Over 80,000 votes were cast by nearly 6,000 New Zealanders to decide the winners of the first NZ People's Choice Movie Awards.
Thank you all for turning out en masse. Comments below.
Timing and a dash of national pride might have helped it over the line, but the first instalment of Jackson's second Tolkien trilogy managed no small feat in recapturing the magic of The Lord of the Rings. Both a teaser for part two and a rollicking adventure in itself - the nervous Bilbo and his posse of dwarves' battle against immeasurable odds won the hearts of New Zealanders in 2012.
Tapping into the vein of black humour that runs through New Zealand culture, Two Little Boys was a bleak buddy comedy (a brom-com, maybe?) that featured a number of team-ups – the Sarkies brothers each tackling creative elements, Bret McKenzie and Hamish Blake filling out the titular roles, and the actions "hit" and "run" setting a plot into motion that Kiwis loved.
Skyfall director Sam Mendes delivered the requisite levels of globetrotting suaveness and riffed a little more on the larger-than-life side of Bond than Daniel Craig’s other outings. Boasting great set-pieces that included not one, but two train-based sequences and a grown-up Home Alone of a finale, Skyfall put plenty of bums on seats and kept them perched right on the edge until the very end.
Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane made the jump to the big screen with Ted and proved that Kiwis, like the rest of the world, love a foul-mouthed pot-smoking teddy bear. Eventually taking more than half a billion dollars at the box office worldwide, Ted had the year’s best laughs-per-minute ratio. Thankfully more than just a feature length TV episode, Ted instead signalled MacFarlane's readiness to conquer another entertainment medium.
Expertly targeting the older segment of the movie-going public with its premise and cast, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel over-performed at the box office where it maintained a strong presence for months on end thanks to lashings of positive word of mouth. A wave of imitators are on their way, as is a sequel, but this dramedy has a whimsical charm all of its own, and reasserted the power of older actors and movie-goers.
Less of a riotous laughfest than Forgetting Sarah Marshall (the previous film pairing star Jason Segel and director Nicholas Stoller), The Five-Year Engagement charted the romance between Segel and Emily Blunt (in one of her many great roles of 2012). Patiently examining a contemporary relationship, the film needed the leads to deliver a tangible chemistry – something they did in spades.
A classy, confident sci-fi flick that proved accessible to non-geeks as well as those who sat down with packs of straws to work out its time travel permutations, Looper didn’t feel the need to bash moviegoers over the head with its cleverness. Rian Johnson’s world-building sat in the background as the action unfolded, and the intimate focus of the third act had an unexpected poignancy.
From the tense storming of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran that Argo opens with to its eventual nerve-wracking conclusion, Ben Affleck’s film kept audiences engrossed even though there was always going to be a happy ending. The pressure on Argo’s hidden American diplomats was palpable, and the film turned out to be not just a period piece but reminiscent of a great thriller era.
With Brave Pixar unveiled the first lead female protagonist of their catalogue, headstrong Scottish princess and tomboy Merida whose defiance of tradition causes chaos. With a delightfully detail-rich period setting, Brave captured the epic, mythic feel it was aiming for, and while it may not have ended up turning gender conventions on their heads, its heroine proved a refreshing addition to the Pixar family.
Making a hefty splash at the 2012 NZ Film Festival, Searching for Sugar Man courted our country’s attention with its joyous, hard-to-believe tale of seemingly lost talent finding a home. The film’s influence also aroused our sense of musical discovery, with the film's soundtrack appearing in Top Ten charts in malls around Auckland - this once-obscure muso suddenly an overnight sensation.
The Intouchables leapfrogged Spirited Away to become the highest-grossing non-English film in pretty much every country that has at least one cinema. With a big heart and an even bigger sense of humour, this French buddy flick has a universal appeal that Aotearoeans easily recognised. Don’t be surprised if the Academy gives this one an Oscar nod.
Bringing Middle-earth to life again with dazzling results, Peter Jackson was right to trust his own directorial judgement even in the face of criticism. While the media became preoccupied with higher frame rate and whether The Hobbit should be a trilogy or not, New Zealanders flocked to cinemas to revisit a vivid, beloved world that Jackson imbued with humour and light-heartedness.
It may have been a bit of a foregone conclusion that critical darling Williams would shine as the one of the silver screen's most beloved stars, but what she brought to My Week with Marilyn was more than just an impression of an icon. Displaying a luminous quality as well as multiple other layers of personality, Williams brought the both the captivating and complicated aspects of Monroe to life with intoxicating charm.
He took his time getting on screen, but once he was there Javier Bardem turned in a scene-stealing performance as silver-tongued, floppy haired (and floppy faced) villain Raoul Silva. Pushing the boundaries of how far an actor can take things before chewing the scenery, Bardem spouted a great line in baddie banter and showed an adeptness at making Bond crack a, er, sweat.
Even a seasoned actor would have trouble with the themes in this film – extreme poverty, displacement, alcoholism, negligence and violence, misguided gestures of love delivered in often brutal forms. For this reason perhaps only someone so innocent as six-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis could have carried that weight. She did so in a performance that won audiences over and was key to making this film tick.
As one mega-franchise featuring a terrible female role model came to an end this year The Hunger Games kicked into gear and featured a wily fighter with values rooted in family and justice. As Katniss, sparing her sister from this futuristic battle royale by volunteering to take part, Lawrence not only kicked ass, but proved the value of loyalty and compassion along the way.
The Avengers (which just lost out in both the best movie and best action category) was 2012's mega-superhero movie, managing to actually live up to its ridiculous hype. It boasted a great villain to square off against its many heroes in the form of Loki, Thor's smarmy, super-intelligent, English-accented bro brought to snivelling life by Brit Tom Hiddleston. As well as the whole being evil/enslave Earth thing, he just has a face you want to punch. Look at him. Easily the wanker of the year.