Review of 2012: Film

 

 

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

Nuri Bilge Ceylan's enigmatic crime procedural takes its time revealing not much about the crime, but a great deal about male loneliness and regret. This long night's journey into day ends on a note of ambiguity that resonates deep in your bones – indeed, so subtly does Ceylan work his effects, that only on my way home did I realise I'd been watching a masterpiece.

Nostalgia for the Light

History, elegy, essay, indictment, Patricio Guzmán's astonishing documentary encompasses all of them. Chile's Atacama Desert is the driest place on Earth and a magnet for astronomers because of its transparent air. It's also the site of Pinochet's killing fields, the burial ground of thousands of dissenters who vanished under his regime. Now relatives scour it for traces of loved ones.

Barbara

Nina Hoss, reuniting with director Christian Petzold (Yella), is quite brilliant as the disgraced doctor under surveillance in the provincial GDR of 1980. Cold-eyed and distant, Hoss doesn't make a naturally sympathetic heroine, but her resourcefulness under pressure comes to matter in a tense, taut drama with some crafty wit up its sleeve.

The Pool

It took five years for Chris Smith's slight but stirring feature to get a release here, but thank God it eventually did. The story of a country-born lad who skivvies at a Panjim hotel but dreams of the big city, it transcends coming-of-age conventions through a quartet of lovely performances – and through Smith's eye for the flaking grandeur of old India.

Argo

The American film I most enjoyed this year. This tale of a scheme to extricate six American fugitives from the cauldron of Tehran, 1979, by disguising them as film-makers, is so preposterous you know it must be true, whatever embellishments the film adds. Ben Affleck makes his third decent film in a row, and plays the starring role of the CIA rescuer with commendable restraint. Hooray for Hollywood – and, er, Langley.

Discovery of the year: Great Expectations

Great Expectations got a rough ride in general from the reviews, the strange omission in particular being the outstanding performance of young Toby Irvine as Pip. So much of the book's meaning has to be inscribed upon Pip's face - terror, of course, and pity, and as much confusion, regret and longing as one adolescent boy could ever experience. Toby Irvine caught all of this, yet still retained an entirely credible innocence.

Turkey of the year: The Knot

More of a crime scene than a movie, this was Noel Clarke's attempt to piggyback the current comedy-gold standards of The Hangover and Bridesmaids. Sadly it packed in all the crude stuff about stag'n'hen night misdemeanours but failed utterly to translate either's charm or invention.

Arts and Entertainment
The new Fondation Louis Vuitton in the Jardin d'Acclimatation in Paris
architecture

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Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker and Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham
Downton

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Lynda Bellingham stars in her last Oxo advert with on-screen husband Michael Redfern

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Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman

film
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Clara takes the lead in 'Flatline' while the Doctor remains in the Tardis
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Sean Harris in 'The Goob' film photocall, at the Venice International Film Festival 2014
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X Factor contestant Fleur East
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Richard Tuttle's installation in the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern
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Hunger Games actress Jena Malone has been rumoured to be playing a female Robin in Batman v Superman
film
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On top of the world: Actress Cate Blanchett and author Richard Flanagan
artsRichard Flanagan's Man Booker win has put paid to the myth that antipodean artists lack culture
Arts and Entertainment
The Everyman, revamped by Haworth Tompkins
architectureIt beats strong shortlist that included the Shard, the Library of Birmingham, and the London Aquatics Centre
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Justice is served: Robert Downey Jr, Vincent D’Onofrio, Jeremy Strong and Robert Duvall in ‘The Judge’

Film

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Clive Owen (centre) in 'The Knick'

TV

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J.K. Simmons , left, and Miles Teller in a scene from

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Team Tenacity pitch their fetching solar powered, mobile phone charging, heated, flashy jacket
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Owen said he finds films boring but Tom Hanks managed to hold his attention in Forrest Gump
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Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
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The Michael McIntyre Chat Show airs its first episode on Monday 10 March 2014
Comedy
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Review

These heroes in a half shell should have been left in hibernation
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North
books'The Narrow Road to the Deep North' sees the writer become the third Australian to win the accolade
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New diva of drama: Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra
theatre
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Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, faces new problems

Sek, k'athjilari! (That’s “yes, definitely” to non-native speakers).

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Polly Morgan

art
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The kid: (from left) Oona, Geraldine, Charlie and Eugene Chaplin

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The Banksy image in Folkestone before it was vandalised

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