I still have several movies to see (The Impossible, Zero Dark Thirty, Amour) that could possibly end up being on this list, but alas, there has to be a cut-off, and I think December 31st is a pretty hard line. So here is a list of the top 10 movies I saw in theaters in 2012 (in alphabetical order, because who can rank these?). Maybe those others will make my list next time around…
For a film about history, in which the outcome was known to me, it sure kept me on the edge of my seat. I beautiful ensemble thriller, with Hollywood humor, perfect editing, and all under the helm of Affleck, who is growing into quite the director. And its release date so close to the Benghazi incident kept this film in my mind for weeks.
This mashup of “blaxplotation” and speghetti western is delightful yet harsh, poignant and playful, says alot without rubbing it in your face, and reminds us of what makes going to the movies so fun. A perfect example of all the things we love about Quenton Terantino.
Tom Hooper brings us the beloved stage musical with all the intimacy and emotion of cinema. A beautiful story, acted expertly, and the live singing really brings the audience in. Sure Hooper may over use the close ups, but if you want to watch this from a far, go see it on the stage.
This film is like The West Wing set in the 1860’s (and that is a huge compliment). The screenplay is wonderful, and Speilberg’s subtle direction is perfect. Of course the performances, led by an always amazing Daniel Day-Lewis, are what mint this an instint classic. Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, David Strathairn, etc, all bring thier A game for an enlightening lesson in history that gives us hope for our own broken political times.
This is one of the best Sci-Fi movies to come along in a long time. Rain Johnson is a real talent, and his story here shows us what good sci-fi is all about, extraordinary characters in extraordinary scenarios. Joseph Gordon-Levitt continued his strong year (he is in 3 of the films on this list) and Bruce Willis had his best performace since his Academy Award nominated turn in The Sixth Sense.
Love him or hate him, you have to admit Wes Anderson is comitted to his style. This easily passed The Royal Tenenbaums as my favorite of his films. A beautiful coming of age love story with fun adult characters and enough wit and tableau to go around.
The best bond movie I have ever seen. It strikes the correct balance between our post 9/11 gritty hero and the homage to the bond we have forgotten. And the personal stakes and intimate M16 story offer fresh takes on the world we have placed Bond in. Not to mention this is the most well-made 007 outing, with top notch work in cinematography, score, editing, effects, acting, and of course Sam Mendes should be applauded for his direction. It is going to be rough for his successor to top this effort.
The Dark Knight Rises
A film that was judged (fairly or unfairly) by the strength of its predessesor, its still one of the best films of 2012, and one of the best of the genre second only to the film it is measured against. And in it, Christopher Nolan did something that hasn’t been done in the genre, gave us an ending. His last collaboration with cinematography Wally Pfister was just as gorgeous on the eyes as ever. The cast, top notch, the story beautfully epic. This film will grow in appreciation as time goes on.
A movie that surprised me when I saw it, and even now surprises me that it has stayed with me since February. At first glance, a genre film that looks to be quite predictably actually is a deep film about men coming to terms with life and death. The direction and cinematography are amazing, and the ensemble is brilliant, with Liam Neeson turning in a career high performance. It really should be getting the attention of the Academy, but alas, my top 10 list will have to do.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
As a fan of Stephen Chbosky’s novel of the same name, I was intrigued at the prospect of him adapting and directing the story himself. It turned out to be a slam dunk and one of the best literary adaptations I have yet to see. The cast of young, future acting heavy weights (in my humble opinion) nailed it, especially an underrated performance by Logan Lerman. This film will also grow in appreciation over time, and much like The Breakfast Club, will endure in our pop-culture hearts.