Top Ten Films of 2012

Below are the films that have remained in my mind throughout 2012. I should add that I have yet to see The Master, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Tabu, and Sightseers, which after speaking to people about them, one or two might well enter my top 10 by the end of the year, but for now they are:


Berberian Sound Studio

Once Upon A Time in Anatolia

The Hunt

Holy Motors

Searching for Sugar Man

Martha Marcy May Marlene

The Turin Horse


This Is Not A Film



I’d also like to include a film that has yet to have a full theatrical release: Entity. This film is currently doing the festival circuit and the sound design by ZnO is second to none. To quote from a recent review of the film:

“the sound design is the real heart of the film.  It is, without a doubt, one of the best uses of sound in an independent feature that I have experienced.  The cinema rumbled and creaked along with the film asylum and frequently built to borderline painful ear-piercing screeches that put the audience in the same space as the on-screen characters.”


My Top Ten Films of the Decade

Inland Empire

For those who know me it should come as no surprise that there are two David Lynch films in my top ten. Inland Empire is in some ways a very confusing film, but one that is, perhaps, not intended to make sense. However it is a film that completely absorbed me and one that was visually like a dream (in various senses of the word) and took me on an emotional journey. Lynch’s use of sound is second to none here and the direction is, as usual, formidable.


It was hard to decide between this and La Pianiste. However, Haneke’s Cache was a film that I had to re-watch immediately, not just because of its terrific ending. A great meditation on guilt, history, and racism in France from one of the greatest directors working in cinema.


One of the hardest films to watch, but one that really questions why we view films – especially in relation to the film’s most notorious scene. It is a film that is a visual overload and one where the sound design really pummels the viewer into submission (or for some, revulsion). It analyses the relationship between sex and violence, yet within these there is a sense of beauty. Not a film for everyone, but one which will always remain with me. Another film that examines similar themes (although with a more religious slant) is the admirable Martyrs.

The Proposition

Written by Nick Cave, this is a great interpretation of the western genre. Beautifully shot, great performances from all the actors, a terrific score, and an appropriate sense of dirt throughout. I never thought a western this good would come from Australia!

Requiem for a Dream

I was always looking forward to this film. Aronofsky truly impressed me with his debut Pi, and Hubert Selby Jr is probably my all time favourite author. The film really delves into the effects different types of addiction can have on people’s lives and on those around them. It definitely does not leave the viewer on high note which is in keeping with the main themes. Visually it is a real treat and the editing is almost unsurpassed. Once again, Clint Mansell provided Aronofsky with a great soundtrack.

Let The Right One In

A great take on the vampire genre, but not as good as the terrific Near Dark. What I enjoyed about this was the theme of love and how it confronts some sensibilities of childhood innocence (another film that does this, in a different way, is Gilliam’s highly underrated Tideland). The theme of androgyneity was also a nice touch. The cold, white cinematography is a joy to watch. However, the film is, in my opinion, let down by its ending. But it definitely beats the hell out of that other teenage vampire movie!

Mulholland Drive

Another labyrinthine masterpiece by Lynch, one that delves into the state of Hollywood past and present. The performances by Harring and Watts are beautiful to watch and the film contains a darkly comic sensibility. Sexy, dark, confusing, and mysterious.


The apparently non-linear film that is actually linear! A wonderfully constructed piece of neo-noir cinema with fine performances from all involved. It is a film that will leave some questioning until the conclusion and is one that encourages the audience to understand Guy Pearce’s characters condition. Nolan’s direction is precise throughout and the film never fails to engage all that I show it to.

Sweet Sixteen

Why this film has an 18 certificate I will never understand. This film sums up what it means to be a teenager not only in Scotland, but throughout Britain, and should therefore be watched by teenagers! It is a touching story of hurt, love, and loss. Compston delivers a terrific performance as Liam and in typical fashion Loach reveals what it is wrong (and right) with modern day British society.

The Lives of Others

A subtle, brooding, and moving commentary on life under the Stasi. The narrative is excellent (with a convincing twist) and it does provide a real insight into recent German history. The cold performance by Muhe is fantastic and the film creates a true sense of paranoia and its effects. A terrific political drama.

What films would make your top ten of the last decade?

A couple of new websites (and one important event)

I’ve recently come across a couple of valuable website in relation to MIE and Scottish Screen. Ok, the first one isn’t exactly new, but it has recently been revamped to include a wealth of material that can be used by pupils and teachers. The other relates to the Scottish Screen Archives and is one that I have been fortunate enough to have had some input in.

Moving Image Education


This is an incredible site both for those experienced in using moving image in the classroom and for those who are interested in trying it out. The main areas of the site are: Create, Analyse, and Explore. Within each of these areas (respectively) are hints and tips as to how to create films, how to create a critical literacy in relation to films, and ways in which to explore film. I have found it extremely worthwhile and inspiring browsing through the site and can see it having a direct influence on my teaching. There is also a forum and lots of resources available. Please do take some time to check it out.

Scotland On Screen


I believe that this site will be getting its official launch at this year Scottish Learning Festival. The site contains archive footage from around Scotland covering the years between 1895 and 1980 and has been created by a partnership of Scottish Screen, Learning and Teaching Scotland, and Scottish Screen Archive. What can be achieved from the site are:

  • Students can

  • Use archive clips as a starter introduction to a new topic
  • Create your own films or moving image essays
  • Browse all clips on the site, search by subject or subject area
  • Log-in to download clips to make your own creative work with a new soundtrack
  • Watch over 15 hours of Scottish archive film in either streaming or high-quality versions(when logged-in)
  • Explore the questions and activities independently to deepen your learning

    Teachers can

  • Browse all clips on the site or search by subject area
  • Use the suggested questions and activities in lessons or as part of class project
  • Develop cross-curricular or Enterprise projects within your school, or across Scotland
  • Use the GLOW group to share and learn about what other teachers are using Scotland on Screen for
  • Share your ideas about how to develop the site Use an archive clip as an introduction to a new topic or debate
  • Collaborate with other schools via Glow

    Parents can

  • Browse all clips on the site
  • Search the clips by favourite topic
  • Explore your history online
  • Discuss places and memories with your children or grandchildren
  • Learn more about Moving Image Education

There are a couple of aspects that I feel really shine out. One is the potential that this has when used in conjunction with GLOW. I can really see this taking off where schools can collaborate on projects across the curriculum, focusing on specific themes or eras and working to produce work that focuses on the moving image. Another is where pupils can create their own montages of archive footage using MovieMaker. I can envisage pupils from different school working together on projects whereby they share their knowledge and experiences and create new interpretations of Scottish history, whilst also gaining a lot of enjoyment from their discoveries.

Also on the site are some great resources written by various Lead Practitioners in MIE for Scottish Screen (Marion Normand, David Griffith, Athole McLauchlan, and myself).

The Important Event – Scottish Learning Festival

This year’s Scottish Learning Festival taking place at the SECC in Glasgow on September 23 and 24 has a number of seminars that are directly related to MIE. These are:

Virtual Worlds: A Guide to Using Second Life in Education

Using Creative Media to Deliver New Opportunities

Scotland on Screen: Online Film Archives and Curriculum for Excellence

A Media Literacy Network for Scotland

Live Lesson for MFL: Short Film and Moving Image Texts lighting up Language Learning

Also worth attending is the TeachMeet event that takes place in the evening of September 23rd. Head along to the wiki and sign up to what promises to be a lively, informative, and informal event.

Unfortunately, I can’t make it over to Glasgow for SLF, but I hope that everyone who attends has a great time and I look forward to hearing the reports.

Scottish Screen MIE Video

Following on from my previous post which included the vital pdf document published by Scottish Screen, please find embedded a short video from the accompanying DVD. I feel that this video, produced by Strange Boat, is a great introduction to the importance of MIE and can easily be used for CPD purposes and in the classroom.

It includes interviews from a variety of people, including educationists, filmmakers and pupils, as well as examples of their work. It addresses the importance of not only producing films within the classroom environment, but also the need to critically engage with moving image.

Many thanks to David Barras of Strange Boat for uploading this to Vimeo.


This blog has been in the pipeline for some time. I’ve continually hesitated as to what I would want to do with a blog and also what it’s purpose would be, whilst firmly believing that this form of media needs to have a purpose.

In the past few months I have had the fortune to become a Lead Practitioner in Moving Image Education for Scottish Screen and have also been heavily involved in the creation of a filmmaking group at the school I work at. Both of these have allowed me to share my enthusiasm and knowledge of the moving image with others, both in a practical and critical  sense. Therefore it made sense that I should develop a blog that would work alongside these two remits.

Some of the aims of this are to create a platform where resources will be shared; where debates will emerge; where I can share developments of moving image education throughout the UK (especially Scotland); to create an avenue to share films created by the above mentioned group; and to chat about all aspects of film in general.

To get things started I’m attaching the latest document from Scottish Screen regarding Moving Image Education (MIE). Copies are available from Scottish Screen and the hard copy also includes a DVD. Would love to hear your thoughts about this document.

Enjoy and I look forward to blogging, blabbering and sharing.


moving image education_2009