2012: A Film Odyssey Part I

For 2012, I watched 438 films, with 392 of them being new-to-me. I only watched 26 films that were actually released in 2012, but I plan on catching up this year (the same happened last year where I caught up on some 2011 releases). Anyway, I’ll be breaking up my 2012 film odyssey into two parts, and this first part will look at what my year in film was like overall, as well as my top 36 film discoveries.

Here are the stats on how many films I watched from each decade:

1910s: 1
1920s: 6
1930s: 42
1940s: 71
1950s: 54
1960s: 48
1970s: 37
1980s: 18
1990s: 31
2000s: 36
2010s: 48

As you can see, I really enjoyed films from the 1940s. In part two I’ll be discussing actors I followed a bit in 2012, and most of them had films in the 1940s so I think that has something to do with the high number.

The films below are listed in the order of which I watched them. I’m only going to talk briefly about each film, but over the course of the year I’ll be talking about several of my favorite films in general in their own posts.

Goodfellas (1990)

Goodfellas (1990)

Probably my favorite of Martin Scorsese’s films that I’ve watched so far. The story kept me very engaged the whole time, making me laugh and also keeping me a bit on the edge. Favorite parts of the movie include Tommy DeVito’s (Joe Pesci) “You think I’m funny?” scene and the scene where they meet with Tommy’s mother (played by Scorsese’s own mother).

Top Hat (1935)

Top Hat (1935)

Over the course of the year I watched all the films starring the famous dance pairing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (though I watched Swing Time in 2011). I decided to include only one of their films in my top 36 so I could highlight other favorites. Anyway, throughout the year I somehow ended up going back and re-watching this a few times, kind of as my go to happy movie when I was feeling down. This movie is pretty similar to their earlier film The Gay Divorcee, but I love this one a tiny bit more. It might have to do with the soundtrack, with Cheek to Cheek being one of my favorite songs and dance numbers from their movies.

Double Indemnity (1944)

Double Indemnity (1944)

Billy Wilder’s films are among the best I’ve seen this year, Double Indemnity being one of them. Barbara Stanwyck really takes this movie to another level, as well as her chemistry with Fred MacMurray.

Charade (1963)

Charade (1963)

As many people have said before, this is the best movie that Hitchcock never directed. The comedy and the thrills are so perfectly balanced, it’s definitely one of the movies I enjoyed the most this year.

The Apartment (1960)

The Apartment (1960)

With Psycho being one of my favorite movies ever, I’m of course a little sad it didn’t win big at the Oscars in 1961. But if it had to lose to any movie, I’m very glad it was Billy Wilder’s The Apartment. Now after having watching it, I’m not that disappointed with the outcome, except for the fact that Jack Lemmon didn’t win Best Actor, seriously one of the finest performances I’ve seen.

Gone with the Wind (1939)

Gone with the Wind (1939)

I’d actually watched the first half of this movie a few years ago in my high school history class, but I hadn’t watched the whole movie until this year. It definitely lived up to my expectations, with the undeniably beautiful cinematography and of course, Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett O’Hara. Though I must say that I think my favorite aspect of this film was Olivia de Havilland as Melanie Wilkes.

The Big Sleep (1946)

The Big Sleep (1946)

Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall are another pairing whose filmography I went through this year. This is my favorite of the 4 films they did together; aside from Bogie and Bacall themselves, I really love the mystery in the film.

Days of Heaven (1978)

Days of Heaven (1978)

I went through Terrence Malick’s filmography this year (though I watched The Tree of Life in 2011), and my favorite of his has to be Days of Heaven. Like all his films, it’s so beautifully filmed.  Also really loved Sam Shepard as The Farmer.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

One of the many childhood favorites I missed out on in my own childhood. Still, this movie really captivated me, the story and the young actors were very good in this. Probably my favorite Spielberg movie after Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Fargo (1996)

Fargo (1996)

My favorite among the Coen Brothers’ movies that I’ve seen so far. Another movie that balances crime and comedy so well. Frances McDormand also does an amazing job as pregnant cop Marge Gunderson.

L.A. Confidential (1997)

L.A. Confidential (1997)

It’s a bit of a shame that this film was overshadowed by Titanic, though I love it a lot. The story kept my attention, and I really love the cinematography and direction in this (see the screencap I chose). Also have to add that I love some of the Old Hollywood references, as it is a movie that takes place in 1950s L.A. One of my favorite scenes is Ed Exley’s (Guy Pearce) with Lana Turner.

12 Angry Men (1957)

12 Angry Men (1957)

If I had to rank my favorite discoveries of 2012, this would definitely be in the top 5, even 3. A film with merely dialogue as the action, it kept me immensely engrossed.

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

This movie really exceeded my expectations, I didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I did. The scenery was really a character of it’s own, and along with how beautifully filmed the movie was, I loved the performances by Peter O’Toole and Omar Shariff.

Sunset Blvd. (1950)

Sunset Blvd. (1950)

This might be my favorite of all the new-to-me movies I watched in 2012. William Holden and Gloria Swanson are simply phenomenal in this. I believe this is Billy Wilder’s finest dramatic picture, if not finest overall. Also features one of my favorite type of stories, which are movies about movies.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

This movie features what is definitely my favorite performance by Kate Winslet. Jim Carrey also seems a bit underrated as a dramatic actor, I’d like to see him in more dramatic roles like this. The story in this film is also beautifully told, and I also found the subplots just as interesting as the main one.

Modern Times (1936)

Modern Times (1936)

I watched a few Chaplin movies for the first time this year, but Modern Times was definitely my favorite of the ones I saw. I really enjoyed seeing Paulette Godard and Charlie Chaplin onscreen together.

Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

Shadow of a Doubt (1943)

I continued going through Hitchcock’s filmography in 2012, with Shadow of a Doubt being my favorite of the ones that were new-to-me. It was so interesting to see this odd relationship between Joseph Cotten’s Uncle Charlie and Teresa Wright’s Young Charlie.

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town (1936)

My favorite Frank Capra movie after It’s a Wonderful Life. Like most Capra films, it’s such a heartwarming story. Gary Cooper also gives one of my favorite performances that I’ve seen, and as always, Jean Arthur is great in this.

There Will Be Blood (2007)

There Will Be Blood (2007)

Another great acting performance in film, by none other than Daniel Day-Lewis. In 2012 I went through Paul Thomas Anderson’s filmography and decided to only include one of his films in my top 36, and it was between this and Boogie Nights. Aside from the acting, I ended up choosing this as I felt Anderson’s direction is at it’s finest here, I love the choices made in editing and in the camerawork.

Adam's Rib (1949)

Adam’s Rib (1949)

Aside from Woman of the Year, I watched all the films that Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn did together for the first time in 2012, and this is definitely my favorite of theirs. The story itself is also very well written by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin.

Moon (2009)

Moon (2009)

Sam Rockwell is such a seemingly underrated actor, I wish he had gotten more recognized for this movie back in 2009. Also love Kevin Spacey as GERTY.

Rushmore (1998)

Rushmore (1998)

Along with Terrence Malick and Paul Thomas Anderson, I also watched all of Wes Anderson’s movies for the first time. There were definitely a few I would have included in this list, but I decided to limit it to one and I chose his second film Rushmore. There’s a lot I love about this movie, but my favorite has to be Jason Schwartzman’s portrayal as precocious 15 year old Max Fischer. It also features one of my favorite movie quotes: “I saved Latin.  What did you ever do?”

Spirited Away (2001)

Spirited Away (2001)

Prior to watching Spirited Away, I’ve only managed to see two other Studio Ghibli films. And unfortunately I didn’t get around to watching more after seeing Spirited Away in 2012. Anyway, I really loved the young heroine Chihiro and enjoyed watching her journey as the movie progressed.

Before Sunrise (1995)

Before Sunrise (1995)

A really wonderful film, with most of the action involved in the two characters’ conversations with each other. Though not much seems to happen, the movie is so engaging and in a way got me thinking on my own perspectives on life and love as Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Céline (Julie Delpy) talked about theirs. The film’s journey through Vienna is also beautifully shot.

Before Sunset (2004)

Before Sunset (2004)

I had to include the sequel to Before Sunrise here, as it’s just as good as its predecessor (though I do prefer Before Sunrise a tiny bit more). Also features one of my favorite movie endings.

Funny Girl (1968)

Funny Girl (1968)

Barbara Streisand’s performance as Fanny Brice is one of my favorites that I’ve seen in a film ever. She does such a great job balancing the comedy as well as the dramatics involving her relationship with Nicky Arnstein (Omar Shariff). I loved all the musical numbers in this, but my favorite has to be “I’m the Greatest Star,” which is pictured above.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)

Another movie I didn’t expect to love as much as I did. Before watching this, I watched the other two films featuring The Man with No Name (Clint Eastwood) and liked them well enough, so I wasn’t quite anticipating for the prequel to be so great. Tuco (Eli Wallach) is the highlight of the movie, though everything about The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is honestly amazing.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

Definitely my favorite movie filmed by cinematographer Roger Deakins. Every shot in this film is so breathtaking. I really love the cast of actors involved in this too, from Sam Rockwell as Charlie Ford to Sam Shepard’s small role as Frank James. Casey Affleck’s performance as Robert Ford is the best of the cast.

In a Lonely Place (1950)

In a Lonely Place (1950)

Some of my favorite film noirs (and films in general) involve writers of some sort, especially journalists and screenwriters, and this is one of them. It features my personal favorite of Humphrey Bogart’s performances.

The Thin Man (1934)

The Thin Man (1934)

I watched the whole Thin Man series starring William Powell and Myrna Loy within a couple of days and instantly fell in love with Nick and Nora Charles. The original remains my favorite of the series. There’s so much to love about this movie, the comedy, the mystery, the chemistry between the two leads. One of the funniest movies I’ve seen, featuring some great lines (“Waiter, will you serve the nuts? I mean, will you serve the guests the nuts?”).

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957)

Another David Lean epic that exceeded my expectations. I’m not sure if I like this more than Lawrence of Arabia, it’s a pretty close call. I love the thrills this movie serves, and I’m always up for a movie involving William Holden. Additionally, Alec Guinness’s characterization of Colonel Nicholson.

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

The Night of the Hunter (1955)

I really loved the film’s expressionistic style, some of the best black-and-white cinematography I’ve seen. Robert Mitchum is so good in the role of the creepy Reverend Harry Powell, seriously chilling.

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

Meet Me in St. Louis (1944)

I watched a few of Vincente Minnelli in 2012, most of them being musicals (even started the year with the Oscar-winning An American in Paris). This is my personal favorite of his, with The Band Wagon close behind. What really gets me is the bond between the members of the Smith family, especially between all the sisters. Also love “The Trolley Song” number, and of course Judy Garland’s rendition of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.”

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Like Psycho and The Apartment, It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my favorite films ever that I wish had one Best Picture in 1947, but it lost to The Best Years of Our Lives. Still, this film is just as great, and after watching I can see why it was chosen for Best Picture as it came after the end of World War II. The cast as a whole portrays its characters so well, and I especially loved Harold Russell as Homer Parrish, who was  a real war veteran. This film is filmed with a lot of great scenes, and I think my favorite one is when Milly Stephenson (Myrna Loy) realizes her husband Al (Frederic March) has finally come home.

Harold and Maude (1971)

Harold and Maude (1971)

A really sweet, unconventional love story. Both Ruth Gordon and Bud Cort do great jobs as the title roles. I love the humor in this and the film’s explorations on the perspectives of life and death.

The Lady Eve (1941)

The Lady Eve (1941)

I’d heard many good things about this screwball comedy before watching it, so I decided to save it for the last day of 2012. Plus, it featured two actors whose films I was introduced to for the first time in the past year, so I thought it was a perfect way to end 2012. Anyway, Barbara Stanwyck continues to shine in every movie I’ve seen her in (part of which I will cover in 2012: A Film Odyssey Part II). And Henry Fonda was so funny as the awkward rich bachelor. The supporting actors were also great in this, I loved seeing Charles Coburn and Eric Blore.

Tomorrow I will post 2012: A Film Odyssey Part II which will entail trends in my movie-watching, with most of the focus being on actors I followed throughout the year.

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7 thoughts on “2012: A Film Odyssey Part I

  1. Loved your picks…most every single one on this list is part of my personal film collection. Double Indemnity, The Apartment, The Big Sleep (anything film noir is okay by me), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Thin Man, The Bridge on the River Kwai…and Rushmore! I can’t believe there’s someone besides myself who loves Rushmore!

    I’ll check out Part 2 tomorrow. And did you launch your film site on the same date that I launched mine? January 1, 2013?

    • Film noir has become one of my favorite genres; this list would probably feature a lot more of them if I didn’t want to diversify it. And yes, more people really need to check out Rushmore! Might just be my personal favorite Wes Anderson movie.

      Yes I did launch it on January 1st! Decided I should start the new year with a blog that I’ll hopefully be able to keep up with.

      • Cool about film noir being one of your favorites…I’ve been a fan for a while, and have considered a website blog devoted to it. But for now, it’ll just have a sub-genre listing on my current site.

        Rushmore IS my favorite Wes Anderson, along with Moonrise Kingdom.

        So about a year from now, we’ll both be celebrating blog anniversaries! And yes, you’ll be able to keep up…you’re doing great so far!

  2. You recently started following me on Letterboxd. When I checked out your profile I noted that most of your ratings are weighted to the upper end. Now that I’ve read this post I understand that – you’ve been watching a ton of great movies. If you ever start doing the 1,001 Movies You Must See Before You Die that will probably change, but for right now I’d suggest you just keep doing what you are doing. You are getting the greatest movie experiences that anyone can and I envy you.

    • Yeah I’m really putting most of my movie-viewing focus on supposedly great movies. Last year I finished going through AFI’s Top 100 list, and I really enjoyed most of the movies from there. My goal for this year is to watch all the Best Picture winners, though those aren’t all necessarily great movies, but still interesting to see what the Academy loved. Thanks for the comment!

      • AFI picked some good movies. Have you thought about watching the movies from their other lists (Laughs, Thrills, etc.)? I completed all of the AFI lists myself just before the end of 2012. I compiled a consolidated tracking sheet of all 412 unique movies (as well as separate tabs for the individual lists). If you would be interested in seeing it, or downloading it for your own use, you can find it here: http://listsfromchip.blogspot.com/

        I also have tracking sheets for the Oscar Best Picture winners and Best PIcture nominees there, too. I’ve seen all of the winners, but I am still working my way through the nominees.

      • I’m keeping up with the other AFI lists too, it’d be nice to complete them by the end of the year. I’ve watched 70+ movies from the Thrills (probably my favorite of the 4 genre lists) and Passions lists, and 60 each from Laughs and Cheers. I don’t know if you have an iCheckMovies account, but they have 100+ movie lists on there where you can see how far along you are according to what movies you’ve checked. But thanks for the link to your site, I see there’s a couple of lists on there that aren’t on iCheck, I’ll definitely be downloading some of them.

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