of the best films I have seen in the last decade. This should have been our entry to Oscar’s instead of Barfi. Another reason being there are very few times you see a film being better than the novel it is based on. And third reason being it is inspired by by my hometown Dombivili. You can read the review of the film here and the interview of the director here.
Passion is the genesis of genius.
- Supermen of Malegaon –This has been doing rounds of various International Film Festivals and finally came to our shores last June. This documentary showcases the life of parallel film industry in a town called Malegaon, where they churn out their own version of Bollywood Movies like Sholay and are now trying their hand to make a film on Superman. One of the best feel good films I have seen in 2012, this was more entertaining than some of the big budget Bollywood films coming out these days.
None but ourselves can free our minds
- Ruby Sparks – This film is directed by Valerie Faris and Jonathan Dayton who gave us the wonderful Little Miss Sunshine. Written by Zoe Kazan who also acts in the central role of Ruby Sparks and also features her Boyfriend Paul Dono opposite her. What does a man and women want in relationship,and what if we could manipulate our relationship with spouse or our Girlfriend/Boyfriend, why is that we do not accept people accept the way they are, are some of the questions which the movies tries to look at but in it’s own charming way.
With Great Power comes great Responsibility.
- Chronicle – I am not a fan of found footage movies like Paranomal Activity where you sit for 90 minutes and nothing happens. This was the reason I was apprehensive to watch this movie, but I was proved wrong when I watched this. Hollywood should learn from Josh Trank how to use CGI to take story forward instead of just making CGI tent-pole movies.
A friend is one who walks in when others walk out
- End of Watch – Cop movies are regularly churned out in Hollywood like Bollywood does college romance. But this movie from David Ayer comes as breath of fresh air in this genre. This deals with two cops played brilliantly by Jake Gyllenhall and Michael Pena. Things spiral out of control when they intercept a vehicle for traffic violation, but they discover huge cache of drugs and firearms. Drug Cartel orders hit on these two cops. David Ayer is clear in his loyalty and tribute to LAPD in the film. This riveting action drama is one of the best Cop Movies after Hot Fuzz seen in recent years.
The sexual abuse and exploitation of children is one of the most vicious crimes conceivable, a violation of mankind’s most basic duty to protect the innocent.
- Ustad Hotel for showing us Islam is not all about terrorism and why altruism is good in this age of materialism.
- Pizza for redefining Horror in Indian Cinema
- Prometheus for making us fall in love with sci-fi movies again
- Thattathin Marayathu for bringing back romance to malayalam cinema,along with asking questions on communalism,women’s right to choose.
- Gangs of Wasseypur-Anurag Kashyap for giving us one of the best sagas of Indian Cinema, about why we loved this film read about it here and here and of course on why we also love the person who made Gangs of Wasseypur special.
There are two Indian actors I loved this year and wish they be on screen for more time. One is Sunny Wayne be it his role as Kurudi/Nelson Mandela in Second Show or as Majid in Thattathin Marayathu, whenever he came on screen I wish the scene should not end. The other actor is Chinmay Mandlekar who has so far appeared in only two Hindi Movies one being Tere Bin Laden and other being Shanghai, while most critics do not seem to notice him, I feel he is an actor to look out for.What makes him even more endearing is in 2012, he appeared in and wrote a Marathi daily soap, acted in a Marathi Play and in Marathi movies.
Hope all of you have a wonderful 2013 and may you all watch wonderful films this year.