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.
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.
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.
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.
TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Peter Lik: The self-proclaimed 'fine-art photographer' whose work sells for millions
The best underrated Christmas movies from Love, Actually to While You Were Sleeping
Grace Dent on TV: The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies was a beautifully shot, immensely considered drama
The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies, review: Jason Watkins is brilliant, but real victim Joanna Yeates is reduced to a footnote
Marilyn Manson denies involvement in shocking Lana Del Rey rape video
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
Nigel Farage's approval rating hits 'record low' as popularity suffers in wake of Ukip sex scandal
Pakistan school attack live: Taliban kill at least 132 children in 'horrifying' massacre
Sony hack: Angelina Jolie branded 'seriously out of her mind' in further embarrassing leaked email saga
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food