2012 Crikeys: the best in film, books, TV, theatre, music
The envelope please … From the cultural landscape via Crikey Weekender, we present the best from the big and small screens, stages, bookshelves, computers and music collections in 2012.
Best film of 2012: The Grey
There were stunning films from across the globe: Iran’s achingly powerful A Separation, Turkey’s brooding murder mystery Once Upon a Time in Anatolia and South Korea’s direct-to-DVD doozie The Front Line among the pedigree titles. Top-shelf American cinema was lined by features as varied as James Bobin’s smile-stretching The Muppets and Australian director Andrew Dominik’s blood-stained commentary on the US economy, Killing Them Softly.
But the best of the year came from an unexpected place: the hands of a studio director whose previous feature, The A Team, was little more than a cash-grab about bathtub figurines writ large. Joe Carnahan’s The Grey is a hair-raising two-hander. It can be read as a man-versus-wild action thriller chocked to the gills with B-movie tropes, but under the bonnet the film works on far deeper levels. Based in remote Alaskan wilderness, it charts the psychological and geographic journey of John Ottway (Liam Neeson) and a bunch of men stranded in icy no-man’s land, who are picked off one after the other by bloodthirsty wolves.
The Grey leaps into explorations of mental illness and suicidal tendencies as fearlessly as the “by my cold dead hands” look in Neeson’s stony eyes. Carnahan frames his narrative as the ultimate men’s group: a cathartic film that grapples with the age-old question of what it means to be a man. It’s at once angry and explorative, sensitive and poignant, a mixture of knuckle-busting action and beautiful emotional beats that coil softly around the film’s dialogue-heavy screenplay. This is a blockbuster-sized parable littered with dramatic complexities that belie the stark, wintry simplicity of its setting. The title is not a description of the Alaskan landscape or the colour of the wolves.
— Luke Buckmaster of Crikey blog Cinetology
Best TV show of 2012: Girls
Girls was honest. Girls was funny. Girls was fresh. Girls was divisive.
Girls is important for both the content of the show itself, as well as the discussion that surrounded it. It filled a void that existed on television by speaking to a generation of viewers (both male and female) in a way few other series have. How To Make It In America, another recent HBO effort, made a similar connection but resonated significantly less with viewers. Girls is one of the few shows on television in which the viewer believes Instagram, Etsy and Skrillex may also exist. And the fact that protagonist Hannah Horvath (Lena Dunham) is such a terrible person only adds to the relatability of the show. Nobody wants to be Hannah Horvath, but she does represent our universal awfulness as people.
And then there’s the conversation. We talked about the authenticity of the world of the characters considering there are so few African-American characters, the nepotism in casting, even the legitimacy of one of the girl’s mastabatory techniques. Love it or hate it, any show that encourages audiences to discuss race, gender, s-xuality and other weighty issues should be celebrated. TV should never be dull — Girls hasn’t come close.
— Dan Barrett of Televised Revolution
Best video game of 2012: Dys4ia
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