Leos Carax / Denis Lavant, David Cronenberg / Robert Pattinson Collaborations: Top Ten Movies of 2012

Holy Motors Denis LavantLeos Carax / Denis Lavant, David Cronenberg / Robert Pattinson collaborations top Cahiers du Cinéma list

Leos Carax's Holy Motors, starring Denis Lavant, and David Cronenberg's Cosmopolis, starring Robert Pattinson, the two much talked-about “limo movies” screened at the Cannes Film Festival, topped the list of Top Ten Movies of 2012 found in the December issue of Cahiers du Cinéma. Assuming the list was compiled in October, that means late-year releases not screened at French film festivals will, with luck, be included in next year's roster. (Image: Denis Lavant Holy Motors.)

The episodic Holy Motors, which follows an entity that incarnates various characters in various situations, was the Cahiers du Cinéma critics' no. 1 choice. The eclectic Holy Motors supporting cast includes Kylie Minogue, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes, Jeanne Disson, Elise Lhomeau, veteran Michel Piccoli, and Carax himself.

The semi-episodic Cosmopolis, which follows a young New York billionaire (Robert Pattinson) on his way to a fateful haircut, was the no. 2 movie on the Cahiers du Cinéma top ten list. The just as eclectic Cosmopolis supporting cast includes Juliette Binoche, Paul Giamatti, Jay Baruchel, Mathieu Amalric, Sarah Gadon, Samantha Morton, Kevin Durand, and Emily Hampshire.

I should add that neither Holy Motors nor Cosmopolis won a single Official Competition award at Cannes. This year's Palme d'Or winner was Michael Haneke's Amour, a more stylistically conventional drama starring veteran Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva as a married couple facing encroaching illness and death. I should also add that Amour is not to be found among Cahiers du Cinéma's top ten movies of 2012.

Holy Motors, Cosmopolis: North American critics and audience reception

North American critics have been generally enthusiastic about Holy Motors, which enjoys a 92 percent approval rating and 8.3/10 average among Rotten Tomatoes' top critics. On the other hand, Cosmopolis' English-language reviews have been a mixed bag: at Rotten Tomatoes, David Cronenberg's latest has a mediocre 50 percent approval rating and 5.7/10 average.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Cosmopolis, which had a mostly disappointing run at the international box office, found its most receptive market – by far – in France: approximately 355,000 tickets sold (vs. Holy Motors' 123,000). Now, a key reason for Cosmopolis' relative popularity in France was the presence of Robert Pattinson, whose Breaking Dawn Part 2, co-starring Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner, opened with more than $300 million worldwide this past weekend. (In US dollars, France was the last Twilight movie's fourth biggest market.) But what probably did the trick in that particular territory was the combination of Robert Pattinson, strong Cannes Film Festival buzz, and generally positive reviews. And possibly French moviegoers' openness to more challenging fare and savvy promotion by the film's local distributor, Stone Angels.

Other Cahiers du Cinéma Top Ten Movies of 2012

The other entries on the Cahiers du Cinéma list of top ten movies of 2012 are the following:

  • Francis Ford Coppola's Twixt at no. 3.
  • Abel Ferrara's 4:44 Last Day on Earth; Jeff Nichols' Take Shelter; and Hong Sang-Soo's In Another Country, starring French icon Isabelle Huppert (who also has a key role in Amour), tied at no. 4.
  • Another Abel Ferrara-directed entry, Go Go Tales (originally screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007), at no. 7.
  • Miguel Gomes' Tabu at no. 8.
  • Alexander Sokurov's Faust at no. 9.
  • Ira Sachs' Keep the Lights On at no. 10.

Cahiers du Cinéma top ten movies of 2012 via mubi.com.

Denis Lavant Holy Motors photo: Indomnia.

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