In anticipation of my Best of 2012 list, which will be up in the next few days after I catch up with some of those lingering blind spots, I have compiled a Top 50 list of my favorite first-time viewings of older films in 2012 (the criteria was anything before 2011). Obviously, this list indicates the vast and embarrassing quantity of completely accessible works that I hadn't seen until this year, but I also hope it illuminates some less traveled regions of film history. Note: click the title of each film and it will transport you to my respective thoughts on it.
1. Secret History of the Dividing Line: A True Account in Nine Parts (First Four/Gatten/USA/1999-2004)
2. Barry Lyndon (Kubrick/UK/1975)
3. We Won’t Grow Old Together (Pialat/France/1972)
4. L’Argent (Bresson/France/1983)
5. Safe (Haynes/USA/1995)
6. The Awful Truth (McCarey/USA/1937)
7. Street of Crocodiles (Short/Quay Bros./USA/1987)
8. Zodiac (Fincher/USA/2007)
9. What's Up, Doc? (Bogdanovich/USA/1972)
10. Bigger Than Life (Ray/USA/1956)
11. Boy Meets Girl (Carax/France/1984)
12. My Night at Maud’s (Rohmer/France/1969)
13. The Shout (Skolimowski/Poland/1978)
14. I Walked With a Zombie (Tourneur/USA/1943)
15. How The West Was Won (Ford/Hathaway/USA/1962)
16. Sarabande (Short/Dorsky/USA/2008)
17. Bluebeard (Breillat/France/2009)
18. The Palm Beach Story (Sturges/USA/1942)
19. The Passion of Anna (Bergman/Sweden/1969)
20. The Wedding March (Von Stroheim/USA/1928)
21. Metropolitan (Stillman/USA/1990)
22. Jabberwocky (Short/Svankmajer/Czechoslovakia/1971)
23. Film Socialisme (Godard/France/2010)
24. The Girlfriend Experience (Soderbergh/USA/2009)
25. Bruce McClure Performance at Brattle Theater (McClure/USA/2011)
26. His Girl Friday (Hawks/USA/1940)
27. Scenes from a Marriage (1st Half & 2nd Half) (TV Series/Bergman/Sweden/1973)
28. Ring (Short/Todd/USA/2007)
29. Out of Sight (Soderbergh/USA/1998)
30. Love in the Afternoon (Rohmer/USA/1972)
31. The Big Chill (Kasdan/USA/1983)
32. The Lady Eve (Sturges/USA/1941)
33. Skinflick (Short/Fleisch/Germany/2002)
34. One Day in the Life of Andrei Arsenevich (Marker/France/1999)
35. Four Nights of a Dreamer (Bresson/France/1971)
36. The Freethinker (Watkins/UK/1994)
37. The White Rose (Short/Conner/USA/1967)
38. Silent Mountains, Singing Oceans, and Slivers of Time: Six Films by David Gatten (Shorts Program/Gatten/USA/1998-2010)
39. The Wind Will Carry Us (Kiarostami/Iran/1999)
40. The Great Madcap (Bunuel/Spain/1949)
41. Design for Living (Lubitsch/USA/1933)
42. Grand Illusion (Renoir/France/1937)
43. New York Portrait: Chapter 1 (Short/Hutton/USA/1979)
44. The Last Bolshevik (Marker/France/1993)
45. Flirting with Disaster (Russell/USA/1996)
46. Saraband (Bergman/Sweden/2008)
47. Passage à l'acte and Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy (Shorts/Arnold/USA/1993 & 1998)
48. The Philadelphia Story (Cukor/USA/1940)
49. Tokyo Sonata (Kurosawa/Japan/2008)
50. Wedlock House: An Intercourse (Brakhage/USA/1959)
I like reading people's recaps like this and yours is a nice list Carson. I too saw L'Argent for the first time this year. It's a devastating work for me as well. Didn't quite make my top 10 but it was in the running for my own list. Last year I had Bigger Than Life on my top 10 list of first time views. I like seeing all those classic screwball comedies on here.
Wow, so many great titles listed here, and it's really nice and incredibly impressive to have your excellent writings linked for every one.
I'm dying to see the Gatten you've mentioned, or any Gatten at all for that matter! Needless to say, down here in the south such opportunities are all but nonexistent. Everything I've read about his work sounds so exciting.
One of my major director discoveries of the year, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, is represented here by what's undoubtedly my current major blindspot; I watched so many of his movies in 2012 but somehow never got around to Tokyo Sonata. I need to get on that pronto.
Keep up the great work here and @ Mubi, Carson. I look forward to reading.
Thanks for the comment Jon. I can't imagine how L'Argent wouldn't make a top ten!
Drew, I appreciate the praise. As for Gatten, unfortunately the touring retrospective that spanned 2012 is over and probably never reached the southern portion of the US. However, there has been an increase of interest in him because of this retrospective, so perhaps there will be another chance soon enough to see his remarkable work.
Tokyo Sonata is very good, but it was also one of my most frustrating viewings of the year because of a the problematic direction it took in the second half. I'd like to hear your thoughts when you see it.
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