Echoing what Nick has said previously, 2012 was a great year for movies. From epic blockbusters to small independents, it was almost impossible to pare my list down to only ten (hence this clever cop-out list of 12). Anyway, things like these need little introduction so I’ll spare you the soliloquy and get on with the listing.
In a year of three-hour epic films, Silver Linings Playbook is a refreshing and uplifting break from all that heavy subject matter (slavery, terrorist hunting, and more slavery). The acting is solid all-around and the script is sharp. It wasn’t perfect, but I really liked this film.
It’s not a horror movie, but it was one of the most affecting, disturbing films I saw all year. Made all the more harrowing by the fact that it is a true story, Compliance is a slow-burner that will stick with you long after the credits roll. It might even be a good idea to queue up some Seinfeld re-runs (or Youtube videos of pandas on slides OR this hilarious turtle humping a shoe OR these pictures of cute baby otters) to cheer you up afterward – you’ll need it.
The melodramatics are occasionally too much to handle but the intense moments are so relentless that the whole experience eventually wears you down and bullies you into its emotional submission. This film is a truly exhausting experience and it seemed to leave everyone in my theater shaken. Also, the tsunami sequence is one of the most realistic and impressive effects set pieces I’ve ever seen.
This quirky, violent, and shockingly funny film boasts a great cast (Colin Farrel, Sam Rockwell, Christopher Walken, Woody Harrelson) and was a surprise favorite of mine this year. It was reminiscent of Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (a great movie from 2005 that you may have missed) in the way it crafted an interesting story at the intersection of crime and Hollywood.
Epic in scope and nearly perfect in execution, this film deserves high praise for bringing such an important part of our nation’s history to life. Daniel Day-Lewis continues his run of excellent, transformative performances and absolutely shines as Abraham Lincoln.
With a talented cast (Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt) and the beautiful scenery of the Pacific Northwest at his disposal, director Lynn Shelton crafts one of the most honest and charming cinematic portrayals of human relationships I saw last year.
One of the only films from 2012 that could hold my interest even if you played it on mute, Moonrise Kingdom is a visual treat. If you like Wes Anderson, you’ll like this movie. If you don’t like Wes Anderson, this may be the one that changes your mind. His best film since 2001′s The Royal Tennenbaums.
Extraordinary performances from Christoph Waltz, Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson elevate Django to the next level. This may not be the best entry on Tarantino’s already-impressive directing resume, but it is surely one of his most interesting and enjoyable films since Pulp Fiction.
An exciting, near-perfect, tightly constructed thriller that shows Ben Affleck is an excellent director even when he’s making films set outside the Boston city limits.
Unfortunately for young director Rian Johnson, genre movies like this get no love from the Academy but that doesn’t mean Looper wasn’t one of the best films of the year.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Whoever chose to market Life of Pi as “this year’s Avatar” deserves to be fired and publicly shamed for their ineptitude. Conversely, Ang Lee deserves endless accolades for turning a beautiful (and seemingly unfilmable) story into such a compelling movie. I saw this twice in one week, and I recommend everyone see it in theaters before it becomes the go-to demo movie for every floor display 3-D TV at every electronics store in America.
Hands down, this is one of the most engrossing and intense films I’ve ever seen. Three hours in a theater has never flown by so fast.
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Thanks for reading and until next time, enjoy the movies.