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At the beginning of the year, I listed my 12 most anticipated films of 2012.

Some of those films were worth the wait (The Avengers), some weren’t (The Dictator), while others haven’t even arrived yet (The Great Gatsby). However, there was enough gold out there to make this list of the top ten films of 2012.

As with any list like this, it’s all entirely subjective, so while there are technically great films out there that should appear (and would, were it a top 100), there are only ten spots. But here goes… my favourite films of 2012:

Haywire

Gina Carano was super hot in Haywire

Released by Steven Soderbergh at the beginning of the year, Haywire was more than just a female interpretation of The Bourne Identity – the film represented the birth of a female action star in ex-cage fighter Gina Carano.

With an impressive supporting cast including Antonio Banderas, Michael Douglas and Michael Fassbender, Haywire stood out from other action thrillers due to the lack of gimmicks. No flashy cinematography was needed (the reality-based fight scenes didn’t need embellishment) and the simple screenplay kept things powering along. The ending was a bit weak, but it wasn’t enough to keep this off my list.

 

Titanic 3D

Titanic sinking in Titanic 3D

I’ve made no secret of how much I love Titanic, and how excited I was for James Cameron’s 3D re-release, so it was a huge relief when it turned out to be just as good as the 1997 version, if not better.

No other film has matched the 3D Cameron gave us in Avatar, but Titanic 3D was as near as anyone has come – really making the most of the gorgeous cinematography and superb performances. The time, care and money lavished on Titanic 3D made it feel like a new film. No, I didn’t cry at the end – you shut your dirty mouth.

 

The Raid

The Raid

Every so often two films come out at the around the same time, that share a number of striking similarities (think Deep Impact/Armageddon, Volcano/Dante’s Peak, Capote/Infamous) – this year, it was The Raid and Dredd. Both films involved cops, trapped and massively outnumbered in a high-rise building, trying to make their way to the top in order take out a drug kingpin. And while Dredd was awesome, The Raid was better, thanks largely to the outrageous martial arts abilities of Iko Uwais.

 

Life of Pi

Life of Pi

Ang Lee’s adaptation of Yann Martel’s ‘unfilmable’ book is one of the most remarkable examples of cinema ever, let alone this year. The acting from first-timer Suraj Sharma was impeccable, while the direction and cinematography were simply astonishing. For once, the 3D improved the cinematic experience, rather than ruin perfectly good shots. This was a film that begged to be seen on the big screen.

Argo

Ben Affleck in Argo

Ben Affleck: one of the best directors working in Hollywood today. Who the hell would have guessed that? After the success of Gone Baby Gone and The Town, Affleck continued his run of great cinema with Argo – the true life story of a covert operation to rescue six Americans from Tehran by pretending they were making a sci-fi movie.

Tense and much funnier than you’d expect, Argo boasted some wonderful character acting. Yep, including Affleck himself. I hate that guy.

 

Here Comes The Boom

Kevin James in Here Comes the Boom

Every year I do this list, and there’s always something that causes readers to email me and ask me how long I’ve been an alcoholic. Here Comes The Boom is this year’s example.

Kevin James plays a tubby teacher who tries to save the school’s under-threat music department by fighting for money. In a cage. Yes, it’s remarkably similar to Warrior in some respects, but where that was a serious drama, this is very much a comedy.

I’m well aware this film wasn’t for everyone, but in this case, my fondness of MMA made a real difference, and I got a serious kick out of seeing the likes of Chael Sonnen pop up in teeny tiny cameos. Furthermore, Bas Rutten’s comic turn was genuinely one of the funniest of the year. Who’d have thought that a decade ago he made a living punching lumps out of people.

Utterly unbelievable, and completely daft, this feelgood film and its cast were hard to dislike.

 

The Avengers

Scarlett Johansson as The Black Widow in The Avengers

I refuse to call this film by the name given for its UK release. It’s The Avengers, and it was awesome. I was uncertain that Marvel would be able tie the various superheroes together in a cohesive way, but then it hired Joss Whedon who produced not only one of the best comic books films of the year, but one of the best anything films of the year, full stop.

 

Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom

From frame one, this film screams ‘I am a Wes Anderson picture’. Moonrise Kingdom was the director’s first live-action feature since The Darjeeling Limited in 2007, and contained all his usual touchstones – perfect framing, an idiosyncratic soundtrack, unlikely casting and beautiful acting.

 

Young Adult

Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt in Young Adult

Even though she won an Oscar for Monster, it’s still strange to look at Charlize Theron when she’s all polished and on the red carpet or in ostentatious perfume adverts, and think that she’s a good actress. But she is, and Young Adult proved it once again.

Theron plays a misanthropic teen-fiction writer who returns to her hometown to try to steal her high school sweetheart – now happily married and expecting a kid. From the same writer/director team as Juno, the performances in this brilliantly sour anti-romantic comedy were routinely excellent, particualrly from Theron and Patton Oswalt as her geeky, disabled ex-schoolmate.

 

Chronicle

Dane DeHaan in Chronicle

Released among a pile of over-marketed tat, Chronicle didn’t get the audience it deserved.

It was a relatively low budget film about three teenage boys who gain superpowers, looked better than a lot of this year’s big releases, and had a surprising air of reality about it.

Chronicle wasn’t just all about the action though, it also boasted some surprising performances, not least from main protagonist Dane DeHaan who has since landed the role of Harry Osborne in the next Spider-Man film.

Due to most of the film looking like it was shot on a home movie camera or mobile, it looks just as good on the small screen as it did on the big – so track it down.

A version of this article first appeared in the Kent Messenger series of newspapers.

PictureBox Films

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