Silver screen celebration

Last updated 15:00 10/01/2013
ON THE ROAD:Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit.

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Nelson Mail film reviewer David Manning assesses the past year at the movies in Nelson:

In a year of revivals, returns, reboots and remakes, it was the low-budget, no-hype, often independent films that provided sustenance and pleasure at the cinema in Nelson last year.

The blockbuster releases featured the end of two popular series - Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy and the Twilight saga - and the start of something new (The Hobbit, The Hunger Games).

It was a year that saw the return of Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall, Robert Downey Jr in Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man and Sacha Baron Cohen as The Dictator, along with remakes of Total Recall, Judge Dredd and, for those who don't like subtitles, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

New versions of popular franchises began with The Bourne Legacy and The Amazing Spider-Man, while Marvel's The Avengers brought six superheroes into one movie and Dark Shadows, 21 Jump Street and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy brought TV series to the big screen.

Sequels again were numerous, including Sione 2: Unfinished Business, Taken 2, The Expendables 2, Ghost Rider 2, Men in Black 3, Madagascar 3, Underworld 4, Paranormal Activity 4, Ice Age 4 and Resident Evil 5. Prequels arrived in Prometheus and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.

Many films screened in 3D - the best in terms of 3D being Hugo. Resurrected for 3D were Titanic, The Phantom Menace and Beauty and the Beast. The first Hobbit film upped the ante with a 3D version in twice the film speed.

Some of the above were hits, some flops, some in-between. But it was the unheralded, "small" movies and several foreign-language films that consistently provided the most enjoyment, with many earning mention below while some that missed out - such as Like Crazy, We Need to Talk about Kevin, Young Adult, Footnote, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, Spud, Take This Waltz, Hysteria, Quartet and Beasts of the Southern Wild - were still worth seeing.

Add to them the year's best documentaries (Brother Number One, The Last Ocean) and Frankenweenie and Wreck-It Ralph as the best animated films. Nelson also had its own movie and a film premiere with the screening of family film Kiwi Flyer.

Overall, excluding festival films, nearly 170 movies screened in Nelson in 2012. The following selections were based on almost all of them and are listed in alphabetical order:

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Honourable mentions

Arbitrage, Headhunters, Killing Them Softly, Le Havre, Monsieur Lazhar, My Week with Marilyn, Prometheus, Robot and Frank, Safety Not Guaranteed, Sightseers, The Angels' Share, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Grey, The Sapphires, War Horse, Your Sister's Sister

10 best runners-up

A Royal Affair, Bernie, Marvel's The Avengers, Moneyball, Ruby Sparks, Skyfall, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hunger Games, The Ides of March

10 best of 2012

Argo: Ben Affleck directs and stars in this political-rescue-escape thriller, based on a true story and pulsating with tension and suspense, while skewering Hollywood movie-making and also political manoeuvring.

A Separation: A quicksand domestic drama, this Iranian film becomes a morally complex and intricate interweaving of motivations and intensifying emotional turmoil.

Hugo: Martin Scorsese's first family film is about imagination and the magic of movies, an exhilarating example of bravura film-making and a must-see in 3D.

Looper: A time-travel, futuristic action thriller that is a smart, clever, inventive mindbender that breathes new life into the genre and is a top-notch entertaining trip.

Margin Call: A gripping, tense drama that is a microcosmic look at the 2008 financial collapse and tells how greed and self-preservation were the top priorities.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: This John le Carre novel adaptation is both an intriguing whodunnit and a descent into the murky netherworld and spookland of Cold War skulduggery and duplicity.

The Artist: Something special, this daring, charming and nostalgic valentine and homage to silent movies is an enchanting cinematic work of art about change and rebirth.

The Descendants: Poignant, honest, warm-hearted, nuanced and amusing, this delectable comedy-drama focuses on life's unpredictability and human foibles.

The Intouchables: The feelgood hit of the year, this French comedy-drama is a moving, funny and charming celebration of life and living.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: Back to Middle-earth and another epic dangerous quest, with Peter Jackson recapturing the magic of The Lord of the Rings in an entrancing virtuoso bringing to life of Tolkien's fantasy-adventure novel.

Footnote: Two movies that would be in the Top 10 list had they screened at the cinema were Margaret and Moonrise Kingdom, both available on DVD. The best horror flick, The Cabin in the Woods, also was only accessible in Nelson (outside of a film festival) on DVD.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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