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BEST MOVIES OF 2012 – Top 10 List

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Well, it’s time to look back on 2012 and remember some of the most enjoyable, best cinematic experiences we had.  I didn’t see every film this year, and unfortunately there were many I wanted to see before making this list and wasn’t able to.

Here are some of those films that may have been top 10 contenders that I wasn’t able to catch:

Amour

Arbitrage

The Imposter

Killer Joe

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Searching for Sugar Man

Your Sister’s Sister

Without further ado, here are my top 10 films of 2012:

 

1. The Master

I know, I know.  I had issues with the film when I first reviewed it.  However, no film has stayed with me and affected me more this year.  Paul Thomas Anderson’s exploration in a Scientology-like cult has grown on me considerably, and is too ambitious, unique, and fascinating to be ignored.  Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman turn in two of the best film performances I’ve ever seen, and it’s filled with many instant-classic scenes.

 

2. Beasts of the Southern Wild

This is one of the biggest, most affecting emotional roller coasters I went on all year.  It has some abstract, fantastical elements but it’s all grounded in realistic emotion, anchored by the brilliant performances by Quvenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry, who formed one of the strongest on-screen bonds of the year.  It’s shot, edited, and scored beautifully, and has an ending that emotionally wrecked me.  It’s amazing what this movie accomplishes in 93 minutes.

 

3. Zero Dark Thirty

This film sports the best screenplay of the year.  Screenwriter Mark Boal takes dense, journalistic information and weaves it into one of the most compelling, involving stories of the year.  It’s not about the characters or emotion.  This film is purely driven by plot, and all the better for it.  Kathryn Bigelow’s cinematography and editing choices make the film more unique, and Jessica Chastain gives one of the most captivating performances I’ve seen in recent memory.

 

4. Silver Linings Playbook

This film features an impressive balance of drama and comedy, grounded in characters dealing with realistic issues.  Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence have never been better and have sizzling chemistry.  Robert De Niro hasn’t had a better performance in the past decade, and Jacki Weaver and Chris Tucker round out a superb, talented supporting cast.

 

5. Skyfall

Simply put, the best blockbuster of 2012.  Sam Mendes was exactly what the Bond franchise needed.  This equally tributes older Bond films while keeping the character relevant for today’s audiences.  The action set pieces are intense and beautifully shot, the story is thoroughly involving, and Javier Bardem plays my favorite movie villain of the year.  The 145 minutes flew by for me.

 

6. Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino is all over this film in the best way possible, bringing his classic dialogue, violence, characters, and music to the foreground.  It’s got a talented cast led by Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz and features some of the most entertaining, hilarious scenes of the year.  This is the funniest film of 2012 for me.

 

7. The Dark Knight Rises

It’s definitely flawed and isn’t up to the level of other Christopher Nolan films, but man does it deliver.  There are numerous jaw-dropping set pieces that are shot beautifully set against a plot that is investing the whole time.  The near-three hour runtime went by incredibly fast, and the film’s climax is the most satisfying one of the year.

 

8. The Cabin in the Woods

Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon’s brilliant script not only admires and tributes the classic horror films but also comments on the dozens of clichés we’ve come to expect from the genre today.   It’s unpredictable, clever, and hilarious, giving us memorable characters.  One of the year’s most entertaining movies.

 

9. Wreck-it Ralph

I always seem to have a family film on my list that appeals to both children and adults.  Wreck-it Ralph is that film this year.  The world building is clever and well thought out, the plot is original and interesting, and the jokes are genuinely funny.  John C. Reilly voices the title character, making him one of the most loveable animated characters in recent memory.  Here’s to hoping we get a worthy sequel.

 

10. Safety Not Guaranteed

A clever script, likeable characters, and a talented cast make Safety Not Guaranteed one of the most underrated gems of 2012.  It’s filled with honest, funny moments and great chemistry between Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass.  It’s original, entertaining, and filled with unexpected twists and turns.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

21 Jump Street

Argo

The Avengers

Bernie

Compliance

End of Watch

The Grey

Headhunters

The Intouchables

Looper

Moonrise Kingdom

The Raid: Redemption

Shut Up and Play the Hits

 

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