Film Honors: 2012

My own personal choices for the year. They reflect not just necessarily what I think is the best or essential cinema, but perhaps resonate with me or inspire, both at the time, and still today.  Subject to alter choices if new viewings are worthy enough. Other published Film Honors posts can be found at the menu at the top of the page.

A diverse range of inspirational films scored highly with me in 2012, with Rust and Bone, The Master, Darbareye Elly (About Elly)Moonrise Kingdom, Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, and Looper landing in several categories each. Smaller films like Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour more than stood their ground with big budget efforts like Cloud Atlas and Django Unchained. The acting categories, often misrepresented in mainstream awards races, came from under-rated films like Kid With a Bike, Killer Joe, Laurence Anyways, and ComplianceI interviewed the lovely Ann Down earlier this year. It can’t be any kind of surprise that the likes of Zero Dark Thirty and Life of Pi came away with the highest amount of mentions, but Les Misérables was up there too without making the 10 Motion Pictures of the year – due to some technical and acting excellence. So, let’s start there.

Film Honors: 2012

Actress Support

*** Samantha Barks (Les Misérables) ***
Golshifteh Farahani (Darbareye Elly)
Cécile de France (Le gamin au vélo)
Ann Dowd (Compliance)
Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables)

Through the crowd of household names like Hugh Jackman, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried, Russell Crowe, and Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway, stood the awe-inspiring Samantha Barks. True, she has played the role on stage, but the big screen is a different arena for Barks, who was chosen quickly ahead of many big name actresses banging on the door. Her Éponine is inch perfect, filling each and every frame with emotive power, performing the music and the acting with heart-breaking momentum.

Special Effects

The Avengers
Cloud Atlas
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
*** Life of Pi ***

The battle of the Django Unchained boys was always a tough call, but where Christoph Waltz succeeded, Leonardo DiCaprio’s due status grew. The role that stuck with me the hardest though was Matthew McConaughey’s Texas detective-come-hired-killer Joe Cooper – a harrowing and menacing portrayal, the actor unleashes all manner of human evil booth in his actions and his words. With Mud, Magic Mike, The Paperboy, Dallas Buyers Club, The Wolf of Wall Street, and TV’s True Detective in the shadows, McConaughey had a huge range of excellent work.

Actor Support

Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained)
Dwight Henry (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master)
*** Matthew McConaughey (Killer Joe) ***
Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained)

Cast Ensemble

*** Darbareye Elly ***
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Les Misérables
Moonrise Kingdom
Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da

Film Honors: 2012


Seamus McGarvey (Anna Karenina)
Mihai Malaimare Jr. (The Master)
Claudio Miranda (Life of Pi)
*** Gökhan Tiryaki (Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da) ***
Robert D. Yeoman (Moonrise Kingdom)

Sound Designing

Cloud Atlas
The Avengers
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
*** Zero Dark Thirty ***

Picture Editing

Darbareye Elly
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
*** Zero Dark Thirty ***

Film Honors: 2012

Kathryn Bigelow, Mark Boal et al, we can only apologize for the attacks on Zero Dark Thirty. Not that it was our fault, but as humans often confronted with the world at war, we are all capable of strong views this way or that. The water-boarding opening is horrendous, but as cinema ought to depict our indirect realities, rather than close the door on a film altogether. Word got around, the Academy let it slip through their fingers. Et cetera, et cetera. But not I, the movie stayed with me, controversial, powerful, intense, brilliant from start to finish, solid as a rock, and well-crafted, finely-written historical drama.

Screenwriting Adapted

Lucy Alibar, Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)
Jacques Audiard, Thomas Bidegain (De rouille et d’os)
Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower)
*** Tony Kushner (Lincoln) ***
Chris Terrio (Argo)

Screenwriting Original

Carlen Altman, Alex Ross Perry (The Color Wheel)
Mark Boal (Zero Dark Thirty)
Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Ercan Kesal, Ebru Ceylan (Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da)
Asghar Farhadi (Darbareye Elly)
*** Rian Johnson (Looper) ***

Score Composing

*** Alexandre Desplat (Moonrise Kingdom) ***
Alexandre Desplat (De rouille et d’os)
Alexandre Desplat (Zero Dark Thirty)
Mychael Danna (Life of Pi)
Dan Romer, Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild)

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln is an enduring movie, but an important one, and Tony Kushner’s script (you’ve seen Angels in America, right?) is the glue that holds the historical account together. Fine writing, in both adapting Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin, but also blueprinting an intricate, political landscape. As per the norm, the original screenwriting this year was sparky and distinctive, but Rian Johnson’s extraordinary Looper was a well-weaved crime sci-fi gem. Swirling us around his back and forth future tale, Looper carries with it an individuality and originality all of its own.

Actress Lead

Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty)
Suzanne Clément (Laurence Anyways)
*** Marion Cotillard (De rouille et d’os) ***
Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook)
Emmanuelle Riva (Amour)

Film Honors: 2012

These women are incredible, not just the ones shortlisted here, but many excellent performances of angry, aggrieved, suffering, strong women. And girls. Marion Cotillard in De rouille et d’os (Rust and Bone) continues to demand our attention. We can’t imagine what it would be like to have your life turned upside down, not just unrecoverable physical loss, but a sliding slope of emotional battery – Cotillard is so good here, we can actually see the pain. The men are commanding too it seems, big and bold in their own pain and slow progress. Joaquin Phoenix seems to transcend to another level at times in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, a very talented slippery eel of an actor, he can seemingly transform himself before our eyes.

Actor Lead

Daniel Day-Lewis (Lincoln)
Hugh Jackman (Les Misérables)
Denis Lavant (Holy Motors)
*** Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) ***
Jean-Louis Trintignant (Amour)

Costume Designing

Anna Karenina
*** Cloud Atlas ***
Farewell, My Queen
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables

Set Designing

Anna Karenina
*** Cloud Atlas ***
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Misérables

Asghar Farhadi’s mesmerizing Darbareye Elly defines motion picture drama, story-telling, as well as multi-actor choreography that all in all is simply breath-taking. A group of friends and partners head off to a house by the sea for a short vacation, and their baggage includes all manner of social taboos associated with the Iranian culture. Immaculate pacing, first-rate acting, and a building, progressive tension you seldom see elsewhere. Due to an almighty gulf in the release date, Darbareye Elly first landed in 2009, but was not released in the US until 2015, but had come out three years earlier in the UK – so among some quick reshuffling, a Farhadi film takes the top prize for the second consecutive year.



Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)
Leos Carax (Holy Motors)
Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da)
*** Asghar Farhadi (Darbareye Elly) ***
Lucy Mulloy (Una noche)

Motion Picture

*** Darbareye Elly (Asghar Farhadi) ***
Amour (Michael Haneke)
Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin)
Circumstance (Maryam Keshavarz)
Life of Pi (Ang Lee)
Looper (Rian Johnson)
Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
De rouille et d’os (Jacques Audiard)
Una noche (Lucy Mulloy)
Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow)


3 responses to “Film Honors: 2012

  1. Love the win for Samantha Barks over Anne Hathaway. Hathaway was great, but Barks absolutely killed it. McConaughey was also fantastic is Killer Joe. Another nice call. Glad to see some love in the form of noms for Beasts of the Southern Wild. None for Django Unchained? Good stuff.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a thing with Tarantino, in that he fails to inspire me the way he used to. Don’t get me wrong, I like IB (you’ll see when I publish my 2009 piece) – but his last two movies just didn’t cut the mustard for me. Django is probably top 20 though. Hateful 8 – not so much.


  3. Pingback: Review: The Light Between Oceans | Write out of L.A.·

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