The 15 Best Movies of 2012

by siliconvalyguy | created - 21 Nov 2012 | updated - 21 Nov 2012 | Public

Genre aside, these were the movies that lived up their hype and/or actually found a way to make a mark without all the Hollywood PR.

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1. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

PG-13 | 164 min | Action, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
78 Metascore

Eight years after the Joker's reign of anarchy, Batman, with the help of the enigmatic Catwoman, is forced from his exile to save Gotham City, now on the edge of total annihilation, from the brutal guerrilla terrorist Bane.

Director: Christopher Nolan | Stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman

Votes: 1,276,682 | Gross: $448.14M

The best movie of the year was unfortunately and sadly marred by an idiot with a gun taking out his inadequacies on innocent movie patrons who'd waited for months to see this end to an incredible trilogy. Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Anne Hathaway all shined in this crowning achievement. Of course, the inference at the end, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character, was might not be over.

2. The Avengers (2012)

PG-13 | 143 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
69 Metascore

Earth's mightiest heroes must come together and learn to fight as a team if they are going to stop the mischievous Loki and his alien army from enslaving humanity.

Director: Joss Whedon | Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner

Votes: 1,080,775 | Gross: $623.36M

Loads of fun and chock-full of great CGI action scenes. Definitely one of those suspend your disbelief, sit back, and enjoy.

3. The Raid: Redemption (2011)

R | 101 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
73 Metascore

A S.W.A.T. team becomes trapped in a tenement run by a ruthless mobster and his army of killers and thugs.

Director: Gareth Evans | Stars: Iko Uwais, Ananda George, Ray Sahetapy, Donny Alamsyah

Votes: 163,263 | Gross: $4.11M

Some of the most realistic and incredibly choreographed stunts and fight scenes seen on film. Definitely one to add to the "Man Cave BluRay Collection".

4. Skyfall (2012)

PG-13 | 143 min | Action, Adventure, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
81 Metascore

Bond's loyalty to M is tested when her past comes back to haunt her. When MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

Director: Sam Mendes | Stars: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Naomie Harris, Judi Dench

Votes: 562,931 | Gross: $304.36M

A rollicking change to the normal James Bond movie. This time around, Bond was more a weapon of vengeance and M's protector, then he was a superspy. Overall, the movie had a solid message in that no matter how high tech our intelligence communities get, they still must rely on the foot soldier to get the job done.

5. The Hunger Games (2012)

PG-13 | 142 min | Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
68 Metascore

Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister's place in the Hunger Games: a televised competition in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to fight to the death.

Director: Gary Ross | Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci

Votes: 757,582 | Gross: $408.01M

Although the first 1/3 is fairly boring, once Katniss Everdeen (the incredibly gorgeous and athletic Jennifer Lawrence) hits the woods with bow and arrow, the movie is action-packed, suspenseful, and offers some unintentional commentary on how messed up a world run by a Socialist elite can truly become.

6. The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

PG-13 | 136 min | Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

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66 Metascore

After Peter Parker is bitten by a genetically altered spider, he gains newfound, spider-like powers and ventures out to solve the mystery of his parent's mysterious death.

Director: Marc Webb | Stars: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Irrfan Khan

Votes: 491,673 | Gross: $262.03M

I was among the many who were skeptical about a retelling of a tale we'd just seen explored by Sam Raimi less than a decade before, but this version had a few things going for it that the original series didn't and/or lost sight of with the 3rd outing. One, Andrew Garfield had a much wider emotional range than Tobey Maguire and was able to bring the audience in to his world a lot better. Two, the hero and villain had a much closer relationship than either was comfortable with. And finally, it was just a lot more interesting and exciting overall.

7. The Cabin in the Woods (2012)

R | 95 min | Comedy, Fantasy, Horror

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72 Metascore

5 friends go for a break at a remote cabin, where they get more than they bargained for, discovering the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

Director: Drew Goddard | Stars: Kristen Connolly, Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Fran Kranz

Votes: 310,149 | Gross: $42.07M

Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon's collaboration takes the horror genre to it's penultimate level by insinuating that the genre itself is being used to scare unwitting teens into situations that are controlled by an agency that seems to serve a much darker purpose than we're allowed to see, until the very end. The mix of thrills and chills with lots of FX and just about every nightmarish creature known to man thrown in at the end made this one of the most fun, yet gross, films of the year.

8. Prometheus (I) (2012)

R | 124 min | Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi

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65 Metascore

Following clues to the origin of mankind, a team finds a structure on a distant moon, but they soon realize they are not alone.

Director: Ridley Scott | Stars: Noomi Rapace, Logan Marshall-Green, Michael Fassbender, Charlize Theron

Votes: 510,595 | Gross: $126.48M

It's one of those that we appreciate more with every viewing. Definitely one of the first BluRays I added to my collection, because I wanted to digest the storyline in a much more paced and comfortable viewing experience. Noomi Rapace does a pretty good job as Dr. Shaw, a woman who is trying to rectify her religious faith with her absolute belief in an alien civilization being responsible for all life on Earth, and her journey to a planet in a galaxy far from Earth, that just may reveal whether she's been right, or horribly wrong.

9. Argo (2012)

R | 120 min | Biography, Drama, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
86 Metascore

Acting under the cover of a Hollywood producer scouting a location for a science fiction film, a CIA agent launches a dangerous operation to rescue six Americans in Tehran during the U.S. hostage crisis in Iran in 1979.

Director: Ben Affleck | Stars: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, John Goodman, Alan Arkin

Votes: 500,172 | Gross: $136.03M

One of the biggest surprises, in this telling of the true story about a CIA operative who uses a Hollywood sci-fi film as a ruse to rescue Americans from 1980 Iran, wasn't that it was a good movie. The surprise was that it was a GREAT film. Ben Affleck has become both a great low-key actor as well as a great director. He just may be the Clint Eastwood of his generation.

10. Looper (2012)

R | 113 min | Action, Crime, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
84 Metascore

In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent into the past, where a hired gun awaits - someone like Joe - who one day learns the mob wants to 'close the loop' by sending back Joe's future self for assassination.

Director: Rian Johnson | Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Paul Dano

Votes: 469,465 | Gross: $66.49M

Visually stunning special effects highlight this interesting take on the time travel paradigm. The usual "knowing about the future can affect the past" is tweaked a bit and this film makes great use of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's range as an actor and Bruce Willis' physicality by casting them as the same man, who confronts his future self to stop him from murdering an innocent young boy.

11. The Grey (2011)

R | 117 min | Action, Adventure, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
64 Metascore

After their plane crashes in Alaska, six oil workers are led by a skilled huntsman to survival, but a pack of merciless wolves haunts their every step.

Director: Joe Carnahan | Stars: Liam Neeson, Dermot Mulroney, Frank Grillo, Dallas Roberts

Votes: 217,305 | Gross: $51.58M

Some rejected Liam Neeson's tale of a man with a checkered past leading a plane crash's survivors through some harrowing times as they face a deadly pack of wolves that is tracking them as they seek help, but I found it unique and well-done to the point that you actually care for the characters as they try and survive against the odds.

12. End of Watch (2012)

R | 109 min | Action, Crime, Drama

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
68 Metascore

Shot documentary-style, this film follows the daily grind of two young police officers in LA who are partners and friends, and what happens when they meet criminal forces greater than themselves.

Director: David Ayer | Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Michael Peña, Anna Kendrick, America Ferrera

Votes: 199,854 | Gross: $41.00M

This one caught me by surprise and I found myself completely buying into this movie. Jake Gyllenhall's and Michael Pena's LAPD partners filming themselves as they seem to be hurtling toward a confrontation with a Mexican drug cartel's assassins are great and realistic. At the end, you find yourself cringing with suspense as they do the right things, but seem incapable of avoiding what is being thrown in their path.

13. Taken 2 (2012)

PG-13 | 92 min | Action, Crime, Thriller

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.3/10 X  
45 Metascore

In Istanbul, retired CIA operative Bryan Mills and his wife are taken hostage by the father of a kidnapper Mills killed while rescuing his daughter.

Director: Olivier Megaton | Stars: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace, Leland Orser

Votes: 258,308 | Gross: $139.85M

Liam Neeson had two fairly good movies this year. While he seemed a lot more vulnerable in "The Grey", he's back to being the indestructible dad on a mission in this sequel to 2010's "Taken". This time around, he's fighting to save his ex-wife from the father of one of the men he killed while saving his daughter.

14. The Bourne Legacy (2012)

PG-13 | 135 min | Action, Adventure, Mystery

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
61 Metascore

An expansion of the universe from Robert Ludlum's novels, centered on a new hero whose stakes have been triggered by the events of the previous three films.

Director: Tony Gilroy | Stars: Jeremy Renner, Rachel Weisz, Edward Norton, Scott Glenn

Votes: 253,590 | Gross: $113.20M

Jeremy Renner (Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) takes over from Matt Damon, and seems to be an even more indestructible superspy. This time around, Renner's character finds out that he has been chosen for extermination and that there are forces, within his own agency, that are trying to eliminate both he and a doctor who once helped him (Rachel Weiss). He fights against both his former employers and the other super assassins they created.

15. 21 Jump Street (2012)

R | 109 min | Action, Comedy, Crime

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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
69 Metascore

A pair of underachieving cops are sent back to a local high school to blend in and bring down a synthetic drug ring.

Directors: Phil Lord, Christopher Miller | Stars: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Brie Larson

Votes: 448,534 | Gross: $138.45M

Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum were pretty funny as police partners who can't seem to do their job right, but get chosen to go undercover because they look young. It's a film version of the 1980s TV show that made Johnny Depp a star. Speaking of which, look out for Depp in a cameo role.