Having finished all of the existent A Song of Ice and Fire novels only days before the new season of the show started, my “meh” responses to episodes 1 and 2 of Season Three of Game of Thrones were enough to convince me that I’d just run out my level of engagement on the thing, putting enough of the plot before me that retracing its steps by way of the TV show was a tiresome exercise in redundancy. But no: it turns out those two episodes just sucked.
Episodes 3 and 4, on the other hand, are the real deal, quite possibly two of the best episodes of the whole series.Read more
(Being a somewhat spoilery post about Game of Thrones which will discuss all five of the books, not just the TV series)
I’m no huge fan of airlines, but if long flights accomplish anything for me lately, it’s that they let me chop through huge reams of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series, which itself comes in huger and huger reams. My round trip to Colorado last summer was enough to nick the last five hundred pages of A Feast for Crows, and the return trip from New Zealand this weekend let me put A Dance With Dragons in the ground, just a week shy of the premiere of Season Three of Game of Thrones, which was the goal all along. (Once the series threatened to start using material from the increasingly-interwoven latter three ASOIF books, my earlier strategy of reading one of the books per year went by the wayside.)Read more
With my Best of the Year list still in draft, let’s get the smaller categories out of the way.
Best shot: above. So let’s go ahead and give Best Cinematography to Roger Deakins.
Best original score: Thomas Newman’s Skyfall. Like the film itself, the score is lush, exact, and thrilling. It was a bit startling to do the reverse math on this: I called it the best Bond score since The Living Daylights; then I realized that with the franchise 50 years old, that makes Skyfall the best score in the series’ back half, and the best score since John Barry retired. Hearty company. Honourable mention to Harry Gregson-Williams’ vastly under-credited theme from Prometheus, which is, as a single piece of music, a flawless expression of everything that film is about - and is not even written by the main credited composer for the movie, Marc Streitenfeld.
But best track: “Sab Than Pursues the Princess,” John Carter. If Giacchino hits anything this good for Star Trek Into Darkness I am going to die in my seat.
Best bet to be running the industry someday: Channing Tatum, who not only delivered Magic Mike, but apparently single-handedly rewired G.I. Joe 2
Best actor: Matthew McConnaughey - Killer Joe and Magic Mike
Best actress: Anne Hathaway - who stole The Dark Knight Rises but gave the year’s single best screen performance in just two minutes of Les Miserables
Best Tom Hanks Performance: Present-day Tom Hanks in Cloud Atlas
Best Keira Knightley performance: A Dangerous Method
Best Snow White: Kristen Stewart?!
Best Hitchcock: Toby Jones
Toby Jones is Creepy: Imagine Toby Jones as Hitchcock wrestling Toby Jones as Berberian Sound Studio in a plastic wading pool full of rancid pudding
Now imagine: Dobby is the referee… and he’s nude
Best blu-ray: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I expected it to be Prometheus, but while that disk is great, it can’t benefit from the hindsight that went into The Alien Anthology, so it isn’t as crunchy. Dragon Tattoo, on the other hand, is pretty much wall-to-wall perfect. The technical presentation is obviously excellent, but the piece-by-piece coverage of setting up the film project, most specifically revolving around the casting and performance of Rooney Mara, make the disk really memorable and enjoyable.
Best Criterion release: The blu-ray of A Night to Remember is fucking amaaaaazing.
Best film from a previous year: Same.
And: Fanny & Alexander
And holy fuck: Stalker
Best offscreen sex scene: The kids in Here Comes The Devil
Best implied/metaphorical sex scene: The kids in Moonrise Kingdom
So really: Kids were killing it this year, sexually speaking
Best documentary: Room 237
Best 3-D: Dredd
The ecstasy of visual cinema: The moon shot, Kon-Tiki
Best film festival: Ebertfest, though 2012 was an embarrassment of riches in that regard. Nonetheless, Ebertfest produced the best Mamo material overall, I think - I’m incredibly proud of that trio of shows. Passes for Ebertfest 2013 are on sale now and well worth the investment.
Most Fun I Had All Year, Critically Speaking: From A to Bond
Honourable Mention, Previous Category: My Week With Alien
Best kiss: Emma Watson vs. Logan Lehrman in The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Best kiss involving the batsuit: This one:
Best anything involving the batsuit: The Bat. Like, seriously, I had a dream about piloting the Bat. The last time I had a dream about a gizmo from a movie, I was thirteen years old. And it was also from Batman.
Best anything not involving the batsuit: Berenice Marlohe’s backless dress
The Malcolm Tucker Award for Ultimate Maximum Malcom Tuckerness: Malcolm Tucker in The Thick Of It, Season 4
Best TV series: Well, it had everyone and their mother quacking like ducks for the first three or four episodes and then the whole planet caught on to the fact that Lena Dunham’s Girls is sort of the height of the art form right now. Yes, that means I’m putting it above Breaking Bad 5.1.
But really: I watched all of Breaking Bad for the first time this year.
Because: Breaking Bad is the best television show of the decade.
Best trend: Girl cinema! From The Hunger Games onward, 2012 was an embarrassment of riches in terms of teen and adult heroines who were genuinely, credibly strong. When not one, but two Snow White projects revise the character to kick ass and save the world, something’s in the wind; and if they’re the weakest products in a long, rich frame, it’s a damned good year.
Proof that anything is possible: Thirty seconds of shawarma
My top ten list for 2012 drops Monday…
Terrifying photos of the adult Sam Weir and the exactly-the-same Jeff Rosso.
Did anyone else spend yesterday saying “what a shit day” over and over.
The final line of The Thick Of It.
Am I the only person alive who didn’t find “The Angels Take Manhattan” soul-destroyingly sad? I must be. The internet has run red with feels since around 2 p.m. Saturday, much of which - I realize - is borne of the overall grief of losing Amy and Rory from the series, never to return. But you have to admit, as a much, much, much ballyhooed “exit” episode, “The Angels Take Manhattan” was about as kind to our favourite companions as it was probably possible to be. No, they won’t ever be coming back, but Moff didn’t pull a “Skin of Evil” on the Ponds, nor did he even go so far as to abandon them in a useless parallel version of the universe à la Rose Tyler. Nope, Rory and Amy just did what we all do: they grew old, and died, albeit not exactly where (and when) they started off. And they had a bit more luck on that score than some of us do: they got to do it together.Read more