Best: Moonrise Kingdom
Worst: The Lorax, that film took a massive shit on my childhood.
Perhaps its coincidence, but the three films which sprung to mind as personal favourites of the year are each, in their way, deeply associated with theatre. Given that I’m a theatre student, it seems clear that my choices each appealed to me at least in some part on the basis of that connection – like all art, films are, of course, utterly subjective.
With Ralph Fiennes’ Coriolanus, adapted from Shakespeare’s play, the link is clear. A fascinating, if under-produced play, Fiennes offers not only a riveting performance as the title character, but a directorial approach to the text which dovetails with John Logan’s screenplay to create a piece of work which is modern without being lazy, and action-packed without shying away from the complexity and nuance of Shakespeare’s language. Also my first experience of Jessica Chastain; the start, I expect, of a lifelong love affair.
If Seven Psychopaths never quite lives up to Martin McDonagh’s last work for film, In Bruges, it certainly comes close; and that in itself is quite something. This is bloody, madcap, elegantly self-aware satire that has its roots both in McDonagh’s own work for the stage – there are echoes of his 2001 play The Lieutenant of Inishmore – and in the ultra-violent cinematic stylings of Tarantino. There’s an infectious sense of play among the cast, an energy and enthusiasm which derives from the rhythms of the writing and spurs actors on to stellar performances. In terms of distinctness and originality of style, Martin McDonagh is the greatest playwright/screenwriter since Harold Pinter; but if that’s not enough, see the film to restore your faith in Christopher Walken. You’ll forget Balls of Fury ever happened.
Finally, I was deeply pleasantly surprised by Skyfall. In selecting Sam Mendes – who rose to prominence as the Artistic Director of the Donmar Warehouse – as director, who in turn brought playwright (and Coriolanus screenwriter) John Logan in to the writing process, the producers took Bond in a direction steeped in theatricality. It’s true that the beauty of Roger Deakins’ cinematography is an entirely filmic trait, and the performances – even from theatrical veterans Judi Dench and Albert Finney – are far from ‘stagey’, but the influence is nevertheless there. This is a Bond film in which what characters say is as important as what they do, and the dialogue is, appropriately, the best a Bond film has ever had. I could go on. But, essentially, this is supremely watchable blockbuster fare – because it dares to not always think like a blockbuster.
So, that’s that. I still haven’t seen Moonrise Kingdom or The Master, both of which I anticipate enjoying a great deal. If only I could have seen one of those instead of Ted. Which was fucking awful.
Best of the Year
- 21 Jump Street
- The Perks of Being A Wallflower
- Indie Game: The Movie
- Rise of the Guardians – It was the Avengers that ‘Marvel’s Avengers Assemble’ never was, for me.
- Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
Disappointment of the Year
- The Watch
- The Expendables 2
Alexander Smith & Jay Snashall
John Carter bored me to tears, had to stop watching. Bemused by Prometheus. Skyfall is the best Bond yet, despite it’s Home Alone element.
- Most Unnecessarily Overhyped Usage of a Present-Tense Plural Verb in Title: “Assemble” – Marvel’s Avengers Assemble.
- Most recyclable interchangeable meme: “There is more than one way into ____.”, Chernobyl Diaries.
- Most Pitiably Self-Ironising Use of Bad Special Effects: ‘Dat Fireball’, Moonrise Kingdom.
- Most Mind-Numbingly Extended Usage of Gunshots and Explosions: The Last Half-Hour of Skyfall.
- Most Gratuitously Pretentious Credited Job Title: ‘Joy Zapata – Ms Weaver’s Hair Stylist’, The Cabin in the Woods.
- Most Not ‘The Woman In Black’: Miss Piggy, The Muppets.