This year has been a very different year for me as a film critic. My son, Phoenix, was born on January 28th, and as I embarked into the role of parent, as much as I had tried to prepare myself, I was unprepared for the lack of time I would have for my role as film critic.
I launched the re-boot of Cult Projections in April. But I was unable to see many movies over the course of the year. For my list of favourites of 2012 I compiled twenty-five. This year it’s pared down to just twelve.
I did not see Prisoners or Rush, which were excellent according to everyone I’ve spoken to. And I really wanted to see Blue Is The Warmest Colour.
Then there are the movies that have polarised audiences, such as Stoker and Trance. That they have received such a mixed response only makes them even more interesting to me.
I will catch up with them all eventually. 2014 will be a more “productive” year in terms of my Cult Projections content, I promise.
I don’t particularly like making “Best Of” lists, because the whole nature of movie appreciation is completely personal, and film criticism is, for the most part, just an informed and intelligent opinion. So I compile lists of favourites.
So here are my favourites for this year, of the movies that were released in Australia either on the big screen or on BD/DVD, in no particular order (or maybe they are?). Included are honourable mentions, and a couple of movies that rubbed me up the wrong way.
The sexiest, most original vampire movie in yonks. Period.
The most kick-ass remake in almost ten years, but it could almost be a perfect sequel.
The year’s most powerful drama, hands down, from the director of Feston.
A spunky, sly, sunburnt satire that was the year’s biggest surprise (I normally can’t stand Harmony Korine’s movies).
THE PLACE BEYOND THE PINES
Epic in narrative and emotion, this was like reading an amazing novel.
The year’s most pretentious movie doubles as the year’s most sublime, Shane Carruth is a creative force to be reckoned with.
A wholly original nightmare, with a killer ending, this was superb low-budget horror.
Haters will hate, and as an atheist I found the religious analogies amusing, but boy, I found this to be an utterly superb superhero adaptation on the big screen.
Slammed by critics for being xenophobic, racist even, but there’s no denying this was brilliantly executed science-fiction action. That’s all that mattered.
One of the year’s small wonders; a low-budget indie flick soaked in a vivid atmosphere, and charged with emotional conviction.
Another one from a respected director that received wide panning. The mood and style resonated long after my issues with its screenplay, and so often for me it is the atmosphere that is paramount.
BEHIND THE CANDELABRA
A Soderbergh triumph! Matt Damon gives a career performance, Michael Douglas is terrific, and yet, it’s a shame that it’s a movie that many won’t touch with a bargepole, simply because it’s a biopic about Liberace and his chauffeur lover.
White Reindeer, Chocolate Strawberry Vanilla, Blackfish, The Crash Reel, Sororal, The Way Way Back.
The Lone Ranger for its outrageous pomposity, pantomime credibility, and inordinate length.
Gravity for the fact that it is such an anomaly; a movie that had such awesome cinematic potential*, but was ultimately a special effects marvel irrevocably marred by over-exposed actors spouting corny dialogue in a movie you knew what the outcome would be. And everyone went and saw it and loved it.
* Oh, how I wished it had been a big-budget art movie, with unknown actors and almost no dialogue.