The very best films of 2012 accurately depicted the fragility of mankind and of its spirit. These are not new topics meant to provoke awe. Every year, cinema depicts the most inconceivable of situations and pits characters in them to fend for their lives. In 2012, the best of cinema took an intense foray into pain and suffering but with an unerring intent to discern what it was that permitted or encouraged particular characters to endure certain tragedies.
What was discovered in these elite films was the profoundest reverence for togetherness and dependability. The police, being dragged around the uninhabited fields of Anatolia searching for a dead body, still managed to cooperate with two murderers in Once Upon a Time in Anatolia. If it was not for a fast-thinking scout master who gathered Camp Ivanhoe’s finest boy scouts to search for two young lovers who fled the coop in Moonrise Kingdom, they would forever be stranded on their own magical island (is that really a bad thing?). Instead of two souls aimlessly suffering existence alone in The Master, they endure together and astonishingly discover what each one so desperately needs in the other: a sense of worth. The father and daughter in Beasts of the Southern Wild would not survive the aftermath of the storm if it were not for their true, illustrious relationship. And the octogenarian couple in Amour is the only proof we need to know that it takes two people, solidified in an unbreakable relationship, to stand firm, face life and to stare the inevitable square in the eyes.
The following are my picks for the 30 best films of 2012.
13 Assassins Directed by Takashi Miike
Starring: Koji Yakusho, Goro Inagaki, Masachika Ichimura, and Mikijiro Hira
Release Date: April 29, 2011
The lethal dose of violence in 13 Assassins is heightened to such a degree of ferociousness, and yet never does it come off as an overwhelming force that serves as an impediment to our enjoyment. Rather, it plays out to resemble a macabre, lyrical meditation that we gawk at, despite the many severed limbs and decapitated bodies. Instead of being confined to the suffering grounds of 19th century feudal Japan, where bodies writhe in perpetual anguish in the dirt due to swords piercing into human flesh, 13 Assassins identifies with human elements like integrity, devotion, self-sacrifice, and loyalty that all samurais universally adhere to. This is not to say that the film bypasses all things representing violence. There is a battle scene that lasts the film’s final 50 minutes. It is astoundingly coherent and enthusiastic in showing its infatuation with bloody violence, all while maintaining an artistically composed countenance.