It’s been an interesting year for movies, that’s for sure. 2012 was the biggest year ever recorded for the box office, with the like’s of The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall, and The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2.
Here’s a look at my top 10 movies of the year – keep in mind, I’ll only include films I’ve seen.
10) Beasts of the Southern Wild
It’s very rare that a first time director and first time actors come together to create something magical, but Benh Zeitlin has done it with his debut film Beasts of the Southern Wild. Starring Quvenzhané Wallis as a little girl taking care of her sick father in the bayou’s of Louisiana. Having to care for her father while bracing for a hurricane all the while having the imagination necessary for a five year old, is no small feat. It’s a heartfelt story filled with adventure, well worth your time.
9) Killer Joe
Matthew McConaughey rarely gets the due he’s deserved because, quite frankly, he often picks shitty movies to be a part of. But 2012 was McConaughey’s year. From Magic Mike to Bernie to Killer Mike, McConaughey killed every role he was in this year. His role as the renegade Texas cop hired to kill a woman for her insurance money is perhaps his best role in years and completely strips off everything you know about the actor. His psychotic episode that takes place at the end of the film is a must see simply because you’ve never seen Matthew McConaughey act like that.
8) Pitch Perfect
Did you see Pitch Perfect? If not, why? Pitch Perfect might be the funniest film of 2012 that doesn’t have an animated teddy bear in it. Starring Anna Kendrick and Dane Cook’s doppelganger – Skylar Astin – as budding college a capella stars. However it is Rebel Wilson’s “Fat Amy” character that is the true star of the show and may have propelled the actress to stardom. It’s the best ensemble comedy since Bridesmaids and the best teenage comedy since Mean Girls.
Steven Spielberg has been on a role lately, no matter if you saw War Horse and The Adventures of Tin Tin, he’s been hammering out hits. Lincoln is no exception. The film, which stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the country’s 16th president, has made $132M domestically – which is huge for a biography. Tommy Lee Jones is the true star of the film as Thaddeus Stevens, the most powerful Republican in the United States Congress at the time. Lincoln is a fantastic character study, even though Daniel Day-Lewis’ Abraham Lincoln voice gets pretty annoying after a while.
6) The Dark Knight Rises
The conclusion of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy is a massive treat for fans of the character. While it’s not the best film of the trilogy it’s the largest and may include the best ensemble. Tom Hardy’s turn as the terrorist Bane is fantastic (while his voice never gets old) and Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman might be the best we’ve seen. However, it’s the conclusion of the trilogy that really makes the film worth investing in.
When you think of best films of the year you rarely think of James Bond, but it was Skyfall that allowed the character to transcend into “best of” material. The best grossing James Bond film to date wasn’t by accident. Daniel Craig as the stripped down Bond with Javier Bardem giving his best chilling performance since No Country for Old Men allows Skyfall to be one of the best of 2012.
A small budget science-fiction film on the list of best of 2012? Unheard of, right? A lot of people didn’t like Looper simply because the film requires some imagination when it comes to time travel. Not I though. The better storyline here is how would you handle being tasked with killing your future self? Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis star as the same character and director Rian Johnson takes some liberties with CGI to change Gordon-Levitt’s face to look more like Willis’. It’s one of the best films, regardless of genre, of 2012.
When people think of Ben Affleck, they don’t often think about the fact that he may be the best director in Hollywood. Yep, it’s true. He’s only directed three feature films but they’ve been three of the best films of the past several years. Gone Baby, Gone and The Town were both surprise hits but it’s his latest film Argo which set the film world on fire. The story of the rescue and extraction of Americans from revolutionary Iran in the early 80’s is excellently told and acted. The fact that it made tons of money doesn’t hurt either.
2) Rust and Bone
The French film that could! Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts lay it all out in the open in brilliant performances as a crippled former whale trainer and a down-on-his-luck single father trying to make ends meet. We already know how great of an actress Cotillard is but it’s Schoenaerts’ performance that is the real eye opener. The ups and downs he goes through, throughout the film, are emotionally racking.
1) Les Misérables
Tom Hooper’s film adaptation of perhaps the world’s most well known stage play is nothing less than a magnificent feat. From his direction to the score to the film’s gritty performances, everything is magical. You’ll cry no less than five times throughout, no lie. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway give perhaps the best performances of their careers, and that’s saying a lot.