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Added by lotr23 on 7 Jan 2013 06:47
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Favorite films of 2012

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The Top 10

2012 was probably a better year for films than 2010 and 2011 combined. Last year I had a hard time figuring out which movies would make the list. This year I had no doubt about which 10 movies would make it, but I found it very difficult to figure out the order in which I'd place them. How do you compare your feelings towards something like The Perks of Being a Wallflower versus your feelings towards something like The Snowtown Murders? It's unfair to compare them. Two completely different experiences. Selecting my #1 movie was painful, because there are at least two films that I feel I'm "betraying" in making that selection.

So, what I'd say is don't take the order too seriously. These were my favorite films of the year, and I don't see the point in making a fuss over whether #7 should've really been #6, etc. More importantly, as I say every year, remember that a top 10 list is a completely personal project. No list out there reflects what the actual best films of the year were (not my list, not Time magazine's list, not even the Academy Award nominations). There's no such thing as the "right" or "wrong" list. A top 10 list is more a reflection of who you are as a moviegoer, and nothing more than that. And this is my list. I hope you enjoy it, and maybe you can even use it to discover movies you haven't heard of yet. Oh, and as usual, the list is in "reverse" order (from #10 to #1), as a cheap attempt to create suspense. :)


People who added this item 2560 Average listal rating (1735 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 8.4


If we went back in time to January 2012 and you asked me to predict what my #1 film of the year would be, Django Unchained would've been an easy choice. After the historically inaccurate riot of a masterpiece that was Inglourious Basterds, it was only normal to have insanely high expectations here. As it turns out, even diehard Tarantino fans have recognized that this isn't his best work, and yes, the historical deconstruction isn't nearly as witty and sophisticated as it was in Basterds. But so what? The mayhem is still awesome, and this film packs oodles of entertainment (definitely a hell of a lot more fucking entertainment than a certain other 2012 slavery-era Oscar hopeful), and I still can't imagine a better way to have spent my Christmas afternoon.
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People who added this item 200 Average listal rating (113 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.7


Your Sister's Sister is solid evidence in favor of the argument that the important thing is not what a movie is about but how it's about what it's about. This plot could've been handled in a number of different ways. A cash-motivated mainstream filmmaker could've turned it into a gross-out sex comedy. A pretentious indie director working on a shoestring budget could've turned it into one of those insufferable gab-fests in which nothing happens. Lynn Shelton hits gold by striking a perfect balance and not falling victim to either of those things, despite all the pitfalls. It helps a lot that, as she did with Humpday, she draws incredibly natural performances from the three leads, to the point that we constantly feel like we're listening in on three real people, yet it never turns monotonous. I admit this is definitely what I'd call "my type" of movie, but I actually feel pretty confident that almost anyone will enjoy this.
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People who added this item 1475 Average listal rating (989 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.2


The best comedy of 2012 came very early in the year. "The best comedy of 2012?", you ask. Yes, and it's simple math: I laughed more times with this movie than with anything else that came out in the rest of the year. And much harder. Like Pineapple Express four years ago, this is dumb comedy written by smart people, and executed brilliantly by actors who are aware that timing is the key thing in order for humor to work. I've now seen it 4 times, I think, and I still bust a gut as I sit here thinking back to several scenes, particularly the 5 stages of HFS. :) Now, in addition to its absolute success in the hilarity department, 21 Jump Street does something it didn't need to do and it's what elevates it even more into near-greatness. It offers commentary on how the high school social landscape has shifted in the Facebook/Twitter era, and wonders aloud whether kids really have become more tolerant of one another or if minds are just more warped nowadays than they were eight years ago. Everyone's allowed to have a "WTF" choice on their top 10 list (that's how you know it's your list) and I couldn't be happier to say this is mine, because I love it.
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People who added this item 1725 Average listal rating (1128 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.4
Looper (2012)


What?! A sci-fi/action film with both a functioning brain and a pulsating heart? In 2012? I was surprised, too. Looper came out a few weeks after the summer blockbuster hooplah was over, but it had me wishing that this were the type of movie that dominates the multiplexes during June-August. It's got the fun, thrills and suspense that any reasonably good summer movie contains, but in addition to that, it offers a solid dose of emotional stimulation and moral complexity. Maybe you consider that second ingredient to be unnecessary. But it's my opinion that, in movies like this, when the things at stake are things that actually matter, the experience can be far more engrossing, nerve-wracking and ultimately cathartic. And that was the Looper experience for me.
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People who added this item 280 Average listal rating (149 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 6.6


I've seen two of the films that Sarah Polley has directed, and what strikes me is that she makes these character dramas, which obviously have no big special effects or supernatural elements to them, yet she makes them feel magical. That's how I felt about Away from Her and it's how I felt this year about Take this Waltz, even on second viewing. Admittedly, the movie's central message is simplistic and Polley hammers it too strongly in one or two scenes, but there's something about the graceful way in which this film unfolds that really connected with me. We get a side-by-side comparison of the quaintness of the domestic life of two people who've been together for a while versus the blood-rush of the early stages of infatuation, and I thought the result was beautiful. That scene that you see depicted in the picture above has got to win the award for most unexpectedly frank sexual dialogue of any film this year. Yes, I'm sure that, of all the movies in my top 10, this is the one I'd be least likely to recommend to people out there. Doesn't make its placement here any less deserved, though.
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People who added this item 180 Average listal rating (102 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.6
Snowtown (2011)


Oh God. Not this. I don't want to have to think about this again. Okay, that makes it sound like Snowtown belongs on my "worst films of the year" list, which is certainly not the case. It's just not the kind of thing that's easy to revisit. This is the most disturbing, unbearably hard-to-stomach film of the year. I don't like it when violence and gore are employed in movies exclusively to attain cheap, sick thrills- there's nothing challenging about that, aside from maybe the visual ick. But I think it's great when violence and gore are used to portray the darkest levels into which the human soul can descend- when that's done well, it can be horrifying, challenging cinema, as is the case with Snowtown. That said, it's the only film on this list that I can't ever watch again. The reason why it's so high on the list is because I totally have to admit that the only reason why I didn't give it higher than an 8/10 is because of how unpleasant it is- but that's obviously the aim of the film, and not a flaw. This film is an endurance test, but I mean that in the most positive sense.
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People who added this item 564 Average listal rating (362 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.2
Ruby Sparks (2012)


I saw Ruby Sparks for the third time last night. I hate admitting these things, but it occurs to me that it's possible that I overrated this movie. The thing about Ruby Sparks is that its final 25 minutes are a magnificent, overwhelming emotional rollercoaster, from a climactic scene that's frankly and unexpectedly terrifying (and, in my opinion, the most powerful of any individual movie scene this year) to a conclusion that I find to be deeply satisfying and bittersweet. It's during those last moments that the film humbly asks you to "take the leap" and believe in the story it has told you, and if by that point, you've fallen in love with it like I did, it'll be hard not to say yes. Of course, upon saying yes to that, one may easily forget that, prior to those last 25 minutes, the film does have its share of simple-minded and silly moments. And this time I was quite miffed by the very forced performance given by the actress playing that girl with whom Calvin goes on a date in the first act. Notwithstanding all that, I don't feel moved to lower my rating. Movies are experiences that are had in the specific moment that we have them, and those experiences are based on what we know and feel at that time. Ruby Sparks says things that I really needed to hear at the moment in which I was blessed to get a chance to see it. This film is pure magic.
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People who added this item 918 Average listal rating (591 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.4


It's no secret that award ceremonies like to reward films that are "timely" or that deal with "important" or "relevant" social/political situations. And that's fine. I like those movies, too. But that doesn't mean they're exempt from their obligation to create some movie magic. I detest it when a film sits back and expects to be liked or respected simply because it's about something important. Of the so-called "important" films that are bringing in the Oscar buzz this year, I find Lincoln to be one of the most monotonous pieces of Oscar bait I've seen in years, coasting exclusively on historical significance to receive praise. The film is an overlong history lecture that only has mild moments of dramatic heft. It limits itself to being an informative piece and forgets about the fact that it's a film. Faring much better is Argo, which is technically a history lesson too, but it's also a hell of a suspenseful thriller. Now, I've no problem when a film like this limits itself to being entertainment and chooses not to dig deep into the sociopolitical issues- it just means that the film falls short of greatness, because it chose not to exploit the entirety of its artistic potential. And that's precisely why Argo is only an honorable mention on this list. Then we have Zero Dark Thirty. It's a history lesson. It's (super) thrilling and entertaining. And it has the balls to be thought-provoking and to ask difficult questions. That's how you get a great film. Anchored by Jessica Chastain's quietly fierce performance, this is a grade-A thriller, and yes, a very important and relevant one at that.
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When I emerged from the theater in which I watched the miracle that is Perks, I was on one of the highest of emotional highs that I've ever gotten from a theatrical experience. I was exhilarated. No feelings are left untouched here: when Perks wants to be uplifting and draw smiles from you, it absolutely sweeps you off your feet with its endless charm, and when it wants to be devastating and draw tears from you, it crushes you like a ton of bricks. I won't compare this to other "high school movies" because I think that'd be an insult to this movie- it's in a category of its own. Just when you think Perks might be close to ending, a whole other layer is added to the plot that makes things immensely more heart-breaking and disturbing. One of the most impressive things about that is that, as a PG-13 film, it handles some super touchy issues very gracefully, yet without feeling like things are getting airbrushed or sanitized. The DVD already has a spot saved in my section of movies to watch after a stressful day or when I need something that's guaranteed to make me happy. We all have movies that do that for us, and as I said before, these lists are very personal. For my sensibilities, this is the best American film of the year.
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People who added this item 319 Average listal rating (167 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.4


No 2012 film exceeded the richness of storytelling and thematic profundity accomplished by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne in The Kid with a Bike. And when I say "no 2012 film" I kind of mean it literally, because the film was released in several places in 2011, was inexplicably not nominated for best foreign language film last year, and was finally released in 2012 over on this side of the world. Rarely has the use of a handheld camera yielded something that manages to be so visually appealing yet still feels naturalistic. The Kid with a Bike is every bit as masterful as Perks in terms of effortlessly gliding between being uplifting and being devastating without it ever feeling jarring or dishonest. But the additional thing that The Kid with a Bike has going for it is an ending that absolutely rattled and blindsided me. It's one of those cases in which I think I know exactly which direction a movie is going to take in order to reach the destination it's going to reach, and then, boom- it reaches that destination but via an immensely more interesting and satisfying road. Many films end by leaving you with the comfort that the main character has moved on. But rarely does a film do that through something as nerve-wracking, emotionally heavy and morally complex as the last few minutes of The Kid with a Bike. When the credits roll and you find yourself hoping that everything's going to be okay for these two characters, you know you've encountered something truly special.
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Comments

Posted: 4 years, 8 months ago at Jan 10 9:57
Ah, the wait is over! This was truly a pleasure to read. Wonderful job, and love how the list is just as personal to you as are your responses to the films that it contains.

Fantastic job!!
Posted: 4 years, 5 months ago at Apr 20 10:02
Great to see that you also loved The Perks of Being a Wallflower! It's the most wonderful movie I've ever seen in that type of genre, but I agree with you. I don't want to compare it with high school movies. Touching story with fantastic performances from Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller. The ending was so beautiful! The soundtrack was also great.

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