Films Retrospect 2012

Posted By yonghow on January 24th, 2013

I watched a total of 116 films in 2012, slightly less than 2011 but still keeping my target of about 2 films per week. You can see the complete list here.

As I looked through the list trying to sieve out my 10 favourite films it becomes apparent to me there were many good films, but none that really left a particularly deep and lasting impression – some films from previous years that did include The Life Of Others (2007), Toni Takitani (2005), Atonement (2008) and Never Let Me Go (2011). Of course, this has little to do with the calibre of films released but rather my own personal taste; I hope I get luckier this year.

Here are my 10 favourite films/series of 2012 : ( actual release date of some films may not be 2012. )


1) The Dark Knight Rises ( Director : Christopher Nolan, DP : Wally Pfister )

I caught this on IMAX – the epic presentation and lucid clarity of the format blew me away completely. I’ll pick IMAX over 3D any day. Technical discussions aside, the literally painful journey of Batman’s descent into darkness and utter defeat at the hands of his tormentor Bane kept me riveted and emotionally invested for the whole movie. A great finale for a fantastic trilogy of films.


2) Moonrise Kingdom ( Director : Wes Anderson, DP : Robert Yeoman )

A colorful, whimsical ensemble of characters and intricately designed set pieces have become the visual hallmarks of Wes Anderson films. The cinematography often emphasize on locked shots with carefully planned composition and framing to leverage the stellar set design in relation to the characters, with layered, secondary performances happening in the mid or background. ( the hilarious kid on the trapeze, for example. )


3) The Hobbit : An Unexpected Journey ( Director : Peter Jackson, DP : Andrew Lesnie )

I enjoyed this especially for the amazing CG characters. The fully CG realized white orc Azog in particular held his own really well against the real life actors; Weta digital’s work is just getting better all the time. The dwarves versus Orcs flashback sequence is exactly how I would imagine a live action Warcraft film will look like.


4) The Man From Nowhere ( Director : Jeong-beom Lee, DP : Tae-yoon Lee )

South Korea continues to reign as the recent powerhouse of Asian cinema, churning out films that not only deliver engaging narratives but with very polished production values to match, especially in the areas of cinematography and production design. The story isn’t anything novel, but the sleek execution of the action pieces is easily on par with the very best that HongKong cinema dish out.


5) Frozen Planet ( Various filmmakers, DP : Mark Smith )

BBC makes the best nature documentaries, and together with Sir David Attenborough’s impassioned narration you really can’t go wrong. The photography for the series is spellbinding as expected, and I learned more than a thing or two about the North and South poles, the incredible Taiga forest (which make up 30% of the planet’s forests), and much much more.


6) The Game ( Director : David Fincher, DP : Harris Savides )

This one is a little out of place because the film was released in 1997, but better late than never. ( I saw Pakula’s All The President’s Men only in 2009. ) Regrettably, the DP for this film Harris Savides passed away in October 2012. His credits include such beautifully shot films like Zodiac, Margot At The Wedding and my favourite, Birth.


7) Life Of Pi ( Director : Ang Lee, DP : Claudio Miranda )

The incredibly life-like CG tiger is reason enough to watch this film, but Ang Lee delivers so much more in this adaption of Yann Martel’s novel, weaving a rich tapestry of visual poetry to complement the narrative. Probably my favourite film of the year.


8) Argo ( Director : Ben Affleck, DP : Rodrigo Prieto )

I enjoyed Affleck’s last film The Town, and this one didn’t disappoint either. Alan Arkin’s performance is always a delight to watch. DP Rodrigo Prieto ( who also photographed Biutiful, a film I really love ) shot parts of the film on 35mm and blew it up 200% ( 2 perf ), increasing the graininess of the stock to recreate the look of 1970s films.


9) Wolf Children ( Director : Mamoru Hosoda )

From the director of Summer Wars & The Girl Who Leapt Through Time Mamoru Hosoda, this film plays suspiciously like a family propaganda film designed to promote parenthood in a rapidly graying Japan. This alleged subterfuge however, takes little, if any enjoyment away from what is a fantastic anime at heart, with a great score to go with. The superb background art in the film is worth mentioning too – check out the art book here.


x) Game Of Thrones ( Various directors/DPs )

One of the best TV series I’ve ever seen, Thrones never shies away from nudity and violence when it is deemed appropriate, something I found mildly shocking at the beginning of my viewing. I also like how the fantasy elements are played ever so lightly, and as such the impact of their appearances are greatly amplified. Eagerly awaiting season 3.


Some of the other films I enjoyed include Fincher’s remake of Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Skyfall, Carlos, Paranorman, Snow White & The Huntsman (mostly for its superb photography and vfx), and Ted.

What are some of the better films you watched in 2012 ? I’ll love to hear recommendations. :]


8 Responses to “Films Retrospect 2012”


What about Cloud Atlas? It easily one of the most amasing movies of 2012 and for some reason it didn’t get the atention it deserved…


my two favorite films this year are in a tie; The Master and Letter To Momo were both incredibly memorable films, and for totally different reasons. a friend of mine does a great blog on music and movies, and his list for 2012 is pretty extensive. i got to catch a peak of it, and it will be posted pretty soon. you can find his blog at

many of my film experiences this year have been with him, and we share some similar opinions about film in general.

also, The Game is pretty classic, and from all accounts, Cloud Atlas was a mess, and i think it was marketed in a way that told viewers that if they didn’t get it then they just weren’t smart enough. every media outlet for that film pegged it as a film that requires tens of viewings to properly understand, and the book itself was given positive reviews by people who admittedly never finished the book and refused to do so out of it’s “complexity”. both the film and the book boast a lot of pretentiousness that in the end hurt the experience. i gotta throw a thumbs down.


hi five to another Game of throne fan.


Some films i have to attend for sure are in this list.

I have to mention two films i really enjoyed: Tarkakovsky`s Hotel Transylvania & Joss Whedon´s The Avengers, the first due to his incredible care in Character Animation and humor ( like all Tarkakovsky`s cartoons), and the second because of his technical achievement and fun factor, (first time i was in a theater and all folks yelled like if we were watching some superbowl game, specially in the final battle in N.Y.)

Great list here!


CLOUD ATLAS is the best film of all time, in my opinion. People who claim it was a mess simply have not tried to figure everything out & piece it all together. Simply a masterwork in every way. Also PROMETHEUS & THE SECRET WORLD OF ARRIETTY were amazing…


Dude Cloud Atlas? Really? – it sucked balls, and the consensus proves it, it bombed in every way possible. Not to mention the retardedly messed up story line in prometheus… this should be a ‘lets give ups to all the badly written movies of 2012’ by the standards of you two peeps…


i’m not trying to get negative, but i don’t know, i don’t think Cloud Atlas was worth trying to make myself like it. though full of mystery, film isn’t a puzzle, and promoting something as a challenge to viewers is a little too antagonistic; not to mention insulting the general viewership by telling them they are either not smart enough to get it or patient enough to watch it a bunch of times doesn’t bode well for your film. i get it, there is an overarching theme, but aside from that, all the make-up and scene changes in the world can’t make up for poor acting or rote storytelling.

and though i will admit Prometheus had a ton of problems, i will admit to just enjoying watching that movie, which goes to show that personal taste makes a lot of excuses for us in what we think is good. we make connections through events that aren’t there, or are at least a bit of a stretch, but we do it because we are enjoying the experience and want validation for that experience. there’s nothing wrong with that, but let’s be honest with ourselves.

it’s cool that you really like Cloud Atlas, but it isn’t the best movie of all time. it’s not even really a good movie. i like Tango & Cash, but it isn’t a good movie.


I have to just tell you how much I agree about your Hobbit commentary! 😀
But I think you are missing two amazing films – Cloud Atlas (Wachowskis) and Prometheus (Great CGI and sets)!