Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

Discussions of specific films and franchises.
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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#51 Post by zedz » Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:46 pm

Based on what I’ve seen from Cannes, Berlin, Sundance and elsewhere, this is not likely to be a great year for cinema. Lots of very good films that aren’t up to the level of their directors’ previous best, or interesting flawed works, but the first-rank masterpieces seem to be thin on the ground. By this time of year, I’ve normally seen twenty or more films that ought to be in my top ten, and I’m trying to find devious ways to defy mathematics. This year, I’ve got nine, and the tenth feels like it should be on the supplementary list. Fingers crossed for a whole lot of surprises to come. There are certainly a few Venice titles I’m looking forward to.

Ten Best

SPECIAL CASE: Raumlichtkunst (Fischinger) - Maybe the best new film I saw this year is in some ways over 80 years old. This speculative reconstruction of one of Fischinger's multi-screen film performances from 1926 would be a stunning achievement in any decade, a tsunami of abstract kinesthesia. Even if it's only an approximation of what he was doing at that time, it confirms that he was 30, 40, 50 years ahead of it.

Holy Motors (Carax) – As the prologue announces in no uncertain terms, this is Leos Carax’s Dream of Cinema, and it’s a dream about death and transformation, about the existential implications of acting, and about the pure joy of great filmmaking. It’s also really funny, has some lovely dogs in it and a couple of great musical numbers. If you want tight plotting and detailed character drama on top of all that, you really have no idea where this film is coming from.

Vivan las Antipodas! (Kossakovsky) – More pure cinema delight. Is this the first time that some smart producer has thrown serious Baraka-level money at an actually great documentary filmmaker? Kossakovsky’s previous films have been extremely intimate and low-key (Svyato, about a little girl becoming aware of her own reflection for the first time, is about as intimate as documentary can get), and he manages to preserve that easy, human level of interaction even in a globe-trotting spectacle like this. He’s particularly fine in delineating the relationship between humans and animals. This is a film that really understands scale, and understands that any environment is an environment of wonder if you know how to look at it the right way.

Tabu (Gomes) – One of those films where you know from the outset that you’re in the hands of a master filmmaker and can sit back and see where you get taken. Like Holy Motors, this is a film that is reflexively about cinema (more than half the film owes a debt to silent film, and the opening nods to The Asthenic Syndrome) without being overly derivative.

Nana (Massadian) – A beautifully realized first film, focussed entirely on the experience of a 4 year old girl left mostly to her own devices on a farm. Yes, it’s as cute and as scary as that suggests.

Just the Wind (Fliegauf) – This following-people-in-extreme-close-up thing is possibly the biggest art-house cliché of the new century, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t instances like this when it’s exactly the right aesthetic choice for the material, and all the film’s tense meandering lays the groundwork for an explosive finale.

In Another Country (Hong) – This seems to have been dismissed as minor Hong (like almost every other recent Hong), but I think it’s one of his best, even if it is very much business as usual. (And anyway, who wouldn’t want to see another half dozen ‘business as usual’ Eric Rohmer films, for example?) It’s actually one of his most straightforward and straightforwardly entertaining films, since it sets up a clear framing device to account for the sly narrative tricks that ensue, but that also helps make Hong’s entire creative project a little more transparent. After all, don’t all our lives resemble a Hong film to a large extent, with the same situations, relationships and bits of dialogue recurring in an infinite number of possible variations? It’s the situational context and our own personal history that inflects these commonplaces with individual meaning. I’m delighted to report that Huppert gets Hong, and this particular script, completely, and seems to have a great time playing three variations on a Korean woman’s limited understanding of what a French woman in Korea might be like. She’s not searching for deep character moments but is fully invested in the narrative play.

Moonrise Kingdom (Anderson) – Speaking of pure delight. . .

River Rites (Ben Russell) – Family play in a river, backwards, becomes a bizarre ritualistic performance, punctuated with thumping electronica.

Slow Action (Ben Rivers) – A masterpiece of ethnographic forgery: an essay film exploring the cultures of four imaginary islands, all putative utopias, all eerily post-apocalyptic.

In the Fog (Loznitsa) – This film sort of encapsulates the year for me. It’s a great film, flawlessly made, but it’s a giant step down from the audacity of My Joy. Still, it’s not fair to downgrade such a fine film simply because Loznitsa’s previous one was one of the best of the century to date.

And Also:

A perdre la raison / Our Children (Lafosse) – Extemely tense and bleak domestic drama, with an incredible performance from Emilie Dequenne (even better here than in Rosetta.)

Barbara (Petzold) – The best Petzold film I’ve seen so far. Impeccable filmmaking.

Photographic Memory (McElwee) – Another instalment in his ongoing autobiography, one which brings us into the present and takes us way back into the past, in order to ruminate on the hazards of personal and technological memory.

The Lifeguard (Alberdi) – An extremely low-key semi-documentary character study that builds to an unexpectedly complex emotional climax.

Margaret (Lonergan) – You all know this is a great film already, right?

Faust (Sokhurov) – The more heavily narrative Sokhurov’s films are, the less I tend to like them, but this film has so many amazing visual and atmospheric sequences that I love it anyway.

This Is Not a Film (Panahi) – I actually didn’t love this as much as I hoped, but it’s charming and profound and all those good things.

Crazy Horse (Wiseman) – Doesn’t get into the institutional culture as deeply as you’d hope from Wiseman (and at any rate not a patch on the wonderful Boxing Gym), but well worth it for the superb pop-art musical numbers. Quite probably Wiseman’s most visually spectacular film.

For the Record:
Amour (Haneke) didn’t do it for me. Beautifully made and beautifully acted, but it struck me as cynical and glib (a bit like The Piano Teacher in this respect). A much better deathbed film, in my opinion, was Stopped on Track (Dresen), which seemed to me to have greater honesty and more to say, even if its ultimate message is the hardly consoling “the death of a loved one is absolutely horrible, but it doesn’t have to be terrifying.”

(Oh, and for the benefit of those who like to get all tied up in statistical knots, I've taken the radical approach of compiling my list of the best new films I've seen in 2012 from the new films I've seen in 2012. i.e. if I see it in 2012, and it's a new film, it's eligible, even if was first screened for seven Kazakh goatherds in a DCP-equipped yurt in November 2010.)
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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#52 Post by swo17 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:53 pm

zedz wrote:The Lifeguard (Alberdi) – An extremely low-key semi-documentary character study that
Drowns midsentence?

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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#53 Post by matrixschmatrix » Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:54 pm

zedz wrote:Based on what I’ve seen from Cannes, Berlin, Sundance and elsewhere, this is not likely to be a great year for cinema.
It's certainly not looking all that strong so far- the only entry on my list that would certainly have made my top ten in the last three years is Moonrise Kingdom, and only the top three would have had any kind of chance. The Master and Django Unchained are both due out before the end of the year, though, aren't they?

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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#54 Post by zedz » Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:58 pm

swo17 wrote:
zedz wrote:The Lifeguard (Alberdi) – An extremely low-key semi-documentary character study that
Drowns midsentence?
Will repair. Something about building to an unexpectedly complex emotional climax.

EDIT: Hey, swo, you missed the gem of a typo I just corrected!

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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#55 Post by dustybooks » Wed Aug 08, 2012 12:35 am

1. The Act of Killing
2. Beasts of the Southern Wild
3. The Master
4. Frances Ha
5. Moonrise Kingdom
6. Starlet
7. Sightseers
8. Frankenweenie
9. Berberian Sound Studio
10. Arbitrage
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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#56 Post by kiddish » Mon Aug 27, 2012 11:16 pm

Pretty Good:
Moonrise Kingdom

Not Bad:
Dark Knight Rises

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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#57 Post by Professor Wagstaff » Tue Aug 28, 2012 12:06 am

1) Zero Dark Thirty (Bigelow)
2) Magic Mike (Soderbergh)
3) Silver Linings Playbook (Russell)
4) Moonrise Kingdom (W. Anderson)
5) 21 Jump Street (Lord & Miller)
6) Django Unchained (Tarantino)
7) Ruby Sparks (Dayton & Faris)
8) Skyfall (Mendes)
9) The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Chbosky)
10) Compliance (Zobel)
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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#58 Post by felipe » Tue Sep 04, 2012 11:11 am

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. Life of Pi
3. The Dark Knight Rises
4. Damsels in Distress
5. Les Miserables
6. Killer Joe
7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
8. Bernie
9. Sound of my Voice
10. On the Road
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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#59 Post by cantinflas » Sat Sep 08, 2012 11:50 pm

1. The Comedy
2. Magic Mike
3. Holy Motors
4. The Master
5. Motorway
6. Tabu
7. Marriage Material
8. Cosmopolis
9. Barbara
10. The Grey
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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#60 Post by repeat » Tue Oct 02, 2012 2:19 am

Ten films I either wouldn't mind to, can't wait to, or after several viewings still want to see again, with a few words in the hope of inspiring someone to check out some of the lesser known ones. In alphabetical order:

1. Barbara (Christian Petzold). Perhaps not my favorite Petzold - that seat is currently shared by Ghosts and Beats Being Dead - but I'll take anything by him over a lot of people's best stuff. All familiar Petzold penchants and trademarks are present and accounted for, including the magnificent Nina Hoss and Hans Fromm's beautiful camerawork - good to see all of them getting wider recognition with this all-around excellent film.

2. Dormant Beauty (Marco Bellocchio). Another subtle and strikingly personal work from maestro Bellocchio, once again freely based on a real-life incident. Over a couple of days, four stories of love and loss develop, connected via the live news coverage of dramatic events on TV. Sadly this great film hasn't found US distribution, which probably explains the lack of discussion here.

3. Everybody in our Family (Radu Jude). A completely out-of-the-blue surprise that I went to see solely out of interest in new Romanian cinema - indescribable performances from all actors, impeccably written and directed, hilarious and terrifying from start to finish. It boggles the mind that international distributors overlooked this gem of a black comedy.

4. Farewell, My Queen (Benoît Jacquot). Speaking of overlooked - generally brushed aside as another French costume drama, there is considerable cinematic magic waiting to be discovered in this pitch-perfect depiction of the claustrophobic last days of a doomed community. The sharp contrast between "upstairs" and "downstairs" somewhat reminiscent of Gosford Park. Wanted to watch this again immediately after it ended, but haven't had the chance yet.

5. Holy Motors (Leos Carax). Another great surprise, enough to convert me from skeptic to fan (although I had previously only seen the flawed Lovers on the Bridge). The somber, tragic aspects of the film seem to have been slightly neglected in favour of the more obvious jaw-dropping insanity on display. Extra points for Carax's always impeccable musical choices (Sparks!)

6. The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg). Majestic comeback, way better than Festen (of which it is a sort of a weird inverted companion piece). Intense, absurd, allegorical - but I've babbled too much in this thread already.

7. In The Fog (Sergei Loznitsa). No sophomore slump, just a slight lack of surprise after My Joy - this bleak and perfectly paced work continues the philosophical themes of My Joy and confirms Loznitsa's status as a contemporary master (but really we knew that already).

8. Me Too (Aleksei Balabanov). This freewheeling, ambiguous and stylistically instantly recognizable riff on Stalker (or perhaps more accurately on Roadside Picnic) became sadly and surprisingly the untimely closing chapter to the oeuvre of a total one-off - but with its themes of death and transfiguration, a singularly fitting one. RIP.

9. Much Ado About Nothing (Joss Whedon). This one caught me totally by surprise - can't say how it compares with other Shakespeare "modernizations" as I don't think I've seen any, but this one really gets it right: a source of great joy, just a wonderful film. Beautifully scored as well by the director himself, whose previous work I'm unfamiliar with but will investigate promptly.

10. Nobody's Daughter Haewon (Hong Sang-soo). (Sorry Tabu - see you in the "also good" section!) Still haven't seen everything of Hong's but this went straight to the current favourites: really in the spirit of the best Rohmer, but then again totally in its own class. The trademark repetitions and reconfigurations are less foregrounded, which might make this a more accessible entry point for some. Loved the use of music (couldn't put my finger on it during the film: Beethoven's 7th); laughed out loud at the sly reference to The Day He Arrives. Great stuff.

Also good: Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard), Museum Hours (Jem Cohen), No (Pablo Larraín), Our Children (Joachim Lafosse), Paradise Trilogy (Ulrich Seidl), Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley), The Suicide Shop (Patrice Leconte), Tabu (Miguel Gomes)
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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#61 Post by YnEoS » Wed Oct 17, 2012 10:06 pm

1. Like Someone in Love
2. The Master
3. Moonrise Kingdom
4. The Act of Killing
5. Night Across the Street
6. Mekong Hotel
7. ¡Vivan las Antipodas!
8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
9. The Raid: Redemption
10. Django Unchained
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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#62 Post by moviscop » Sat Oct 27, 2012 11:44 pm

1. The Turin Horse
2. Holy Motors
3. The Master
4. Killer Joe
5. Cosmopolis
6. Lincoln
7. Dark Horse
8. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
9. The Cabin in the Woods
10. End of Watch
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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#63 Post by John Edmond » Sun Oct 28, 2012 1:37 am

Boring, provisional, and only featuring films that debuted in 2012.

1. Holy Motors
2. Berberian Sound Studio
3. Leviathan
4. Tabu
5. Cosmopolis
6. Spring Breakers
7. Moonrise Kingdom
7. Like Someone in Love
9. Post Tenebras Lux
10. Neighbouring Sounds

Honourable mentions: Beyond The Hills, In the Fog, The Master, Penance, Three Sisters, Killing Them Softly, Barbara, Amour, Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty.

Dishonourable mentions: The ABCs of Death (Various, honourable exception for Cattet & Forzani's O), Pieta (Kim).
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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#64 Post by Andrew_VB » Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:50 pm

1) The Master
2) In the Fog
3) Beyond the Hills
4) The Hunt
5) Post Tenebras Lux
6) Killing Them Softly
7) Silver Linings Playbook
8) Moonrise Kingdom
9) In Another Country
10) Rust and Bone
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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#65 Post by conspirator12 » Tue Nov 27, 2012 10:16 pm

1. Leviathan
2. Alps
3. Tomie: Unlimited
4. Dredd
5. Cosmopolis
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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#66 Post by kiarostami » Sun Dec 02, 2012 11:16 pm

1. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
2. The Turin Horse
3. Chasing Ice
4. Beasts of the Southern Wild
5. Cloud Atlas
6. Moonrise Kingdom
7. Brooklyn Castle
8. The Silver Linings Playbook
9. Red Hook Summer
10. Jiro Dreams of Sushi

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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#67 Post by SofaSinema » Sun Dec 16, 2012 8:02 pm


Sleep Tight
Magic Mike
Killer Joe
Killing Them Softly

Spring Breakers

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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#68 Post by yoshimori » Tue Dec 25, 2012 10:34 pm

Agree with those above who've found this a sub-par year. Here's the list of my faves among the narrative features I've seen this year in various fests and in home-base LA.

Arnold, Wuthering Heights
Jaturanrasmee, P-047
Zeze, Heaven's Story (despite some missteps in hour 5)
Erdem, Kosmos


Anderson, Moonlight Kingdom
Lonergan, Margaret
Reygadas, Post Tenebras Lux
Sono, Himizu

Also impressed by (aspects of) Pieta, Our Children, No, Romance Joe, Ace Attorney, Simon Killer, and Student.

And some personal discoveries - films I'd not previously seen:

Otsep, The Living Corpse (new restoration, shown at HKIFF; excellent compositions; amazing performance from Pudovkin)
Benning, Landscape Suicide
Straub et Huillet, Une visite au Louvre

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Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#69 Post by barrym71 » Sat Dec 29, 2012 1:23 pm

01) Seven Psychopaths
02) Django Unchained
03) The Dark Horse
04) Amour
05) Killer Joe
06) Snowtown
07) Looper
08) Kill List
09) The Grey
10) Bernie

Have not seen: Zero Dark Thirty, Deep Blue Sea, Wuthering Heights, The Sound of My Voice, Haywire, Compliance, Flight, Berberian Sound Studio

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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#70 Post by Brad » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:46 am

Bad bad year. I'll try to add more.

1. Domain (Chiha) (not released in USA until 2012)
2. Holy Motors (Carax).
3. Tabu (Gomes)
4. Barbara (Petzold)
5. The Paperboy (Daniels) (sorry)
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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#71 Post by sighkingu » Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:32 am

1. Los Angeles Plays Itself, directed by Thom Anderson, 2003
2. Margaret (Extended), directed by Kenneth Lonergan,
3. The Master, directed by Philip Thomas Anderson
4. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Bir Zamanlar Anadolu'da), directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
5. On the Bowery, directed by Lionel Rogosin, 1956
Wake in Fright, directed by Ted Kotcheff, 1971
6. The Yellow Sea, directed by Na Hong-jin
Oki's Movie, directed by Hong Sang-soo, 2010
7. Greenberg, directed by Noah Baumbach, 2010
8. On Freddie Roach, directed by Peter Berg (TV)
Knuckle, directed by Ian Palmer, U.K.
9. I Wish, directed by Koreeda Hirokazu
10. Footnote, directed by Joseph Cedar

The next ten:

11. Silver Linings Playbook, directed by David O. Russell
12. Beyond the Hills, directed by Cristian Mungiu
13. A Dangerous Method, directed by David Cronenberg
14. The Romney Tapes (Mother Jones’ 47 Percent Video)
15. Flight, directed by Robert Zemeckis
16. Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg
17. Something in the Air, directed by Olivier Assayas
18. Oslo, August 31st, directed Joachim Trier
19. Django Unchained, directed by Quentin Tarantino
20. Crime Does Not Pay: The Complete Shorts Collection (1935-1947), directed by various (DVD)

Also good:
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Crazy Horse
Goodbye First Love
The Grey
In Another Country
Life Without Principle
The Raid: Redemption
A Separation
We Have a Pope

Death by high expectations:

Carol for Another Christmas, directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
The Dark Knight Rises
The Dictator
Easy Money (Snabba Cash)
Killing Them Softly
Moonrise Kingdom
Red Tails
The Snowtown Murders
The Three Stooges
The Turin Horse (A torinói ló)

The rest:

Bad Ass
The Big Year
Bones Brigade: An Autobiography
The Bourne Legacy
Game Change
Get the Gringo.
Maximum Conviction
Monsieur Lazhar
Safe House
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning
Warriors of the Rainbow: Seedig Bale,

Give me back my ninety to one hundred twenty eight minutes!

Bullhead (Rundskop)
Premium Rush
Stash House

Missed the boat: Cloud Atlas, The Cabin in the Woods, The Deep Blue Sea, Farewell my Queen, Holy Motors, Kill List, Looper, Magic Mike, The Man with the Iron Fists, Seven Psychopaths, Sister

Turned off after fifteen minutes (didn’t give an honest shake): 2 Days in New York

Waiting patiently for: Amour, Barbara, Berberian Sound Studio, 11/25: The Day He Chose His Fate, The Gate Keepers, Hara-kiri, In Search of the Unreturned Soldiers in Thailand & Malaysia, The Machine that Kills Bad People, A Man Vanishes, Neighboring Sounds, Our Homeland, Outrage Beyond, Petrel Hotel Blue, Tabu, Zero Dark Thirty

2012, Philadelphia, USA
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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#72 Post by dad1153 » Mon Dec 31, 2012 7:29 pm

OK, I have a few holes left in my 2012 'to watch' project that I will over the next few days, but as of now:

1. The Avengers
2. Lincoln
3. Django Unchained
4. Titanic 3D
5. Looper
6. Amour
7. The Dark Knight Rises
8. Magic Mike
9. The Raid: Redemption
10. Seven Psychopaths

Runners up: Argo, Cloud Atlas, Safe House, A Late Quartet, The Sound of My Voice, Damsels in Distress, Flight, Take This Waltz, Riffrax Live: Birdemic and Men in Black 3.

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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#73 Post by CSM126 » Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:23 am

1. Cloud Atlas
2. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
3. Hitchcock
4. The Master
5. Argo
6. Jeff, Who Lives at Home
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
8. A Separation
9. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
10. Safety Not Guaranteed

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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#74 Post by Sonmi451 » Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:10 pm

As per official U.S. release date:

1. Alps - 10/10
2. The Master - 10/10
3. The Turin Horse - 9.5/10
4. Killing Them Softly - 9/10
5. Neighboring Sounds - 9/10
6. Killer Joe - 9/10
7. Bullhead - 8.5/10
8. Moonrise Kingdom - 8.5/10
9. Holy Motors - 8.5/10
10. Rust and Bone - 8.5/10

Also Really Liked:

Cosmopolis, Michael, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, The Loneliest Planet, Compliance, The Imposter
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Re: Dynamic Top Tens of 2012

#75 Post by James43 » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:58 pm

1. Tabu
2. Moonrise Kingdom
3. Holy Motors
4. The Turin Horse
5. The Invisible Girl (Dominik Graf)
6. The Master
7. Amour
8. Once upon a time in Anatolia
9. In the Fog
10. Guilty of Romance

stays with me
Work hard - Play Hard (Carmen Losmann)
Atmen - Breathing
Tinker, tailor, soldier, spy
Boxing Gym
¡Vivan las Antipodas!
Dans la maison (Ozon)
L'Exercice de l'État (Pierre Schoeller)
Silver Linings Playbook

disappointing: J. Edgar, The Hunt, Midnight in Paris, Shame, The dark knight rises, Zero dark thirty, Skyfall, The kid with a bike, We need to talk about Kevin
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