The 2012 Next Projection Awards (Now Complete)


The Next Projection Top Ten Films of 2012

1. Holy Motors
2. Amour
3. Django Unchained
4. Oslo, August 31st
5. Skyfall
6. The Master
7. Lincoln
8. Looper
9. The Turin Horse
10. Zero Dark Thirty

Best Film Of The Year - Holy Motors - Watch

While some filmmakers are more than eager to discuss their intentions and themes, some prefer to leave meaning and interpretation to critics and audiences. Even if they are, they might be less than truthful or simply unaware of the unconscious creative processes that led them to make a particular film. Carax seems to have been open to discussing Holy Motors’ meanings, but his comments shouldn’t be treated as definitive, but only as one among several (or many). In interviews, Carax has made claim to a different interpretation altogether: He wanted Holy Motors to reflect the various and diverse virtual identities, simultaneously true and untrue, we inhabit in non-corporeal, digital worlds every day. Of course, there’s no written or unwritten rule that states a filmmaker or artist’s interpretation of his or her work should be given singular preference to the exclusion to all others. A filmmaker’s interpretation may be only one of several legitimate, non-mutually exclusive interpretations. And given the frequent, unmistakable references to cinema in general and films in particular, Carax may be simply engaging in obfuscation as a means or measure to distance himself from the deeply personal filmmaking evident in Holy Motors’ every frame and every sound. ~MV

Runners Up: Look out for our Top Ten Film of 2012 immediately following this post.

Best Director - Leos Carax, Holy Motors - Watch

Anyone who doubts the truism that film functions as both art and commerce need only look at the decade-long (actually thirteen years) absence of the one-time ‘enfant terrible’ of French cinema, Leos Carax, from filmmaking. Carax’s last film, Pola X, didn’t just disappoint Carax’s financiers; it failed completely at the French and European box office. More importantly for Carax, it failed critically, leaving Carax adrift without financial support for the better part of a decade. No fan of digital filmmaking, Carax made the switch from celluloid to digital to help finance his latest film, Holy Motors, an unconventional, idiosyncratic ode to the history of cinema and Carax’s love letter to the cinema that defined, influenced, and, ultimately, sustained him (and still does). ~MV

Runners Up: Michael Haneke for Amour and Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty.

Best Screenplay - Moonrise Kingdom - Watch

Wes Anderson has flirted with Oscar before – an Original Screenplay nomination for The Royal Tenenbaums here, a Best Animated Feature nod for Fantastic Mr. Fox there – but the quintessential auteur of quirk has always been just a shade too odd to be fully embraced by the Academy. Now there’s Moonrise Kingdom, Anderson’s latest, and it’s quite possible that the Academy is ready to fully embrace the filmmaker’s unique world. Moonrise Kingdom feels like Wes Anderson doing his best Wes Anderson imitation. All the requisite pieces are locked in place: the storybook framework, the dry and quirky characters, the self-reflexive narration, the elaborate set design, and the inflated personal conflicts. ~JM

Runners Up: Lincoln, The Master, and Zero Dark Thirty.

Best Male Lead Performance - Joaquin Phoenix, The Master - Watch

On the simplest level, The Master is about the internal struggle of humankind…or “mankind,” as we’ve been trained to say. Typically such a gender-centric generalization is reductive at best and ignorant at worst, but in this case it’s kind of appropriate – this is a film about MANkind…men, in their selfish, isolated, blustering, infuriating glory. Freddie Quell (Joaquin Phoenix), a WWII vet struggling to acclimate to postwar America, is the representation of brute animalism, and when fueled by alcohol (as he often is) he more resembles a caveman living in the 20th century – everything around him is fodder for either pleasure or destruction, with little discernment between the two. ~JM

Runners Up: Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln and Denis Lavant in Holy Motors.

Best Female Lead Performance - Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Lining Playbook - Watch

Already an Academy Award-nominee for Best Actress (for Winter’s Bone two years ago), Lawrence proves, as if additional proof was necessary, that she’s not a one- or two-hit wonder (if you count The Hunger Games). She imbues Tiffany, a character that could have easily slipped into caricature, with an inner life, an inner life expressed through body language, facial expressions, and intonations. Tiffany’s moments of self-awareness and self-deprecating humor that always feels grounded, always feels real, always feels genuine. ~MV

Runners Up: Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty, Emanuelle Riva in Amour, and Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea.

Best Male Supporting Performance - Leonardo DiCaprio, Django Unchained - Watch

Performance, in a Tarantino film, is like a gift of open expression, allowing actors to go gonzo like they always dreamed but were never permitted. DiCaprio is on a different plane here, sinking his teeth into a role that is so completely un-DiCaprio and loving every second. Not unlike Waltz in Basterds, DiCaprio uses charm as the misdirection before he lets his vitriol fly, thus making the sense of danger all the more lethal. I’d say he’s a shoo-in for the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, except he will have stiff competition from yet another standout, Tarantino favorite Samuel L. Jackson. ~JM

Runners Up: Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master and Christoph Waltz in Django Unchained.

Best Female Supporting Performance - Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables - Watch

Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream” is filled with palpable anger, sorrow, hope, and regret. Hooper’s camera is unflinching and Hathaway’s voice never breaks despite tears intermingled with moments of oxygen-starved coughing. Moreover, the scene is telling in that Fantine was employed sewing various clothing on a factory floor until her child was discovered. Since she is unwed, she becomes asignifier of the unclean. Her child becomes the burdensome mark of impropriety. While this is ironic because her co-workers hardly seem proper, it provides the opportunity to cull her from the mix, keeping any additional stigma out of their bounds. ~DF

Runners Up: Isabelle Huppert in Amour and Ann Dowd in Compliance.

Best Youth Performance (under 21) - Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts Of The Southern Wild - Watch

Hushpuppy truly becomes the beating heart of the film, aided mostly by Wallis’ outstanding acting abilities. The young actress boasts a talent that most young actors lack: an ability to tackle her character with sincerity and reality. She breathes life into Hushpuppy by never settling on the character’s precociousness, nor finding comfort in the idea of childhood innocence. Hushpuppy is a character that is complex, and requires the finesse of an actor who can convey these complexities. Luckily for both the director and the audience, Wallis perfects that role with her own childhood innocence and sincerity. ~JM

Runners Up: Tom Holland in The Impossible and Ezra Miller in The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Best Ensemble - Lincoln - Watch

Daniel Day-Lewis exudes a confidence in his craft rarely seen in actors working today. Although the passage of time prevents us from knowing exactly how Lincoln spoke and acted towards his colleagues and family, Day-Lewis imbues his metaphor-spouting Lincoln with a gentleness that defies his reputation as a commanding leader. The supporting cast is a revolving door of familiar faces from Jackie Earle Haley (as Alexander Stephens) to David Strathairn (as Secretary of State William Seward). But it’s Tommy Lee Jones as Pennsylvania rep Thaddeus Stevens that is the standout — and potentially one of the early contenders for a Best Supporting Actor nomination. Grizzled and peevish, Jones unleashes passionate pleas in defense of Lincoln’s anti-slavery bill — much to the chagrin of Democratic pro-slavery speaker Fernando Wood (Lee Pace). ~LG

Runners Up: Moonrise Kingdom, Argo, and Silver Linings Playbook.

Best Cinematography - Skyfall - Watch

Skyfall feels curiously conclusive, as though it were the last instalment of a franchise rather than only the newest. There’s a deep-rooted melancholy, endemic to the themes and to the crags of Craig’s face, but also to the aesthetic, basked as it is in an almost apocalyptic glow. If there’s just one thing we’ve learned from Roger Deakins’ collaboration with the Coen brothers, it’s that no cinematographer works quite as well in the dark. In the neon-lit skyscrapers of Shanghai and the flame-illuminated moors of Scotland, Deakins brings to Bond his astonishing mastery of light; his hauntingly nightmarish glows seem to physically cast these characters in the very psychological space the narrative suggests. ~RD

Runners Up: Zero Dark Thirty, Life of Pi, and Once Upon A Time Anatolia.

Best Sci-Fi Film - Looper - Watch

Johnson has long been an intriguing filmmaker; I admired the grave tonal thrust of Brick and enjoyed the rollicking archness of The Brothers Bloom. But Looper is on another plane – it feels like the kind of film where the filmmaker finds his voice and fully commands his talent. Johnson’s films have always firmly embraced genre archetypes, but this time it’s sort of a genre mash-up…a little bit western, a little bit noir, blended with a lot of sci-fi and spun with the kind of reckless cinematic abandon only the greats are crazy enough to muster. Johnson has done a lot of interesting work, but it always seemed like he was sketching. Now he’s painting. ~JM

Runners Up: Safety Not Guaranteed and Prometheus.

Best Action Film - The Raid: Redemption - Watch

The kind of action film that will appeal even to those wholly unconcerned with the genre, The Raid is an exceptional work that knows what it wants to be and doesn’t let anything stand in its way. Using its single setting in a refreshing variety of inspired ways, this is one of the most fantastically crafted and unrelentingly exciting martial arts movies I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing. Eschewing perfunctory efforts at lacklustre characterisation, it commits itself to delivering the most entertaining viewing experience possible, and deliver it does. Utilising bowie knives and machetes with a skill to put John Rambo and Jason Voorhees to shame, and boasting the most exhilarating and astoundingly assembled corridor sequence since Oldboy, The Raid is a genre-redefining masterwork that needs to be seen to be believed. ~RD

Runners Up: Skyfall, The Avengers, and The Bourne Legacy.

Best Comedy Film - 21 Jump Street - Watch

Directors Phil Lord & Chris Miller’s last movie, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, showed off their sharp & quick style of humor quite wonderfully. It shines even better under the live-action spotlight. The task of using real-world filmmaking doesn’t stop the pair from animating the duo like two silly cartoon characters. There are a couple of rare times where it can be a bit much, but like anything that might resemble something negative, it gets shadowed by the sheer confidence of their direction. Lord & Miller love their velocity. They love their homage to cinematic action compositions. They absolutely love their use of profanity. This is a product of their love, and it’s infectious. ~JB

Runners Up: Magic Mike, Ted, and This Is 40.

Best Horror Film - The Cabin in the Woods - Watch

The film is full of fun characters, unique story reveals, funny gags and gore. It’s a horror museum funhouse, like stepping into the chocolate factory if Willy Wonka was a scary hardcore horror fanatic. There are amusing nods to countless numbers of great 70s and 80s horror sure to amuse any fan of the genre. One thing is certain, whether the creators meant it or not, this marks the end of the horror film where self-awareness is the main focus. Films about teenagers stuck in the woods will continue, but the bar has certainly been raised. ~CS

Runners Up: Excision, The Innskeepers, and Sinister.

Best Scene - “Entr’acte” in Holy Motors - Watch

At the center of Leos Carax’s invigorating, episodic voyage through cinema’s past, present, and possible future, Holy Motors, is a modern take on the old-fashioned “entr’acte” musical interlude. It makes as much narrative (non)sense as the various other guises adopted by the mysterious Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant), at times an old beggar, a trollish reprise from Carax’s Tokyo! short “Merde,” a dying father, and in my (and many others’, apparently) favorite scene, the accordion-wielding head of a lively band strolling through the Saint-Merri church in Paris. Pounding forth a cover of bluesman R.L. Burnside’s 90s-era “Let My Baby Ride,” arranged by Dublin-born musician Doctor L, Elliot Simon, and Quentin Auvray (who all appear playing in the scene as well), the group gradually accumulates, marching behind Oscar’s purposeful leader. Carax’s camera mostly stays ahead of the parading ensemble, backing up as if being propelled by the sheer forward momentum, dragged only by two cuts and a peculiar slow-motion close-up of the anticipatory facial expressions of the lead accordionists (reminiscent to my eyes of the Band’s watchfulness for unpredictable onetime-bandleader Bob Dylan in The Last Waltz). The collaborative joy in many of the musicians’ performances is palpable, celebrating an old-fashioned mode of cinematic and theatrical energy instead of merely mourning its contemporary absence. ~AK

Runners Up: The Seal Team Six Invasion of the bin Laden compound in Zero Dark Thirty, and ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ in Les Miserables

Best Soundtrack - Django Unchained - Listen

From the beginning, Tarantino was all about expressing the pulp fun of the cinema experience. In the last decade, however, he has developed into a seasoned purveyor of hyperstylized violent revenge fantasies that fuse genre conventions with the purposeful sleaze of post-modern Grindhouse. The Kill Bill films melded chop-socky with Western accents, Death Proof molded its dominant femme fantasy in the shape of a Grindhouse Western, and Inglourious Basterds gave the WWII era a spaghetti bath. While those films dabbled heavily in genre immersion, in retrospect they function as primers for Django, which goes full-tilt into the Spaghetti Western aesthetic but gives it a blunt-force injection of funk. It’s like Leone on Ecstasy. ~JM

Runners Up: Cloud Atlas, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Best Documentary - This Is Not A Film - Watch

No movie this year has as compelling and thrilling a production history as This is Not a Film, a video diary and rebellious and self-reflexive act of creativity by house-arrested Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi and his collaborator Mojtaba Mirtahmasb. Shot on an iPhone and smuggled out of Iran on a flash drive inside a birthday cake for its premiere at Cannes 2011, it’s a startling and human testament to the power of image-making in the 21st century and a portrait of the inextricably linked realms of the personal and the political. ~AK

Runners Up: Samsara, The Invisible War, and The Imposter


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  • RobynChristopher

    I can’t wait for many of these! I can’t choose just one!

  • Condensing the list to 25 from an original number of 80+ wasn’t easy either lol.

  • Daniel Tucker

    I hope we get a Wolverine trailer soon.

  • acharlie

    Nice list! Personally I can’t wait for Mud, Jeff Nichols’ follow up to Take Shelter. 2013 should be a great year!

  • RobynChristopher

    OMG. Follow up from Nichols’ Take Shelter. Ooooo that just jumped to the top there!

  • Mud is on my list as well. Didn’t play at TIFF and did reasonably well at Cannes.

  • For me: Twelves Years A Slave and The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug!

  • There seems to be a great deal of excellent films coming out in 2013 . I hope there are enough screens to do them justice

  • Great way to ring in the new year by celebrating the best films and performances of 2012!

  • Still need to see This Is Not A Film myself!

  • Daniel Tucker

    Great choice for soundtrack. The use of “Freedom” and the images it accompanies are reason enough to give it soundtrack of the year.

  • Wouldn’t have been my first choice, but Tarantino certainly has a way with music.

  • Daniel Tucker

    Wasn’t my first choice either, but a good choice nonetheless.

  • Exactly. Can’t really argue with it.

  • 21 Jump Street sure is hilarious.

  • acharlie

    Goon gets my vote for best comedy. 21 Jump Street is an excellent choice. So many great lines, and every character has so much to offer.

  • Safety Not Guaranteed got my vote for best sci-fi

  • acharlie

    Such a heartwarming film. Plaza and Duplass nailed it.

  • Jane Chen

    The best sound track should of been either Cloud Atlas or Hobbit. Django was good but definitely wasn’t the best.

  • Your choices are also my choices 🙂

  • Chocolat

    Sure hope AMPAS chooses best supporting actor as wisely as you guys!

  • acharlie

    Riva gets my vote for Best Actress. I hope she wins the Oscar this year

  • Jane Chen

    DiCaprio, also got my vote for best supporting actor in Django Unchained. He is simply amazing!

  • RobynChristopher

    I agree generally, but not for Best Actor. Joaquin was great, but not sure he was the year’s best. I’ll have to ponder that one! 🙂

  • acharlie

    Great list folks!

  • Excellent list . I will have to see those films I missed lastyear