Best Films of 2012

by zrcrosswait | created - 27 Dec 2012 | updated - 20 Apr 2013 | Public

What a great year for movies! This very list has shifted and moved around so much in the past few weeks, and I am more than satisfied to finally put it all together. From the hunt for Bin Laden, to a biography on Lincoln, to a 3-D masterpiece, this is as good a list as you will see.

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1. The Master (2012)

R | 138 min | Drama

7.1
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
86 Metascore

A Naval veteran arrives home from war unsettled and uncertain of his future - until he is tantalized by The Cause and its charismatic leader.

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson | Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Jesse Plemons

Votes: 119,695 | Gross: $16.38M

Paul Thomas Anderson is one of the best filmmakers around. His unparalleled ambition is what gives him the advantage over other filmmakers; he wants all of his films to stand the test of time, the exact reason that I was highly anticipating this film for months. The film is about Freddie Quell and Lancaster Dodd; two opposite people who create a bond between each other because each wants something from the other. This basic description is as good as it gets. This is a film in which nearly no major events occur (characters dying, epiphanies reached, characters falling in love) yet the movie goes beyond normal films for this exact reason just like PTA's previous film There Will Be Blood. One filmmaker that can be put into the same category of PTA is Michael Haneke who with his film Amour, is gutsy enough to create a film that everyone knows the ending to. Great performances from Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams including the best performance of the year from Joaquin Phoenix, great score by Johnny Greenwood, and overall great presentation in 70mm in one of the best looking movies of the year. I cannot wait until the moment that this great artistic vision comes out on DVD, PTA never disappoints.

2. Amour (2012)

PG-13 | 127 min | Drama, Romance

7.9
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94 Metascore

Georges and Anne are an octogenarian couple. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, also a musician, lives in Britain with her family. One day, Anne has a stroke, and the couple's bond of love is severely tested.

Director: Michael Haneke | Stars: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert, Alexandre Tharaud

Votes: 79,198 | Gross: $6.74M

Only a master filmmaker could make a film like this. Like I stated in the the description of The Master, Haneke and PTA stand above most filmmakers. This is a film about love, like stated in the title. We observe as Georges takes care of his beloved wife Anne up until her dying moments. Haneke does not wish to evoke empathy, he does not wish to make us cry, he does not wish to cause us pain, these are just things that come as a result of becoming deeply involved with the characters lives'. He crafts this movie perhaps more boldly than any film that he has made before, it is apparent that the confidence in his art continues to grow stronger. Shots of Georges and Anne sitting awake in bed just thinking or at one point, showing us paintings of nature that we understand are from the house of this couple. The end is as simple and conclusive as any Haneke film ending, we see a character and expect something to happen then are met with the screen going black and the credits rolling. This way to end a film seems to be the way that Haneke stops himself from continuing his film; he knows that to find the "perfect" ending is something that shouldn't be done if the characters are complex enough. Haneke wants us to believe that the lives' of these characters continue on past the end of our observation of them; we were merely spectators during the most meaningful moments of their existence. I don't know if Amour will win any Oscars besides Best Foreign Film, but that doesn't matter because I realize now that a movie like Amour is destined not to be loved now, but in the upcoming decades to follow.

3. Django Unchained (2012)

R | 165 min | Drama, Western

8.4
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81 Metascore

With the help of a German bounty hunter, a freed slave sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Director: Quentin Tarantino | Stars: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington

Votes: 1,103,342 | Gross: $162.81M

Pure unadulterated film-making. Tarantino is a master at his craft. He makes films that are great from a purely entertaining point of view. His writing; his music choices; his ability to push the actors to give their best performances; and his uncanny way to create situations that are grenades waiting to explode (much like Inglourious Basterds). The movies that he crafts do not ask tough questions, they do not attempt to explain the meaning of life. His films are celebrations of movies in which he both tributes and defines genres in a way that when you leave the theater, you won't know what hit you. He is truly one of a kind.

4. Holy Motors (2012)

Not Rated | 115 min | Drama, Fantasy

7.1
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84 Metascore

From dawn to dusk, a few hours in the shadowy life of a mystic man named Monsieur Oscar.

Director: Leos Carax | Stars: Denis Lavant, Edith Scob, Eva Mendes, Kylie Minogue

Votes: 33,997

Originality is something that is hard to come by. Director Leos Carax has created a film that baffles and surprises up until the closing moments, making this one of the hardest films to take in this year. It is about a man named Mr. Oscar who we learn goes about each of his days living the lives of others. He is a begging woman, an assassin, a disappointed father, and an old man ready to die, just to name a few. Denis Lavant gives a brave and versatile performance as Mr. Oscar helping the audience reach a conclusion about this wonderfully open-ended film. Don't let the fantasy of this film distract and keep you from seeing it, for Holy Motors is one of the years best.

5. Cloud Atlas (2012)

R | 172 min | Action, Drama, Mystery

7.5
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55 Metascore

An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.

Directors: Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, Lilly Wachowski | Stars: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Hugo Weaving

Votes: 310,614 | Gross: $27.11M

This is what going to the movies is all about. Cloud Atlas is a giant interlocking story of life itself. The six stories take place from 1849 to 2346 and are woven together effortlessly by the trio of directors, and the Oscar worthy screenplay makes this whole film, that is so giant and ambitious, seem to come altogether in a perfect way. Some of the best use of voice over and some of the best editing that I have ever seen form the message of the classic underdog. You can make a difference, you can change the world because even if your only worth one drop, an ocean is formed from a multitude of drops.

6. Life of Pi (2012)

PG | 127 min | Adventure, Drama, Fantasy

7.9
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79 Metascore

A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor: a fearsome Bengal tiger.

Director: Ang Lee | Stars: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan, Adil Hussain, Tabu

Votes: 495,533 | Gross: $124.99M

Life of Pi may be the greatest 3-D movie ever. This is a film that uses 3-D like an art form in order to show with visuals, the overall message of the story. Most beautiful film of the year where their are shots of the ocean as Pi floats upon it with the sky above reflecting on to it, seemingly like one membrane where Pi seems to just exist. The point of the film seems to be that Pi learns that God exists, and mainly learns this through the relationship with the tiger Richard Parker who keeps him alert and alive when stranded for 227 days. Whether or not a story seems probable doesn't mean it didn't happen. In fact, we live in a big, hard to believe world where miracles occur in order to help teach us more about our selves.

7. Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

R | 157 min | Drama, Thriller

7.4
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95 Metascore

A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L.s Team 6 in May 2011.

Director: Kathryn Bigelow | Stars: Jessica Chastain, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt, Mark Strong

Votes: 235,978 | Gross: $95.72M

Zero Dark Thirty is a symbol of perseverance. The leading character Maya embodies America in the post-9/11 search for Bin Laden in both the ups and downs of the period. Perfectly executed by Kathryn Bigelow who builds up the film right up to the finishing blow which couldn't have felt more satisfying. Not only does this film grip and penetrate the soul but it studies Maya; a character who dedicates her life to finding the man responsible for over 3000 dead in New York. In a perfect scene, the symbolism of Maya getting into an empty plane at the end of the film and being asked "Where do you want to go?" is beyond words. Great film that deserves to be considered one.

8. Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

R | 122 min | Comedy, Drama, Romance

7.8
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81 Metascore

After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

Director: David O. Russell | Stars: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro, Jacki Weaver

Votes: 587,391 | Gross: $132.09M

A very sporadic film defined by it's crazy characters, and it's even crazier screenplay that bounces around and always keeps us laughing. Silver Linings Playbook is a love story between the characters Pat and Tiffany. Two characters who fall in love instantly yet take the whole movie in order to understand it. Pat does at least. A bipolar man who after beating his wife's lover to a pulp is put into a mental hospital for around a year and gets out looking for his wife. How Tiffany is able to be around Pat so much is that she is how he will get to his wife. A great movie which as well as a love story, is about a family that has struggles and problems that they most deal with in order to find their silver lining.

9. Argo (2012)

R | 120 min | Biography, Drama, Thriller

7.7
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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: 503,073 | Gross: $136.03M

Argo will win best picture at the Oscars this year. This is a fact that took me a while to digest, but I can live with it. With Argo, Ben Affleck makes a movie that celebrates what great storytelling is. He puts the audience into the 1970's where movies were generally known to be at their peak form, and makes us laugh, cry, and tense for the entire running time of the film, an experience well worth the price of the ticket. Chris Terrio's hilarious script helps make this a movie that fires on all cylinders. What a ripoff that Affleck won't get an Oscar for this film, I am sorry that I thought that it wasn't as good as it is.

10. Les Misérables (2012)

PG-13 | 158 min | Drama, History, Musical

7.6
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63 Metascore

In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after breaking parole, agrees to care for a factory worker's daughter. The decision changes their lives forever.

Director: Tom Hooper | Stars: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried

Votes: 268,233 | Gross: $148.81M

Nothing is better than going to see a movie on Christmas day with as much Oscar buzz as Les Miserables. This is a great, great musical! An opera in size and scope that is met by not many other musicals. It's emotional power is apparent through the use of singing live which gives the audience a sense of experiencing an event while it's happening (compared to lip singing which will never come close to this powerful). The overarching message of this film seems to be that kindness and love can help a person get through life better, not easier or quicker, but better than getting through by cutting corners and looking after one's self. Great musical, great movie

11. Lincoln (2012)

PG-13 | 150 min | Biography, Drama, History

7.4
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86 Metascore

As the War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.

Director: Steven Spielberg | Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, David Strathairn, Joseph Gordon-Levitt

Votes: 215,701 | Gross: $182.21M

Steven Spielberg loves history. By this stage of his career, he wants nothing less than to get handed a great script (by Tony Kushner) and turn it into a movie with no one else besides the best actors available to do it. He then wants one of the greatest movie composers ever (John Williams) to score his movie flawlessly. This was a powerful film with one of the best performances of the year by Daniel Day Lewis who seems to just be Abraham Lincoln, in the most dominantly convincing way. The use of pauses when telling stories; the way he reacts to his young son; and the way that he battles his wife in scenes that any naive actor would cry their eyes out in; Day Lewis instead stares his wife down at the edge of tears. The film overall seems to be about the greatness of this president who understood that slavery was a disease, and that nothing this vile should exist in America. Many Oscars will be won by this movie.

12. Flight (I) (2012)

R | 138 min | Drama, Thriller

7.3
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    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
76 Metascore

An airline pilot saves almost all his passengers on his malfunctioning airliner which eventually crashed, but an investigation into the accident reveals something troubling.

Director: Robert Zemeckis | Stars: Denzel Washington, Nadine Velazquez, Don Cheadle, John Goodman

Votes: 285,898 | Gross: $93.77M

13. Skyfall (2012)

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

7.8
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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: 564,755 | Gross: $304.36M

14. Looper (2012)

R | 113 min | Action, Crime, Drama

7.4
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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: 471,887 | Gross: $66.49M

15. The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

PG-13 | 164 min | Action, Thriller

8.4
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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: 1,283,791 | Gross: $448.14M