Brian Henry Martin at the movies

Best Films Of The Year

Published Thursday, 20 December 2012
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2012 has been a bumper year for the cinema. The Hunger Games began, the Avengers assembled, The Dark Knight rose, Ted talked dirty and 007 turned 50.

So as the curtain falls on another memorable movie season, I have picked my five favourite films of the year. Will you agree? Of course you won't, that's fine.

But I would love to hear what has floated your movie boat and got on your big screen goat in the last 12 months.

The Artist

It's French, it's in black and white and it's a silent movie. Certainly not a sure-fire recipe for the Best Picture Oscar. But it was and this truly magical film restored my faith in the wonder of cinema.

Set in Hollywood-land in 1927, The Artist is a captivating love story between two film stars, Georges Valentine and Peppy Miller as their glittering careers slide in different directions. Filled with witty reinvention, this is a passionate love letter to the golden age of the silver screen.

A great shame that more cinemas in Northern Ireland did not screen this outstanding film.

The Master

Director Paul Thomas Anderson's latest magnum opus is a visually stunning explosion of pure cinema, emotionally charged with a penetrating psychological punch. If you are bored by this film, to paraphrase the great Samuel Johnson, then you are bored with life.

Joaquin Phoenix delivers a spell-binding performance as odd man out Freddie Quell, one of the most curious characters you will ever see on screen. It is the peculiar physicality of Phoenix that is so mesmerising. His broody eyes, his twisted lip, his hunched shoulders with crooked hands on bent hips.

A spectacular watch on the big screen.

Rust And Bone

From one of the best directors in the world comes a powerful love story that will bust your knuckles and break your heart. Jacques Audiard, who previously delivered the mighty prison drama, A Prophet, brings his tough love to a sad romance.

The brilliant and beautiful Marion Cottilard, delivers the most extraordinary performance of the year as the lonely Stephanie, a killer whale wrangler who survives a horrific accident, only to find love and a new family with a bare knuckle boxer and his son.

Bizarre as all this sounds, Audiard makes every scene electric and left me with sublime images swimming in my head that will stay forever.

Amour

A beautiful film that brought tears to my eyes and lifted my soul. Director Michael Haneke tugs at the heart strings without the slush of American sentimentality, to explore the graceful end to a lifelong passionate relationship.

Sweet loving Parisian couple Georges and Anne are in their eighties, brilliantly played with dignity and warmth by acting legends Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. "Promise me, never take me back to hospital" Anne begs Georges. Of course he agrees, even though he knows his great love will die and the grief will kill him too.

Recently voted the European Film of the year.

Killing Them Softly

Crime dramas continue to brandish the very best in American cinema, and so it is with director Andrew Dominik's stylishly modern film noir.

Brad Pitt plays Jackie Cogan, a killer with a conscious, a likeable hit man who is sent to investigate the robbery of a mob-protected poker game. We are thrust into the gripping and brutal world of recession-hit criminals, led by a stellar cast of bad fellas including Richard Jenkins, James Gandolfini and Ray Liotta.

Smart and nasty, with a sharp political underbelly, this villainous drama can also boast the year's best closing line, "America's not a country, it's just a business ...now pay me!"

And Five Turkeys for Christmas

The Lucky One, The Bourne Legacy, Dark Shadows, The Watch, and The Devil Inside.

© UTV News
B. H. Martin
B. H. Martin

Brian Henry Martin is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and UTV's resident film critic, appearing regularly on UTV Live Tonight.

No matter what the film, there's a good chance Brian has seen it.

Twice.

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