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My Top Five Films Of The Year...So Far

Tuesday 26 June 2012, 17:38

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

Here is my mid-term report in which I reveal my five favourite movies of the first half of 2012.

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Related Posts on Kermode Uncut
2011 Best of the year so far... 2011 Worst of the year so far...

Mark's reviews on 5 live
A Royal Affair

The Angel's Share

Even The Rain

Hear Mark Kermode review the week's new films every Friday from 2pm on BBC Radio 5 live. Kermode & Mayo's Film Review is also available as a free podcast to download and keep.


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    Comment number 1.

    Am seeing A Royal Affair tomorrow so will go in with high expectations. Only other one I've seen out of your five is MMMM, and it creeped the living daylights out of me. Reminded me of how creeped out I was by Repulsion the first time round.

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    Comment number 2.

    I have not seen a lot this year so far ... and not a lot of good pictures in particular. Haven't heard much about those mentioned by Mr. Kermode but these sound like some good recommendations to check out.

    I thought "Martha Marcy May Marlene" was actually from last year. Well then, my number one pick so far would be a film also released last year (in the US at least, not where I live). That would be without any doubt "Take Shelter" by Jeff Nichols, stunning piece that literally took me by storm.

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    Comment number 3.

    Very interesting list, Mark. I must point out - and I'm sure I'm not alone in this opinion - that this year, so far, has produced some very fine films. I've yet to see A Royale Affair, however, I probably won't get the chance to any time soon given that I sadly live in a purely multiplex-infested city. However, I have been able to catch up with some of this year's "arthouse" flicks via DVD. Here's my top 5 so far:

    5. Into the Abyss
    4. Moonrise Kingdom
    3. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
    2. Martha Marcy May Marlene
    1. The Kid With a Bike

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    Comment number 4.

    Some choices you may hate Mark and some you may like. So here goes.

    1. Prometheus (A really solid sort of prequel that is by far and away the best Science Fiction Film since Minority Report and that was 10 years ago.)

    2. The Hunger Games (A Haunting and Somewhat Fascinating Adaptation of a popular Book. However disappointed that no one ranted against the Government in that film.)

    3. The Intouchables (I really liked the fact that this film was sucessful not only in France but elsewhere and if you haven't heard yet, it is one of the top grossing films of 2012 worldwide. Omar Sy and Francois Cluzet have great chemistry and I was really moved by the great friendship between them.)

    4. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (I liked the film for the simple reason that it was a very honest film in that it didn't change what it promoted itself to be. Great performances all round especially from Tom Wilkinson.)

    5. The Raid (Well Mark you said nearly everything I would have said about it. But I think this was one of the finest and best choreographed Action Films I had seen in a long time certainly not since probably (and don't laugh), Hot Fuzz.)

    If I had to pick a film that will knock off another film in the upcoming year, it would most certainly be the cliched choice of The Dark Knight Rises.

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    Comment number 5.

    My top 5 of the year:
    1. Avengers Assemble - A great fun action ride which reminds the film going public of just how important good action scenes combined with witty dialogue and characters are like in the summer blockbuster world of Michael Bay

    2. Moonrise Kingdom - I don't really know how to describe why I thought Moonrise Kingdom was so good but the offbeat style of filming, writing and acting all form together to form a really entertaining and emotional film.

    3. Chronicle - I walked into Chronicle expecting some bog standard found footage rubbish but I found a film with some really likeable characters and which finds a way to make it so found footage films don't give the audience a headache

    4. The Muppets - The musical on my list and the most fun I've had watching a film for a while, the film is so happy and fun that you can't help feel happy after watching it, helped by the fact that the Muppets are still just as funny as ever

    5. The Pirates in an Adventure with Scientists - A true return to form for Aardman after the CGI films which didn't capture the feel of Aardman and this captures the same style of big-jokes-for-kids-small-jokes-for-adults humour that made Aardman the British powerhouse in animation.

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    Comment number 6.

    Agree with Martha, Marcy, Paul and Mary. Great film and also one of your 'unexpected' ones as I knew very little about it. Aside from that, I loved 'Sound it Out' which looked at the last surviving record store in Teesside - slightly niche, and probably only loved it as I longed for home, but a gem indeed.

    If I had to make a list of 5 I'd probably throw in Young Adult, Headhunters and The Raid.

    Unfortunately, not any space for The Vow, Project X or Titanic 3D - must be a great year!

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    Comment number 7.

    So far, it's as follows...
    5. Young Adult
    4. Cabin in the Woods
    3. Chronicle
    2. The Raid
    and 1. Shame
    ...which made me think actually, so Shame is nowhere on your list?

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    What "The Raid" did for you, Steven Soderbergh's "Haywire" did for me. The opening scene to the film set a rare realistic tone of violence, no matter how predictable the story was.

    My Top 5
    1) A Separation (this came out on December 31s,t 2011 in NYC, but I saw it in 2012 so I'm counting it in)
    2) Moonrise Kingdom
    3) The Avengers
    4) Haywire
    5) The Grey

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    Comment number 9.

    My choices so far are;

    5. Avengers Assemble
    4. Prometheus
    3. Martha Marcy May Marlene
    2. Carancho
    1. Shame

    I agree with Martha Marcy May Marlene, a brilliant and creepy film that shocked the hell out of me. I haven't seen Even The Rain, and I'm really annoyed that I missed it because this is a film that's after my own heart.

    However, from your list, I would replace The Raid with Carancho and A Royal Affair with Shame. Both these films were a literal punch to the senses. Carancho was film that really showed me the seedy underbelly of insurance fraud and ambulance chasing in the otherwise amazing city that is Buenos Aires. A tragic and beautiful film with a brilliant performance by Ricardo Darin. Dr. K I applaud you for even mentioning this little seen film.

    As for Shame, another tragic and provocative film that stays with you long after its over. A film that deals with an issue that hasn't been shown on screen very often before combined with a brilliant, memorable and tragic score by Harry Escot and last but not least two mesmerizing performances from Carey Mulligan and the brilliant Michael Fassbender. Shame also proves just how award ceromonies play it safe and forget the true brilliance of what cinema can be. Steve McQueen is The Artist.

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    Comment number 10.

    Intersting list... Though quite unremarcable. It forced me to think about my favourite so far and you know what?...I couldn't even get to 5... So far to me it's been quite an low-key year. Yes of course we've had few blockbusters here and there.. but I wouldn't really put Avengers among the best film of the year. Fun and entertaining yes... But best?
    About Mark's list... mmmm....The Angels' Share... I wish I could share his enthusiasm for that film. Aside from the fact that I could hardly understand half of the dialogue I found it quite unremarkable just like I did find "Made in Dagenham" quite bland... Sorry, but that's just me.
    However I did love "martha marcy may marlene" and thought "the raid" was pretty amazing, but then again, best of the year? Well maybe.... that tells you about the rest of the bunch though.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    Am I aloud to name Jaws as one of my top five? Without a doubt the best film I've seen at the Cinema this year...

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Sorry Mark on Comment No.4 I am actually replacing The Hunger Games with the Josh Trank Film Chronicle. This is the actual list.

    1. Prometheus
    2. Chronicle
    3. The Hunger Games
    4 The Intouchables
    5. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Interesting selection, none of which I've seen.

    Dr K, you need to stop this 'martial arts films as musicals' thing. It's an interesting view, but there's a few really important differences.

    First, dancing is dancing and it can't fail to look like dancing, but good fighting should not *look* choreographed. Anyone who's seen an actual martial arts match, of any discipline, knows it's much more impressive and fundamentally dramatic if it's visibly not pre-planned. Granted, I've not seen The Raid, but if the clip above is representative, it's one of those many martial arts films that's really impressive to watch, but has no real tension or drama to it as the action is so clearly choreographed. You know the hero will win; it's never about whether he will, it becomes about how he will. Perhaps I'm not really representative of martial arts film audiences, but I like a fight in a film to not be a foregone conclusion; I want characters to appear to be in danger. If your fight contains no danger, it's not a fight, it's a demonstration, and really, a fight without danger has nearly no place in a narrative. Look at Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - that's a hugely choreographed film in every way, but the best fight is between Shu Lien (Michelle Yeoh) and Jen (Zhang Ziyi), precisely because unlike most of the film, by that point we genuinely don't know what's going to happen. By contrast, other fights in the film use the choreographed nature of martial arts fights to foreground the visual beauty and grace of fighting, or things like control or power, all of which are themes of the film - plus, almost every other fight is a foregone conclusion, but that's done as part of the wider narrative.

    The other important difference between musicals and martial arts films is in the relationship of the choreographed thing with the world it happens in. The worlds we see in martial arts films are changed by this sort of thing, too - the fights are wholly diegetic and affect the characters, whereas songs in musicals rarely are, and even more rarely do they have any effect or consequences. To take this further, musicals fundamentally defy the logic of everyday life, whereas martial arts films only ever do so by building on it. If a man breaks into a song and everyone around him starts dancing, that's just something that doesn't happen, and the break with the real is instant, huge and sudden; that's not a criticism - the tone, pace and script of a musical is designed for that, so that's fine in context. Conversely, in a martial arts film, people can really do most of the things we see characters doing, and if the film starts featuring moves deviating from things people can really do (punch houses down, kick stones hundreds of feet, cut six people in half with one sword swipe, etc.), they exist as extensions of real feats into the realm of legend, a gradual move not a sudden switch.

    One final thing: choreography in musicals is the final purpose of the genre, and can't be replaced. Choreography in action films is simply a method of achieving the purpose, which is a fight scene, and needn't work comparably to musicals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    5: The Angel's Share. As a Ken Loach sceptic this was a breakthrough film for me, i was really engaged in the story and the characters.

    4: Headhunters. If you overlook some of the plot contrivances this is one of the most purely entertaining films of year.

    3: The Muppets. One of the smartest and funniest films i've seen in ages.

    2: Two Days in New York. Contains very "fruitee" language, need i say more.

    1: Woody Allen: A Documentary. Or reasons to love Woody Allen. This is really a valentine to all those films we love and i can't wait for 3 hour version on DVD.

    I will have to wait for the DVD of Even the Rain and Planet of Snail which i think may be this years Divingbell and the Butterfly. I usually know when i've seen my film of the year and i haven't seen it yet. I think we're all curious to see if The Dark Knight Rises features in your top 10 come December.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Heres my selection with a one word review for each. Yet to see most of the movies from this year, such as Woman In Black, Hunger Games, John Carter and The Raid, which unfortunately disappeared from my local multiplex too quickly for me.

    1. The Descendants (relaxing)
    2. The Muppets (jolly)
    3. 21 Jump Street (surprising)
    4. The Artist (stylish)
    5. The Three Stooges (nostalgic)

    1. Men In Black 3 (empty)
    2. Shame (impotent)
    3. The Iron Lady (tepid)
    4. The Avengers Assemble (shambolic)
    5. Sherlock Holmes (dumb)

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    1. Martha Marcy May Marlene
    2. The Raid
    3. Cosmopolis
    4. Into the Abyss
    5. Cabin in the Woods.

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    Comment number 17.

    My best films of the year so far are:

    1. Moonrise Kingdom (although I am very excited for The Dark Knight Rises and expect it to be my numer 1 film very soon because I have no doubts whatsoever at this point)
    2. The Avengers
    3. The Hunger Games
    4. Prometheus
    5. The Deep Blue Sea

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    1. Shame
    2. Moonrise Kingdom
    3. Cabin in the Woods
    4. A Royal Affair
    5. The Raid

    Moonrise/Shame/Affair all haunted my thoughts for days after viewing and Cabin/the Raid were just pure fun.
    Kid with a Bike was good , Avengers was decent, I really wanted to see Martha Marcy May Marlene but missd the 1 day window of opportunity my local cinemas were offering. They want £20 for the bluray is it worth splashing out ?.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Loved Mx4,havent seen Royal Affair yet but on the whole i think the first half of the year has been pretty poor.Im hoping for a strong secand half or this will be the worst movie year for a while.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Top 5 best of the year

    1. War Horse (A sweeping, deeply moving and utterly poigant mix of blockbuster and sentimentality)

    2. The Iron Lady (Not a popular choice I know, but with a majestic performance from Meryl Streep and, for me, enough political detail and backstory to make it a superb, classy piece of British political cinema)

    3. The Kid with a Bike (A tender, adorable and breezy film from those genius Belgians the Dardiennes who did it again with another richly rewarding arthouse treat. Bring tissues!'

    4. The Grey (Liam Neeson vs. wolves. What could be more fun than this surprisingly gritty and realistic survival flick that tops every other crappy January action movie in Joe Carnahan's best work since 2002's Narc with a rock-solid performance from the Big Man.'

    5. The Woman in Black (An bracingly old-fashioned haunted house chiller that will send shivers down your spine and Daniel Radcliffe proves he can really act. Brilliant, spooky stuff!'


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