The year's top 10 on the Lamppmeter

22:22, Dec 26 2012
Top sports film: Brad Pitt, left, and Jonah Hill star in the drama, <i>Moneyball.</i>

If the cinema world was a level field, high-class foreign films would receive more kudos than just those from the Gdansk Film Festival.

Highest deserving of any which crossed my optical range in 2012 was French offering, The Intouchables, about a wealthy paraplegic and his irreverent immigrant caregiver.

Cinema Gold staff were outraged it reached only 4 on the Lamppmeter.

Maybe they had a point, but for now my high-tide mark for five stars has to be The King's Speech.

Not far adrift was Monsieur Lazhar, a French-speaker also focused around an immigrant, an Algerian school teacher in Canada. The French-Canadian film from Montreal featured one heck of a cute cast of kids in the classroom.

Some called it slow. I called it captivating, especially for a movie based almost totally inside a school.


Half of my top 10 movies of the year fell into the foreign category, even if one was the Australian-Chinese co-production, 33 Postcards.

A very contemporary, warm drama, it centred on a Chinese youngster trying to come to terms with living in Sydney and its western vices.

Trishna provided us at the end of May with a rare but fascinating look at colourful India through beautiful actress Freida Pinto of Slumdog Millionaire fame. In Trishna she must cross the caste divide from servant to mistress; Bolly good I thought.

Iranian movie A Separation was made under the strictures of the swarthy Teheran censors but was still good enough to collect the foreign film Oscar. That might yet be the destiny of The Intouchables.

Director Asghar Farhadi shot A Separation with a hand-held camera, apologised to his government for speaking out in support of Iranian film-makers and then showed Iranian society in its bare Islamic light, without it being totally repressed.

Hollywood returned to Teheran last month with the thriller Argo and it was way more scary with the American treatment and dramatic licence taken. This one was about the small group of hostages who holed up in the Canadian embassy and who the CIA, via hero spook Ben Affleck of course, had to get out.

It was my most frightening flick of the year.

Hollywood also came up with Moneyball, surely one of the best sports films ever made with Brad Pitt and chubby Jonah Hill outstanding. There was a parallel between Manawatu rugby and the Oakland Athletics making good with limited budgets.

One online idiot reviewer panned Moneyball as being boring, so I have put a contract out on him.

Silversides George Clooney can be too smooth most times but in the family drama, The Descendants, set in Hawaii, he was totally human. His kids were dysfunctional brats but who could forget George dashing down the road with that John Cleese gait.

While on gaits, Emilio Estevez's The Way revealed Manawatu was full of frustrated pilgrims. It was hardly one of the greats feats of cinema, about the Camino de Santiago trek across Spain, but hey was it popular, enduring a record 25 weeks at Cinema Gold.

Both Helen Hunt and John Hawkes deserve statuettes for their courageous performances in independent movie The Sessions. Hunt had to get it all off as a sex surrogate (yes, they do do it in the United States) while polio sufferer Mark O'Brien (Hawkes) had to lie back prone throughout, and that took some doing.

Norway's The Headhunters from author Jo Nesbo was as close as we got this year to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. These scary Scandi movies are enough to make one's suspenders pop, especially when a hulking hit man is even prepared to delve into the dunny chasing a fugitive. Sadly, there is no sequel.

In terms of individual performances, hard to go past Michelle Williams as Ms Monroe in My Week with Marilyn. And maybe unintelligible Glaswegian Paul Brannigan in The Angel's Share.

And sorry, but the much feted The Artist and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy didn't tickle my entertainment fancies.

For my absolute crappers, Footnote (Israel), half a star, and Helen Mirren's The Door, zero stars.

LAMPP'S 2012 TOP 10

1 The Intouchables

2 Moneyball

3 Monsieur Lazhar

4 The Descendants

5 A Separation

6 Argo

7 The Sessions

8 The Headhunters

9 Trishna

10 33 Postcards

Manawatu Standard