Another end-of-year list upon us, and just like last year, the two of us once again appear to have disparate taste when it comes to the year in movies. Sixteen different movies populate our two Top 10 lists, though we did both love “Beasts of the Southern Wild”, “Moonrise Kingdom”, “Silver Linings Playbook” and “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” enough to list them. What movies were our favorites of the year? Which were yours?
Without further ado, below are our Top 10 Movies of 2012.
Linda’s Top Ten Movies of 2012
Movies that I also loved but didn’t crack the Top 10: “The Hunger Games”, “The Avengers”, “21 Jump Street”, “Skyfall”, “Bernie”, “The Central Park Five”, “Queen of Versailles”, “A Royal Affair”, “Safety Not Guaranteed” and many, many more.
Yet to see: “Django Unchained”, “Amour”, “The Master”
10. Les Miserables
An obligatory inclusion for my favorite stage musical, which Tom Hooper tried hard to but was not able to completely destroy upon adaptation for the big screen. Hooper is a mediocre director who employed many of the same annoying tics he won an Oscar for “The King’s Speech” for here, but thankfully the source material and the cast were able to elevate the final product above his mundane vision. Anne Hathaway was able to bring full-fledged tragedy to doomed young mother Fantine unlike I’ve seen before, and Eddie Redmayne as idealistic student revolutionary Marius was another surprise standout. An imperfect immortalization of the world’s most beloved musical, but hey, at least it’s better than “The Phantom of the Opera” was, right?
9. Beasts of the Southern Wild
The most dreamlike film of the year is also the grittiest and most raw. Thus lies the beauty in Behn Zeitlin’s Sundance Grand Jury Prize winner, a biblical-esque fable about an orphan who goes on an epic coming of age journey in the face of a apocalyptic storm. It’s also the story of a very real little girl named Hushpuppy, who mostly cares for herself though she is clearly too young to do so, and her troubled father, who clings to his downtrodden home even as a storm and the US government threaten to evict them. The performances from first time actors Quvenzhane Wallis and Dwight Henry are also extraordinary.
“Looper” started off as any testosterone-driven sci-fi action flick does, but it’s when Emily Blunt’s character enters the picture that the film takes a turn and truly becomes something great. Don’t get me wrong, the action is great, the sci-fi smart and as scientifically logical as a time-travel thriller about a killer meeting his future self can be, but Blunt’s desperate mother Sara and her troubled son Cid (phenomenal kid actor Pierce Gagnon) give the movie heart, and is all the better for it not happening in the cliched killer-falls-for-a-pretty-girl way.
7. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” doesn’t really feel like a teenage movie that’s aimed at a teenage audience. Set in the 1990s, it seems like a story that would resonate especially with slightly older people who have already gone through the sometimes thrilling, sometimes horrifying experiences of high school and can now look back upon it, from a distance, with fondness and chagrin in turn. And while it may not reflect exactly or realistically my personal high school experience, or yours, what it does do brilliantly is paint a robust and painfully honest picture of a cast of dynamic and memorable characters, who don’t fit in anywhere but with each other. Its talented young cast, led by the incomparable trio of Logan Lerman, Ezra Miller and Emma Watson, does its best work here.(Full Review)
6. Zero Dark Thirty
This is the movie “Argo” should have been. Hell, this is the movie “The Hurt Locker” should have been. Jessica Chastain is steely and compelling as a truly unique female character who is career-driven in a man’s world yet loses none of her femininity in her obsessive hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Jason Clarke is a revelatory scene-stealer as the fellow CIA operative who falters even as Chastain’s Maya grows more focused. Kathryn Bigelow has weaved together a taut, tense and smart thriller chronicling the most well known yet barely known at all true story of our time.
The biggest and best surprise of the year came from newbie director Josh Trank’s directorial debut, a low budget found footage style sci-fi thriller about three teenagers with superpowers. It could have gone very wrong, or at least very forgettable, but instead it turned out to be one of the most compelling and entertaining movies of the year. It also introduced us to a trio of tremendous rising acting talent in the forms of Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan and Alex Russell.
4. Silver Linings Playbook
Unexpectedly, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper have found their perfect onscreen partner in each other, and their sizzling chemistry makes David O. Russell’s dark comedy about family, love and mental illness pop in a way films rarely do. Paced at an unpredictable and chaotic rhythm, Russell transcends the romantic comedy genre by populating his film with an earnest, tight-knit group of characters who feel real and lived-in. Robert De Niro is better than he’s been in years, while Jacki Weaver and Chris Tucker also give underrated supporting performances. A true ensemble masterwork if there ever was one.
3. Moonrise Kingdom
The quirkiest, most whimsical, most earnest film of the year is also the most unexpectedly romantic. A love story featuring a couple of twelve year olds might not seem like anything grand, but when those twelve year olds are played precocious young actors Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, and they’re acting inside the specific, stylized world of Wes Anderson, the product is Anderson’s most accessible, broadly appealing film to date. Interestingly enough, it’s the newcomers to Anderson’s repertoire – Ed Norton as an eager scout master and Bruce Willis as “that sad, stupid policeman” in particular in addition to the two youngsters – who give the best performances and really round out the film.
2. Life of Pi
It’s a cliche to hear a film is not just a film, it’s an experience, but it’s truly difficult to find more fitting words to describe the best film of Ang Lee’s already impressive repertoire, the beautiful, exciting, emotional and thought-provoking “Life of Pi.” A slow and contemplative meditation on life and faith mixed seamlessly with some of the most intense, most jaw-dropping action sequences you will ever see, “Life of Pi” is a nearly perfect movie that also boasts the most beautiful use of 3D since “Avatar.” (Full Review)
Steven Spielberg’s masterpiece of a historical epic was like crack to a political junkie such as myself, felt even stronger having watched it the night after Barack Obama was re-elected President of the United States. Daniel Day-Lewis disappears into and brings to life one of the greatest politicians in history, and thus gives the best performance of the year (maybe of the past several years). Charges of the film being “talky” are duly noted, but if Abraham Lincoln sat up and wanted to tell you about a dream he had last night or a long-winded anecdote that turns out to be the set-up for an off-color joke about a British bathroom, you’d sit up and pay attention. Well, this movie is just about as close to that as we’ll get.
Tags : beasts of the southern wild, chronicle, exclusive, features, les miserables, life of pi, lincoln, looper, moonrise kingdom, on the road, silver linings playbook, sound of my voice, the artist, the avengers, the dark knight rises, the hunger games, the perks of being a wallflower, top 10 movies, top 10 movies of 2012, zero dark thirty