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Amour, Skyfall and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia head up our films of the year, but who else was a contender, and what were your favourites of 2012?

Hey hey! Here are our staff and friends’ choices of favourite films of 2012. Each person was asked to choose five favourite new films that they saw in a public space in 2012. [Warning—may contain spoilers.]

Did you see many films this year? Feel free to add your choices in the comments.

About Elly

  • The western stereotypes are clearly amiss when Iran keeps making films of this quality. (Keith Withall, Film Extra Tutor)


  • This beautifully crafted film tugged at all the heartstrings and made you realise what it really means to love somebody. (Fozia Bano, Festivals and Events Producer)
  • Not an easy watch, certainly, but truly astounding film-making, by an artist completely in control of his medium. (Toni Booth, Associate Curator)
  • Our Closing Gala screening of Michael Haneke’s Amour at Leeds International Film Festival left the audience stunned into silence, and for me no other film came close to its power and impact this year. (Chris Fell, Leeds International Film Festival)
  • Tough to watch but deeply moving—once again Haneke proves himself the master film-maker of his age, a great artist in exquisite control of his resources. (Alex King, Leeds International Film Festival)
  • Had to leave the cinema before the end because I got so sucked in I couldn’t bear to see the conclusion. Her Beethoven piano-playing reverie was what broke me. Thanks a bunch Mr Haneke *still traumatised*. (Rachel McWatt, CineYorkshire Project Manager)
  • Unexpectedly tender and lyrical. (KW)

Albert Nobbs

  • I love Janet McTeer and she’s fab in this sad tale as a woman surviving as a man in Edwardian Dublin who meets Glenn Close’s taciturn ‘male’ butler. (Claire Wilford, Press Officer, Bradford International Film Festival)

Anna Karenina

  • Visually stunning, very clever ‘theatrics’. (Tim Neal, Visitor Insight Executive)


  • A film so butt-clenchingly tense I couldn’t move for two hours—and I knew the true story behind it. (Tom Kendall, Museum Crew)
  • Ramped up the tense drama to the max. Really enjoyed the retro sets and brilliant 70s hairstyles, particularly when they ‘disguised’ themselves. Might throw an Argo-themed fancy dress party next year. (RMcW)

The Artist

  • Watched the film of the year in the best cinema (Pictureville Cinema). Fantastic to watch, but not good if you’ve got a packet of sweets… or somebody else has. (TK)

Avengers Assemble

  • Witty, snappy and exhilarating blockbuster cinema par excellence, bringing together one of the most ambitious and potentially disastrous experiments in mainstream film-making. My own childhood wish fulfilment and my five-year-old’s love of the film certainly encourage my admiration for it. (Mike McKenny, Manager, The Plaza Cinema)
  • Hyped to death, this could’ve easily been a letdown, but instead turned out to be the funniest and most exciting action blockbuster of the year. (Tom Perkins, Museum Crew)


  • Pure utter class, Bollywood doing something different. (Irna Qureshi, Consultant)

Battle of the Queens

  • Visually stunning! (Rebecca Hill, Film Festivals Assistant)

Beasts of the Southern Wild

  • From the casting, to the score, to the grainy 16mm photography, first time director Behn Zeitlin judged this film, for me, absolutely perfectly. It’s a film which by rights should be sad, being about a natural disaster, the loss of a community, and the death of a young girl’s father; but it’s also about courage, hope and an abiding spirit. There’s a beam of sunshine that runs through this film; any tears shed at the end are of happiness, not sorrow. It stayed with me for days afterwards and I only wish it could have stayed a little bit longer. (Symon Culpan, Projectionist)
  • Excellent use of a fictional locale to stand in for real life contemporary issues of social segregation recognisable throughout the world. It shows the intimacy and sense of togetherness in small, poor communities, but also the trappings of such an insular existence. Makes the point that these communities don’t need to be ‘rescued’ by ‘civil’ society. (MMcK)
  • Touching and raw. (Zoe Robertshaw, Museum Crew)

Berberian Sound Studio

  • A complete surprise and a true original, sending up Giallo kitsch and British reserve, wrongfooting generic expectations at every turn. (AK)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

  • My feel-good movie of 2012, top drawer cast, kind of like ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral—The Pension Years’, and the gay one dies (again). (TN)

The Cabin in the Woods

  • Mega meta genre-busting teen fantasy horror. Loved it! Screams, laughs and some seriously amazing creations in the second half. (Kathryn Penny, Film Manager)


  • Dysfunction and Darjeeling combined to make a rollicking 79 minutes of enjoyable entertainment. (FB)

The Dark Knight Rises

  • Christopher Nolan manages to polish off his Batman trilogy with flair, excitement and a proper ending. (TN)
  • Christopher Nolan rounds off his trilogy in stunning IMAX-proud style, with tops performances across the board—especially from Tom Hardy as Bane—and an exceptionally powerful script. (TP)
  • A fitting conclusion to an incredible trilogy. (Ben Parker, Visitor Insight Assistant)
  • Just fab. (ZR)


  • I couldn’t shake this film from my mind. Brilliant performances from a great cast, especially Adrien Brody. (RH)


  • “Has the taut dramatic structure of a Dostoyevsky parable, matched with mesmerising long-take technique, a hushed, disquieting soundscape, and images that jangle in your head for days.”—Tim Robey, The Telegraph. (Neil Young, Co-Director, Bradford International Film Festival)

English Vinglish

  • Because Sri Devi proved she could come back to the big screen without any gimmicks and she didn’t even have to dance to be entertaining. (IQ)

Grandma Lo-Fi

  • A beguiling homemade aesthetic complementing a warm and life-affirming portrait of a septuagenarian amateur musician from Iceland.

The Grey

  • While it might not be the happiest film of the year or even a tale about survival, it’s still one of the most engaging films of the year due to its merciless look into accepting one’s own mortality. (TP)

Here, Then

  • I saw this at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, where it won the International Feature Film Competition. This patient and meticulous film captures a rift in the Chinese youth; a rift that the film apparently proposes is caused by the transition from rural to urban life. It is almost soul-destroyingly bleak, but completely engrossing. (MMcK)


  • 2012 was definitely the year of Kareena Kapoor. (IQ)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

  • If all three films are this good I don’t see a problem! (BP)

Holy Motors

  • Mad, maddening and very, very funny. Attempts to rationalise its plot will lead to hysteria. All you can do is sit back and enjoy the ride. (Chris Shackleton, Museum Crew)

The Hunt

  • Brilliantly executed tale observing the devastating consequences for one man of a confused child’s vivid imagination combined with the hysteria of their local community. Great acting, beautifully shot landscapes, completely absorbing and affecting. (Spare us the dead beasts next time please Vinterberg.) (RMcW)
  • Really liked it at the time and then this film stayed with me and I still can’t stop thinking about it. Frustrating, tense and brilliant. (KP)
  • Thomas Vinterberg makes a triumphant comeback with a multi-layered story and Mads Mikkelsen’s second great performance of 2012. (Roy Stafford, Film Extra tutor)

The Imposter

  • Beautiful imagery and an intriguing tale. Clearly influenced by Errol Morris (never a bad thing). (TB)
  • It kept me guessing right up until the powerful final twist at the end. Even the credits are disturbing! (RH)
  • Documentary extraordinaire which calls for immediate and long-lasting debate. The Texan private eye is a wonder to behold—comic relief in this otherwise creepy and mysterious tale of an outlandish trickster. Truly compelling cinema. (Emma Thom, Senior Web Content Coordinator)

In Another Country

  • Amid a lot of heavy-going films in Cannes, the minimal comedy In Another Country was a delightful diversion, directed by my favourite Korean filmmaker Hong Sang-soo, who messes wonderfully with narrative convention, here assisted by Isabelle Huppert. (CF)

The Intouchables

  • It’s a tale that’s been told so many times before, but never have I laughed so unrestrainedly at the cinema. It is so easy to fall for this story and its characters, that the clichés and stereotypes drift by (almost) unnoticed. (ET)

Jab Tak Hai Jaan

  • Not quite what I expected from Yash Chopre but has to be included since it ended up being his last film…. and he made Shahrukh Khan look damned good! (IQ)

The Kid with a Bike

  • Yet another wonderful little gem from the Dardenne brothers about a disaffected young boy’s troubled relationship with his father, a young hairdresser who looks out for him, and a stolen, found and oft-stolen-again bicycle. Could easily have been contrived but in the hands of the Dardenne brothers these characters are so real, their situations so lived in, you can’t help but be drawn in. (SC)
  • A kid, a bike, a crap Belgian town, a feckless dad. Always a feckless dad. (TV)

Killer Joe

  • Really enjoyed the journey of the most calamitous bunch of misfits I’ve ever seen on screen. Very darkly comic and violent. Particularly enjoyed watching this with our Senior Screenings lot. (KP)

Le Havre

  • Left me with a huge sense of joy and warmth both about film and humanity (one lasted longer than the other). (TB)

How I Filmed the War

  • A stylish and fascinating meta-documentary exploring reality, propaganda and the power of the moving image in the WWI film The Battle of the Somme.


  • Proof that you don’t need a massive budget for a good sci fi. You just need a good story. (TK)
  • Brilliantly clever and thrilling all at the same time, the best of its kind since The Matrix. (BP)
  • One of the best sci-fi films in recent memory that not only keeps you on your toes with all the time-travel theories, but looks outstanding and sees Joseph Gordon-Levitt acting his socks off as Bruce Willis. (TP)
  • Very intelligently constructed, though I was unsure whether I liked Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s face reconstruction. (ZR)

Martha Marcy May Marlene

  • Hits harder than any other film this year and stays with you in the way that all great films should. (CS)
  • An early release that was hard to beat, this is a beautifully done indie film about a damaged young woman whose past (as a member of a cult) can’t quite let go of her. Wistful, evocative and at turns creepy and nail-bitingly tense with fantastic performances from John Hawkes and Elizabeth Olsen. (SC)

Me Too

  • “Allusions to Tarkovsky’s Stalker are obvious, but beyond that, the point’s not clear. The score by Leonid Fedorov is annoyingly repetitive.”—Lesley Felperin, Variety. (NY)

Men in Black 3

  • For nostalgic reasons. Great to see the Men in Black return! (BP)

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

  • The only film ever to give me vertigo. Worth the IMAX price just for the scene where he climbs the skyscraper. (TK)

Monsieur Lazhar

  • A gem of restraint, an almost perfect story. (RS)
  • Fantastic understated central performance, and one that lingers long after the credits have rolled. (CW)

Moonrise Kingdom

  • It’s always nice to delve into Anderson’s colourful and quirky world, but this film is my favourite, showing that Anderson is only getting better with age. (RH)
  • So much to enjoy for those captivated by Wes Anderson’s oddball charm and sensibilities. His best film since The Royal Tenenbaums. (CS)
  • Very rarely can a film so stylised feel so earnest and poignant. Characters traverse that tricky transition from pure childhood to adolescence; still revelling in childlike imagination while finding their own place in the world. Their paradoxically simultaneous uncertainty and conviction is thoroughly charming. (MMcK)

The Nine Muses

  • A beautiful, complex and challenging tapestry of sound and image. (KW)

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

  • Never let a 150min running time put you off. Completely absorbing throughout and with some unexpected humour. (TB)
  • Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s unclassifiable reinvention of the police procedural drama, combining witty dialogue and masterful cinematography with real depth and grace.
  • The mood veers from meditative calm to eerie discomfort in this quietly moving mini-epic. (CS)
  • What Chekhov might have produced if he had been behind a film camera. (KW)
  • “I’m told we movie critics praise movies that are long and boring. I can imagine many people finding this movie an ordeal. That depends on how easily they can be drawn into the story that is taking place under the surface and within these minds.”—Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times. (NY)

Peter Kubelka Presents Monument Film

  • Primitive films, synchronised projectors, on/off! (TV)

Post Tenebras Lux

  • My favourite film at Cannes and I was in a small minority, which made me love it more. Mexican maverick Carlos Reygadas has crafted a provocative kaleidoscopic vision of social disintegration featuring many spellbinding sequences. (CF)

Project X

  • “The Oscars are swell, but once in a while a film comes along that is so courageous it deserves consideration for the Nobel Prize.”—Neil Genzlinger, New York Times; “Instant classic”—Peter Debruge, Variety; “Witless, charmless, teen twaddle. Let’s take all prints of the film, and bury them.”—Chris Hewitt, Empire. (NY)


  • No one captures science fiction on film like Sir Ridley Scott. This also gets my vote for most squeamish scene in a 15-certificate movie. Ever! (TN)

The Raid

  • As much a fan of gaming as genre cinema, I was thrilled by Gareth Evans’ The Raid with its one-man conquest of a towering multi-levelled world and breathtaking scenes of martial arts combat. (CF)
  • This film is relentlessly badass! Brilliant tale of goodies vs baddies and some serious cool moves. (KP)

Robot & Frank

  • A quirky, loveable, laugh-out-loud septuagenarian heist movie that raises poignant questions about caring for an ageing population in the future without ever losing sight of being damn good fun. Loved it. (SC)

A Royal Affair

  • Beautiful, seductive and absorbing period drama. (RMcW)
  • Philosophy, history, politics and romance—a heady mixture. (RS)

Sawdust City

  • I loved it in its entirety. Everything was perfect with an amazing soundtrack. (FB)
  • Indisputable evidence of the need for truly independent film distribution beyond the festival circuit; there is no doubt that we’ll be seeing more from writer-director-actor-editor David Nordstrom, the cinematic polymath that he is. (ET)

Searching for Sugar Man

  • It’s very rare that you come across a documentary with such a feelgood ending. Great soundtrack too. (RH)
  • I found this a compelling and moving tale about a little-known musician whose music touched a nation in its hour of need. (CW)

Seven Psychopaths

  • Easily the best comedy of the year, thanks to hilarious turns from Rockwell and Walken and a wonderfully meta script that just keeps giving and giving.
  • A very funny metanarrative take on Hollywood with a superb cast including an unhinged Tom Waits; wonderful little stories and a great warm up to Tarantino’s Django Unchained. What’s not to love? (ET)


  • Fassbender at his best. Listless and lonely in a tale for our times. (FB)
  • An early release for 2012 that marked itself out as difficult to beat. Steve McQueen’s fluid use of the technical elements (especially his use of camera) really blew me away; a near dialogue-free opening sequence sets the tone for a fever-dream of a film where so much is conveyed without being said. Brave and powerful, this is cinema that punches well above its weight and I can’t wait for what McQueen does next. (SC)

Shut Up and Play the Hits

  • This was an easy win for me as I love LCD Soundsystem. Still, it was an incredibly slick and emotive documenting of the end of an era. (KP)


  • Ben Wheatley is a welcome dark tonic for British film-making with its tired recent genre output, and Northern killing odyssey Sightseers is a superb and bold black comedy. (CF)
  • Good lowbrow fun and japes. Made me laugh a lot and reminded me of my crazy family. (RMcW)
  • “The film doesn’t set out at any point to mock caravanning per se. Despite the controversial subject matter, there is a clear fondness for the hobby”—Simon Mortimer, Practical Caravan. (NY)
  • Inappropriate giggling aplenty in this adorable black comedy. For me, New Hollywood cannot compete with the best of British social realism. And oh, that scenery! (ET)


  • After a couple of po-faced entries, great to have a return to camp, tongue-in-cheek Bond with a cracking villain, and proper stunts. And Dame Judi as a Bond girl!! (TN)
  • One of the best Bond films of all time, and great to see the return of the Aston Martin. (BP)
  • Injecting much needed warmth and droll British humour back into the series, Skyfall is a very welcome return to form. (CS)
  • Just realised that each film I’ve chosen is a ‘reduction’ of some kind. No exploding pen for knackered Bond, and not much in the way of foreign jollies either. (TV)
  • Sam Mendes managed to breathe new life into the standard 007 (surprisingly little sex!). (ZR)

A Simple Life

  • The title says it all. A Chinese melodrama with enormous emotional power. (RS)
  • Humanist cinema is alive and thriving in China. (KW)

The Snows of Kilimanjaro

  • I’m a big fan of Robert Guediguian, and this seemingly slight tale about a small bunch of friends and their troubles actually says a great deal about the human condition and the ills which affect the wider world.

The Source

  • Wonderful Arabic battle of the sexes which is by turns funny, tragic and profoundly moving. (CW)


  • Sweet, funny and… spermy. Loved the storyline and can’t wait for it to be ruined in an American remake. (TK)


  • Because everything Aamir Khan touches turns to gold. (IQ)


  • Thrillingly modern and original in its use of ‘old’ cinema techniques. (TB)
  • Strange, beautiful and a subtle satire—a unique meditation on the colonial imagination. (RS)

This is Not a Film

  • A lighting-bolt reminder of why I love Iranian films: economical, playful, questioning. (TV)

The Turin Horse

  • A spellbinding, eerie and evocative film that poetically invokes an oncoming end-of-days, but on a small and intimate scale. Hypnotic cinematography and choreography complements the repetitive and rhythmic life of these two rural inhabitants. (MMcK)
  • Bela Tarr’s biggest hit to date caught the nation’s mood as two people ate potatoes in silence while the world ended. (TV)

2 comments on “These were our favourite films of the year—what were yours?

  1. Rust and Bone was my film of the year ,a bold modern story of ordinary working class people making a life against terrible odds . Great acting too

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