Year In Review: Top 25 Films Of 2012

on Tuesday, January 08, 2013
Words: Alison Potter, Ced Yuen, Gabriella Shimeld-Fenn, Lauren Johnson-Ginn, Raman K, and Saam Das

2012 saw three of the highest grossing films of all-time: 'The Avengers' (also known as 'Avengers Assemble'), 'The Dark Knight Rises', 'Skyfall'. Each of which found critical favour. Each of which appears in our Top 25 Films Of 2012 - our top choices from films released across the UK in the last year. Read our list below, and feel free to suggest your own favourite film(s) of the year.

#25: 'Holy Motors'

An utterly divisive film from the overriding perspective of FADED GLAMOUR. One writer's favourite film of 2012, one of the least favourites for another. Leos Carax's latest feature was either a whirlwind celebration of cinema or pretentious guff. Nonetheless, one of the year's most memorable offerings.

#24: 'Life Of Pi'
Visually sumptuous adaptation of the incredibly popular Yann Martel novel, directed by acclaimed filmmaker Ang Lee. A rare film in 2012 that has been celebrated for its use of 3D, rather than chastised for the typically profit-led decision.

#23: 'Prometheus'

Frustrating and thrilling. Frustratingly thrilling. Thrillingly frustrating. Ridley Scott's return to the 'Alien' series with this prequel proved troublesome for many but aspects of 'Prometheus' stood out amongst the best of 2012 cinema - its stunning production design, in particular.

#22: 'Amour'
Austrian auteur Michael Haneke delivered his meditation on love in 2012, with his French-language drama 'Amour'. Perhaps it will finally be the film to break his Academy Award duck? Regardless, a fine addition to Haneke's incredible back catalogue.

#21: 'Argo'
Ben Affleck has established himself as a strong presence behind the camera, with 'Argo' arguably his finest work yet as a director. Such has been the positive reception that it is considered one of the front-runners to win Best Picture at the Oscars. Affleck's assured balance of comedy and drama in 'Argo' mean that few would begrudge him such recognition.

#20: 'Lawless'
A gangster film done correctly. Unashamed, hard-hitting brutality that comes second only to a deep sense of characterisation. Throw in a rousing bluegrass score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis to give you one of the year's most effective offerings.

#19: 'Frankenweenie'
A return to form for Tim Burton, the charming stop-motion animation of 'Frankenweenie' presented a heartwarming tale of friendship, a witty horror satire, as well as a compelling narrative on the power of science.

#18: 'The Chemical Brothers: Don't Think'
2012's most pleasant surprise. A transcendental piece of music filmmaking. A frenzied Japanese festival crowd shot in ecstatic liberation: track-to-tracks, build-ups-to-drops. Psychedelic visuals and classic Chemical Brothers soundscapes will compel you to raise your hands in submission.

#17: 'The Gospel Of Us'
Probably the most low-key release in this list of the top films of 2012, British independent drama 'The Gospel Of Us' punches well above its weight. A suitable showcase and document of Michael Sheen's groundbreaking play, which saw him perform in several venues across a number of days in Port Talbot, Wales.

#16: 'ill Manors'
You'll know Ben Drew better as genre-splicing musician Plan B. But his debut feature as a writer and director signals Drew as a considerable talent. He also wisely used 'ill Manors' as a tie-in for his Mercury nominated album of the same name, providing a suitably striking soundtrack to match the grit of the film.

#15: 'Killer Joe'
A strange film with a twisted premise and a finger-lickin' good blend of violence, sex and very sick humour. 'Killer Joe' is a brilliant example of a film made with a greasy middle finger to the censors.

#14: 'Looper'

Writer-director Rian Johnson's arresting debut feature 'Brick' hinted that something big was on the horizon. His time travel action thriller 'Looper' produced one of the most effective scenes of the year, as a character suddenly loses limbs in an unsettling, bloodless manner.

#13: 'The Cabin In The Woods'
One of two films in this list to be written by Joss Whedon, who can't seem to do any wrong at the moment. 'The Cabin In The Woods' was a fun, refreshing take on the classic 'murdered teenagers' B-movie, proving that no matter how tired a genre is, there's nothing that the right script can't fix.

#12: 'Sightseers'

Ben Wheatley's thankfully lightened the mood slightly with 'Sightseers', following his disturbing 2011 cult horror 'Kill List'. A quite demented and oft hilarious (un)romantic comedy about a murderous couple.

#11: 'Men In Black III'
The original 'Men In Black' film was nominated for three Oscars. Yes, that's right. This sequel matches the original in the enjoyable sci-fi adventure stakes, while adding the emotional moments between the central characters that helped the first film to resonate.

#10: 'Safety Not Guaranteed'

Initially coming across as just another quirky indie comedy, 'Safety Not Guaranteed' soon metamorphoses into something much greater. Not a film to be pigeon-holed but this time travel romantic drama successfully manages to be both crushing and triumphant. So much so that it propelled director Colin Treverrow onto the shortlist to helm the new 'Star Wars' film.

#9: 'Skyfall'

The first ever film to exceed £100 million at the UK box office, Sam Mendes's take on Bond is also being discussed as a potential Best Picture candidate. That level of success may elude Bond but Daniel Craig yet again proved he has what it takes to fill the iconic role, while Javier Bardem's villain was a worthy adversary.

#8: 'Shame'

A brilliant melodrama that takes you into a labyrinth of middle-class sex addiction. Comparisons between Michael Fassbender and Marlon Brando have been hasty, but Fassbender's method acting versatility is best showcased in 'Shame'. Steve McQueen's flair weaves together the smut and gloss of New York in the accomplished cinematography. Here, sex is portrayed as a blend of gratification, anguish and catharsis.

#7: 'The Dark Knight Rises'

A disappointment to many whose expectations had been inflated by the success of Christopher Nolan's previous two Batman offerings. In years to come, it's likely that this melodrama will be seen as a fitting end to Nolan's trilogy, while Christian Bale may well go down as the best Batman ever.

#6: 'Rust And Bone'

Jacques Audiard followed up his intense crime drama 'A Prophet' with a bruising love story, with a surprising yet unnoticeable reliance on visual effects. Supremely affecting, always engrossing, thanks in large part to the central performances from Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts.

#5: 'The Imposter'
Based on a seemingly impossible true story, 'The Imposter' mixed documentary and re-enactment to stunning effect. An audacious and unsettling case of impersonation intriguingly presented, leaving the viewer with a genuine sense of incredulity. The less you know, the better.

#4: 'Ted'

'Family Guy' mastermind Seth MacFarlane made a bold foray into the world of live action with 'Ted', the story of underachieving manchild John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) and his foul-mouthed, beer-swilling, life-long teddy bear companion. MacFarlane’s brilliantly rude humour guarantees plenty of laughs.

#3: 'Avengers Assemble'

Our respect goes to Marvel for the sheer ambition of a plan spanning seven years and six pictures. And they pulled it off, handling well-loved characters with care, razor-sharp dialogue and never forgetting that sense of fun. For comic book geeks, it's a dream come true.

#2: 'The Amazing Spider-Man'

Relative newbie director Marc Webb brings a fresh approach to this much-loved superhero origin tale, revamping – or indeed ‘rebooting’ – the classic story of high school nerd Peter Parker’s rise to great power and responsibility. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone give fantastic performances in the central roles of Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy.

#1: 'Martha Marcy May Marlene'

An outstanding breakthrough performance from Elizabeth Olsen, in an outstanding film. Olsen plays Martha, a girl made fragile from years of traumatic experiences in a secluded cult commune. The sense of paranoia will roast you slowly as Martha's fractured memories of abuse unwind. Director Sean Durkin masterfully explores the dynamics of identity and susceptibility. A main course of drama and one tall thin glass of psychological horror.


Alison Potter - 'Holy Motors' // 'The Imposter' // 'The Dark Knight Rises'
Ced Yuen - 'Avengers Assemble' // 'Ted' // 'Killer Joe'
Gabriella Shimeld-Fenn - 'The Gospel Of Us' // 'Rust And Bone' // 'Skyfall'
Lauren Johnson-Ginn - 'The Amazing Spider-Man' // 'Ted' // 'Sightseers'
Raman K - 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' // 'Shame' // 'The Chemical Brothers: Don't Think'
Saam Das - 'Martha Marrcy May Marlene' // 'Safety Not Guaranteed' // 'The Amazing Spider-Man'

Ali, Saam and Raman also took part in the bloggers' top ten films of 2012, hosted by HeyUGuys.

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