From 'A(mour)' to 'Z(ero Dark Thirty)': the best films of 2012

Posted by · 6:56 am · December 17th, 2012

It's been said here and in the podcast a number of times, but I might as well offer it up once more for good measure: 2012 was a pretty good year for movies. I admired a lot. I may not have loved a ton but I certainly really, really liked a lot and my appreciation and respect for a number of the visions tossed out on to screens this year can't be overstated. Bravo to the filmmakers, truly.

I was tinkering with my list all the way down to the wire Thursday night when Anne Thompson and I finally sat down to record the special top 10 edition of Oscar Talk and lock them in eternity. It was shifting and sliding so much that the final list even differed from the one I submitted on my BFCA ballot last weekend. And it likely will continue to do so, as the order of this particular collective feels more fluid than any list I've made of a year's best films in recent memory.

So everyone wins, then, right? A whole lotta good. But there were some films I wanted to mention, outliers, underpinnings and structural evidence of a great year in film. Movies like Ang Lee's “Life of Pi,” for instance. or Stephen Chbosky's “The Perks of Being a Wallflower.” J.A. Bayona's “The Impossible” and Ben Lewin's “The Sessions,” too. These were all unique visions across a wide spectrum and made impacts along the way.

Other efforts like Robert Zemecki's “Flight” or Nicholas Jarecki's “Arbitrage” deserve singling out. Sam Mendes' “Skyfall” as well. These are skillfully crafted movies of a certain type that is notably lacking from the cinema, dramas that compel and intrigue on varying levels.

The films that just missed my list were fireworks displays of creativity. Disney's in-house animated pair of “Frankenweenie” and “Wreck-It Ralph” is an accomplishment. Leos Carax's “Holy Motors” is a wicked triumph. Benh Zeitlin's “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is a hand-crafted wonder and Joe Wright's “Anna Karenina” is a piece of conceptual brilliance.

But they all yielded to “the 10,” and so, here they are. Click through the gallery below to catch up on my thoughts on the year's best films if you didn't manage to hear the podcast on Friday. And if, for whatever reason, you're too lazy and/or don't want to click through the gallery, or you're not a podcast listener and want the beef without the context, well, click through to the next page. Otherwise, enjoy the list.

My top 10 films of the year:

1. “The Grey” (Joe Carnahan)
2. “Moonrise Kingdom” (Wes Anderson)
3. “Looper” (Rian Johnson)
4. “Django Unchained” (Quentin Tarantino)
5. “Amour” (Michael Haneke)
6. “Lincoln” (Steven Spielberg)
7. “Zero Dark Thirty” (Kathryn Bigelow)
8. “Argo” (Ben Affleck)
9. “The Queen of Versailles” (Lauren Greenfield)
10. “The Master” (Paul Thomas Anderson)

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