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10 Best American Movies – 2012 Roundup Four

01 January 2013 | Features, Film Lists | by David Zou

2012 has been a terrific year for me in terms of classic movie watching, American movies is a big part of it.  As an american DVD company, Criterion Collection helped a lot select 10 from a hundred American titles I’ve seen last year, six out of the ten below are from their catalog.

Let’s take a look at my best American movies watched in 2012:

10. Night and the City    dir. Jules Dassin

night-and-the-city-original

Whenever you are in the mood of a film noir, you should go to Jules Dassin’s cinema, this man means business. The authentic London underworld serves as a perfect backdrop and Richard Widmark gave the performance of a lifetime as the all-time pathetic scambag on the big screen.

 

9. Witness for the Prosecution    dir. Billy Wilder

Witness for the procecution

I finally chose this one over Otto Preminger’s Anatomy of a Murder as the courtroom drama of the year. Billy Wilder’s brilliance lies outside of the courtroom: the setup of Charles Laughton’s character is even more memorable than the dramas in the court. Marlene Dietrich’s deceitful performance makes Wilder’s biggest tricks work.

 

8. F For Fake    dir. Orson Welles

f-for-fake

This is the color version of Citizen Kane. Orson Welles’s free-form documentary was as innovative as his magnum opus. He was like a confident and experienced magician playing all kinds of cinematic tricks  in front of us and blurred the thin line between the fake and the authentic.

 

7. Make Way for Tomorrow    Leo McCarey

make way for tomorrow

Leo McCarey’s Make Way for Tomorrow is the tearjerker of the year. As Orson Welles said, “it would make a stone cry!”. After watching film you will understand that the only person you can rely on through your life is your other half.

 

6. Our Hospitality    dir. Buster Keaton

our hospitality buster keaton

The most well-balanced Buster Keaton film. The normal type gags and action spectacles split into 50/50. It’s an ideal entry to the genius’ cinema.

 

5. White Dog    dir. Samuel Fuller

white-dog

White Dog is definitely one of the biggest surprises I have in 2012. I’ve never expected Samuel Fuller to make such a complex and metaphorical film with a dog as its leading role. It is also incredible that a man like Fuller would have the heart to credit all the “dog actors” at the end of film.

 

4. The Conversation    dir. Francis Ford Coppola

the-conversation

The 1970’s decade, for Francis Ford Coppola, is the best among all his contemporaries. The sound editing was one of the best in cinema history, and Gene Hackman’s low key performance should have won him an Oscar.

 

3. Zodiac    dir. David Fincher

zodiac

David Fincher’s modern-day crime drama carefully examines an ordinary man’s craziest obsessions. Zodiac definitely deserves the admiration and envy of other directors for its well-paced narrative.

 

2. Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters    dir. Paul Schrader

Mishima A Life in Four Chapters

This is a film Paul Schrader was born to make, a real life self-born self-destructive character he had dreamed to write and film since Taxi Driver. John Bailey’s rich cinematography and Phillip Glass’s highly influential score made this a must-watch. No matter how much you know about Mishima, you will be fascinated by his life and works after watching this film.

 

1. Rosemary’s Baby    dir. Roman Polanski

Rosemarys-Baby

 

As Roman Polanski’s Hollywood debut, Rosemary’s Baby is one of the best psychological horror films. Carefully-designed shots depicting every sinister and scary scene, as well as Mia Fallow’s hysterical persona kept the tension to the maximum.

 

It’s Your Turn

Which are your favorite American movies watched in 2012?

 

 


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  • http://thevoid99.blogspot.com Steven Flores

    With the exception of Rosemary’s Baby, The Conversation, and Zodiac, I had never seen anything else in that film though I hope to replicate that soon as I plan to see one of them this month which will relate to one of the films in my Blind Spots list.

    • http://www.tasteofcinema.com/ David Zou

      Steven, I think Blind Spots lists are vital for us film buffs. It’s impossible for any guy to know films from every genre and country, we all need to learn from others and add films we’ve never heard of to our lists. I’m planning to make one in 2013 and spend a month watching every single title on it.

  • http://moviesandsongs365.blogspot.com/ Chris

    Great list! I also enjoyed Witness for the Prosecution for Charles Laughton’s memorable performance, in my opinion he was also the best thing about Ruggles of Red Gap (1935)-which I prefer over Make Way for Tomorrow. I remember you have a soft spot for because it inspired your fav Tokyo Story :)

    White Dog is definitely underrated and powerful, didn’t notice the dogs in credits! I’ve been getting into film noir, so I’ll have to look up Jules Dassin. I’m saving Rosemary’s Baby for next Halloween, years since I last saw it. Zodiac is another I want to revisit.