Like last year, instead of making a typical year-end list, I thought I would share what some of my favorite things about film and television in 2012 were.
The third season finale of The Good Wife: Entitled “The Dream Team,” this episode had all that I could ever want from an episode of The Good Wife. It brought back everyone’s favorite guest stars – Martha Plimpton and Michael J. Fox – and ended with that jaw-dropping cliffhanger in Kalinda’s apartment. Oh, and it had one of the best moments in Good Wife history, as shown below:
Call the Midwife: This is a show that surprised me more than anything this year. I wasn’t planning to become to involved in the story of a group of midwives and nuns in 1950s East London, but this show has great humor, heart, and drama. I’m eagerly anticipating the Christmas Special and the second season.
Where Do We Go Now?: I wrote a review of this marvelous Lebanese movie earlier this year, but I really feel that I need to mention it again, as it was one of my favorite movie going experiences this year. Nadine Labaki’s blend of hilarity and humanity makes this an unforgettable movie.
The music of Brave: I’d been looking forward to Pixar’s Brave for quite a while since I love Scotland. When I found out that Scottish folk singer Julie Fowlis, of whom I’ve been a fan for the past few years, would be involved in the soundtrack, I was ecstatic. Though the Mumford and Sons song seems to be getting most of the buzz, let’s hope that “Touch the Sky” (shown in the clip below) will be nominated an Oscar – because I would love to see Fowlis perform at the ceremony.
The Downton Abbey 2011 Christmas Special: The second season of Downton Abbey may not have been perfect, but last year’s Christmas Special (which only aired in the U.S. earlier this year) was the Downton episode I had been waiting for. Its last few minutes are perfection.
Awake: Awake was the most underrated network television show of recent memory. It’s the type of show I feel should have been more successful than it was; it had the procedural element to bring in audiences, but it also had a cerebral and emotional core to it as well. Jason Isaacs completely owned the role of Michael Britten, a man who, after an accident, experiences two realities: one in which his son died and one in which his wife died. Even though the show only got thirteen episodes, the series somehow felt complete, and that’s more that we could have wished for.
This Is Not a Film, 5 Broken Cameras, and The Law in These Parts: These are three brilliant, timely, and wholly important documentaries. This Is Not a Film follows a day in the life of Iranian director Jafar Panahi, who was put under house arrest under charges of propaganda against the Iranian government. 5 Broken Cameras* documents five years in the life of a Palestinian filmmaker whose town protests the building of the Israeli wall. The Law in These Parts investigates the legal measures that supposedly justify the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. (There’s another supposedly great Israeli documentary along the same lines called The Gatekeepers – it’s getting a New York release in February, so I’ll be seeing it then.) Watch these films to learn about the human spirit – and the politics that try to thwart it.
Argo: Before going into Argo, I had no idea what it would be like. I knew it dealt with getting diplomats out of Iran during the hostage crisis, but I had no idea that there were some genuinely funny moments dealing with the movie industry as well. Director Ben Affleck’s blending of the two elements makes this more than just a riveting political drama; it’s a greatly enjoyable movie as well.
The pilot of Last Resort: I wasn’t going to watch Last Resort, but the critical reviews made me watch the pilot in advance online. It was so gripping that I watched it again when it aired, riveted. No further episode quite lived up to it, but that would be a tall order. This speech towards the end sealed the deal:
The technical achievements of Anna Karenina: Director Joe Wright decided to set most of his Anna Karenina on a stage. As such, background characters often move furniture around, sets fold into each other, and the movement is choreographed so that it almost looks like a dance. It’s a visually stunning film that will no doubt garner some Oscar nominations in the technical categories.
Sci-fi swan songs: While I was watching season six of Doctor Who, I worried that Amy and Rory would be leaving the show at its conclusion. Thankfully, we got another five episodes – the first part of season seven – with them, and for that, I am glad. Likewise, Fringe was able to get a shortened fifth season to wrap up its story, and I’m just thankful to have a few more episodes to spend with Olivia, Peter, Walter, Astrid, and the rest of the gang.
The return to Middle Earth: When I sat down to watch The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, it swept me back into Jackson’s version of Tolkien’s Middle Earth – and what a welcome return it was. The opening segments in Hobbiton and Erebor were just the right amount of throwback to The Lord of the Rings and anticipation of this new series about Bilbo Baggins and Thorin Oakenshield. I get chills (the good kind, of course) every time I watch this clip below, which so perfectly exemplifies everything about the race of dwarves:
What did you enjoy about film and television in 2012?
*A brief cautionary note: 5 Broken Cameras contains content that might be troubling to some viewers, including several instances of shooting and a short scene of animal slaughter.