January 21st, 2013 / 8:01 am

The 240 Best Movies of 2012


Last year I wrote a post, “The 248 Best Movies of 2011,” where I tallied all the film data reported at the site Year-End Lists, which reports critics’ year-end lists for movies, music, and books. Film critics surveyed include Andrew O’Hehir, A.O. Scott, Dennis Cooper, J. Hoberman, John Waters, Kenneth Turan, Manohla Dargis, and Roger Ebert, as well as journals like the A.V. Club, Cahiers du Cinéma, Film Comment, and Sight & Sound. The site also reports on the accolades dished out by various organizations and critics circles.

Since 2012 is now mostly a matter of record, I once again tallied things up, in order to see how critics have already begun to regard the past year. But before we dive into the data, a few caveats:

  1. The value of the numbers below is primarily relative, not absolute. Some critics were sampled more than once, since they not only make their own lists, but also contribute to larger lists (such as the Sight & Sound poll, or the New York Film Critics Circle Awards).
  2. Every time a film was mentioned, I gave it a single point. In other words, I didn’t weight films, even if a given critic’s year-end list was ranked. (I just don’t have the time to do that.) Honorable mentions and near-misses also counted for a point; that’s just the way it goes. But I think this is OK: my primary intention is to see which films are being thrown about in regards to “the best films of the year,” and I think an honorable mention does just as well as the #1 spot. We’ll let the frequency of mentions do the weighting for us.
  3. I also counted each award received as a single point. Thus, the New York Film Critics Circle awarded Zero Dark Thirty three prizes: Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Cinematographer—and that counts as three points for our purposes. I think this is fair because, in addition to seeing which films are being singled out, we’re trying to gauge how much they’ve been praised relative to one another. Counting awards like this will pull the most honored films toward the top.

Again, keep in mind that this is all pretty relative. I also won’t claim that we’re sampling all the data we should be sampling; I just went with what’s at the Year-End Lists site. Also, note that a strong bias was given to English-language critics, especially US-based ones—but that, my friends, is the data to which I have the readiest access.

Caveats aside, however, the results strike me as representative of the cinematic zeitgeist c. January 2013. Because without doubt, the two films from 2012 that I’ve seen critics talking the most about have definitely been—

  • 1. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson): 53 mentions
  • 2. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow): 50 mentions

The Master arguably has benefited from the fact that critics were enamored with its three central actors (Joachim Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams). Most of the praise focused on their work—e.g., all three are up for Academy Awards.

After that came:

  • 3. Holy Motors (Leos Carax): 47 mentions
  • 4. Amour (Michael Haneke): 44 mentions
  • 5. Lincoln (Steven Spielberg): 43 mentions
  • 5. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson): 43 mentions

And behind that we have:

  • 6. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin): 34 mentions

After that comes a bit of a drop-off (although, again, we’re still dealing with very highly praised films):

  • 7. Argo (Ben Affleck): 29 mentions
  • 8. This Is Not a Film (Jafar Panahi & Mojtaba Mirtahmasb): 28 mentions
  • 9. The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies): 27 mentions
  • 10. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bigle Ceylan): 26 mentions

And then:

  • 11. Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell): 21 mentions
  • 12. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino): 20 mentions
  • 12. Tabu (Miguel Gomes): 20 mentions

After that, the results start getting closer:

  • 13. Life of Pi (Ang Lee): 17 mentions
  • 13. Magic Mike (Steven Soderbergh): 17 mentions
  • 13. Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier): 17 mentions
  • 14. Bernie (Richard Linklater): 16 mentions
  • 14. Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg): 16 mentions
  • 14. Looper (Rian Johnson): 16 mentions
  • 14. The Turin Horse (Béla Tarr): 16 mentions
  • 15. The Kid with a Bike (Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne): 15 mentions
  • 16. Almayer’s Folly (Chantal Akerman): 14 mentions
  • 16. How to Survive a Plague (David France): 14 mentions
  • 17. The Loneliest Planet (Julia Loktev): 13 mentions
  • 18. Rust and Bone (Jacques Audiard): 12 mentions
  • 18. Skyfall (Sam Mendes): 12 mentions
  • 18. The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan): 12 mentions
  • 19. Barbara (Christian Petzold): 11 mentions
  • 19. Killer Joe (William Friedkin): 11 mentions
  • 19. Neighboring Sounds (Kleber Mendonça Filho): 11 mentions
  • 19. The Gatekeepers (Dror Moreh): 11 mentions
  • 20. Keep the Lights On (Ira Sachs): 10 mentions
  • 20. The Day He Arrives (Hong Sang-soo): 10 mentions

Despite the numbering, that’s thirty-four films total. And this all feels correct to me: these are the films that I remember seeing critics praise the most. Actually, spots 1–12 feel especially right—they’re the real heavyweights, the films that critics seem to have already agreed are the absolute best films of 2012. Let’s recap them so it’s easier to see:

  • 1. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson): 53 mentions
  • 2. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow): 50 mentions
  • 3. Holy Motors (Leos Carax): 47 mentions
  • 4. Amour (Michael Haneke): 44 mentions
  • 5. Lincoln (Steven Spielberg): 43 mentions
  • 5. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson): 43 mentions
  • 6. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin): 34 mentions
  • 7. Argo (Ben Affleck): 29 mentions
  • 8. This Is Not a Film (Jafar Panahi & Mojtaba Mirtahmasb): 28 mentions
  • 9. The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies): 27 mentions
  • 10. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bigle Ceylan): 26 mentions
  • 11. Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell): 21 mentions
  • 12. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino): 20 mentions
  • 12. Tabu (Miguel Gomes): 20 mentions

And for a lark, let’s compare that to the nine films nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. (I’ll bold the films that appear on the above list.)

  • Amour
  • Argo
  • Beasts of the Southern Wild
  • Django Unchained
  • Les Misérables
  • Life of Pi
  • Lincoln
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Zero Dark Thirty

Missing are Holy Motors, Tabu, This Is Not a Film, and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia—but they’re not eligible, having been made in languages other than all-mighty English. Also missing are The Master, Moonrise Kingdom, The Deep Blue Sea, which I guess you could call snubs. (I guess critics liked the acting in The Master more than they did the overall film?) Wes Anderson was also left out in the cold—the Academy doesn’t like directors named Anderson? They certainly don’t seem to like idiosyncratic stylists. Terrence Davies, meanwhile, seems to have been completely overlooked/forgotten, which might be a consequence of The Deep Blue Sea having come out early in the year (23 March).

OK, enough about the stupid Oscars! (Although I do think that if one wanted to Nate Silver them, looking at this compiled data would be a good way to start.) Let’s look at what other films the critics liked. Here are the remaining movies that earned multiple mentions:

9 mentions (6 films):

  • Goodbye, First Love (Mia Hansen-Løve)
  • Miss Bala (Gerardo Naranjo)
  • The Cabin In The Woods (Drew Goddard)
  • The Color Wheel (Alex Ross Perry)
  • The Grey (Joe Carnahan)
  • The Queen of Versailles (Lauren Greenfield)

8 mentions (5 films):

  • Damsels in Distress (Whit Stillman)
  • Footnote (Joseph Cedar)
  • Girl Walk // All Day (Jacob Krupnick)
  • Haywire (Steven Soderbergh)
  • The Sessions (Ben Lewin)

7 mentions (5 films):

  • Compliance (Craig Zobel)
  • Elena (Andrei Zvyagintsev)
  • Flight (Robert Zemeckis)
  • It’s Such a Beautiful Day (Don Hertzfeldt)
  • The Comedy (Rick Alverson)

6 mentions (6 films):

  • Alps (Giorgos Lanthimos)
  • Anna Karenina (Joe Wright)
  • In Another Country (Hong Sang-soo)
  • Searching for Sugar Man (Malik Bendjelloul)
  • Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley)
  • The Central Park Five (Ken Burns, Sarah Burns & David McMahon)

5 mentions (8 films):

  • Room 237 (Rodney Ascher)
  • Sister (Ursula Meier)
  • The Imposter (Bart Layton)
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Stephen Chbosky)
  • The Raid: Redemption (Gareth Evans)
  • This Is 40 (Judd Apatow)
  • Two Years At Sea (Ben Rivers)
  • Wuthering Heights (Andrea Arnold)

Around here, opinion starts fanning out more, as we get fringier and fringier in terms of critical opinion.

4 mentions (11 films):

  • A Burning Hot Summer (Philippe Garrel)
  • Attenberg (Athina Rachel Tsangari)
  • End of Watch (David Ayer)
  • Frankenweenie (Tim Burton)
  • In the Family (Patrick Wang)
  • Killing Them Softly (Andrew Dominik)
  • Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present (Matthew Akers)
  • ParaNorman (Chris Butler & Sam Fell)
  • The Avengers (Joss Whedon)
  • The House I Live In (Eugene Jarecki)
  • The Invisible War (Kirby Dick)

3 mentions (15 films):

  • 21 Jump Street (Phil Lord & Chris Miller)
  • 4:44 Last Day on Earth (Abel Ferrara)
  • A Simple Life (Ann Hui)
  • Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu)
  • Chronicle (Josh Trank)
  • Detropia (Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady)
  • Les Miserables (Tom Hooper) — one hell of an Oscar campaign?
  • Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor & Verena Paravel)
  • Middle of Nowhere (Ava DuVernay)
  • Not Fade Away (David Chase)
  • Pitch Perfect (Jason Moore)
  • Take Shelter (Jeff Nichols)
  • The Waiting Room (Peter Nicks)
  • This Must Be The Place (Paolo Sorrentino)
  • Your Sister’s Sister (Lynn Shelton)

2 mentions (31 films):

  • A Man Vanishes (Shohei Imamura)
  • Abendland (Nikolaus Geyrhalter)
  • Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (Alison Klayman)
  • Arbitrage (Nicholas Jarecki)
  • Beloved (Christophe Honoré)
  • Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland)
  • Bestiaire (Denis Côté)
  • Chico & Rita (Fernando Trueba & Javier Mariscal)
  • Cloud Atlas (Lana & Andy Wachowski & Tom Tykwer)
  • Consuming Spirits (Chris Sullivan)
  • Go Go Tales (Abel Ferrara)
  • God Bless America (Bobcat Goldthwait)
  • I Wish (Hirokazu Koreeda)
  • Klown (Mikkel Nørgaard)
  • Let the Bullets Fly (Jiang Wen)
  • Michael (Markus Schleinzer)
  • Oki’s Movie (Hong Sang-soo)
  • Only The Young (Jason Tippet & Elizabeth Mims)
  • Paradise: Love (Ulrich Seidl)
  • Policeman (Nadav Lapid)
  • Red Hook Summer (Spike Lee)
  • Safety Not Guaranteed (Colin Trevorrow)
  • Starlet (Sean Baker)
  • Ted (Seth MacFarlane) — see, there’s a reason why I put that pic at the top!
  • The Five-Year Engagement (Nicholas Stoller)
  • The Impossible (Juan Antonio Bayona)
  • The Paperboy (Lee Daniels)
  • Twixt (Francis Ford Coppola)
  • We Have a Pope (Nanni Moretti)
  • Whores’ Glory (Michael Glawogger)
  • Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore)

As we progress toward the bottom, here’s something worth noting: in some cases, critics are voting for films that came out last year, and which they omitted from their 2011 lists. Thus, Nani Moretti’s We Have a Pope (2011) got two mentions this year, but also two mentions last year. This suggests that we’ll need to combine the 2011 data with that from 2012 to really see which films have been the most critically favored. (Hm, sounds like another post…)

But for now, the above lists mark the 121 films that at least more than one critic thought were arguably the best films of 2012. And there are still 119 films that received at least one mention. I’ll list them all here for completeness sake (after which I’ll try to draw a few more conclusions):

  • 5 Broken Cameras (Emad Burnat & Guy Davidi)
  • A Late Quartet (Yaron Zilberman)
  • A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)
  • A World Without Women (Guillaume Brac)
  • All Divided Selves (Luke Fowler)
  • Alms for a Blind Horse (Gurvinder Singh)
  • Araf — Somewhere In Between (Yeşim Ustaoğlu)
  • Artificial Paradises (Yulene Olaizola)
  • Atomic Age (Héléna Klotz)
  • August and After (Nathaniel Dorsky)
  • Auto-Collider XV (Ernie Gehr)
  • autrement, la Molussie (Nicolas Rey)
  • Bachelorette (Leslye Headland)
  • Bad Fever (Dustin Guy Defa)
  • Brave (Mark Andrews & Brenda Chapman)
  • Brooklyn Castle (Katie Dellamaggiore)
  • Camille Rewinds (Noémie Lvovsky)
  • Celeste & Jesse Forever (Lee Toland Krieger)
  • Clint Eastwood on YouTube
  • Dark Horse (Todd Solondz)
  • Departure (Mr. Gehr)
  • Domain (Patric Chiha)
  • Dragon (Peter Chan)
  • Extraterrestrial (Nacho Vigalondo)
  • Fake It So Real (Robert Greene)
  • Farewell, My Queen (Benoît Jacquot)
  • Fat Kid Rules the World (Matthew Lillard)
  • Faust (Aleksandr Sokurov)
  • Fengming: A Chinese Memoir (Wang Bing)
  • Free Radicals (Pip Chodorov)
  • Friends With Kids (Jennifer Westfeldt)
  • Gayby (Jonathan Lisecki)
  • Generation P (Victor Ginzburg)
  • Giacomo’s Summer (Alessandro Comodin)
  • Green (Sophia Takal)
  • Gypsy Davy (Rachel Leah Jones)
  • Happy Few (Four Lovers) (Antony Cordier)
  • Headhunters (Morten Tyldum)
  • Hello, I Must Be Going (Todd Louisa)
  • Hermano (Marcel Rasquin)
  • Hors Satan (Outside Satan) (Bruno Dumont)
  • Il Cinema Ritrovato XVI (annual festival in Bologna)
  • In Darkness (Agnieszka Holland)
  • Informant (Jamie Meltzer)
  • Jeff, Who Lives at Home (Jay & Mark Duplass)
  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi (David Gelb)
  • Keyhole (Guy Maddin)
  • Kill List (Ben Wheatley)
  • Las Acacias (Pablo Giorgelli)
  • Last Ride (Glendyn Ivin)
  • Laurence Anyways (Xavier Dolan)
  • Le Grand Amour (Pierre Etaix)
  • Life Without Principle (Johnnie To)
  • Like Someone in Love (Abbas Kiarostami)
  • Lonesome (1928) (Paul Fejos)
  • Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan)
  • Meanwhile (Hal Hartley)
  • Memories Look At Me (Song Fang)
  • Middle of Nowhere (Michael Salerno & Marcus Whale)
  • Mobile Homestead [trilogy] (Mike Kelley)
  • Monsieur Lazhar (Philippe Falardeau)
  • My Best Thing (Frances Stark)
  • Napoleon (1927) (Abel Gance, restored by Kevin Brownlow)
  • Natural Selection (Robbie Pickering)
  • No (Pablo Larraín)
  • Our Children (Joachim Lafosse)
  • Palaces of Pity (Gabriel Abrantes & Daniel Schmidt)
  • Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky)
  • Paradise: Faith (Ulrich Seidl)
  • Photographic Memory (Ross McElwee)
  • Pink Ribbons, Inc. (Léa Pool)
  • Polisse (Maïwenn)
  • Possession (1981) (Andrzej Zulawski)
  • Premium Rush (David Koepp)
  • Prometheus (Ridley Scott)
  • Promised Land (Gus Van Sant)
  • Rampart (Oren Moverman)
  • Return (Liza Johnson)
  • Ruby Sparks (Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris)
  • Sack Barrow (Ben Rivers)
  • Samsara (Ron Fricke)
  • Shitty Youth (Adam Humphrey) — this made Dennis Cooper’s list
  • Shut Up and Play the Hits (Dylan Southern & Will Lovelace)
  • Sightseers (Ben Wheatley)
  • Sleepless Night (Frédéric Jardin)
  • Sleepwalk With Me (Mike Birbiglia & Seth Barrish)
  • Smugglers’ Songs (Rabah Ameur-Zaïmeche)
  • Something in the Air (Olivier Assayas)
  • Sound of Noise (Ola Simonsson & Johannes Stjärne Nilsson)
  • Space Light Art (Oskar Fischinger exhibit at the Whitney)
  • Stand in the Stream (Stanya Kahn)
  • Surviving Progress (Mathieu Roy & Harold Crooks)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man (Marc Webb)
  • The Ballad of Genesis and Lady Jaye (Marie Losier)
  • The Descendants (Alexander Payne)
  • The Eye of the Storm (Fred Schepisi)
  • The FP (Brandon Trost & Jason Trost)
  • The Hunger Games (Gary Ross)
  • The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg)
  • The Hunter (David Nettheim)
  • The Last Time I Saw Macao (João Pedro Rodrigues & João Rui Guerra da Mata)
  • The Law in These Parts (Ra’anan Alexandrowicz)
  • The Pirates! Band of Misfits (Peter Lord)
  • The Second Cabin: Stemple Pass (James Benning)
  • The Secret World of Arrietty (Hiromasa Yonebayashi)
  • The Unspeakable Act (Dan Sallitt)
  • The Wall (Julian Pölsler)
  • The Wilding (Grant Scicluna)
  • To Rome with Love (Woody Allen)
  • Unforgivable (Andre Techine)
  • Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning (John Hyams)
  • View From the Acropolis (Lonnie van Brummelen & Siebren de Haan)
  • Viola (Matías Piñeiro)
  • Wanderlust (David Wain)
  • Werner Schroeter retrospective at MOMA (Werner Schroeter)
  • West of Memphis (Amy Berg)
  • Where Do We Go Now? (Nadine Labaki)
  • You Are Here (Daniel Cockburn)
  • Young Adult (Jason Reitman)

Again, some of these picks (Margaret) see critics playing catch-up from last year. Others reflect individual cases—the inclusion of archival films like Andrzej Zulawski’s cult horror film Possession (1982), which made my pal Ben Sachs’s Chicago Reader list after a restored print played the Gene Siskel Film Center here in Chicago. There are also some very idiosyncratic choices, such as “Clint Eastwood on YouTube,” or the Werner Schroeter retrospective at MOMA—stuff that other critics probably weren’t considering.

Also, remember that some of these films are just coming out now. A good example of this is Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land, which received a limited release right at the end of the year (28 December, 25 theaters), then went wider in the first week of 2013 (4 January, 1676 theaters). Perhaps we’ll see it mentioned again come December?

So those are the 240 films (or film-like things) that critics basically went for. That number, 240, compares well with the 248 from last year (which actually should have been 250—since writing that post, I caught and corrected some errors in the data). So, too, do the tallies: adding up all the mentions from 2011 yields 1072; this year, there were 1230. The greater number stems from the fact that the opinions of 73 critics/organizations were rounded up, vs. 58 last year. That said, although the Year-End Lists site surveyed more critics this year, we arrived at a lower number of total films. Which might suggest that critical consensus was a little tighter this time.

Meanwhile, do you want to see this year’s data combined with 2011’s? I bet that you do! I’ll post it later this week, as well as a few more thoughts on all this data.

Until then, get busy viewing!

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  1. Bobby Dixon

      Feel a little bummed battleship was not mentioned, but i liked this list, AD

  2. A D Jameson

      Thanks, Bobby. I’m bummed that none of the critics liked Star Wars Uncut: Director’s Cut. You ask me, they’re really missing the battleship.

  3. mimi

      Of The Master, Moonrise Kingdom and The Deep Blue Sea, the only one I would label as “snubbed” would be The Master. A glaring “snub”, as ten films can be nominated, but this year only nine are on the list.

      I liked The Master, but PTA’s There Will Be Blood was a much better film, a film I believe did not win for Best Picture of 2007 (when imo it should have) only because it was up again No Country for Old Men, an equally-dark, but easier-to-award film. Also a “snub”? idk

      my two cents, fwiw

  4. A D Jameson

      It seems only a certain kind of film can be nominated. So, even though movies like Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Bridesmaids (from last year) and Cabin in the Woods (from this year) were very popular with both mass audiences and with critics, they are never nominated. I’m not really sure why that is.

      Kathryn Bigelow also wasn’t nominated for Best Director, fwiw, and I’ve seen some call that a snub, due to the current controversy surrounding the film. (Of course she won both Best Picture and Best Director in 2010, for The Hurt Locker.) (See, e.g., Ebert.)

      PTA and There Will Be Blood were both nominated in 2008, they just didn’t win. I agree that TWBB is a much better film than No Country for Old Men. But Hot Fuzz also came out that year and received virtually no recognition whatsoever. And I’d go with that as the best English-language film of the year. Other faves from 2007:

      Grindhouse (Roberto Rodrigo & Quentin Tarantino et. al.)
      Puffball (Nicolas Roeg)
      The Duches of Langeais (Ne touchez pas la hache) (Jacques Rivette)
      The Man from London (Bela Tarr)
      You, the Living (Du levande) (Roy Andersson)

      And I keep meaning to check out:
      La france (Serge Bozon)
      Die Stille vor Bach (The Silence Before Bach) (Pere Portabella)

      Those aren’t English-language, though. (Neither is the Rivette or the Andersson.)

      Moving back to this year, The Deep Blue Sea seams to have been entirely forgotten, even though Rachel Weisz was nominated for a Golden Globe (Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture — Drama).

  5. mimi

      1. “It seems only a certain kind of film can be nominated.” – When talking about the Academy Awards, yes.

      2. You must see a lot more movies than I do.

      3. I haven’t even heard of your “Other faves from 2007” !!

      4. Kathryn Bigelow/Best Director definitely a “snub”. I liked ZDT. And if the “current controversy” revolves mainly around “advocacy” of the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques”, then in my opinion the movie was quite tame in that respect. Much tamer than it could have been. I expected it to be much more intense. Intense a la Quentin Tarantino’s Mandingo fighting, etc. in Django Unchained.

      5. I developed a serious/nice/but fleeting girl-crush on Rachel Weisz after seeing her in The Bloom Brothers (but not before or since). So I must definitely see The Deep Blue Sea. Actually, have been meaning to since way before your post. I remember, then forget. It is hard to remember everything good in life that one should try to remember!

      * * * * *

      Of the 240 films that your post lists, I’ve seen these (not that anyone cares, particularly, but hell, it’s my comment):

      The Master
      Zero Dark Thirty
      Moonrise Kingdom
      Beasts of the Southern Wild
      Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
      Silver Linings Playbook
      Django Unchained
      Magic Mike
      The Queen of Versailles
      Anna Karenina
      The Imposter
      The Waiting Room
      Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
      A Separation
      Jiro Dreams of Sushi
      Ruby Sparks
      The Descendants
      To Rome with Love

      That’s 25. Only 25! Yikes!

  6. Richard Grayson

      Thanks. I hope you got paid for this. It must have taken hours and hours of work.

  7. A D Jameson

      Actually, it takes less work than you’d think. Excel does most of it. But I also enjoy doing things like this.

  8. A D Jameson

      1. The Academy in general has a very boring idea of what constitutes a great film. I tend to ignore them precisely for that reason, though I am slightly interesting in seeing whether I can use this data-aggregating technique to predict the Oscar nominations/winners, as there might be some money in that.

      2. You must see a lot more movies than I do.

      I used to watch lots and lots of movies. School has cut down a lot on the number that I can now see. I am still playing catch up for the more recent years.

      3. I haven’t even heard of your “Other faves from 2007” !!

      Nicolas Roeg, Bela Tarr, and Jacques Rivette are three of my favorite living filmmakers. I wouldn’t recommend starting with those particular films of theirs, though (even though I think they’re all wonderful films).

      By Roeg, anything in the 70s will do, though Don’t Look Now is a great place to start.

      By Tarr, Werckmeister Harmonies makes a decent starting point. Though one can also just jump right into Satantango.

      By Rivette, geez. Celene and Julie Go Boating, if you can find it. Va savoir also makes a good starting point. I simply adore Rivette!

      5. I remember thinking that Rachel Weisz was cute when I saw her in The Mummy. Still haven’t seen Brothers Bloom. Might check it out now that I’ve seen Looper, that + Brick.

      * * * * *

      How was Bernie? I generally like Linklater. Still haven’t seen Me and Orson Welles.

      Some friends told me that Once Upon a Time in Anatolia is good, but man I hate that guy’s other films…


  9. mimi

      1. “The Academy in general has a very boring idea of what constitutes a great film”, I agree, but I still like to watch the Academy Awards on TV.

      2. I have seen Don’t Look Now and Walkabout by Roeg. I will put Rivette & Tarr on some back-of-my-mind try-to-remember list. Wait, actually, I’ll put them on my Netflix Queue: my go-to-to-remember-then-try-to-find-time-for crutch-list.

      5. Haven’t seen The Mummy. Want to see Looper now.

      I liked Bernie quite a lot. It was definitely Jack Black-driven (as was School of Rock, of course). I loved the opening mortuary-classroom scene, darkly hilarious. Others by Linklater I’ve seen are Slacker, Dazed and Confused, Fast Food Nation and School of Rock (duh). I’d like to see Me and Orson Wells and A Scanner Darkly.

      I also quite liked Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. It took me a while to warm up to it while watching, but I found the second half to be really moving (the turning point was the lovely young girl at the home in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night). I am completely unfamiliar otherwise with this director. My husband came home from the video store one evening bearing this video ‘unannounced’. Someone that works at the video store told him it was good. My husband likes to go to the video store every once in a while, it makes him feel like he’s getting out-in-the-world. I don’t like to go to the video store. I’m anti-social.

  10. A D Jameson

      I remember enjoying watching the Oscars, some time ago. Used to watch it with my dad…

      My favorite Roeg movie is probably Bad Timing. But everything he made from Performance through The Witches is good, even though the quality starts tapering off in the 80s, after Eureka—which is incredible, and shockingly under-seen:


      I had mixed results with Looper but want to find out more about the guy.

      J’adore A Scanner Darkly.

      Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

      I hated, hated, hated Distant and Climates. The former was Ceylan ripping off / pissing on Tarkovsky, and the latter was Ceylan ripping off/ pissing on Bergman. But some film critic friends of mine who similarly hated etc. those two movies told me that they liked Anatolia. And I’m always willing to give an artist a second chance.

  11. A D Jameson

      Adding, if you like There Will Be Blood, do check out Eureka.

  12. mimi

      Just added Eureka to my Instant Q

      : )

  13. mimi

      2. Come to think of it, I have seen Bad Timing also, and am now reminded of a rumor about it – that during the sex-on-the-staircase scene, Art Garfunkel got too excited and accidentally ‘happy-ending-ed’ while shooting (npi) the scene. Have you ever heard that rumor?

      6. Do you think Ceylan is ripping off Leone with that title?? Still, I’d say you could give OUaTiA a try.

      7. I love love love love love love everything Tarkovsky. Love him, and his work.

  14. A D Jameson

      Awe some.

  15. A D Jameson

      2. I’ve not heard that! But anything is possible when it comes to that movie. I mean—Art Garfunkel plays the villain, and Harvey Keitel plays the hero. Which is pretty fucked up.

      6. Naw, I’m glad to see him being more forthright in his referencing/homaging/ripping-offing.

      7. Me, too. Well, except for Stalker, which despite its beauty I have some real issues with. Give me Nostalghia any day.

  16. mimi

      5. Watched Looper today. Twice.

  17. A D Jameson


  18. mimi

      How about, um, to start, a Quick List of Impressions? I’ll aim for ten:

      1. At the very first I was flummoxed by the fact that I did not know who was playing Young Joe. I pride myself on my ability to recognize faces, and think I know most actors by sight – at least the one who would be playing this Young Joe. How could the actor be completely unrecognizable to me? I paused the DVD to look up on IMDb who it was. Joseph Gordon-Leavitt! Then, I found myself distracted (but not unpleasantly) by the makeup job they had to have done on him. And I was amused by his pseudo-hipster-Rat-Pack look.

      2. I liked that the opening action was in KANSAS.

      3. Paul Dano always sounds whiny, no-matter-what!

      4. I was intrigued by the dystopic urban scenes of the future Kansas city, and thought they would be better viewed on ‘the big screen’. But later mr.mimi and I agreed that a ‘big screen’ viewing would actually be better after our two ‘small screen’ viewings.

      5. The narrative arc was tight, clearly so and understandable after the second time around.

      6. I liked that the fields were of cane instead of corn.

      7. The little boy that played Cid had good creep-factor. Not quite cute enough to be unconditionally lovable.

      8. I liked when Sara shut herself up in the safe. The fact that she had a little flashlight in there. The fact that we learn she’s done this before.

      9. I liked the little frog communication devices.

      10. The movie made me want to try taking an axe to a big rotting tree stump, just for the experience.

      OK, 11. The part that confused me the most the first time around was when Old Seth’s body starts losing parts – I thought “Is that an effect of repeated time travel??” I hadn’t caught the “Call the doc” line from Abe.

  19. A D Jameson

      The safe part was great, agreed. And I have one of those frog toys. I bought it at a Barnes and Noble:

  20. A D Jameson

      I still don’t get how the Old Seth business works. He starts losing body parts because the doctor is dismembering young Seth, sure. But how can young Seth now grow up to be Old Seth, and run his loop (or whatever it’s called)? I enjoyed the grisly nature of the sequence, but like most of the film it really makes no sense if you stop to think about it. Which is why I think Looper would’ve been better if it had simply been more some nightmarish, illogical, visceral thingie—like a Twilight Zone episode, or a “poverty row” noir like Detour—and not a movie that pretended to be “thinking sci-fi” (a la 2001).

      I don’t think Rian Johnson really got this, but his movie was more Lifeforce than Primer. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Me, I prefer Lifeforce to Primer.

      . . . oh, look, that frog is still here. I wonder if it will now attach itself to every comment I make at this site?

  21. mimi

      “But how can young Seth now grow up to be Old Seth, and run his loop…?” Yes, but isn’t that the question whenever a Young Looper doesn’t close his own loop? How is the world changed when a Young Looper is killed by the gats before his loop is completed? How is the future changed?

      Old Joe repeatedly slams his hand on the diner table saying “It doesn’t matter!” “It doesn’t matter!” I think he’s right.
      The loss of body parts sequence is just exactly what you enjoyed – the chance for a grisly sequence (just grisly enough) to make us squirm! Otherwise, “It doesn’t matter!”
      And now I’ve heard of Detour and Lifeforce and Primer – more to watch!
      : )
      ps – cute frog

  22. A D Jameson

      It doesn’t matter, but it does matter, because the film ultimately insists on its own logic. Which is, I think, its error. Better to not think too much about it.

      Detour and Lifeforce are must-sees, in my impression. The former is rightfully a classic. The latter may never be, but it looms large in my childhood imagination. Time has also been kind to it. In any case, both are bizarre films, and special.

      P.S. I’ll find my frog.

  23. A D Jameson
  24. mimi

      coupla things:

      1. “It doesn’t matter, but it does… the film ultimately insists on its own logic. Which is, I think, its error. Better to not think too much…” You are most likely correct here (and you are obviously greatly learn-ed and thoughtful in all things sci-fi films and etc – – – – – – and for this alone I am greatly appreciative of your replies to lowly movie-watching mimi’s comments – I’m basically a consumer of entertainment). For mimi it IS best not to thing too much… I was entertained by Looper, and I was made to think just enough so that I was made to feel ‘smart enough’ to ‘get’ the story.

      2. I was also entertained visually. My favorite shot from the film:


      3. I’m planning to YouTube Detour at lunchtime today. Looking forward!

      4. re: the “I’ll find my frog” note – sweet. I don’t have anything else to offer frog-wise – how about some cute radishes with toothpick legs and green-pea feets and noses:



  25. A D Jameson

      Hey mimi,

      As an entertainment, I, too, enjoyed Looper well enough. It was only after it ended that the misgivings set in. But I would also hate to present myself as any kind of authority on either sci-fi or film. Certainly I have my opinions and I voice them but at the same time—I prefer conversation!

      I enjoyed that shot, too. I liked seeing Bruce Willis look like a mash-up between late 90s Billy Corgan and The Matrix. It’s a good look for him.

      I always enjoy talking about films with you! Among other things.

      One of the very first things I learned to do in this life was to carve a radish so it looked like a rose. I have since lost this ability.


  26. mimi
  27. A D Jameson

      Looks also like me, when I was old and working as a washed-up hitman.

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  29. mimi

      not a bad look if ya gotta be old and washed-up
      there are worse old washed-up looks

  30. mimi

      ADJ, hey,

      I finally got around to watching Detour, and here’s the thing. I’m embarrassed (but not really, obviously, or I would not be writing this comment) that I did not immediately pick up on the fact that the female hitchhiker that Al picks up is one-and-the-same with the woman that scratched the-real-Haskell’s hand. Duh. Wasn’t until the ‘big-reveal’ by Vera to Al. Duhhhhhhh. Like I said, I’m easily entertained.

      Also, “poverty row” (a term I hadn’t heard before) reminds me of the sham-film-production-company in Argo.

      Also also, Lifeforce is now in my Netflix DVD Q.


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