Favourite Films of 2018

27 December 2018

My favourite 10 films that were released in Melbourne, Australia, in 2018 (including films released directly to streaming services or home entertainment):

My Abandonment1. Leave No Trace (Debra Granik, 2018)
Released August

Custody2. Custody (Jusqu’à la garde, Xavier Legrand, 2017)
Released September

BlacKkKlansman3. BlacKkKlansman (Spike Lee, 2018)
Released August

Roma4. Roma (Alfonso Cuarón, 2018)
Released December

Annihilation5. Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018)
Released March

Sweet Country6. Sweet Country (Warwick Thornton, 2017)
Released January

Isle of Dogs7. Isle of Dogs (Wes Anderson, 2018)
Released April

V1-0010_LB_00000 (1)8. Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017)
Released February

I, Tonya9. I, Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)
Released January

null10. A Quiet Place (John Krasinski, 2018)
Released April

Honourable mentions

Twenty more films I loved this year, listed alphabetically:

Avengers: Infinity WarAvengers: Infinity War (Anthony and Joe Russo, 2018)
Released April

Bad Times at the El RoyaleBad Times at the El Royale (Drew Goddard, 2018)
Released October

Brawl in Cell Block 99Brawl in Cell Block 99 (S Craig Zahler, 2017)
Released January

CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE MECan You Ever Forgive Me? (Marielle Heller, 2018)
Released December

CargoCargo (Ben Howling and Yolanda Ramke, 2017)
Released May

ClimaxClimax (Gaspar Noé, 2018)
Released December

still_482138The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci, 2017)
Released March

Don't Worry He Won't Get Far on FootDon’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot (Gus Van Sant, 2018)
Released September

A Fantastic Woman
A Fantastic Woman
(Una mujer fantástica, Sebastián Lelio, 2017)

Released February

First ManFirst Man (Damien Chazelle, 2018)
Released October

First ReformedFirst Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017)
Released December

GhosthunterGhosthunter (Ben Lawrence, 2018)
Released September

GurrumulGurrumul (Paul Damien Williams, 2017)
Released April

I Kill GiantsI Kill Giants (Anders Walter, 2017)
Released May

The Old Man And The GunThe Old Man & the Gun (David Lowery, 2018)
Released November

PHANTOM THREADPhantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017)
Released February

The Shape of WaterThe Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)
Released January

ShopliftersShoplifters (Manbiki kazoku, Hirokazu Koreeda, 2018)
Released November

DSC_3773.dngA Star Is Born (Bradley Cooper, 2018)
Released October

you_were_never_really_hereYou Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2017)
Released September

Favourite films not given a full release locally

Many of the films I saw this year that left a big impression on me are films that only screened to Melbourne audiences at various festivals. Some of those films have local distribution and will more than likely be released next year, so I’ll include them on my 2019 list, but the ones that don’t currently have local distribution (to the best of my knowledge) that I’d like to mention are the following:

(Ethan Hawke, 2018)

The Green Fog
The Green Fog
(Evan Johnson, Galen Johnson and Guy Maddin, 2017)

(Isabella Eklöf, 2018)

(Khook, Mani Haghighi, 2018)

The Rape of Recy Taylor
The Rape of Recy Taylor
(Nancy Buirski, 2017)

Red Cow
Red Cow
(Para Aduma, Tsivia Barkai Yacov, 2018)

(Joel Potrykus, 2018)

Shock Waves Diary of My Mind
Shock Waves: Diary of My Mind
(Ondes de choc – Journal de ma tête, Ursula Meier, 2018)

Winter Brothers
Winter Brothers
(Vinterbrødre, Hlynur Palmason, 2017)

Yours in Sisterhood
Yours in Sisterhood
(Irene Lusztig, 2018)

This list was compiled for the upcoming Senses of Cinema 2018 World Poll

Thank you to everybody who read my micro-reviews throughout 2018. Next year will be much the same as this year: I’ll continue to share my cinematic highlights here and on Facebook and Twitter, and hopefully I’ll continue to pop up on 3RRR 102.7FM and ABC Radio National whenever I can. I won’t pretend I’ll get around to giving this blog the long overdue redesign it desperately needs, but you never know.

Thomas Caldwell 2018


Favourite Films of 2017

28 December 2017

I thought this was a really strong year for cinema in terms of films released in Australia theatrically and online. I had more trouble narrowing my list down and ordering the top ten than usual. However, my real highlight wasn’t a film, but a television show:

Favourite moving image/media I watched in 2017

Twin Peaks: The Return (David Lynch, 2017)
Released May, June, July, August and September

My top ten films

Released in Melbourne, Australia, in 2017

144507_24882_certain_w_still1. Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
Released April

null2. Jackie (Pablo Larraín, 2016)
Released January

moonlight3. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
Released January

CALL ME BY YOUR NAME4. Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
Released December

df-189765. Logan (James Mangold, 2017)
Released March

null6. A Monster Calls (JA Bayona, 2016)
Released July

Clash7. Clash, (Eshtebak, Mohamed Diab, 2016)
Released March

Graduation8. Graduation (Bacalaureat, Cristian Mungiu, 2016)
Released June

Blade Runner 20499. Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017)
Released October

still_47922310. Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
Released February

Honourable mentions

Twenty more films I loved this year, listed alphabetically:

20th Century Women (Mike Mills, 2016)
Released June

Ansel ElgortBaby Driver (Edgar Wright, 2017)
Released July

Brigsby BearBrigsby Bear (Dave McCary, 2017)
Released October

Colossal (Nacho Vigalondo, 2016)
Released April

BB-Day20-0017.dngDunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)
Released July

Get OutGet Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
Released May

God's Own CountryGod’s Own Country (Francis Lee, 2017)
Released August

Good TimeGood Time (Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie, 2017)
Released October

I am Not Your NegroI Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016)
Released September

Kedi (Ceyda Torun, 2016)
Released June

lionLion (Garth Davis, 2016)
Released January

MBTS_3869.CR2Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
Released February

147440_25882_my_life_a_stillMy Life as a Zucchini (Ma vie de Courgette, Claude Barras, 2016)
Released July

Personal ShopperPersonal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)
Released April

RawRaw (Grave, Julia Ducournau, 2016)
Released April

T2: TRAINSPOTTINGT2 Trainspotting (Danny Boyle, 2017)
Released February

The Big Sick
The Big Sick (Michael Showalter, 2017)
Released August

The Florida ProjectThe Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017)
Released December

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (Noah Baumbach, 2017)
Released October

The VillainessThe Villainess (AK-Nyeo, Jeong Byeong-Gil, 2017)
Released June

This list was compiled for the upcoming Senses of Cinema 2017 World Poll

Thank you to everybody who read my monthly summaries this year. I’ve started stepping back from film reviewing even more than ever before by finishing up my two regular radio spots, and I’m not sure what will happen in 2018. Hopefully I’ll at least continue sharing my monthly highlights here and maybe one day I’ll even give this blog a long overdue redesign! But let’s not get too carried away.

Thomas Caldwell 2017


Favourite Films of 2016

20 December 2016

These are the films that I not only think are great and will stand the test of time, but they are films that got under my skin, made me want to see them again, continued to linger in my mind and reminded me why I love cinema.

My top ten films

Released in Melbourne, Australia, in 2016

ROOM_DAY8-0044 (3) (1)1. Room (Lenny Abrahamson, 2015)
Released January

92. Son of Saul (Saul fia, László Nemes, 2015)
Released February

elle_03_rgb3. Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
Released October

the-arrival4. Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)
Released November

i-daniel-blake-still-45. I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016)
Released November

KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS6. Kubo and the Two Strings (Travis Knight, 2016)
Released August

_DSC3602 Aaron Pedersen and Alex Russell with Guns7. Goldstone (Ivan Sen, 2016)
Released July

NOCTURNAL ANIMALS8. Nocturnal Animals (Tom Ford, 2016)
Released November

CAROL9. Carol (Todd Haynes, 2015)
Released January

Spear10. Spear (Stephen Page, 2015)
Released March


Honourable mentions

Fifteen more films I loved this year, listed alphabetically:

BROOKLYNBrooklyn (John Crowley, 2015)
Released February

Embrace of the SerpentEmbrace of the Serpent (El abrazo de la serpiente, Ciro Guerra, 2015)
Released July

girl-asleepGirl Asleep (Rosemary Myers, 2015)
Released September

Hunt for the WilderpeopleHunt for the Wilderpeople (Taika Waititi, 2016)
Released May

nullLa La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016)
Released December

The Measure of a Man, (La loi du marché, Stéphane Brizé, 2015)
Released June

still_307692Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015)
Released June

still_478533Paterson (Jim Jarmusch, 2016)
Released December

DCIM101GOPROSherpa (Jennifer Peedom, 2015)
Released March

Day 25 21Sing Street (John Carney, 2016)
Released July

SpotlightPic#11Spotlight (Tom McCarthy, 2015)
Released January

sullySully (Clint Eastwood, 2016)
Released September

sunset-songSunset Song (Terence Davies, 2015)
Released September

TNG-14668rThe Nice Guys (Shane Black, 2016)
Released May

weinerWeiner (Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg, 2016)
Released September

Special mention

Most of the other notable films I saw this year will be released in Melbourne in 2017, so I’ll include them on next year’s list rather than here, but I do want to give a special mention to the following films screened at festivals that to my knowledge are not currently scheduled for release in Australia.

144507_24882_certain_w_stillCertain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)

144231_24831_kate_play_stillKate Plays Christine (Robert Greene, 2016)

(Ceyda Torun, 2016)

My Life as a Zucchini
(Ma vie de Courgette, Claude Barnes, 2016)

Notes on Blindness
(Pete Middleton and James Spinney, 2016)

This list was compiled for the upcoming Senses of Cinema 2016 World Poll

Thomas Caldwell 2016

Favourite Films of 2015

23 December 2015

These are the films that I felt were the most innovative, important and influential; taking into account my own personal response to each one including how likely I was to want to see them more than once. Previously I’ve only considered films with a full theatrical release, but changing distribution models mean I’ve also included films with limited seasons, VOD releases and released direct to home entertainment.

Favourite ten films released in Melbourne, Australia, in 2015

1. Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (Alejandro G Iñárritu, 2014)
Released January


Inside Out2. Inside Out (Pete Docter, 2015)
Released June


Inherent Vice
3. Inherent Vice (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2014)
Released March


4. Mad Max: Fury Road (George Miller, 2015)

Released May


The Salt of the Earth
5. The Salt of the Earth (Wim Wenders and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado, 2014)
Released April


The Lobster
6. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2015)
Released October


2014_09_17HTM_0124_Tim Conigrave (Ryan Corr), John Caleo (Craig Stott) copy
7. Holding the Man (Neil Armfield, 2015)
Released August


8. Wild (Jean-Marc Vallée, 2014)
Released January


Far from the Madding Crowd
9. Far from the Madding Crowd (Thomas Vinterberg, 2015)
Released June


10. It Follows (David Robert Mitchell, 2014)
Released April


Honourable mentions

Twenty more films I loved this year, listed alphabetically:

‘71 (Yann Demange, 2014)
Released March


A Most Violent Year
A Most Violent Year (JC Chandor, 2014)
Released February


A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on ExistenceA Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron, Roy Andersson, 2014)
Released October


Amy (Asif Kapadia, 2015)
Released July


CloudsClouds of Sils Maria (Olivier Assayas, 2014)
Released May


EXM_D018_02784Ex Machina (Alex Garland, 2015)
Released May


LeviathanLeviathan (Leviafan, Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2014)
Released March


London RoadLondon Road (Rufus Norris, 2015)
Released September


Love & MercyLove & Mercy (Bill Pohlad, 2014)
Released June


MarshlandMarshland (La isla minima, Alberto Rodríguez, 2014)
Released June


Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation (Christopher McQuarrie, 2015)
Released July


still_252359Taxi Tehran (Jafar Panahi, 2015)
Released December


The AssassinThe Assassin (Nie yin niang, Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2015)
Released November


The Diary of a Teenage GirlThe Diary of a Teenage Girl (Marielle Heller, 2015)
Released September


THE DISAPPEARANCE OF ELEANOR RIGBYThe Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him and The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Her (Ned Benson, 2013)
Released March


The DressmakerThe Dressmaker (Jocelyn Moorhouse, 2015)
Released October


Jason Segel copy 2The End of the Tour (James Ponsoldt, 2015)
Released December


The Look of Silence (Joshua Oppenheimer, 2014)
Released November


The MartianThe Martian (Ridley Scott, 2015)
Released October


The Tribe by the Ukrainian writer-director Myroslav SlaboshpytskiyThe Tribe (Plemya, Miroslav Slaboshpitsky, 2014)
Released May

Special mention

Most of the other notable films I saw this year will be released in Melbourne in 2016, so I’ll include them on next year’s list rather than here, but I do want to give a special mention to one glorious film, whose fate in Australia outside of the festival screenings it received throughout 2015 seems to remain unknown:

Song of the Sea
Song Of The Sea (Tomm Moore, 2014)

This list was compiled for the Senses of Cinema 2015 World Poll


Thank you for reading my monthly summaries throughout the year and thank you to those of you who listen to my various radio spots. I was sad to finish up on the Breakfasters on Triple R (3RRR 102.7FM) a few weeks ago, but I decided that after being their Thursday morning film critic for the past six years, it was time to move on. However, Plato’s Cave keeps going from strength to strength and will return in 2016, and hopefully there will be a few more things that fall into place too.

But for now, I will leave you with the poem I was inspired to write after seeing Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation:

Cruise Control

Cruise Control (click to enlarge)

Thomas Caldwell 2015

Favourite Films of 2014

26 December 2014

This year I have attempted to acknowledge the films that I feel are examples of cinema at its best on both technical and artistic levels, with the films that had more a personal impact in the sense that they long stayed with me or compelled me to see them again. Most films ended up falling into both categories. Regardless of the reasons, these are the films I loved the most over the past twelve months that got a full theatrical release in Melbourne, Australia:

Top ten favourite films of 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis
1. Inside Llewyn Davis (Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, 2013)
released January

Two Days, One Night
2. Two Days, One Night (Deux jours, une nuit, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, 2014)
released November

3. Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-ho, 2013)
released July

The Grand Budapest Hotel
4. The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014)
released April

The Grandmaster
5. The Grandmaster (Yi dai zong shi, Wong Kar-wai, 2013)
released September

The Wolf of Wall Street
6. The Wolf of Wall Street (Martin Scorsese, 2013)
released January

Blue Is the Warmest Colour
7. Blue Is the Warmest Colour (La vie d’Adèle, Abdellatif Kechiche, 2013)
released February

12 Years a Slave
8. 12 Years a Slave (Steve McQueen, 2013)
released January

A Touch of Sin
9. A Touch of Sin (Tian zhu ding, Jia Zhangke, 2013)
released February

10. Nymphomaniac (Lars von Trier, 2013)
released March

Honourable mentions

I thought this was a particularly strong year in cinema so these are fifteen more films, listed alphabetically, that have stayed with me for one reason or another:

52 Tuesdays
52 Tuesdays (Sophie Hyde, 2013)
released May

Big Hero 6
Big Hero 6 (Don Hall and Chris Williams, 2014)
released December

Calvary (John Michael McDonagh, 2014)
released July

Charlie's Country
Charlie’s Country (Rolf de Heer, 2013)
released July

The Dark Horse
The Dark Horse (James Napier Robertson, 2014)
released November

Force Majeure
Force Majeure (Turist, Ruben Östlund, 2014)
released October

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour, 2014)
released December

Godzilla (Gareth Edwards, 2014)
released May

Her (Spike Jonze, 2013)
released January

The Infinite Man
The Infinite Man (Hugh Sullivan, 2014)
released September

Lucy (Luc Besson, 2014)
released July

nightcrawler review
Nightcrawler (Dan Gilroy, 2014)
released November

Only Lovers Left Alive
Only Lovers Left Alive (Jim Jarmusch, 2013)
released April

Under the Skin
Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2013)
released May

WWhat We Do in the Shadows
What We Do In The Shadows (Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, 2014)
released September

Favourite ten films not given a full theatrical release

Many of the best films I saw this year were not given a full theatrical release, but were still screened to Melbourne audiences at festivals or other special events.

1. Timbuktu (Abderrahmane Sissako, 2014)

Hard to Be a God
2. Hard to Be a God (Trudno byt bogom, Aleksey German, 2013)

3. Virunga (Orlando von Einsiedel, 2014)

Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets
4. Pulp: A Film About Life, Death & Supermarkets (Florian Habicht, 2014)

The Possibilities Are Endless
5. The Possibilities Are Endless (James Hall and Edward Lovelace, 2014)

Happy Christmas
6. Happy Christmas (Joe Swanberg, 2014)

Why Don't You Play in Hell?
7. Why Don’t You Play in Hell? (Jigoku de naze warui, Shion Sono, 2013)

The Overnighters
8. The Overnighters (Jesse Moss, 2014)

Ping Pong Summer
9. Ping Pong Summer (Michael Tully, 2014)

10. Housebound (Gerard Johnstone, 2014)

This list was compiled for the Senses of Cinema 2014 World Poll

If you want to hear me discuss many of the films listed above, plus some that I wasn’t able to find places for in my lists, then check out the final episode of Plato’s Cave for 2014, which you can listen to via Radio On Demand or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes.

See you all in 2015 and thanks for reading my monthly summaries. I don’t have any plans to return to long form reviewing just yet, but I’ll still continue to do my radio spots as well as work on a couple of long term projects that may even come to fruition. Following me on Facebook and/or Twitter is the best way to see what I’m up to.

Thomas Caldwell 2014

Favourite Films of 2013

22 December 2013

From the 300+ feature films I saw this year, these are the films that most excited, inspired, moved and challenged me – restricted to films that got a theatrical release in Melbourne, Australia, where I am based.

Top ten favourite films of 2013

Amour: Anne (Emmanuelle Riva)
1. Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)
By stripping back any aspects of film style or narrative that feel false or constructed, Haneke ensures that everything that happens between Anne and Georges is an act of intense kindness and personal sacrifice shared by people who love each other unconditionally. Full review


2. Gravity (Alfonso Cuarón, 2013)
Not only is Gravity a celebration of what cinema in the current era can achieve, but it is a celebration of what humans are capable of. Full review

Frances Ha
3. Frances Ha (Noah Baumbach, 2012)
A genuinely heartfelt, gorgeous and beautiful celebration of youth, friendship and grappling with all the contradictions and challenges that life throws at us. Full review

Mystery Road
4. Mystery Road (Ivan Sen, 2013)
An effective neo noir film that uses key characteristics of the genre to  critique the abuse of power and how it affects vulnerable and innocent people, especially in a culture of gender, racial and class inequality.

The Rocket: Ahlo (Sitthiphon Disamoe)
5. The Rocket (Kim Mordaunt, 2013)
An extremely rewarding and entertaining film made all the stronger for the integrity and cultural details that underpin it. Full review

Broken: Skunk (Eloise Laurence) and Archie (Tim Roth)
6. Broken (Rufus Norris, 2012)
By framing such universal issues such as the power of forgiveness, redemption and love through a coming-of-age narrative of a generous and kind 11-year-old girl, Broken delivers a moving and thoughtful cinema experience. Full review

7. No (Pablo Larraín, 2012)
An extremely perceptive and intriguing examination of the effect that media hype and spin have on the political process. Full review

Blue Jasmine
8. Blue Jasmine (Woody Allen, 2013)
One of Allen’s cleverest and most compassionate films, making it also one of his greatest. Full review

9. Stoker (Park Chan-wook, 2013)
Not everything is what it seems in Stoker and its strength lies in how much it undermines expectations by taking a revisionist approach to gothic fiction conventions. Full review

10. The Paperboy (Lee Daniels, 2012)
The film has both an old fashioned yet otherworldly feel, in keeping with its subversion of film noir style and themes. Full review

Honourable mentions

Every one of the following ten films (and a few others) were close contenders for my favourite ten list. I’ve simply listed these ones alphabetically as it was hard enough to order the previous ten by preference.

The Act of Killing
The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, 2012)

Behind the Candelabra
Behind the Candelabra (Steven Soderbergh, 2013) Review

Django Unchained
Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino, 2012) Review

The Hunt
The Hunt (Thomas Vinterberg, 2012) Review

Life of Pi
Life of Pi (Ang Lee, 2012) Review

Oh Boy
Oh Boy (Jan Ole Gerster, 2012) Review

ParaNorman (Chris Butler and Sam Fell, 2012) Review

Spring Breakers
Spring Breakers (Harmony Korine, 2012)

Stories We Tell
Stories We Tell (Sarah Polley, 2012) Review

Stranger by the Lake
Stranger by the Lake (L’inconnu du lac, Alain Guiraudie, 2013)

Favourite ten films not given a full theatrical release

The following films were screened publically in Melbourne, Australia, in 2013, but not given a full theatrical release. And to the best of my knowledge at the time of publishing this list, these films are not yet confirmed to get a theatrical release in 2014. Listed alphabetically.

Bastards (Les salauds, Claire Denis, 2013)

Blue Ruin
Blue Ruin (Jeremy Saulnier, 2013)

Cheap Thrills
Cheap Thrills (EL Katz, 2013)

The Day of the Crows
The Day of the Crows (Le jour des corneilles, Jean Christophe Dessaint, 2012)

The Interval
The Interval (L’intervallo, Leonardo di Costanzo, 2012)

Leviathan (Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Verena Paravel, 2012)

Nothing Bad Can Happen
Nothing Bad Can Happen (Tore tanzt, Katrin Gebbe, 2013)

Starlet (Sean Baker, 2012)

The Weight of Elephants
The Weight of Elephants (Daniel Borgman, 2013)

What Richard Did
What Richard Did
 (Lenny Abrahamson, 2012)

Special mention

The following is a television miniseries, but it is one of my favourite things that I saw this year:

Top of the Lake
Top of the Lake (Jane Campion and Gerard Lee, 2013)

And that’s what I loved most about cinema in 2013! I feel this was a really strong year for films and there were several titles that I fell bad about leaving off these lists, not to mention the titles that don’t get released in Australia until early 2014, which I have to hold off on listing until this time next year.

As always, I’m happy to hear your thoughts via the comments, just please focus on the positives as the spirit of this list is celebratory!

Thomas Caldwell 2013

This list was originally compiled for the Senses of Cinema 2013 World Poll

Favourite Films of 2012

28 December 2012


I had a bit of fun this year keeping count of the number of films I watched and discovered that on average I saw six films per week. A large portion of my viewing was of films that received a theatrical release in Melbourne during 2012 and therefore qualify for the parameters in which I select my favourite films of the year. I saw over half the films that had a general release somewhere in Melbourne and while there are about 30 films that I still would like to catch up with, I feel fairly confident that I saw everything that would qualify for consideration for the list below.

I was tempted to not order or rank my favourites, but I changed my mind after another critic encouraged me to do so by saying that if there is one time during the year to be frivolous it is when compiling such lists. Besides, I’m calling these my favourite films – not making any claims about them being the best – so why not have fun?

Favourite ten films with a theatrical release in Melbourne, Australia in 2012:

1. Hugo (Martin Scorsese, 2011)


Hugo is a perfect encapsulation of Scorsese the artist, film historian and pioneer – a technologically advanced 3D spectacle celebrating the craft and imagination of early cinema.’ Full review


2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Tomas Alfredson, 2011)

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

‘Everything about this film is economical – dialogue, acting style and visual style – so that from the very opening shot the audience are themselves playing the part of spies, attempting to piece together information and looking for clues.’ Full review


3. Weekend (Andrew Haigh, 2011)


Weekend is one of the most impressive films ever made about love. Haigh’s confidence and intelligence as a filmmaker, has resulted in a sincere and emotionally engaging film.’ Full review


4. Holy Motors (Leos Carax, 2012)

Holy Motors

‘The very existence of a film like Holy Motors is cause for celebration. It demonstrates that playful can be profound, bewildering can be meaningful and randomness can have precision. It undermines so many cinematic conventions and yet is a loving tribute to cinema.’ Full review


5. The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies, 2011)

The Deep Blue Sea

The Deep Blue Sea best combines Davies’s representation of memory with a traditional narrative structure. The result is his finest film to date.’ Full review


6. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Bir zamanlar Anadolu’da, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, 2011)

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

‘An epic meditation on morality, civilisation, masculinity and how every generation suffers the sins of the one before it.’ Full review


7. Beasts of the Southern Wild  (Benh Zeitlin, 2012)

(Quvenzhané Wallis), (Gina Montana)

Beasts of the Southern Wild combines big scale ideas about the natural world and how humans relate to it, with a very personal and subjective portrayal of a young girl reconciling what is happening to her father and community.’ Full review


8. Lore (Cate Shortland, 2012)


‘Shortland has done an extraordinary job making such a bleak story into a deeply fulfilling and beautiful film. Lore is an impressionist survival film and an existential war film, and also something truly singular and remarkable.’ Full review


9. Killing Them Softly (Andrew Dominik, 2012)

Killing Them Softly

‘Incorporating several stunning stylised moments with a grim, gritty reality, Killing Them Softly is an engrossing vision of hell where status, money and image have become the ultimate goal and human life is just another commodity to be traded.’ Full review


10. Frankenweenie (Tim Burton, 2012)


‘A tribute to the type of cinema and cinematic techniques that originally inspired Burton, while growing up as something of an outsider in suburban California during the 1960s and 1970s, finding solace in monster movies and animation.’ Full review

Honourable mentions:

11. Searching for Sugar Man (Malik Bendjelloul, 2012)

12. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2012)

13. Shame (Steve McQueen, 2011)

14. The Sessions (Ben Lewin, 2012)

15. Margaret (Kenneth Lonergan, 2011)

16. The Kid with a Bike (Le gamin au vélo, Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne, 2011)

17. A Separation (Jodaeiye Nader az Simin, Asghar Farhadi, 2011)

18. The Interrupters (Steve James, 2011)

19. The Grey (Joe Carnahan, 2012)

20. Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland, 2012)

Favourite ten films not given a full theatrical release

This is where the list making becomes extremely personal since it is based on the films I happened to see out of a very large selection of festival and speciality programmed screenings held for the public somewhere in Melbourne in 2012. I am aware that there are several films that would probably have made this list if I had seen them. It is also worth noting that the top five films on this list are either confirmed or more than likely to receive a general release in 2013:


1. Amour (Michael Haneke, 2012)

2. ParaNorman (Chris Butler and Sam Fell, 2012)

3. Broken (Rufus Norris, 2012)

4. Tabu (Miguel Gomes, 2012)

5. Ernest et Célestine (Stéphane Aubier, Vincent Patar and Benjamin Renner, 2012)

6. Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, 2011)

7. Kauwboy (Boudewijn Koole, 2012)

8. Only the Young (Elizabeth Mims and Jason Tippet, 2011)

9. Keyhole (Guy Maddin, 2011)

10. The Legend of Kaspar Hauser (La leggenda di Kaspar Hauser, Davide Manuli, 2012)

Special mention:

It’s Such a Beautiful Day (Don Hertzfeldt, 2012) – feature length edit of Hertzfeldt’s previous three short films, released on DVD through bitter films.

It's Such a Beautiful Day


Favourite retrospective screenings and re-releases

The most personal list of all is this one, where I acknowledge the screenings of older films that brought me the most joy this year. Some of these were revisits of old favourites, seeing them on the big screen for the first time, while many were new discoveries:

Raiders of the Lost Arc 

1. Raiders of the Lost Ark (Steven Spielberg, 1981) – re-released at The Astor Theatre

2. America America (Elia Kazan, 1963) – The Melbourne Cinémathèque, Elia Kazan: The Outsider season

3. Time Regained (Le temps retrouvé, Raúl Ruiz, 1999) – The Melbourne Cinémathèque, Immortal Stories: The Living Cinema Of Raúl Ruiz season

4. Great Expectations (David Lean, 1946) – The Astor Theatre, David Lean Tribute

5. Solaris (Solyaris, Andrei Tarkovsky, 1972) – The Australian Centre for the Moving Image, (ACMI) Space on Film program

6. Suddenly, Last Summer (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1959) – ACMI First Look

7. Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills (Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, 1996) – ACMI First Look

8. Brand Upon the Brain! (Guy Maddin, 2006) – ACMI, Nocturnal Transmissions: The Cinema of Guy Maddin program

9. Beau Travail (Claire Denis, 1999) – The Melbourne Cinémathèque, Borderlines: Selected Works by Claire Denis season

10. House (Hausu, Nobuhiko Ohbayashi, 1977) – ACMI, Nocturnal Transmissions: The Cinema of Guy Maddin program

Special mentions:

Seeing Goblin play their score to Suspiria (Dario Argento, 1977) live at ACMI as part of Melbourne Music Week was also pretty special. Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention the re-release of Labyrinth (Jim Henson, 1986) at the Astor Theatre, especially as it was also the film that the theatre screened on its Protect the Astor day, which was part of a larger campaign that achieved considerable success in 2012.


Thomas Caldwell, 2012

This list was originally compiled for the Senses of Cinema 2012 World Poll

PS Feel free to comment and add your thoughts and comparisons. Please note that the spirit of this post is celebratory so long rants about stuff you didn’t like or grand declarations of outrage probably won’t make it through the moderation process!