In looking at the films of 2012, I thought it was a pretty good year for movies. Maybe a very good year even. Certainly better than the year before. But, ok, once I looked again, maybe not.
2012 was great for the number of strong films. But those few films that did it right in 2011, did it very right. We have a quantity versus quality debate in comparing the last two years. Any of the following films were greater to me, than my #1 of 2012 (which I will continue to defend as a great film).
My favorite film of 2011 was "The Tree of Life." But I talk about Malick enough. 4, 3,2 are all legitimate masterpeices.
4. "Once Upon A Time In Anatolia" (Released Jan 4, 2012 in the USA) But out long before just about everywhere else.
Not unlike #3, it goes at its own pace. But it is a very rewarding experience. Men take a murderer on an all night journey to locate a body. But we know who did the crime from the beginning. Its the journey where insights into each character slowly reveal themselves, that make the film. And one fact about the crime that makes for some good talking points after.
3. "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
The Anti-Bond is George Smiley. Smiley won't be bedding multiple women before shotting the bad guy. I am not even sure he ever holds a gun. What we have here is a taut, intriguing, well acted and directed spy film.
I saw it a second time not too long ago and think I enjoyed it even more. Imagine John Hughes hired Michael Mann to direct a violent yet romantic, touching yet disturbing anti-hero story. The film would fit perfectly into 1983 America. The ode to that time period in film is done expertly. Ryan Gosling deserves to be recognized for more than his good looks. He is a very strong actor.
Nicolas Winding Refnwould won Best Director honors at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. Maybe its time to debate how often Cannes gets things right versus the Academy Awards.