The New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have rolled out their awards season specials, and I thought we’d take a look at a few highlights from the two packages before turning to the next batch of best-of-2012 lists.
‘2012: The Cinescape’ by Matt Shapiro
The NYT‘s Manohla Dargis sets two scenes from two love stories next to each other; in Amour and Silver Linings Playbook, how Michael Haneke and David O. Russell “convey the central relationships in their movies opens a window onto how each director expresses meaning through the dialogue and the performances; through human gestures and camera moves; through what is inside the frame and how everything in it is arranged (carefully or with feigned informality); through editing and its rhythms; through music or its absence.” And Terrence Rafferty profiles Jean-Louis Trintignant.
“My two favorite American movies of 2012 were Lincoln and Beasts of the Southern Wild, a big shiny Hollywood apple and a sweet little Sundance orange, with, at least at first glance, nothing much in common.” Revisiting both, A.O. Scott reconsiders the meaning of the adjective “Spielbergian.”
Brooks Barnes profiles Kathryn Bigelow, who’d rather keep the focus on Zero Dark Thirty. Dennis Lim talks with Paul Thomas Anderson, not only about The Master but also about his upcoming project, an adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s Inherent Vice; he also recommends a few good films many may have missed: Denis Côté‘s Bestiaire, Hong Sang-Soo’s The Day He Arrives and Oki’s Movie, Kleber Mendonça Filho’s Neighboring Sounds, Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb’s This Is Not a Film, and Athina Rachel Tsangari’s Attenberg. “And the Nominees Should Be…” Critics Scott, Dargis, and Stephen Holden cast their own ballots.
The LAT hosts a directors roundtable: “Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, Sacha Gervasi, Tom Hooper, Ang Lee and David O. Russell discuss the first day of filming, how their work affects viewers, and more.” Michael Ordoña talks with Jack Fisk and David Crank, production designers on The Master; there are two Les Misérables interviews (Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman), two for Django Unchained (Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson), and Glenn Whipp‘s chat with Wes Anderson about Moonrise Kingdom—Scott Feinberg‘s got another in the Hollywood Reporter.
“How do you say ‘Oscar justice’ in Romanian?” In the Voice, Scott Foundas tracks the evolution of the Academy’s Foreign Language nominating committee, mostly, although not entirely, for the better: “How do you say ‘Oscar scandal’ in German?”
‘Cinema 2012’ by Kees van Dijkhuizen, Jr.
So onto the lists, and we begin with the “Year in Film” package in this week’s San Francisco Bay Guardian, opened by Cheryl Eddy, who notes that, “as 2012 proved, the most rewarding films are almost always the ones you have to make an effort to see.” Jesse Hawthorne Ficks‘s generously annotated list goes to 20; his #1 is Cosmopolis: “David Cronenberg is only getting better as he gets older.” Agreed. On a related note, Sam Stander considers the limos of Cosmopolis and Holy Motors.
Dennis Harvey‘s lists are alphabetical. Nicole Gluckstern concentrates on one of the year’s quieter controversies: “Billed as a documentary, yet centered around a character who may not actually exist, This Ain’t California details the unlikely rise of a rebellious East German skateboarding scene hidden from view behind the Iron Curtain.” Kimberly Chun argues that “it was only a matter of time before the chicks started rewriting those chick flicks.” Marke B. looks back on the year in online video memes, and Sara Maria Vizcarrondo reflects on “the aging-heroes trend.”
Eleven critics present their lists in Time Out London, “with the French-Austrian co-production Amour, Turkish cop drama Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, American indie The Master, Portuguese oddity Tabu and homegrown Olympic tie-in documentary London: The Modern Babylon proving the most popular overall.”
In the New Republic, Stanley Kauffmann and David Thomson look back “on some of the best, under-appreciated films of 2012.”
From Nick Pinkerton at Sundance NOW: “Things I Watched This Year That I Would Watch Again.”
Charles Mudede‘s list in the Stranger, “in this order: (1) Beats Being Dead by Christian Petzold. (2) Mekong Hotel by Apichatpong Weerasethakul. (3) Once Upon a Time in Anatolia by Nuri Bilge Ceylan. (4) Elena by Andrey Zvyagintsev. (5) Where Do We Go Now? by Nadine Labaki.”
Fresh lists from Illuminations Films: John Wyver (#1: Danny Boyle’s London Olympics opening ceremony), Simon Field (#1: James Benning’s Small Roads and Heinz Emigholtz’s Parabeton – Pier Luigi Nervi and Roman Concrete), Louise Machin, and Linda Zuck.
“Film culture, at least in the sense people once used that phrase, is dead or dying,” argued Salon‘s Andrew O’Hehir in September. And he’ll still argue that “the widely misinterpreted point I was trying to make, which was that film no longer holds the position of cultural centrality it once did, on either the highbrow or mass levels, remains valid.” His #1: Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights.
In the Philadelphia Weekly, Sean Burns tops his list with Moonrise Kingdom, while Matt Prigge’s #1 is Don Hertzfeldt’s It’s Such a Beautiful Day. Sam Adams, Shaun Brady and Drew Lazor write up the Philadelphia City Paper‘s alphabetical list.
At Movieline, Alison Willmore revisits “some films that may not earn many mentions at award shows and top ten lists, but nevertheless charmed, entertained or impressed me throughout the year.” Amy Nicholson‘s written a haiku for each of her top ten, beginning with Django Unchained, and Jen Yamato remembers “the movies that wrapped themselves around my heart and brain like a warm blanket made of light and sound and kick-ass jammin’ electric guitars and made me feel excited to be alive, dammit!”
The Japan Times lists: Mark Schilling (#1: Yang Yong Hi’s debut feature, Kazoku no Kuni [Our Homeland]), Giovanni Fazio (#1: Argo), and Kaori Shoji (#1: Intouchables). And the three critics discuss each other’s lists.
#1 at the Arts Desk: Argo.
Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret kicks off Robert Horton‘s list for the Herald.
Ray Pride‘s posting one critic’s list after another at Movie City News.
Michael Guillén interviewed more than a few people in 2012. He revisits his ten favorite conversations.
Speaking of whom, Criterion’s release of Paul Fejos’s Lonesome (1928) is #1 on Sean Axmaker‘s list of “Top 10 disc debuts.” DVD Savant Glenn Erickson‘s crowned Shout Factory’s release of Bertrand Tavernier‘s Death Watch (1980). At Movie Morlocks, David Kalat presents “not so much a Best Of list” as “a tour through the inside of my head.” And Phelim O’Neill does the disc-picking for the Guardian.
Slant‘s ranked the “25 Best Music Videos of 2012” and art critic Jed Perl picks the “Best Exhibits of 2012” in the New Republic, while, at the New Yorker, Sasha Frere-Jones writes up the “Best Music of 2012” and Gary Belsky rolls out the “Hundred Best Lists of All Time.”