I’m back from my Christmas hiatus and in the past couple of weeks critics and fans alike have been compiling their lists of the ten best films of 2012 or twenty best or whatever you like, but I have decided to take a different approach to compiling my list and I will be looking at, month by month, what were the best releases. I’ll be using the UK release dates for films and, in doing it month by month there will be some big omissions and some surprise inclusions.
January – The Grey
To be honest, if you look at what was released in January it doesn’t really fill you with enthusiasm for the rest of the year as there weren’t really many films worth noting released this month. I think that people were still more bothered about seeing the previous year’s Christmas releases (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) however there were a few films that stood out. You might think that We Need to Talk About Kevin, Shame or War Horse might win this month but I decided to go for Liam Neeson’s The Grey. Neeson continued his rebirth as an action hero in 2012 and it was largely down to his enounter with wolves in the partially surprising hit: The Grey.
February – Chronicle
February brought a lot of very disappointing ventures to the cinema. Safe House was a blockbuster than lacked a punch, Man on a Ledge was a very boring ‘thriller’ and One For the Money is one of the most boring films I have ever seen! However, saying that I was really impressed by Woman in Black which seemed to reinstate Hammer Films at the forefront of the horror scene but for the best film of the month it fell short and I went for Chronicle. Chronicle was seen by many to be very refreshing to an overcrowded superhero genre. The characters that appear in this found footage film are not from the pages of comic books and, like The Grey, Chronicle was another surprise hit but worth of all it’s critical acclaim.
March – 21 Jump Street
If you think that 21 Jump Street is a strange and ridiculous choice to be on this list then I really do encourage you to look at films that were released in the UK in March this year. March saw releases from some very highly anticipated films that were subsequently big disappointments, none bigger than John Carter. Of course, March also brought us the beginning of a huge new franchise with the Jennifer Lawrence led The Hunger Games, however I enjoyed 21 Jump Street a lot more. I can’t remember the last time I laughed so much in the cinema, 21 Jump Street was a welcome injection of humour to an otherwise dull month.
April – Avengers Assemble
There was a clear winner for this month. Marvel’s Avengers Assemble became the third highest grossing film of all time, breaking no end of records on its way to this achievement. This was the event that film fans had been waiting for for 4 years and it did not disappoint, The Avengers (as it was known sensibly in other countries) provided big entertainment, big action, big characters and big laughs. The only real competition in this month came from another film with Joss Whedon’s name attached: Cabin in the Woods, which was seen to redefine the horror genre but really, nothing could top Avengers Assemble.
May – The Raid: Redemption
May saw a lack of big releases as the prospect of going up against Marvel’s box office Goliath seemed a little bit daunting for many studios. And of course there is a bit of a lull in the cinema calender before the big summer smashes get released. The Raid was something that we don’t see nearly enough on this side of the Atlantic, a foreign release… and a successful one at that! The Raid is a brilliant, action packed, adrenaline fueled Indonesian martial arts film and it should come as no surprise that there are plans in America to do an English language remake.
June – Killer Joe
Now, June saw the second big release of the year: Prometheus. And don’t get me started on how over rated that was and what a bore fest it unfortunately turned out to be. Rock of Ages was a very very dull adaptation of the successful stage musical and The Five Year Engagement was about five years too long. Killer Joe proved that Matthew McConaughey could really act and it turned out to be a very gritty, gothic crime drama that also featured Emile Hirsch who is quietly going about proving what a good actor he is too.
July – The Dark Knight Rises
At the beginning of July The Amazing Spider-Man was released and was a very good attempt at reshaping Spider-Man’s origins; then on the 20th of July Christopher Nolan turned up to show everyone how it was done. Nolan’s Batman trilogy ended with one of the greatest films of the year. Full stop. He brought an all star cast here and cranked up the tension, cranked up the stakes and people flocked to the cinema to see how the greatest superhero trilogy ever made would end. And it did not disappoint. Sure, it never quite reached the heights of The Dark Knight which preceded it but I thought that the ending of The Dark Knight Rises was one of the greatest and most satisfying endings I have ever seen.
August – Ted
Fans of controversial humour, outrageous humour and toilet humour were delivered an early Christmas present back in August when Seth MacFarlane made his feature film directorial debut in this story of a child’s teddy bear coming to life to become a sex-craved, pot smoking best friend (voiced by MacFarlane himself). I think Ted may suffer from a lack of rewatchability but all in all it was a very funny film with some great cameos and hilarious scenes. The “white trash girls names” scene is one of the best scenes of the year in itself!
September – Looper
There were some very popular films released in September: Anna Karenina, Dredd, The Sweeney and House at the End of the Street to name a few. Lawless, featuring wonderful performances from Tom Hardy, Shia LaBeouf and Guy Pearce among others was an incredible film and gives Looper a run for its money but when I saw Looper I knew I was watching something special. Looper is one of the best films that I have ever seen and has fast become one of my favourites. The time travel plot device that has long been a staple in the science fiction genre and Looper gave an alternate look while skirting around the edges of Rian Johnson’s own laws of time travel. Looper was incredible! My best film of the year.
October – Skyfall
2012 saw the return of James Bond to the big screen in Skyfall, directed by Sam Mendes. After a disappointing Quantum of Solace Bond returned in a flood of critical acclaim and commercial success worldwide in the critically lauded Skyfall. Skyfall delivered a more personal look at the characters in Bond’s world, including a small trip into Bond’s background, a more in-depth look at M and revealed a few dark secrets of MI6. Skyfall also brought back some famous characters in a new style, Q and Moneypenny. Skyfall was simply fantastic and should be an outside bet for a couple of Oscar nominations.
November – Argo
My heart longs to say that Rise of the Guardians was the best film released in November but my head says otherwise. November saw End of Watch and Silver Linings Playbook released as well but I think that Argo was a really really incredible achievement for Ben Affleck. Argo was crammed full of suspense and tension and had audiences chewing on their nails whilst sitting on the edge of their seats. A true story of a rescue attempt using the undercover story of being a film crew for a science fiction film seems almost unbelievable but Argo brings it to the screen with such perfect realism.
December – Life of Pi
Life of Pi was very hotly anticipated as soon as it was announced. Being a best-selling book Life of Pi already had a huge audience waiting to see how the adaptation would turn out. The story is of 16 year old Pi who suffers a ship wreck which kills his family and leaves Pi stranded with just a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. It is a truly touching and emotional story and is already reaping the rewards of their hard work with Golden Globe nominations for Best Score, Best Drama and Best Director.