I fooled you.
Come on, I know you thought year-end list season was over and the only list you’d have to read about these days was the elusive Yankton County tax list.
Well, my film list is important. It’s the most important. And I didn’t want you to miss it among the lists of “Everything That Is Less Important Than NATHAN’S FILM LIST.”
With the Oscars approaching Feb. 24, it’s a perfect excuse for me to look back on the year in film that was 2012. It was a good one.
Let’s begin with my personal best picture nominees:
10. “Beyond the Black Rainbow” — Imagine throwing together some Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg and David Lynch, along with an awesome Moog synthesizer soundtrack, and you might get this Canadian film that is heavy on mood and light on plot but absolutely mesmerizing. Fun fact: It was made in large part with DVD residuals from the movie, “Tombstone.”
9. “Django Unchained” — I vastly preferred Quentin Tarantino’s Spaghetti Western revenge fantasy to his last film, “Inglourious Basterds.” I loved that he even makes room for the original Django, actor Franco Nero.
8. “Kill List” — This film takes the aging hitman genre, the domestic drama genre and the horror genre to gloomy and tense new heights. This would have made a much better sequel to “The Wicker Man” than the terrible “The Wicker Tree.”
7. “Cloud Atlas” — This movie is perhaps the most beautiful visualization I’ve seen of a symphony. All the parts fit together, and it’s up to you to keep up with them. Beautiful and unfairly maligned by some critics.
6. “The Comedy” — Warning: This is not a comedy. Rather, it’s an endurance test with a character who may really not have any redeeming qualities. But darn if I didn’t find myself watching it two times in 24 hours and pondering it for some time later. Director Rick Alverson is a real talent.
5. “Killing Them Softly” — Ostensibly, this is a film about crime. But it’s actually a story about how America is not a country. It’s just a business. Better pay up before Brad Pitt comes to collect.
4. “The Master” — You had me at (director) Paul Thomas Anderson. Say no more.
3. “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” — In this story, the aftermath of a violent act is drawn out to absurd lengths. But in those long, lingering moments we learn much about humanity and the power of a small act of mercy.
2. “The Kid with a Bike” — Perhaps the simplest but most moving movie I saw all year. It doesn’t stray far from the title, but to see “the kid” grow is a wonderful thing. All in a film’s work for the Belgian directing team, the Dardenne brothers.
1. “Moonrise Kingdom” — Such a complete mythical world. It’s like something my brother, cousins and I would dream up — or at least want to dream up — as children. I’ve seen “Moonrise Kingdom” three times now, and I may be ready to declare it my favorite Wes Anderson film, which is saying quite a lot.
10. “Jiro Dreams of Sushi” — I thought I loved sushi. I’ve got nothing on Jiro.
9. “The Pruitt-Igoe Myth” — A fascinating look at the social, economic and legislative issues that led to the decline of public housing in America.
8. “Samsara” — Transcendent images from around the world.
7. “Detropia” — Detroit has fallen on hard times. These people are committed to its survival.
6. “Searching for Sugar Man” — I’m glad I finally got to hear this music.
5. “The Imposter” — At the end of the day, this story of a man who assumed a lost boy’s identity leaves more questions than answers.
4. “How To Survive a Plague” — A forgotten history of how those most impacted by the AIDS epidemic had to fight indifference and find a way to survive.
3. “5 Broken Cameras” — A Palestinian community’s non-violent fight to preserve its way of life even as the Israeli army and Jewish settlers choose a violent path.
2. “The Invisible War” — This documentary about rampant sexual assaults in the U.S. military and how it is covered up, and the victims often punished, crushed and angered me.
1. “Surviving Progress” — This film opened up so many intellectual frontiers for me and introduced new ideas. The world is not well. Most of us just choose not to notice.
If I was handing out my own Oscars, it would go like this:
Best Picture: “Moonrise Kingdom”
Best Actor: Yes, I thought “Lincoln” was overrated, but I’d still give the award to Daniel Day-Lewis.
Best Actress: Rachel Weisz in “The Deep Blue Sea”
Best Supporting Actor: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’d give it to Matthew McConaughey for his turns in “Killer Joe,” “Bernie” and “The Paperboy.” I didn’t even see “Magic Mike,” so I was not influenced by his pecs or dancing.
Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway was just as amazing as you heard she was in “Les Misérables.” No over-hyping there.
Best Director: Andrew Dominik for “Killing Them Softly.”
And here are some non-Oscar awards:
Films from 2012 that I most need to see yet: “Amour,” “Holy Motors” and “Life of Pi.”
Best coming-of-age film: “The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
Film that made me squeal with the excitement of a little girl: “The Avengers.”
Best comedy: “Klown.”
Best horror film: “The Cabin in the Woods.”
Best use of a chicken leg: Matthew McConaughey in “Killer Joe.”
Best use of a cravat: Christopher Walken in “Seven Psychopaths.”
Best use of bodily fluids to kill the pain of jellyfish stings: Nicole Kidman in “The Paperboy.”
Most overrated movie: “Lincoln” (Steven Spielberg also gets my nod for most overrated director.) “Argo” is coming in a close second.
Best use of “Doctor Who” memorabilia: “Dark Horse.”
Most sultry striptease (female): Salma Hayek in “Americano.”
Most sultry striptease (male): I haven’t been able to see it yet, but I’m going to go with the cast of “Magic Mike” anyway!
Most creative use of non-traditional instruments on a soundtrack: “Sound of Noise.”
Most messed up family story: “Incendies.”
Worst cameo by a director in his own film: I have no idea what Quentin Tarantino thought he was doing in “Django Unchained,” but it wasn’t acting. It was something no movie-goer should ever have to experience.
Biggest disappointment: “Cosmopolis.” I just didn’t get it — at all. The film was just as uncomfortable as the prostate exam Robert Pattinson’s character undergoes in a limo.