And now, a swarm of countdown lists of my favorite movie [BLANK]s of 2012! Since I started with the most basic, simple list (best movies of the year), I will now move on to one slightly less conventional, that I'm hoping to make a future tradition of mine to post a list of each year: my favorite movie images of the year.
Sometimes when I'm watching a movie, a certain frame, whether held for a long period of time, or just a second, really sticks with me for a long time. Sometimes it's because the image speaks on the film's behalf in ways words could never describe, and other times it's just because of how fantastic the framing of the shot is, or just how striking the image is. Readers be warned: Some spoilers ahead.
LIFE OF PI
This image is not just beautiful, but it marks the turning point in the story itself. Immediately following the horrific shipwreck that strands Pi in the middle of the ocean with nothing but a life raft, there's a certain tranquil, other-worldliness about this shot that instantly struck me. This is the point when the line between reality and fiction begins to blur. This image (among others that follow) reflects so much the nature of Pi as a character: Even after such a darkness, he is able to see the beauty of life and the light that surrounds him.
An image of pure menace. Silva, who had at this point already proven himself to be a formidable foe, will stop at nothing in his pursuit of M. Not even when Bond sets the mansion ablaze does Silva stop. He doesn't care about Bond, he just wants M. The single most striking movie image of the year, and one that is only heightened by the unstoppable villainy of Bardem's fantastic performance. Skyfall is loaded with incredible images, but this is by far my favorite. Deakins' deserves an Oscar for his fantastic work, even if just for this single shot.
Abraham Lincoln has just succeeded in abolishing slavery. This is one of the greatest moments, not just for him, but for America. And, as is the case with the rest of the film, he celebrates with quiet dignity. He has won, and his part in the film is done. Spielberg chooses not to show Lincoln's assassination, leaving this as the last image you see of him alive (apart from a brief flashback of a speech at the very end). Had the movie chosen to end at this moment, the film would have benefited from it. A triumphant final image it would have been, as he walks slowly away to meet his fate.
Ottway, the last survivor of the plane crash that had stranded he and a handful of others in the Alaskan wilderness, is now completely on his own. The pack of wolves that has been picking off his group one by one is slowly circling around him, as he is faced with the alpha. There is a strange formality to this scene, as the wolves seem to respect his need to prepare for this last stand. And this will be his last stand. A flashback of his wife on her deathbed reminds us of how alone he truly is. A man, once on the verge of suicide, now finds himself fighting for his own survival, and it all comes down to this moment. The emotion and intensity of Neeson's eyes is unforgettable.
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
The final shot of the film's incredible opening, this image, unlike most of the rest of this list, is a celebration of joy. Hushpuppy and her father live an unprivileged life in the "Bathtub" (an area in Louisiana that finds itself underwater fairly frequently). But this doesn't drag her down. As a young child, she still sees all the joy of life, and this image shows just how beautiful that can be. The first 5-6 minutes of this movie is absolutely amazing, and this climactic shot that introduces us to the film's title is a definite highlight.
There are plenty of other images that jump out, for sure, but these are the 5 that I feel struck me the hardest. They had the most to say, as well as being the most impressive from a purely aesthetic point of view. Thanks for reading.