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Top 10 Films of the Year (2012)

January 6, 2013

What is the point of a top 10? I guess that when you are an aficionado, when you constantly feed yourself with something, it almost becomes necessary once a year to put some order into your thoughts, every film buff has his own canon and compiling lists like this one helps me to understand the state of cinema and my appreciation of it. What have I understood selecting these ten films? that 2012 was a very good year, one of the best of the last decade, it has been tough to let some films out of this list and after so many years spent watching film I know that films assessment is a slow process and I have excluded a good number of features I have loved, nonetheless there is only one film whose exclusion from this list I guess I will regret in a few years: Amour by Haneke, only time will tell.

#10 Flying Swords of Dragon Gate by Hark Tsui

When you feed yourself art house films mainly, you risk to forget that movies can be sheer fun, there is no better way to refresh your memory than a wuxia film by a master of the genre, Tsui is a master and his latest work is delightful: gorgeous production design, amazing choreographies, an uninterrupted feast for the eyes.

#9 The King Is Dead by Rolf de Heer

A humorous – sometimes scary – clash of civilizations in the Australian suburbia, review here.

#8 L’Apollonide – Souvenirs de la maison close by Bertrand Bonello

A film about prostitution, a film about the meaning of being a woman in the western world, a film about the way we were one century ago and a musing on the way we are today. The film takes place almost in its entirety within the walls of L’Apollonide – a Parisian house of tolerance between the 18th and the 19th century – and Bonello almost develops a sense of imprisonment for the characters as well for the spectators, the film is once again a success for the French filmmaker.

#7 Damsels in Distress by Whit Stillman

After a long hiatus Stillman has returned with a pure Stillman film, the film is a pleasure for the eyes and for the ears – best film dialogues of the year, that’s for sure.

#6 Caesar Must Die by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani

Taviani’s surprising return to form won the Golden Bear in Berlin and it is reviewed here.

#5 Beasts of the Southern Wild by Benh Zeitlin

As a display of pure cinematic talent this film probably deserved one of the top three spots, but it is a debut feature and it shows, nonetheless is an astounding debut, review here.

#4 L’enfant d’en haut by Ursula Meier

What does it mean to grow up when you are alone? what does it require to be a mother? Meier’s film has the aftertaste of a fable – no cops, no social services – just a kid and his sister trying to find out an answer to these questions.

#3 Life Without Principle by Johnnie To

Life in a world where making money is the only principle, three connected stories about the senselessness of it all: as usual with To we get powerful imagery and tight rhythm, this is the kind of film requiring repeated viewings to appreciate its richness of detail and refinement.

#2 À perdre la raison by Joachim Lafosse

Lafosse had already shown a lot of potential in his previous features but from now on I will count him along with the great filmmakers working today, this film is a masterpiece, review here.

#1 Tabu by Miguel Gomes

The number one spot is often void in my top 10 films of the year and the reason for this is quite simple: that spot is not tout court for the film I consider the best of the year – not even for a masterpiece- but it is for a film which I consider an instant classic for the power of the story and the cinematic means the director has used to tell it, it has to be new and unexpected, it has to be a film which renews and regenerates my love of cinema, Tabu is that kind of film, review here.

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