Critic’s Picks: Top Films of 2012

A Tip of the Cinematic Cap

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I know this article is a bit late. But to maintain a fair list, I had to see as many films as I could, so I could be as subjective as I could. Impartiality to be partial.

It’s been a very good year for film. And I say film quite intentionally because that celluloid stuff is going to be gone very soon. I wrote about that last year as well and Hollywood is slowly but surely transitioning from old to new, from reel to reel to digital projection. Local theaters are making fundraising pitches and there’s even been a film about the end of film, this year’s documentary “Side by Side.” But while these changes are quickly moving, the celluloid productions I saw varied both between dimensions- 70mm and 15 mm- and content, and were some of the year’s best.

Without further ado, here is my list of favorites from the past year, a group of films that struck me and left me more inspired by the movies after seeing them. They have stayed with me, making ephemeral impressions but lasting ones as well. This year, my goal is to see more, write more, and in the process learn more. When you write about film, you can potentially write about everything, and that’s both overwhelming and a wonderful thing.

1. Zero Dark Thirty– A courageous and breathtaking work of historical narrative. Kathryn Bigelow proves once again her daring and courageous direction along an equally descriptive performance from Jessica Chastain.

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2. Argo– A wonderful exercise in Hollywood filmmaking. Suspense and thrill tied respectfully into an historic retelling that has re-solidified Ben Affleck‘s career.

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3. Silver Linings Playbook– Another David O. Russell family centric story that soars with its characters and their flawed selves.

JENNIFER LAWRENCE and BRADLEY COOPER star in SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK

4. LincolnDaniel Day Lewis plays the 16th President with grace. Spielberg creates a smoky atmosphere and a reflection on current affairs.

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5. Beasts of Southern Wild– His first feature film, their first jobs acting, Ben Zeitlin, Quvenzhane Wallis, and Dwight Henry,  respectively, make their first time a charm. An epic story from a forgotten land.

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6. Django Unchained– Quentin Tarantino creates another revenge fantasy in bold form, a lethal combination of blaxploitation and spaghetti western that walks a pertinent line in today’s cultural discussion.

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7. Moonrise Kingdom– Wes Anderson continues his line of comically absurd, fantastical visions, this time centered on a young love story in nature’s throes.

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8. Looper– Rian Johnson’s vision of a dystopic future houses a unique and deadly narrative, anchored by brilliant father-son-esque chemistry between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis, and their mutual acquaintance in Emily Blunt.

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9. Amour– The mundane and slow moving life of an aging couple and the love a husband still shares with his wife. This haunting reality is a beautiful piece of art and character study.

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10. Liberal ArtsJosh Radnor‘s second film is one that captured my heart. An authentic reflection on the indecisions we face in life, especially with a liberal arts education. Elizabeth Olsen is a budding star.

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Honorable mentions:

Take This Waltz, Flight, Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Grey, The Dark Knight Rises, The Master, Skyfall, The Sessions, Les Miserables, Safety Not Guaranteed

Sports Films:

Knuckleball!, The Other Dream Team, Goon

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