Only about five hours sleep last night. It's not the way I meant to begin the new year.
So, finally, a list of my favorite films of 2012. All but Cloud Atlas appear on the list in a more or less random order. I have placed Cloud Atlas at the top because, I believe, it genuinely is the best and most important film of 2012:
1: Cloud Atlas, directed by Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, and Lana Wachowski
2. Django Unchained, directed by Quentin Tarantino
3. Les Misérables, directed by Tom Hooper
4. Moonrise Kingdom, directed by Wes Andersen
5. Beasts of the Southern Wild, directed by Benh Zeitlin
6. Hitchcock, directed by Sacha Gervasi
7. Prometheus, directed by Ridley Scott
8. The Master, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
9. Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg
10. The Hunger Games, directed by Gary Ross
Notes: I expect that both Zero Dark Thirty and Skyfall would also be on this list, if I'd had a chance to see them. Which I will, as soon as I am able. Also, I have to see Neil Jordan's Byzantium and Jacques Audiard's Rust and Bone. I also want to provide a list of honorable mentions, films I utterly enjoyed, but didn't think warranted "best of" status, and, yeah, they're all "genre": John Carter of Mars (superb); Batman Rises; The Avengers; Cabin in the Woods; Brave; Looper; Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter; Snow White and the Huntsman; and The Raven. You will notice that Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is notably absent. I did a LOT of soul-searching on this, but, in the end, decided the film was such a horrid visual mess there's was no way I could, in good conscience, include it.
And, I say, says I, Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes can go fuck themselves.
I'm going to do a second post later – after hours of proofreading. For now, as I've said elsewhere (Twitter, Facebook), 2012 was a spectacularly lousy year for me. Likely the worst since 1995 (the year of Elizabeth's suicide). It was a year when I published my best novel to date and my best comics work (by far). The critics adored both; neither were exactly commercially successful. It was a year that commercial success (and yes this matters; writers have bills just like their readers) eluded me in a way that was more frustrating than ever before. How things went with The Drowning Girl: A Memoir, that was an especial blow. Though, I did learn that a gorgeous ~$4k movie trailer and a great audiobook are no guarantee of anything at all. On the other hand, Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart/The Yellow Book sold decently, but went largely unnoticed. Being Guest of Honor at Readercon 23 with Peter Straub, that was wonderful, but felt tainted by the post-con kerfuffle. And then, this autumn, I wrote what I cannot help but consider a truly wretched novel. First time I've ever felt this way about (not counting the Beowulf novelization). And I didn't do it on purpose. It just happened. But, I can at least say, the year ended on a very positive note, with Black Helicopters, certainly the best thing I've written since The Drowning Girl.
This was the year that, more than any other, made me want to stop writing. Only the certainty of poverty has prevented me from doing so. I can only hope 2013 will go better. The lesson I take away from this year is the same as the words tattooed on my left forearm: There's always a siren, singing you to shipwreck. I'm not whining, and don't want sympathy. Just wanted to tell it like it was. Somehow, I exited the year with my dignity mostly intact.
Regardless, my grateful thanks to the readers who've stuck with me – or are newcomers. You've helped a great deal, and you are appreciated.
Behind the cut, a sort of photoessay on the final day of 2012. My one rule was that there would be no people in any of the photographs: