11. Laurence Anyways, Xavier Dolan | Canada | 3.5/5
Despite the fact that it lasts and lasts almost forever, the rhythm is strange and there are all kinds of flaws I, personally, have found myself enjoying it…It is visually different and interesting. The story is intriguing and captivating and Dolan, the Montreal based director, is only 23 years old. Definitely worth the watch.
10. Beyond the Hills, Christian Mungiu | Romania | 4/5
It is agonizing, mysterious and intimately upsetting, “a terrible demonstration of how poverty creates a space which irrational fear must fill.”
09. Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson | USA | 4/5
A real nostalgia film and a beautiful evocation of an innocent young love in an innocent America done in a true Wes Anderson (quirky) style. He has been around long enough for people to decide whether they like what he is making or not. I easily belong to the first group. With this being said I can understand if you find this film depthless or even strange but me, I enjoyed every single minute of it.
08. Alps, Yorgos Lanhtimos | Greece | 4/5
Not better than his previous Dogtooth but still a remarkable watch. Without spoiling it for the future viewers I can just say two things: bizarre and brilliant.
07. Jagten, Thomas Vinterberg | Denmark | 4.5./5
Easily the best Vinterberg since Festen, a film that launched the Dogma movement. Jagten or The Hunt (english translation) has hints of Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs and Von Trier’s Dogville in its portrayal of group hysteria and anti-logic, but the themes of Festen that are profoundly explored in Jagten – “how family and community, supposedly the bulwarks against chaos and unhappiness, can turn in on themselves” – dominate this film. And Mads Mikkelsen, well his performance is breathtaking. This film is a must.
06. This is not a Film, Jafar Panahi | Iran | 4.5/5
“This is not a film, because its director is not a director.” This is how Ebert’s review of this courageous non-film starts. In December 2010, Jafar Panahi was sentenced to six years in prison and banned for 20 years from making films. His crime was “propaganda against the Islamic Republic.” Forbidden to even say “action” or “cut,” Imprisoned Panahi wanders about the apartment, feeds the iguana, begins to describe the most recent screenplay he was forbidden to do, comments on his earlier three films discussing things he did not plan. The result is this gripping, zero-budget film about a day in his life, shot entirely within his flat, partly on a simple DV camera and on his iPhone. He then had it smuggled out of the country on a USB stick, reportedly hidden in a cake and it was shown in Cannes festival last year.
05. Amour, Michael Haneke | Austria | 5/5
Haneke’s beautiful yet disturbing tale of loss of life through another life. Forced to confront the death of your loved one you are inevitably facing your own demise. Disturbing and poetic in its own distinct way.
04. Searching for Sugar Man, Malik Bendjelloul |Sweden/UK| 5/5
The craziest and most inspiring thing I have seen in this life time.
03. Beasts of Southern Wild, Benh Zeitlin | USA | 5/5
Zeitlin’s dreamy vision of Katrina-esque disaster almost ceases to be a film. Its time frame is not as easily determined either. It is set at the time of the Katrina catastrophe. It is set some hundred years in the future. It is set in the modern-ess past re-enacting the biblical flood. It is an apocalyptic yet not quite dystopian. It is a fairytale, reality seen through the eyes of a 6-year-old girl, masterfully played by little Quvenzhane Wallis. Profoundly influenced by Terence Malick with certain elements of Coppola’s Apocalypse Now (1979), Zeitlin is creating a new war zone, rendering it surreal.
02. Holy Motors, Leos Carax | France | 5/5
[deeply] symbolic, beautiful, bizarre surrealist postmodern celebration of cinema. You either love it or you hate it.
01. The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson | USA | 5+/5
Easily the best film of 2012 if not one of the best films I have ever seen and definitely the best film PTA has made thus far.