Sort by: Showing 34 items
Decade: Rating: List Type:
My Top 20 Films of the Year
Safety Not Guaranteed (2012)
Smart, touching, funny, well-performed, and full of off-beat magic. This unlikely little movie came along and stole my heart this year and will be a source of joy as I revisit it many a time in the years to come.
Anna Karenina (2012)
In many ways it's the most vigorously alive "major motion picture" production of the year. Filled with visual splendor and flair, the movie captures timeless tragedy and sheer fun with equal grace, and showcases impressive performances all around.
The Kid with a Bike (2011)
Another small movie, this one from the Dardenne brothers out of Belgium. The story is told with utmost efficiency and clarity and with aching emotional precision. It's a special movie, led by a special performance from its young star.
Seven Psychopaths (2012)
It's brazenly violent, funny, and meta. Sam Rockwell kills in it. Christopher Walken isn't far behind. One might argue that some scenes could've used some tailoring, but I loved getting lost in its gleeful tangled web of absurdity, hyper-violence, and spirited storytelling.
The Master (2012)
It's a big, bold, bully of a film and I very nearly drowned in it while watching. I'll be seeking it out for another wrestling match soon. I was transfixed, fascinated, angered, and moved.
Your Sister's Sister (2012)
A very emotionally gratifying movie experience powered by captivating performances from its leading trio. Three people in a mess never felt this good. This was a pure delight to my sensibilities.
The rarest of rare- a post 2000 high school movie that I fell in love with. I don't remember the book moving me as pointedly and consistently as this film adaptation does. So.. even rarer still. There's an immense amount of young talent on screen, and a confident, intelligent and rather unfussy (but no less special) force behind its direction and telling. Very good stuff.
Holy Motors (2012)
An ambitious and unrelenting cinematic embodiment of "What the fuck?!" Just when I thought I had the movie by its tail, it transforms itself (much as the chameleon-like lead player) into something else. This is a humorous, troubling, mesmerizing, and confounding film that is brimming with life, even as it deals with sensations of grieving resignation.
Ruby Sparks (2012)
As blissfully magical and smartly romantic a film as you're likely to see this year. Ruby Sparks says so much about the nature of life, love, creativity, and the human experience with remarkably observant grace and charisma. It touches on big ideas, without ever making a big deal of itself. Quite a treat.
Damsels in Distress (2012)
Director Whit Stillman constructs a collegiate world just far enough removed from reality to give this movie an agreeably quirky sheen, while staying rooted in "everyday concerns" with enough loyalty as to allow its characters to earn our recognition and goodwill. Nothing and everything is terribly important to Stillman. For the writer/director and his characters, Damsels in Distress is a collection made up of equal parts passing fancies and life-altering realizations. Oh yeah, and dance crazes.
Django Unchained (2012)
It's not the trash-art near-masterpiece that Inglorious Basterds is, but Django Unchained is a blood-soaked "cinema of excess" offering that entertains and challenges in ways that few other films this year did. Brilliant performances from every major player go a long way in off-setting a somewhat uneven final act. It's one that I hope to watch again soon.
The Paperboy (2012)
Silver Linings Playbook (2012)
A splendid example of familiar destinations arrived by unfamiliar routes. David O Russel's Silver Linings Playbook is a much more welcome and fresh piece of cinema than 2010's The Fighter in every way. The movie charges forward with fierce and delightful energy- rarely has psychological dysfunction been given a cinematic treatment at once as honest and as purely engaging as it's done so here. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence deliver compelling performances and De Niro is more in-tune with his character than we've seen him in a long while.
It could've been overly-gooey, overly-cynical, or overly-stupid and lazy. Thankfully I didn't think it to be any of these things. This movie felt good to me the way my favorite hoodie does when I pull it on, or the way a stray sunbeam does after several days of rain. I liked it the way I like how coffee smells, or how a campfire sounds.
A Royal Affair (2012)
A highly impressive Danish period-piece by most all measures, and one of the most cinematic and purely compelling history lessons to come around in a long time. All three of its lead performers are a joy to watch work.
Certainly one of those 10x better-than-its-trailer type of movies. The film moves swiftly, and nimbly maneuvers across a wide expanse of mood and sensation. It's playful and compelling, emotionally rich, but never garish. Kind of like a good Hitchcock film, come to think of it.
Devilishly funny and unique in its construction. Jack Black creates a character that steadily becomes remarkably whole and human. Bernie is often very good, but never reaches greatness. Matthew McConaughey never settles properly into his character and this is one of the largest aspects holding the movie back. Still, an impressive and unusual offering from Richard Linklater.
You'll like it, your dad will like it, most everybody will like it. But I'm not sure how many will truly love it. Argo is no doubt solid, solid, solid movie-making. But it lacks any kind of distinctive personality. It's a smartly crafted (and casted) crowd-pleaser and its dramatic and suspenseful happenings go down effortlessly. So, great job all in all. But I don't know why I'd watch it twice.
Destined to forever be under-seen, this was one of the most agreeable surprises of the year. Hysteria is a fun and engaging movie filled with class, humor, and heart. Every performance is strong. It deserves to be seen.
Cloud Atlas (2012)
Another polarizing movie, but once again I quite enjoyed it on its terms. This is a big, unwieldy, joyous romp in movie-making. I really don't think it's the think-piece that many claim it to be, want it to be, or criticize it for being. It's mostly just a call for human goodness and an enthusiastic project in world/character building.
Cutting Room Floor
A collection of honorable mentions.
Unlikely to see anytime soon
Movies that have received a good deal of attention/critical acclaim, but which I just can't get stirred up to watch.
All things considered, I count 2012 as a stronger year at the movies than 2011. At nearly anytime over the course of the year it seemed there was always a number of promising projects clamoring for our attention. And it felt like just about every week at least one of these titles actually deserved it and packed plenty in the way of merit. Oh sure, the year wasn't without its letdowns. Many walked away disappointed from Prometheus (though I didn't). And the Dark Knight Rises felt as much like a long tired final sigh as a stunning conclusion to Nolan's Batman trilogy. Then you have Pixar's annual offering which once again fell on the underwhelming side. And finally we're faced with the idea that Tim Burton may never direct another great- or even Very Good- film again.
Still, there was plenty to be excited about at the cinema this year. If I have a single personal complaint, it's that both of my local theaters that specialize in art titles were sorely lacking when it came to booking foreign language films this year. In fact, one of the two foreign films that made my list doesn't even technically count as a 2012 release. But it took all the way until May to show up in my neighborhood, so fuck it. Plus, I really loved it and didn't have the heart to send it packing, so there.
Anyways... Happy New Year everyone! Here's to another year of movies in the books and may 2013 bring us many new cinematic joys!
People who voted for this also voted for
Movies the giraffe watched in 2014: July
My 2012 movie year in review
Movies the giraffe watched: August 2012
Dear Cinema Diary - Vol 3 E4 - April 2012
Movies the giraffe watched: February 2012
Movies the giraffe watched in 2014: November
WATCHED IN 2013
Seen in 2013
Cinema Diary - Vol 4 E4 - May & June 2013
Watched in 2011
30 Day 30 Movie List of Peril
Movies Viewed In 2012
Films I discovered through Listal
Movie Journal - April 2012
50 Best Movies of 2012
More lists from Xanadon't
Feb. 2013 Movie Journal - Xanadon't
February Movie Journal - Xanadon't
Jan. 2013 Movie Journal - Xanadon't
November Movie Journal - Xanadon't
July 2013 Movie Journal - Xanadon't
May 2013 Movie Journal - Xanadon't
Monthly Movie Journal: September 2011