Friday, December 21, 2012

Top 5: Movies Seen For The First Time in 2012 (Catchup Awards)

I've seen 195 movies since I started using Letterboxd on July 15th, prior to that I didn't keep count but I would say that my total should reach somewhere around the 450 mark for 2012. My tendency to watch a load of old crap simply because it seems easier than watching movies that I will actually enjoy is a problem I hope to rectify one day but as it stands the movies I place in the Why Did They Even Bother? category outnumber the picks for Sometimes They Make Something Great which in theory made picking the winner of this award easy. The results were interesting, 4 out of 5 were made in a year ending in 7, the odd film out was the newest (2008) and the only film directed by a woman (Kelly Reichardt) and the only selection with a female protagonist (Michelle Williams).

The Blahblahblahgay Top 5 for Best Movie Made Prior to 2012 That I Somehow Had Never Seen Before AKA The Catchup Award follows:

5. Point Blank (1967) Dir. John Boorman

One of if not the best films of its kind. John Boorman's direction combined with Lee Marvin's screen presence and Richard Stark's character leave this film head and shoulders above the rest of the field. It's a violent next generation film noir that owes as much to Godard as it does Hammett and shares many similarities with Melville's Le Samourai. The influence of this film cannot possibly be estimated, not least on my second favourite director, Steven Soderbergh.

4. Hombre (1967) Dir. Martin Ritt

I remember when I first saw this I thought I could watch a thousand more western films and not see a better one, so far that has proven to be true. Newman is subtle yet powerful but the impressive Diane Cilento steals the show as Jessie the innkeeper. Its rare enough to find a strong, independent woman with brains and class in a film let alone in a genre typified by misogyny.

3. Sweet Smell Of Success (1957) Dir. Alexander MacKendrick

I honestly can't find a thing wrong with this movie. Top quality performances from Lancaster and Curtis and a great script combine for one of the most memorable, fast talking movies I've ever seen and a great from the history of film noir to boot.

2. Wendy and Lucy (2008) Dir. Kelly Reichardt

American indie cinema is so often filled with quirky adorkable people that it's easy to think that this is all young writers and directors have to offer. Sure some of them are very well made, entertaining and filled with good performances but the majority seem to be a little bit of a mess. In the case of Wendy & Lucy however I will happily say that this is as good as low budget indie cinema gets in the 21st century. I don't recall seeing an American make such a wonderful slice of life drama as this before. In my experience it is a form of cinema the British excel at but Kelly Reichardt has crafted a "Poor Cow" for America in the 21st century and even more impressively has made it accessible. Directed with admirable restraint she gets the best out of Michelle Williams who surprises me with every new performance, this is cinema that verges on perfection but doesn't quite make it.

1. Metropolis (1927) Dir. Fritz Lang

It's not every day you get to watch a masterpiece for the first time and Metropolis is a masterpiece in the true sense of the word. This is essential viewing for any lover of cinema, even more so in the new reconstructed and remastered Blu-ray version.

Anything you regret waiting until 2012 to watch? Seen many masterpieces this year or are you like me and generally watch the dumbest Hollywood flick you can find?

11 comments:

  1. Out of those I saw Point Blank and Metropolis, both great movies indeed. The other ones look interesting as well.

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    1. These were all 9/10 or more for me, so yeah absolutely recommend checking the other three out if you get a chance.

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  2. I've actually got a copy of Sweet Smell Of Success on my shelf just waiting for the right moment to crack it open.

    Looking back, the best classic film I saw in 2012 would have to be Marketa Lazarová. I watched a lot of excellent Czech and Slovak films over the past year, and it's not my favorite one, but it's the one that left the greatest impression.

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    1. Sweet Smell of Success isn't one that spreads holiday joy so maybe wait for the new year?

      What country/s are you going to be focussing on in 2013?

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    2. There are still a dozen or so from the end of the Czech New Wave that I need to watch. Then I'll be stepping next door to Germany for a bit.

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  3. Toby,

    Nice to see this. I'm going to be doing something similar in the next week or so. My year in review for the films I saw for the first time. I love Reichardt, Wendy and Lucy, and especially Michelle Williams who I think must be sent straight from Heaven. I have not seen Hombre. Intriguing.

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    1. Hey Jon, Hombre is based on an Elmore Leonard novel of the same name from back when he wrote westerns. People who appreciate Newman a lot more than me tell me it's not even one of his best performances which must be saying something about his body of work. I do recommend it very highly.

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  4. I actually also watched Metropolis and Sweet Smell of Success for the first time this year as part of my 100 Classic Movies project. Enjoyed them both, although I did have to pause Metropolis to reset my brain a bit.

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    1. Metropolis will do that to you. It's completely unique for the time and has pretty much gone unmatched since. Hombre and Point Blank should definitely be on your second 100 Classic Movies list.

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  5. Thrilled to see Metropolis and Sweet Smell of Success on here. I still need to watch the other three though.

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    1. Josh you really should see them, I'd say Hombre is probably the least accessible due to its genre but all are powerful cinema in their own way.

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