Best Films of 2012

Mar 4, 2013 by

 (Same as last year, Ian Brett gives us his top movies, documentaries and awards for 2012.   Hope you enjoy! – Alan)

30. The Woman in Black

29. The Grey

28. V/H/S

27. End of Watch

26. The Raid: Redemption / Dredd (TIE)

25. Lawless

24. Ted

23. Sinister

22. Wreck-It Ralph

21. Arbitrage

20. Seven Psychopaths (Dir. Martin McDonagh)

Though not for everyone, this film is one of Christopher Walken’s best performances in the past 20 years.

19. Headhunters (Dir. Morten Tylum)

Highly recommended and very bloody, but top-notch thriller from Norway.

18. Get the Gringo (Dir. Adrian Grunberg)

If Sam Peckinpah and Mel Gibson had made a movie together it would be this. Get the Gringo does the best of capturing what we really loved about Mel Gibson’s acting before his run-ins with the law and his anti-Semitic tirades.

17. Frankenweenie (Dir. Tim Burton)

This was one of Tim Burton’s best reviewed films in years. My nine month old son loves it.

16. The Dark Knight Rises (IMAX) (Dir. Christopher Nolan)

Tom Hardy as Bane was just all kinds of bad. Not better than Dark Knight but the second best of the trilogy.

15. Looper (Dir. Rian Johnson)

One of the best sci-fi films in years! Joseph Gordon-Levitt does one hell of a Bruce Willis impression.

14. The Avengers (IMAX 3D) (Dir. Joss Whedon)

Joss Whedon takes the foundation that built upon prior and brings together the greatest team of superheroes in film history. If any character appeared to stand out more than the others, it was The Hulk. “Puny God”!

13. Flight (Dir. Robert Zemeckis)

This is Denzel’s best performance in years. Not your typical Robert Zemeckis film. Kelly Reilly and John Goodman were incredible. Everyone needs a drug dealer like John Goodman.

12. Prometheus (IMAX 3D) (Dir. Ridley Scott)

A kick-ass, sort-of prequel to the Alien franchise. You can tell Ridley Scott had a blast making this film. It’s the best IMAX 3D I have ever seen.

11. The Hobbit (IMAX 3D) (Dir. Peter Jackson)

I don’t know what everyone’s beef with The Hobbit was. It was so much fun to revisit The Shire. The film looked amazing in IMAX 3D.

10. Skyfall (Dir. Sam Mendes)

Skyfall is the Bond film everyone has been waiting to see. From its amazing opening scene in Istanbul to its climatic ending in the Scottish highlands (very reminiscent of Peckinpah’s Straw Dogs) it never lets go. This isn’t only my favorite Bond film, but my favorite action film to come out this year. With Sam Mendes at the helm, it is propelled by a veritable narrative purpose. Mendes values story and character over everything. He respects the soul of the franchise but also breaks new ground with this installment. Visually, Roger Deakins’ cinematography is aesthetically magnificent and serves the story well.

Javier Bardem should have been nominated for supporting actor. He steals every scene he’s in. His character is funny, frightening, unpredictable and most surprisingly, tragic. He’s a classic Bond Villain. Daniel Craig may very well go down as the BEST James Bond ever.

9. Zero Dark Thirty (Dir. Kathryn Bigelow)

This is an action-packed and grim docudrama from the very talented Kathryn Bigelow. Zero Dark Thirty is a thoroughly researched, well-executed account of the United States’ biggest manhunt for Bin Laden. It also happens to work as an outstanding Hollywood thriller. Jessica Chastain is brilliant (as usual) playing Maya, a CIA operative in charge of the mission. Her character’s determination and hard work is exhausting. Chastain is the next Meryl Streep. On September 11th 2001 many felt like we were suddenly in a movie. ZDT is that film and now we know how it ends. The voice-over in the beginning will give you chills.

8. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Dir. Benh Zeitln)

“They gonna know, once there was a hushpuppy and she live with her daddy in the bathtub”. As a filmmaker this is definitely a film I am jealous I didn’t direct.  First-time filmmaker, Benh Zeitlin introduces us to a southern, whimsical world of an untouched society still trying to hold on to the past. If you’re not drooling for a plate of crawdads or crabs after watching this then you obviously don’t have a taste for seafood.

Zeitlin’s choice to shoot this on 16MM is great; it’s a nice gritty change from the more polished HD digital look most indies are using today. Ben Richardson’s cinematography is the best of the year. He paints a picture of the south with his lens like no one has in a very long time. The acting is at times rough but very believable. Quvenzhane Wallis gives a very real and convincing performance. It’s hard for child actors to carry the weight of the whole film, but she does it without flinching. This is groundbreaking storytelling at its best. If Beasts doesn’t touch your soul than I’m afraid you need to check your pulse to see if you’re still alive.

7. Argo (Dir. Ben Affleck)

Argo is a great homage to seventies thrillers like Three Days of the Condor, Marathon Man and All the Presidents Men. Ben Affleck summoned his inner Sydney Pollack and knocked this one out of the park. It’s totally absurd he wasn’t even nominated for best director. Affleck is definitely one of the best directors working right now. Alan Arkin and John Goodman give very strong performances alongside an amazing supporting cast. Argo is simply fantastic and feels so authentic. The grainy film almost looks like we’re watching actual footage from Iran in 1979.  This is an interesting Hollywood tale the town didn’t even know existed. I can’t wait to see what Affleck has in store for us next.

6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Dir. Stephen Chbosky)

Perks isn’t a high school story about the nerd saving the day, trying to lose his virginity or throw that huge house party while his parents are away. It’s a simple story about a boy wanting to leave a cruel high school and find a place where he is truly accepted. The young cast is the true heart of the film. The soundtrack brings any nineties child back to that great era of music. If John Hughes and Bret Easton Ellis had ever collaborated they would have come up with this moody and dark, but up-lifting film. We can be heroes, just for one day!

5. Moonrise Kingdom (Dir. Wes Anderson)

Simplicity and innocence are the undertones for this Wes Anderson opus. This is just as good as or maybe even better than The Royal Tenenbaums. His style is so familiar, his fans would be able to pick out his sixth film if his name were omitted from the credits. I love the whimsical plot, an omniscient narrator and character named Social Services. The runaway escapades, ensuing search parties by the adults, and the developing relationship between the two young leads are best left for the audience to watch and discover rather than read about in a review. I want to step into a Wes Anderson world and never leave.

4. The Master (Dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)

The Master is Paul Thomas Anderson’s gorgeous and complex film about the history of Scientology. Hard to watch at times, Phoenix gives an unflinching, brave performance of a weak, alcoholic tempted by charlatans preying on his loneliness and disdain for the world. Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays a different type of confidence man, a snake oils-man for the new age. Hoffman should win an Oscar for his delivery and dialect alone.

Johnny Greenwood from Radiohead composes an eerie and melancholic score. The two also worked together on There Will Be Blood.  You can’t help but think of Bob Dylan’s “You Gotta Serve Someone” while watching this film. One of my favorite lines at the end is “If you learn to serve a master, any master, please let us know”. PTA decided to shoot The Master in lustrous 65 millimeter (Kubrick shot 2001 on 65 as well) and it comes alive on screen. Paul Thomas Anderson is the real MASTER. He is one of our greatest directors working today.

3. Django Unchained (Dir. Quentin Tarantino)

EPIC TARANTINO! Everything just worked in this film. It was funny; action packed and had a heart. Tarantino has found his muse in a short little Austrian named Christoph Waltz. This is his second collaboration with QT and his second Oscar as well. Another great performance comes from Leonardo DiCaprio as a bat-shit crazy slave owner. You’ve never seen Leo in a role like this. The end monologue in the parlor was one of the greatest acting moments in his stellar career. The KKK bag scene will have everyone in stitches. Don Johnson was a pleasure to watch and Samuel Jackson stole the film with his Uncle Tom character, Stephen. If you loved Inglorious Basterds then you’ll love this one… Unless you’re Spike Lee. I can promise Do The Right Thing is more racist than Django Unchained.

2. Silver Linings Playbook (Dir. David O. Russell)

David O. Russell directs an incredible, funny and touching film that doesn’t cheat the audience of realism and emotional connections. This was very close to tying with Robot & Frank as my favorite film of the year.  This is a very different rom-com and refreshes the genre. The powerhouse acting is what made this film. De’Niro is at his very best in this. I even heard he cried when he read the script. Jennifer Lawrence deserves all the Oscar attention she’s garnering for this role. I believe that Bradley Cooper’s role in SLP will legitimize him as a “respected” actor. The real scene-stealer was Chris Tucker… YES that Chris Tucker. This film should be praised for its portrayal of manic depressive characters and how realistic their everyday struggles are. Another fantastic directing job from David O. Russell. I believe that I love this film even more than The Fighter.


1. Robot & Frank (Dir. Jake Schreier)

One of the greatest buddy films in years. I couldn’t believe Robot & Frank has been left off of so many “best of” lists. Frank Langella deserved an Oscar for his touching and at times depressing performance of Frank, the ex cat burglar. Peter Sarsgaard’s voice-over for Robot is so soothing and at times reminds you of a caring HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The story is so well crafted; the direction so underplayed, it becomes an instant cinematic classic. This is a film every age should experience. The plot is gently complex and does start a great narrative for how people, especially the elderly could be taken care of in the near future.


Honorable Mention and Other Favorites

The Savages, The Innkeepers, The Amazing Spider-man, Killer Joe, Compliance, Safety Not Guaranteed, Chronicle, Killing Them Softly, Bernie, The Watch, The Campaign, Thin Ice, Red Lights, 21 Jump Street, The Hunger Games, Project X, This Is 40, Hitchcock, The Five-Year Engagement, Safe House, Silent House, Snow White and the Huntsman, Rock of Ages, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, Premium Rush, Not Fade Away, Chasing Mavericks


2012 Awards

Best Motion Picture – Robot & Frank

Best Actor – (TIE) Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook  AND Frank Langella for Robot & Frank

Best Actress – Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty

Best Supporting Actor – for Phillip Seymour Hoffman for The Master

Best Supporting Actress – Kelly Reilly for Flight

Best Director – Ben Affleck for Argo

Best Screenplay – Joss Wheedon and Drew Goddard for The Cabin in the Woods

Best Original Score – Francis and the Lights for Robot and Frank

Best Cinematography – Ben Richardson for Beasts of the Southern Wild

Liam’s (my nine month old son) favorite film of the year – Frankenweenie


Top 5 Documentaries of 2012

5. Searching for Sugarman (Dir. Malik Bendjelloul)

4. The Impostor (Dir. Bart Layton)

3. The Queen of Versailles (Dir. Lauren Greenfield)

2. Marley (Dir. Kevin Macdonald)

1. West of Memphis (Dir. Amy Berg)


The Bottom Films

The Raven, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Battleship, Dark Shadows, John Carter, Jeff Who Lives in his Mother’s Basement, Total Recall, Taken 2, WORST FILM OF 2012- God Bless America

I hope you enjoyed this list. I didn’t get a chance to see two critically acclaimed films this year, Lincoln and Life of Pi. I’m sure they would have made the top twenty.

Here’s to another great year in Cinema!

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