In Focus: 20 Images That Defined 2012

In Focus: 20 Images That Defined 2012 film still

We look back on a year at the movies and the big moments that freeze-framed in our brains...

1. Michael Fassbender is big in Shame


We knew Michael Fassbender was going to be big this year. We didn't just realise he was going to be that big. Despite spanking Keira Knightley in A Dangerous Method and impregnating his co-stars in Prometheus, Fassbender biggest part was most definitely in Shame. See it widescreen.


2. Jason Segel is a very manly muppet


“Am I a maaaaaaaaan? Or am I a muuuppet?” Winking but wide-eyed, smart but not smart-arsed, star/scripter Jason Segel's delightful redux of The Muppets hit a sing-a-long high-note with Oscar-winning ballad 'Man Or Muppet'. And yes, because he co-wrote it, Bret from Flight Of The Conchords now has an Academy Award. Weird.


3. Sacha Baron Cohen spills Kim Jong-il


Treating the Academy Awards with the dignity it properly deserves, Sacha Baron Cohen arrived on the red carpet in February dressed as his new character The Dictator and promptly tipped the 'ashes' of his “dear friend and doubles tennis partner” Kim Jong-il all over interviewer Ryan Seacrest. As security dragged him away, Cohen called out to Seacrest: “When people ask what you’re wearing, you can say, ‘Kim Jong-Il.’" Bravo.


4. Silence is golden


And the winner is... Okay, okay, we get it. For a little while there, everyone went a bit nuts about silent cinema thanks to The Artist, Michael Hazanavicius' clever, adorable love-letter to the shushies. Audiences swooned as Gallic charmer Jean Dujardin reminded us of the power of physical comedy. They cheered as The Artist became the first (almost-) silent film to win the Best Picture Oscar in 83 years. They got a bit bored as it continued to win every award going. Then they went back to forgetting about silent cinema completely.


5. Marigold hits box-office gold


Armed with The Expendables of elderly Brit acting – Judi Dench (sad widow), Tom Wilkinson (secret past), Maggie Smith (daft racist) and Bill Nighy (crumbling marriage) learning to love spicy food, brown people and each other– bittersweet comedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel discovered the power of the grey pound to become 2012’s shock box-office hit. It took $134m from a $10m budget and your mum will have watched it again this Christmas.


6. Paul Rudd does this in the mirror


If you haven't experienced this scene in Wanderlust, we're not going to spoil it for you. Travis Bickle eat your heart out.


7. The billion-dollar supermen assemble


What do you get if you cross a Norse god-king, a nervy science boffin with gigantic anger issues, a WWII super-soldier and a genius billionaire playboy with flying power-armour? You get a billion dollars, that's what. Launching four different $100m franchises to construct one super-mega-franchise was a power-play unprecedented in Hollywood history. But writer/director Joss Whedon's blockbuster-multiplier turned out to be equal to the sum of its parts. And its parts were MASSIVE.


8. Holy Motors wows the Cannes crowd


This, in fact, is just one of countless extraordinary images in the weird, wondrous Holy Motors, which whisks mo-cap dancing, doppleganger murder, Kylie Minogue, a flower-munching sewer-ogre and more into... what? "This is a film about a man and the experience of being alive," says director Leo Carax. There you go. Michael Haneke's Amour won the Palme d'Or, but Cannes had seen nothing like this.


9. Prometheus rebirths the Alien franchise, messily


Love it or hate it, Prometheus was that most unusual subspecies of US blockbuster: Big Budget fused with Big Ideas. And if Ridley Scott had far less idea what to do with the latter than the former, Michael Fassbender's brilliantly constructed David and the most horrendous C-section since John Hurt's funny-tummy in 1979 left a real mark. Let's hope they give the sequel to Neill Blomkamp.


10. Robert Pattinson gets a new look


Snip, snip... A mega-bored, mega-rich twentysomething who wants to bust out of his own life? David Cronenberg's arthouse curio Cosmopolis handed Robert Pattinson a haircut and a persona-smashing dream role, shaping his vampiric blankness into a performance of sarcastic charisma. RIP R-Pattz.


11. McConaughey feels like chicken tonight


Whoa... Did the star of Failure To Launch just punch Gina Gershon in the face and do that with a bit of KFC? As well as the most traumatic chicken dinner imaginable, Southern-fried noir Killer Joe served up a startling new version of Matthew McConaughey. Magic Mike, The Paperboy and Mud (due in 2013) confirm it - after 20 years in rom-com hell, The Mac is back.


12. Bale and Nolan bid the Bat goodbye


Completing a grandiose trilogy that refined the superhero saga and spectacularly reinvented Gotham's avenger, Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan finally stepped away from the Bat-suit. Keep your grumbles about The Dark Knight Rises to yourself. We'll have to wait a long time until someone treats a comic-book franchise with the same gravitas and artistry. Or will we? Man Of Steel, produced by Nolan, is just a few months away...


13. "Good evening, Mister Bond"


Happy and glorious, indeed! Watching James Bond pick The Queen up from Buckingham Palace before parachuting her out of a helicopter during Danny Boyle's amazing Olympic curtain-raiser, it was hard to believe that London 2012 could get any better. Little did we know...


14. Arnie, Sly and Bruce... together at last!


It took decades, but the old boys finally did it. The sight of Schwarzenegger (65), Stallone (66) and spring-chicken Bruce Willis (57) standing on screen together, machineguns blazing, was a perhaps the most poignant moment of wish-fulfillment in the history of action cinema. One day, our children will watch Jason Statham and Tom Cruise and Dwayne Johnson do this, and they will understand.


15. The Hardigan


Fashion news! Real men wear cardigans. It wasn't the throat-slashing, tarring-and-feathering, neck-breaking or ball-chopping that caused the most shock in moonshine thriller Lawless. It was Tom Hardy wearing a cardy. As indestructible bootlegger Forrest Bondurant, he teamed knitwear with brass-knuckles to make this season's boldest sartorial statement. Gentlemen, take note.


16. In a Disneyworld far, far away...


Oh, George... Let's just hope that Star Wars has gone to a better place. And maybe one day, R2 will forgive you for doing this to him. Right now, he's furious.


17. Bardem vs Bond


Double oh... Making the classiest entrance in Bond history, Javier Bardem stepped calmly into Skyfall at around the halfway mark to stake his claim as the greatest 007 villain 007 ever. When Bond isn't the coolest man in the room, you know something's up: next to Bardem's effortless charisma, Craig suddenly looked like a pub brawler. Suave, cerebral, (homo)sexually dangerous, physically imposing and secretly deranged, Bardem's Silva is Bond's deadly mirror image. Shame the film didn't realise.


18. The old man & the seat


"This is the most joy I've gotten from an old man since Dick Cheney non-fatally shot one in the face,” declared an ecstatic Jon Stewart. No one put it better than The Daily Show host when describing how Clint Eastwood “spent 12 minutes on the most important night of Mitt Romney’s life yelling at a chair.” It was, exclaimed Stewart, "amidst the tired, rhetoric, empty platitudes and overwrought attacks... a fistful of awesome."


19. Breaking Dawn breaking bad


Well, this must have been a shock for the tweens. After making us suffer through eight hours of moping, the Twilight franchise suddenly decided it was Alexander Nevsky. Letting rip with a genuinely epic finale battle that saw lead characters brutally decapitated and incinerated left and right, Breaking Dawn Part 2 even had the smarts to end its battle royale with blindsiding twist. But the real coup de grace? Those blissful end credits.


20. Forty-eight Gollums per second


Even in the same year that a truly extraordinary CG tiger prowled around the screen in Ang Lee's Life Of Pi, Gollum returned to show us dazzling new possibilities, fully 10 years after his first game-changing appearance. The Hobbit's hyper-real new 3D frame-rate, WETA's bleeding-edge effects work and Andy Serkis' captivating mo-capping went to another level of amazing. As much as we've seen in this new century of cinema, we ain't seen nothing yet...


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! LWLies will see you at the movies in 2013.

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