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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 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:

Aunt Beast


( 16 comments — Have your say! )
Jan. 1st, 2013 06:03 pm (UTC)
Here's to 2013 being what you need both personally and professionally. I'm looking forward to more new work from you (and K Tierney).
Jan. 1st, 2013 06:48 pm (UTC)
Listening here.

I'm still hand-selling THE DROWNING GIRL to a slice of those who cross my bookstore threshold. My numbers may seem miniscule compared to the megastores and the online retailers, but they're part of the picture regardless.

I want financial success for you, and will keep doing my part in getting it for you.
Jan. 1st, 2013 07:15 pm (UTC)
I also enjoyed JOHN CARTER all out of proportion to the critical reception. We couldn't get out to LM, but Santa brought the DVD of the 10th Anniversary Dream Cast, and that was a joy to see again.

You mentioned something a bit back about getting some drawings up and out there. I have a couple extra copies of the signed/limited of CONFESSIONS OF A FIVE-CHAMBERED HEART that need a little plussing; any interest in a small joint eBay project?
Jan. 1st, 2013 07:25 pm (UTC)
In turn, as always, I appreciate your brutal honesty, Aunt Beast. And offer my hope that many things in 2013 are less of a trial for all of us. In the spirit of your musings on the subject: we don't have to be happy but it would be nice if we could be a tad less miserable.
Jan. 1st, 2013 09:10 pm (UTC)
There's always a siren

the temptations and the distractions that veer us off course are many, we need to cover our ears and trust our lodestones and stars.
Jan. 2nd, 2013 01:07 am (UTC)
As one of those 'critics' who reviewed Drowning Girl in 2012 for the Writer and The Critic podcast, I'd like to thank you for writing such an astonishing, layered, complex work. While I know it doesn't fit neatly into genre (though I think that's partly what makes the book so interesting and great) I really think it would be a fucking tragedy if popular awards aside, it didn't receive some love from the juried genre awards. It's a remarkable piece of writing and the sort of thing the genre should be recognising, even if the book doesn't scream Fantasy / SF/ Horror.

Whatever happens though, I hope from a mental and financial standpoint you find 2013 shitting all over 2012 in a good way.
Jan. 2nd, 2013 01:14 am (UTC)
I very much hope that 2013 is a better year for you. Thank you for your honesty, and for keeping us in the loop with your journal.
Jan. 2nd, 2013 03:13 am (UTC)

Certainly 'The Drowning Girl' and the Dancy series shows you to be at the top of your form, so let's hope that 2013 brings more widespread success than 2012.

There's been little time recently for films in theaters - I've only seen three of the ones on your list, with two more likely soon. The rest are on my purchase/rent list.

Daughter's Classic Movie of the Week: Blade Runner (Final Cut version)
Alex Bell
Jan. 2nd, 2013 03:41 am (UTC)
new year
2012 was a very trying year, for a lot of us. For a lot of reasons. One can only hope this new year will bring us something, well, more fun. We, your readers, appreciate you also. Very much.

Years ago, I spent a strange day wandering the streets of Birmingham, taking everything in with a certain intensity, thinking, "I'm in the Silk town... This is the way they walked that night..." I had to go back to the bus station to continue my journey, there was only so much time, so I walked a lot. May seem kind of fanboyish, but it felt like really important stuff. To this day, I always know you put the goods in your work. Thank you.

It will be a good year. Cheers.
Jan. 2nd, 2013 04:42 am (UTC)
Somehow, I exited the year with my dignity mostly intact.

You made it out of the year. Even that's worth something. Even if they all come with the qualifier of 2012, though, I am very glad of some of the things you name in that paragraph.
Philip Foster
Jan. 2nd, 2013 05:32 am (UTC)
Best films
Last night I watched Berberian Sound Studio directed by Peter Strickland, a masterpiece I'm sure you would love.
Philip Foster
Jan. 2nd, 2013 05:33 am (UTC)
Berberian Sound Studio
Jan. 4th, 2013 12:25 am (UTC)
I hope 2013 is a better year for you.

Saw this yesterday and thought you might like it - great song and a great video to boot:

The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, "Devils Look Like Angels"

(Deleted comment)
Jan. 4th, 2013 09:12 pm (UTC)
I agree with you as far as Cloud Atlas is concerned. Excellent movie based on a excellent book. However (and not to be over-critical)I find that the movie runs contrary to the book in certain unforgivable areas.

For one, there is just no way that Frobisher would ever fall in love with that old plagiarizing composer, yet this is precisely what happens in the movie. This makes Frobisher out to seem histrionic. Then of course there is the constant overuse of certain actors in multiple roles that certainly wasn't as extensive in the book. Also by attributing the plane bomb to Smoke instead of Sachs, his powerful self-sacrifice is kind of left out in a big way.

Then again, maybe I am just overcritical.

Edited at 2013-01-04 09:16 pm (UTC)
Jan. 5th, 2013 08:01 pm (UTC)
I like your photos. More importantly, I hope that 2013 builds on what you did accomplish in 2012 and leads to creative and personal success.
( 16 comments — Have your say! )