Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Black Sheep's Top 10 of 2012!

(Be sure to click the title of any film mentioned to read the full Black Sheep review.)

Ordinarily, when I look back at the year in film as it comes to its close, I also take a look at the milestones my career as a writer has reached in the last 12 months. This year, that is a little difficult for me. In early May, I felt like I had made it. I had just interviewed Mark Ruffalo for his much loved performance as The Hulk in THE AVENGERS, as well as documentary filmmaker, Lee Hirsch, whose BULLY had become a serious talking point across America. Both interviews were due to appear as cover stories on the same day, Ruffalo on Montreal's Hour Community and Hirsch on Ottawa's Xpress. I was about to go on the air on Montreal's CJAD 800 to talk about both pieces when I received an e-mail from my editor at Hour, telling me that my cover story would be Hour's last. My editor at Xpress contacted me just a few weeks later to let me know that it too would be ceasing production. In some ways, I'm still recovering from that one-two punch.

I had grown up with Hour in Montreal. Hour was the first paper that ever published me. Not only was I sad for my editor, who had worked so hard to keep the paper afloat in difficult times, but I was sad for Montreal for its loss too. There was only one game left in town after that and it too shut down this year. Sadness for print journalism all around.

My best friend pointed out to me that writing, like other creative fields, is not always consistent. I remind myself of this whenever I need to and, although I do not know what 2013 has in store for opportunities, I do know that I will be heading out in search of them. And until I find one, I still have all of you. And there are more of you now than ever before so thank you. Thank you very much for your support and, more importantly, for reading. Without you, my words would fall upon blind eyes.

All the same, the year wasn't a total wash. I did get to interview this guy ...

This is about as scruffy as Jake Gyllenhaal was when we met to discuss END OF WATCH.

I saw something like 125 films in 2012, many of them quite good. Narrowing that list down was not as difficult as I had anticipated. I did get stuck at 11 though and that's when it got messy. Mission accomplished all the same, sort of. This list of ten films I feel best encapsulates my most memorable experiences at the movies this year. In alphabetical order, here in Black Sheep's Top 10 films of 2012!

Directed by Michael Haneke

Such a controlled film about two people who have lost all the control in their own lives. Simply put, AMOUR is exquisite. And aptly titled. It is a great and necessary reminder that love is a gift, and a fleeting one at that, and it needs to be appreciated for all its glory.

Directed by Benh Zeitlin

This debut feature by American filmmaker, Benh Zeitlin, is a beast all unto itself. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD roars with pride for its unique style, tone and take, and it stampedes forward with an infectious strength. And who is leading this charge? Why, one ferociously brave, little girl, of course. It is imagination incarnate.

Directed by Gary Ross

Speaking of courageous, young women ... I do not care if this makes me an honorary teenage girl, but I am big Katniss fan, not to mention the actress who embodied her so brilliantly in THE HUNGER GAMES, Jennifer Lawrence. I got totally caught up in this movie's feverish hype after reading the book and loved every minute of it. PS. #TeamPeeta.

Directed by Juan Antonio Bayona

I respect THE IMPOSSIBLE for doing just that and daring to tell this true story. Sure, they changed the main characters, a Spanish family who was caught in the 2004 Tsunami, to an English family, but that just means we get to see all this heartbreaking hardship acted out by Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor. You can't tell every story from that tragedy but I believe they've done this story, and family, justice.

Directed by Tom Hooper

It is possible that I am very close to overdosing on LES MISERABLES. In the span of a week, I saw the film twice in theatres and have been moved to tears in my living room by the soundtrack more times than I'm willing to admit to. Easily the best movie musical since CHICAGO, "Les Mis" is designed to consume you and I have yet to tire of giving in to its song.

Directed by Ang Lee

I wasn't sure even Ang Lee was going to be able to pull off LIFE OF PI, but I did suspect that if anyone was going to be able to make Yann Martel's biblical novel come to the life it deserved to on screen, it could be him. And within moments of the film starting, I breathed a great sigh of relief. I commend Lee for giving us the most visually groundbreaking film of the year.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Now, most people would assume I would put MAGIC MIKE on this list because I am in love with Channing Tatum. I mean, look at that picture. How can you not be? But what those people forget is that I've been in love with Steven Soderbergh for far longer. And only Soderbergh could make a stripper movie that inspires both cat calls and intellectual discourse from its audience at the same time.

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson

Another aptly titled film but for very different reasons. Paul Thomas Anderson borders on genius with THE MASTER. After THERE WILL BE BLOOD, I didn't think he could go much higher and yet somehow, he has. Technically perfect, brilliant performances across the board and just plain mesmerizing, THE MASTER is well worthy of cult-like worship.

Directed by Wes Anderson

Like the previous Anderson, Wes Anderson has outdone himself with MOONRISE KINGDOM. To watch his panoramic and meticulously detailed style become more vibrant and warmer than ever before, is a total delight. His voice is confident, comfortable, clearer than ever, and perhaps most remarkably, it still feels as though it is alive and new.

Directed by Sam Mendes

I would never have imagined that the 50-year-old James Bond franchise would be able to provide one of the most exhilarating experiences of the year but then again, I never imagined that Sam Mendes would direct a Bond film. The cast, the cinematography, the writing, the risks - everything about SKYFALL is elevated by Mendes' presence and thus, Bond is reborn.

Honourable Mention:
Directed by Sarah Polley

Sarah Polley's first documentary and third feature film is only being considered for next year's awards race but there is no way I could not mention STORIES WE TELL when discussing the best films I saw this past year. Polley's bravery in telling this extremely personal story is moving and is somehow completely devoid of ego. Instead, she offers up her own history as an example that allows the audience to break down the many layers of storytelling itself. This is Polley's best film to date.

Oh, and this happened. My first quote!
There you have it! Ten amazing films (plus one!) from an incredible year at the movies. What about you? What made your list? Start thinking about it, in case you haven't already, as I will be calling on you to help shape this year's Black Sheep Readers Choice Award for the upcoming 2012 Mouton d'Or Awards. The nominations will be announced on January 25, 2013.

I'd love to take a break now but alas, I have a screening tomorrow morning! And so it begins again. Here's to an amazing 2013 and here's to seeing my name in print again before the year is out! 

Thanks again for all your support. I could not do this without you. Happy New Year!!

You can listen to me discuss this list further on CJAD 800 below.

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