Sunday, January 6, 2013

20 Favourite 'New To Me' films of 2012

2012 was the best year as far as blogging is concerned for me. Well, the fact that this was the ONLY full year of blogging I have had thus far made it very easy. But, Still it was pretty incredible year. First full year of blogging, documenting and cataloging the movies I have seen throughout the year and my brief thoughts on them and off course, other bloggers that have already done similar lists made me want to do this list. So, this is the list of 20 movies that I liked the most out of 305 movies that I saw in the calender year of 2012 for the first time. In all likelihood, as and when I update my Top 100, most of them will make it into that list, if they already aren't. Most interesting part of making this list was sifting through all the movies I have seen and realizing that it has been less than a year since I have seen, City Lights(1931) or The Game(1997). For a strange reason, I feel like I have loved these movies for a long, long time. And yes, I have left all the 2012 releases out of the list since at some point of time, most likely mid-February, I will eventually do the list of my favourite 2012 movies. So, they will have there time in limelight. It's time for some older movies to shine. Lets get to it then.

20. Black Narcissus(1947): After watching The Red Shoes(1948) last year, which really impressed me and introduced me to the duo of Powell and Pressburger, Black Narcissus took it a step further. I am arguably a little partial towards it because of the Indian settings and using them well but then I look at that last scene and it feels like it deserves it. It really does.
19. Paths of Glory(1957): Let me start with the usual. Not a big Kubrick Fan but that's what makes Paths of Glory special that despite not belonging to the Kubrick camp, I loved it. It is Kubrick at its usual acerbic best. He still uses the platform to criticize but it is little restrained and is for the right cause which makes it exploratory and not exploitative. 

18. The Birds(1963): I live less than 100 miles from Bodega Bay and the fact that this happens on that location made me scare for my life. Not Really, just joking but this is true that I was more scared while watching this movie than most of the so called scary/horror movies I have seen. Over the time, this has even made into my favourite Hitchcock's as well.

17. Life of Brian(1979): After being long overdue, I finally caught up with Monty Pythons last year. This year, I caught up with Life of Brian. It sure still is one of the funniest movies of all time but I have been amazed by its power to infuse a discussion and to prove my point I will point you to the only thing that is even better than this film is this interview.
16. The Discreet Charm of Bourgeoisie(1972): Bunuel's movies are a challenge. However the fact that this is not the only Bunuel in the list should certify to the fact that I like this challenge. Walking into this movie, almost without knowing anything about it makes it an even bigger challenge and I think I almost gave it up but I realized what's happening at the last image. It all suddenly made a lot more sense then. I have rarely had such 180 turns based on 1 still.

15. A Separation(2011): Last year at around this time everyone was getting excited about this movie. As usual, I arrived little late but this movie hit me equally hard, just like everyone else. I flat out deny to draw any conclusions from this about Iranian policies but what I really do admire is earnestness and honesty of the script and in the performances. It is also really hard to believe that there is absolutely no sappy melodrama in it.

14. The General(1926): I can say that one of the highlights of my self movie education this year will be my introduction to Buster Keaton. What I appreciate the most about this movie is that it is not just a collection of some gags but there is a real story to it. I still belong to the Camp Chaplin but if Buster Keaton can make anything as funny and fluent as The General, the other side has got a damn strong case too.

13. The Double Life of Veronique(1991): After his Three Colours Trilogy last year, this was the next logical step for Kieslowski for me and personally, this was even better than anything in the trilogy. Even in the trilogy, Red was my favourite and there is one big reason for that - Irene Jacob. There is something in her face or the way Kieslowski presents her that keeps me fixated on her, almost hypnotized.

12. Viridiana(1961): As I said, there are more than one Bunuel on the list. Cynicism of this movie astounds me. There really isn't much worse that you can do to defame any regime. Spanish authorities promptly banned this movie right after they saw the final cut. I wouldn't have been surprised if they tried to kill it completely and we never would have known that such a film once existed. But it takes real courage to make such movie and do it so well.

11. Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf(1966): In the past year, quite a few of my fellow bloggers turned in their lists of various favourite performance. Truth be told, I won't be able to do such a list. I only know that my favourite male performance is Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will be Blood(2007) and its female counterpart would be Elizabeth Taylor in this movie. I swear to god that I never imagined in my wildest dream that anything like this was ever possible.

10. The Game(1997): It feels a little weird that it has been less than a year since I saw The Game for the first time. It feels like it has been quite a while because it is the movie that made me fall in love with the city of San Francisco. Off course, it does have a great concept executed exquisitely which keeps your adrenaline pumping and which doesn't fail you in the end, once the secret is revealed. 

9. Shame(2011): Just like A Separation(2011), Shame never made into my Top 10 in 2011 just because I wasn't able to catch up with it anywhere close to the end of last year. I got to it almost 6 months into 2012 but once again, just like A Separation, realized that it indeed is that damn good. Carrey Mulligan and Michael Fassbender's performances, only topped by very harsh and honest representation of an addiction.

8. Judgement at Nuremberg(1961): It was more than two years ago that I heard such movie existed. I spent almost one year trying to find a copy of this movie until I finally found it by complete off chance. I spent some more time before watching it even after owning a copy of it but when I did watch, I understood why people recommend it so highly. Since the day I have seen it, I haven't been able to shake off Burt Lancaster's monologue in the court.

7. Metropolis(1927): Thanks to Netflix, I saw the most complete version of it and I am thankful I did because I had no idea about the existence of multiple versions when I saw it. I am sure that many agree with me when I say that what amazes me the most about it is the vision of this movie. In my opinion, making this movie in 1927 was an exceptional feat. However, making it in such a way that it remains relevant even after so many years is nothing short of miracle.

6. Boogie Nights(1997): I had heard a lot of good things bout this movie and I found most of them to be true when I actually checked it out. It has the amazing opening tracking shot that introduces almost the whole cast in a single shot, it also has one of the most incredible ensemble cast assembled where every one delivers. However, what I find interesting about it is these are great actors playing bad actors on screen and doing a great job at that.  

5. Pather Panchali(1955): Satyajit Ray is probably the most well-known Indian director in the world and his Apu Trilogy is his most well-known work. I was really glad when I got a chance to watch them this year because of a friend. Like lot of others, I really think this is one of the Best Trilogies in the history of cinema but out of the three, Pather Panchali made a greater impression on me because of the way it celebrates the small joys of life. It made me nostalgic.

4. Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans(1927): If it wasn't for that ending, I would have killed everybody related to that movie. It should be a crime that they get us to care so much for the characters in such a little time and then send us home as a blabbering mess that I would have been, if not for that ending. But they did the right thing and so I am doing it too by including it in this list. Seriously, one of the most iconic silent movies.

3. Dr. Strangelove(1964): Did I say that I am traditionally not a Kubrick fan? And then sound like a hypocrite putting two movies on this list? Well, that's an occupational hazard I guess. But this was the perfect place, perfect scenario for all the criticism, cynicism that Kubrick's movies are full of; up to the brim. There are very few films that take a dead serious issue, turn it into a broad comedy and do in successfully. It also has one of the most iconic dialogues ever.

2. The Seventh Seal(1957): 1957 was an amazing year. There are so many movies made around the world in that year which are still considered as some of the best works of art. However, even if we only look at Ingmar Bergman, he made The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries. Two of my favourites and I love that they are really deep but at the same time so accessible. For a movie that is primarily about death, I was surprised by how much of hope there is in it
1. City Lights(1931): I have been watching Chaplin since I was kid. That's why I was really surprised when I realized that it has been less than a year since I saw City Lights. It seems like I have known him much longer. His Tramp has an uncanny ability of making you laugh so hard that it would make your stomach hurt but then do something so innocent, so pure, so beautiful that a single drop of tear would drop out of your eyes and you wouldn't even know it. Watch the last scene of this movie if you need any proof.


  1. I was going to feign mock outrage that The Lost Weekend didn't make the cut until I saw what did. Some great films on that list.

    Black Narcissus is one that I recommend all the time. Most people look at me funny, but those who watch it always come back and thank me for suggesting it. When Sister Ruth brings the crazy, she brings it!

    1. Yeah, I anticipated that happening and took care from the start. :) Glad you like Black Narcissus as much, Steve.

  2. Great list! I love Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries too, especially Wild Strawberries. City Lights is also terrific. You have listed many films I haven't seen yet but am looking forward to, especially A Separation.

    1. Thanks. I still am debating which one's my favourite Bergman - Seventh Seal or Wild Strawberries. I don't have an answer yet but definitely loved them both. I am quite sure you will love A Separation, Stephanie. Let me know what you think of others as well.

  3. Awesome list! I love Sunrise, Shame, A Separation, Boogie Nights, The Double Life of Veronique, The Birds and of course, City Lights! Such a beautiful film, that one.

  4. Ahhh! I watched the Birds for the first time in 2012 too! So incredible, that soundscape!
    Shame was a first time watch too, and I remember being pretty numb after it finished. Very harrowing.
    I still haven't seen any Charlie Chaplin films :( Though I have seen a couple of Buster Keaton ones! I think City Lights is definitely the Chaplin I *must* see.
    Sunrise is probably my favourite silent film :)

    1. Even I used to call Sunrise my favourite silent. Well, until I realized City Lights is silent at least. There are many Chaplin movies that are must. There is City Lights, MOdern Times, The Kid, Gold Rush, The Great Dictator. I doubt if you will go wrong with any of them. I love them as well but City Lights just happened to make longer lasting impression. Hope you will like it too.

  5. Hey SDG! That's a fantastic set of films, man. It really doesn't get much better than City Lights, a perfect choice for #1.

    1. Thanks Eric ! You really can't. Even thinking about City Lights now, brings a faint smile on my face. It is wonderful really.

  6. Terrific list! Glad to see City Lights and The Seventh Seal on top. I love Metropolis, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Double Life of Veronique, The Birds, and Black Narcissus as well.

    1. Thanks Josh !! Glad to see we agree on so many of them. They all are just wonderful. Made my Year !!


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