philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

This is the sixth in a series of movie lists I've been making charting my favourite movies of each year.

My top films of 2007,2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 were the following:

Click here to see my top 5 for 2007 (which I have plans to expand)
Click here to see my top 10 for 2008
Click here to see my top 10 for 2009
Click here to see my top 10 for 2010
Click here to see my top 10 for 2011

Part way through 2012 I suggested that it had been a great year for movies. I was rebuked for this comment at the time. Looking at my favourites of the year (having been able to fill in many of the gaps) it is interesting to see that many of my selections had a very limited cinema release, if they made it to a cinema at all. "Dredd" was a flop, "Cabin In The Woods" had its released delayed for years, "The Revenant" had its straight-to-DVD release delayed for years, and most people in the UK have never even heard of "Detention". Of all my "very best of the year" top 10 movie lists, this one for 2012 contains by far the most obscure entries. I still think this was a pretty great year for movies, but I don't think I'd have been feeling that way if it hadn't been for wonderful online recommendations opening me up to so many hidden gems.

10. Excision (2012)
UK release: 2 November 2012

A twisted coming of age tale, with a protagonist who has a sexual fascination with blood. Both horrifying and comical at the same time, "Excision" is an incredible piece of work. Inventive dream sequences help to colour the more down-to-earth character drama. While Annalynne McCord is exceptionally brilliant in the central role, Traci Lords also gives a great performance as her mother.

My review here

Richard Bates Jr.'s next film is "Suburban Gothic" about an unemployed man who discovers he can channel the paranormal.

9. The Girl (2012 TV Movie)
UK release: 26 December 2012

In the same year where we saw Antony Hopkins donning extensive prosthetics to make himself look like the great director Alfred Hitchcock, Toby Jones is able to do an even more effective job working mainly with his own highly expressive face. This is a not even remotely flattering portrayal of the director (though it's worth noting that, for all it's cutesiness, neither was "Hitchcock" with Antony Hopkins), but it does work very well as a Hitchcockian drama, thick with menace and atmosphere.

My review here

Julian Jarrold's next film is "Girls' Night Out", a romance thriller about Princess Margaret in the immediate aftermath of WWII.

More favourites of 2012 under the cut... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

This is the fifth in a series of movie lists I've been making charting my favourite movies of each year (working steadily backwards).

My top films of 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 were the following:

Click here to see the full list for 2008
Click here to see the full list for 2009
Click here to see the full list for 2010
Click here to see the full list for 2011

5. Molière (2007)
UK release: 13 July 2007

"Molière" is an absolutely hilarious French film with an invented story to explain the rise of the eponymous French playwright. Certainly the idea is somewhat inspired by "Shakespeare In Love", but I found this film far superior. Romain Duris gives an electrifying central performance which holds together the farce-comedy storyline and the quirky characters. I loved every second of this.

Director Laurent Tirard's last film was "Astérix and Obélix: God Save Britannia". He does not appear to have made anything up to same standard as "Molière". However, the main star Romain Duris' next film is "The New Girlfriend" from director François Ozon. Ludivine Sagnier was recently in "Love Crime" alongside Kristin Scott Thomas and her next two upcoming movies are "Lou" and "Tristesse Club".

More favourites of 2007 under the cut... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

This is the fourth of my new lists charting what I now believe to be the best movies released in the UK in previous years. My others include: 2011, 2010 and 2009. My favourites from those previous three lists were the following awesome films:

Click here to see the full list for 2009
Click here to see the full list for 2010
Click here to see the full list for 2011

Below is my list of what I consider the very best movies of 2008...

10. Mongol: The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan (2007)
UK release: 6 June 2008

"Mongol" had a bit of a mixed reception when it first came out, annoyingly with many people wondering why it only focussed on the very early years of Genghis Khan's life and not really coming to a satisfying conclusion. In actual fact it was always intended as the first part in a trilogy and it's clearly a take on Genghis Khan that we haven't seen before.

In spite of being an unsurprisingly male-centric movie, this just about passes the Bechdel Test. The relationship between Temudjin (Genghis Khan's original name) and his wife is very interesting and was a good set up for somone who would go on to be a very strong character in her own right, had the intended sequels been made.

Even accepting that sequels may never come about, this is still a wonderful film in its own right. The acting is fantastic, the story is engaging and atmospheric and the whole thing also happens to be gorgeously shot. While the film does not exactly have a message, we do get to see Genghis Khan as a figure with a different sort of code than that we are used to rather than simply a mad dog barbarian. As far as biopics go, this is head and shoulders above the usual fare. While it may be taking massive liberties in its portrayal, it had me so caught up in the story being told that I didn't care whether it was true or not.

Sergey Bodrov has been involved in fairly small time projects since "Mongol", but is currently working on "Seventh Son" starring Jeff Bridges.

9. [REC] (2007)
UK release: 11 April 2008

Looking back, I actually think this is as important an addition to zombie lore as "28 Days Later" or "Shaun Of The Dead". (These both being rather less controversial examples than Romero's original "Night Of The Living Dead".) "28 Days Later" took zombies in a whole new direction having, while not the first instance of zombies that run, certainly the most influential example. The idea of a 'rage virus' caught the imagination of many filmmakers and changed the portrayal of zombies in many films (much to the annoyance of many of the more purist fans of the genre). Similarly "Shaun Of The Dead" showed the comic potential of the zombie genre and while it wasn't the first time that zombies had been played for laughs (my personal favourite being "Return Of The Living Dead") it did give zombie comedies a second wind.

REC hasn't been as influential as either of the previous two. It isn't the first of the found footage horror movies and nor does it generally seem to be the first one referenced when the genre comes up. However, REC is, to my mind, the very best found footage movie that cannot be classed as a faux documentary (unlike "Troll Hunter" which is clearly documentary footage plus outtakes, REC is more of a continuous roll of footage). What I have always found particularly impressive from the start is how natural the inclusion of the camera seems (with good excuses found for why the camera might actually be an essential tool rather than an unnecessary hassle during the most climactic points in the story). REC also preceeded all the hype around the found-footage monster movie "Cloverfield" and I think REC was the superior of the two.

Asides from the found footage element, there's another way that the REC series distinguishes itself from other zombie mythologies. I don't really want to reveal this since it's a spoiler for the first two REC movies. This new direction can seem rather jarring upon first discovery and not everyone is entirely sold on it, but then again it's good that this approach to the genre remains unique to the REC series. The main hallmark of the first two REC movies are the very creepy atmosphere of the appartment block which actually seems to affect and interfere with the camera itself at times. The REC films are quite inventive in the way in which they make use of the medium in which they are filmed and presented.

Jaume Balaguero is currently working on "REC 4: Apocalypse". It will follow straight on from "REC 2" though it is possible that at least a few elements from "REC 3: Genesis" might become relevant.

More favourites of 2008 under the cut... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)
Working (very) gradually backwards through the years, I'm redoing my 'best of' movie lists. Inevitably trying to release a best of list at the end of the year is tough since you often haven't had the time to see all the movies by then and in the attempt to meet the Oscar rush many movies are released in December in the US yet take months and months to get a UK release (and sometimes the bigger the wait, the bigger the disappointment, such as with "Hitchcock" for example).

So it's inevitable that I'll need to do a reconsideration of my upon-the-new-year best of list for 2012, but I have so far done far more satisfying lists for 2011 and 2010:

For 2011 I felt the very best movie was Black Swan, directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Natalie Portman. Click here for my full Top Ten movies of 2011

For 2010 I felt the very best movie was Winter's Bone, directed by Debra Granik and starring Jennifer Lawrence. Click here for my full Top Ten movies of 2010

So without further ado...

10. Triangle (2009)
UK release: 16 October 2009

Possibly Christopher Smith's best movie yet, combining time travel with the slasher genre with some very interesting Kubrickian shots in a large ship. So far so weird.

Triangle actually turns out early on to be the name of a yacht, though it seems pretty clear that the title was originally intended to indicate that the movie took place in the Bermuda Triangle (which was precisely why I initially thought I should completely avoid this film). Fortunately the Bermuda Triangle actually has no relevance to anything.

I was very happily surprised by how good this movie was. It's creepy, yet intelligent and gives the audience something more than you'd expect from the average horror movie. It's difficult to explain what happens in this movie without spoiling it. This is a simple but effective plot. But essentially it's about a group of people who go on a sailing trip on a yacht and, when their yacht is blown over in a storm, find themselves taking refuge on what appears to be a large empty ship. Is the ship haunted? Is the ship evil? Or did the real evil come on board with them? Seriously, the film is so much better than any of that sounds. Check it out.

My review here

Christopher Smith is on pre-production for a movie called "Get Santa" about a father and son who have to help Father Christmas who is on the run from the police having crashed his sleigh (what???). This is apparently expected to star Jim Broadbent (presumably as Father Christmas).

9. Drag Me to Hell (2009)
UK release: 27 May 2009

After all that time-wasting making naff movies like "The Gift" or making those cheesy Spider-Man movies, Sam Raimi finally gets back to what he does best: horror-comedy. "Drag Me To Hell" is about a woman who finds herself stuck with a curse that will inevitably lead to her being dragged to hell. Just like with the deadites in the "Evil Dead" movies, the demon consistently taunts her but any fighting back seems futile. She's being toyed with. Still she tries a number of different methods of getting rid of the demon and eventually enlists the help of a woman who has faced this demon once before.

You need to expect to laugh in order to enjoy this movie really. A lot of what happens is ridiculous and often the scariest moments are hilarious at the exact same moment. The clearest sign that this is supposed to be a comedy is when there's randomly an anvil suspended from the ceiling by a rope. Blood and other fluids are regularly squirting around the place, often into the protagonist's mouth.

"Drag Me To Hell" is a creepy, yet hilarious slapstick masterpiece. It's right up there with any of the "Evil Dead" films and has a very similar style to Evil Dead 2 and 3. Hopefully Raimi will make another film in this genre (perhaps the ever-awaited "Evil Dead 4") soon.

Sam Raimi has not yet confirmed what his next film after his "Wizard of Oz" prequel will be. (Make it horror, make it horror, please please make it horror!)

More favourites of 2009 under the cut... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

Below I have redone my list of my favourite films from 2010, this time ensuring that the films are all ones that were actually released in my country during that year.

My redone list for 2011 is here.

My current list for 2012 (which will definitely need to be reconsidered at the end of this year when I've caught up the many films I missed out on from 2012 last year) can be found here.

10. A Town Called Panic (2009)
UK release:  8th October 2010

This enchantingly insane animated feature tells the story of three housemates: horse, indian and cowboy. Horse is the sensible one, while indian and cowboy are ridiculously foolish figures.

While on the one hand these characters are represented by typical children's toys of a horse, indian and cowboy (the kind that can't move their arms or legs), the animation often ingeniously overcomes those barriers (partly because they have a variety of toys of each character to swap around when they need a new pose).

Once you reach the point in the film where a robotic penguin is being used to launch enormous snowballs at targets identified via satellite, it becomes clear that there are no limits to the extent this movie expects you to suspend your disbelief. Of course, it's not just a matter of bizarre randomness for the sake of it. "A Town Called Panic" is also absolutely hilarious.

My review here

Directors Stéphane Aubier and Vincent Patar's latest project is the cartoon movie "Ernest and Celestine" which is getting a DVD release in the UK this May.

9. The Infidel (2010)
UK release: 9th April 2010

Omid Djalili is a great comedian, though having watched several of his DVDs he seems to only have a pretty limited range of material. His work plays on racial stereotypes, so perhaps it's not surprising to see him playing the lead in a film about a Muslim who faces an identity crisis when he discovers that his real mother and father were Jewish. (Djalili's own religion is Ba'hai.)

There's great chemistry with Richard Schiff as the cynical Jewish American taxi driver who ends up teaching Djalili what is most important about being Jewish.

In the end, comedy is a very personal thing and it's hard to get consensus on what makes you laugh. Personally though, I found this absolutely hilarious.

My review here

Josh Appignanesi has only directed short films since "The Infidel", but the star Omid Djalili is expected to have a role in the upcoming "Molly Moon: The Incredible Hypnotist".

More favourites of 2010 under the cut... )
philosoraptor42: (Fatpie42)

I already posted a massive list of 23 films last year. However, I've seen a few more films from 2011 since then. Also, my opinion has somewhat changed. Perhaps the bigger thing this time around, however, is that I'm now trying to narrow the list down to a much more manageable figure. So here goes....

Of course, I promised to provide this list and more when I came up with my top 10 of 2012 (which will no doubt need revising next year too).

10. Source Code (2011)
UK release: 1st April 2011

Duncan Jones' follow-up to the excellent "Moon" was another sci-fi movie. Apparently Duncan Jones turned up late on for this project, but what he came out with was very special indeed.

My review here

Duncan Jones is currently working on a biopic about Ian Fleming (the writer of the James Bond novels).

9. The Woman (2011)
UK release: 30th September 2011

This is an adaptation of a book by Jack Ketchum, an author known for his pretty twisted imagination. However, as twisted as things get and as horrific as the subject matter may be, Lucky McKee somehow manages to produce a darkly sweet film.

The central father figure comes off a bit like the mayor in series three of Buffy. (Sorry for the somewhat random reference here.) He's a conservative yet cheerful figure who, underneath the surface, is a bit of a monster.

"The Woman" is unlike anything else you may have seen and, for me, it's Lucky McKee's best film so far.

My review here

Lucky McKee is currently working on a remake of his straight-to-DVD debut movie "All Cheerleaders Die".

More favourites of 2011 under the cut... )


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