PRINT December 2012

Film: Best of 2012

Amy Taubin

David Cronenberg, Cosmopolis, 2012, digital video, color, sound, 108 minutes. Eric Packer (Robert Pattinson).

1 Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg) As Videodrome was to McLuhanesque TV addiction in 1982, Cronenberg’s adaptation of Don DeLillo’s novel is to the new flesh of cybercapitalism. An elegant, minimalist digital death trip, a video game in which everyone is played, and, like it or not, a mirror reflection of the way we live now.

2 The Gatekeepers (Dror Moreh) Which is more mind-boggling—that Moreh persuaded six former heads of the Shin Bet, the men charged with Israel’s internal security, to talk publicly for the first time about their roles in the deadly Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or the conclusion all six reached independently about what must happen immediately? Stunning moviemaking, incontrovertible testimony.

3 Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin) A thrilling, heartbreaking, mythic tale of life and death in the marshlands of the Gulf filtered through the imagination of a motherless six-year-old girl, Zeitlin’s debut feature generated some myths of its own, like Obama telling Oprah that she had to see it.

4 Mobile Homestead movie trilogy (Mike Kelley) Envisioned as a public artwork, Kelley’s Mobile Homestead is a three-part video trip through the history of Detroit’s Michigan Avenue as recounted by the people who’ve struggled to keep it— and themselves—alive.

Mike Kelley, Going West on Michigan Avenue from Downtown Detroit to Westland, 2010–11, HD video, color, sound, 76 minutes.

5 Amour (Michael Haneke) One from the heart, but without a trace of sentimentality, by a director otherwise identified with “funny games.” Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant are superb as a couple nearing the end of their lives.

6 Memories Look at Me (Song Fang) The moviemaker visits her family in this semiscripted, exquisitely shot, intimately detailed autobiography where almost everybody plays themselves.

7 Our Children (Joachim Lafosse) The Belgian director turns a tabloid story about a woman who killed her children into a classical tragedy of postcolonialism, misogyny, and repressed homosexuality.

8 Almayer’s Folly (Chantal Akerman) Continuing her move toward expressionism, Akerman relocates Joseph Conrad’s debut novel to postcolonial Southeast Asia. A narrative of overwhelming depression and loss of self culminating in madness is projected onto the dark rivers and uncontrollable vegetation of a jungle resistant to human intervention.

9 Araf—Somewhere in Between (Yeşim Ustaoğlu) A teenage girl becomes sexually obsessed with a middle-aged truck driver and the promise of freedom he embodies. Situated in the harsh landscape of the Anatolian plateau and specific to the daily life of Turkey’s youth, the plight of the heroine is all too familiar to young women here and around the world.

10 The Unspeakable Act (Dan Sallitt) As close as an American director has ever come to making a Rohmer movie— and not only because the wonderful actor playing the teenage heroine resembles the young Béatrice Romand.

Amy Taubin is a contributing editor of Film Comment and Sight & Sound and the author of Taxi Driver (BFI, 2000). This year, Taubin served on the selection committee for the New York Film Festival.