Review of 2012: Film (part 2)

Fine thrillers, quality documentaries, a top Bond villain ... and some pop disasters

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The Independent Culture


Best – and maddest – film of the year

Holy Motors. An actor (Denis Lavant) is chauffeured around Paris in a stretch limousine, adopting different identities as he goes, and, perhaps, crossing over into different realities. Léos Carax definitely brought us 2012's finest sci-fi musical comedy-drama-thriller to feature Kylie Minogue.

Some other contenders: Once Upon a Time in Anatolia starts as a dry police procedural in which some blokes drive through the Turkish countryside trying to locate a dead body, but it evolves into a haunting search for the meaning of life. About Elly is the drama that Asghar Farhadi made before last year's critically adored A Separation, and it's almost as compelling. Searching for Sugar Man is 2012's most joyous documentary. If you still haven't seen this moving rock'n'roll detective story, do so now. And if you still don't know what it's about, keep it that way. The twists are astonishing.

Best postmodern entertainment

Cabin in the Woods is a horror film that comments mischievously on horror films, while Seven Psychopaths is a violent crime thriller that examines, yes, violent crime thrillers. Both are a blast on several levels.

Best Scandinavian imports

A Royal Affair is an exemplary Danish period drama starring Mads Mikkelson (also tremendous in The Hunt) as an 18th-century German doctor who talks his way into Denmark's corridors of power, as well as the queen's bedchamber. From Norway, Jo Nesbo's Headhunters is a fast and furious thriller which goes to all sorts of unexpected places, including the septic tank beneath an outside toilet.

Most surprisingly delightful British film

Wild Bill. A comedy drama about an East End hardman made by one of the Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels gang? You can understand why the public stayed away, but Dexter Fletcher's directorial debut was heart-warming, funny and beautifully crafted, with a revelatory lead performance from Charlie Creed-Miles.

Best Bond villain since Blofeld

Javier Bardem in Skyfall

Worst trend

Pop stars directing films. In January, Madonna subjected us to W.E., which was painful enough, but there were more pop-star-directed ordeals to come: Crispian Mills's calamitous A Fantastic Fear of Everything, Plan B's overweening Ill Manors, and RZA's messy The Man with the Iron Fists.

As for pop stars who act in films, Peter Doherty's mumbling in Confession of a Child of the Century would have got him kicked out of an am-dram pantomime.