This year was an amazing year for film. Whether your particular flavor is for action-packed blockbusters, indie's with heart, or period pieces, there has been a little something for everyone. Taking much careful thought and consideration to heart, here is my list of the Top 11 Films of 2012. I selected these films based on passion, uniqueness, cinematography, creativity, risk-taking, and the overall enjoyment and experience.
Many of the films this year clocked in at almost three hours and I think it's safe to say that almost all of them could have benefited from a little more editing. This did not detract from my overall enjoyment however, I was still enthralled with each piece of work. I also included honorable mentions for films that deserve some recognition but that didn't quite make the cut for my list this year, for one reason or another. Enjoy!
Starting with number 11...
11. Lincoln- One name: Daniel Day-Lewis. His performance alone, like all his performances, was absolutely breathtaking. He embodied Lincoln hauntingly well and the supporting cast including Sally Field were also wonderful. Steven Spielberg had a great vision on how this important time in history would play out on the big-screen. Sure it was a bit slow and the beginning was a little cheesy but overall it was well done, touching and a very fine film.
10. Silver Linings Playbook- David O. Russell's emotional, witty and clever film did a great job at showing a very raw side of human emotion and relationships. It has a similar "Garden State" vibe and message stating that no one is perfect and we all have our own flaws and problems, but there is perhaps someone perfect out there for everyone. It was nice to see Bradley Cooper take a stab at a more complex character. The film was touching and funny and had a lot of memorable scenes. Even the dance competition that I feared could get overly cheesy, was endearing.
9. The Avengers- The most fun I've had with a film the entire year. I smiled and laughed from beginning to end and Joss Whedon has arguably made the best comic-book film of all time. It's a very difficult thing to give big super heroes/stars equal screen time by not diluting each other and Whedon did that masterfully. The cast had great chemistry and Whedon did a fantastic job at bringing some of our favorite comic-book folklore to life, and telling it correctly much to the delight of fanboys and fangirls.
8. Zero Dark Thirty- With "The Hurt Locker" and now "Zero Dark Thirty", Kathryn Bigelow has more than proven she knows how to make a war drama. It takes talent to keep an audience riveted when they already know the outcome of a story and this film was absolutely captivating throughout and didn't over-glorify the outcome. Jessica Chastain's performance as Maya was both powerful and relatable and she brought a lot of depth to the difficult role and showcased the hardships that come along with being in her line of work. The film did not come off as preachy or too political but rather displayed the facts and circumstances in a powerful and effective way, matched by a great pace.
7. Life of Pi- This film was magical, unique and special, and Ang Lee had an incredible vision that he brought to life. The film is about hope, overcoming hardships, the pursuit of a meaning for life and being proud of who you are and where you come from. The message was very inspiring and powerful, laced with a spiritual and enlightened undertone, that isn't seen or felt in many movies today. Truly a cinematic achievement for director Ang Lee.
6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower- This is one of the best coming-of-age tales that I've seen. It's heartbreaking, inspiring and so full of depth. Emma Watson absolutely shines and brings an emotionally charged sense of strength, matched with the perfect balance of vulnerability, to her character. The main protagonist Logan Lerman was great and Ezra Miller is on my young stars to watch list as he was sensational as the complex character of Patrick. He was also incredible opposite Tilda Swinton in the haunting "We Need to Talk About Kevin", which you should definitely check out if you haven't caught it yet. One of my favorite films of last year.
5. Django Unchained- I'm a huge Quentin Tarantino fan and this film was everything I had hoped it would be. It was fun, clever, a great adventure and was told in the unique and quirky style of Tarantino's storytelling. The whole cast of oddball and memorable characters were fantastic and Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson particularly shined to me. While "Pulp Fiction" still remains my favorite Tarantino film, this film has enough quality and uniqueness to unite old Tarantino fans and new fans alike.
4. Argo- Ben Affleck proves yet again that he really has a knack for directing. The style and tone of the film were fantastic and the pace was perfectly timed. Even though we know how the story ends, I was on the edge of my seat waiting to find out the fate of his key characters and that takes real talent. Affleck's acting abilities over the years have also improved and I thoroughly enjoyed his character in "Argo". I've loved all the films that Affleck has directed to date ("The Town, "Gone Baby Gone") and I look forward to the next project he's going to dive into.
3. Moonrise Kingdom- I love Wes Anderson's style and approach and this film was absolutely charming, refreshing and original. The ensemble was a classic list of A-List talent, as seen in the bulk of Anderson's films, and they were perfectly quirky and lovable characters. Newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman starred as the lovestruck kids, and they really helped make this film stand out to me as they were gloriously unselfconscious and made us fall in love with the innocence of their adventure. Arguably one of Anderson's best, this film was really wonderful.
2. Les Miserables- This film was sensational. The music of Les Mis is always so hypnotic to me and director Tom Hooper thankfully stayed true to the original. The sets and cinematography were beautiful. Being a musician myself, I really appreciate how Hooper evoked the raw emotion of his singers/actors by not dubbing the music. It was a bold move and by letting them sing naturally and in one take, I think more passion was felt and the audience was able to connect with the actors more. Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman's performances were both riveting and Oscar-worthy. While many people are being harsh on Russell Crowe, I think he did a fine job with a role that is meant to be stiffer, more cold and distant, and his singing abilities were more than adequate. They should really sell the soundtrack as you come out of the theater. I'm still singing the songs and I saw it several weeks ago.
1. Beasts of the Southern Wild- This little indie film with a ton of heart stole the number one spot for me this year. It was a beautifully told story of magical realism at its finest and it touched on the wake of Hurricane Katrina in an imaginative and relatable fashion. Quvenzhane Wallis' performance as Hushpuppy was riveting and incredible and she helped weave this tale of courage, strength and overcoming all odds, together. We are reminded how sacred a child's imagination is and how they often see the beauty and simplicity of the world around us, that adults often overlook. The film was touching, special and captivating and definitely stays with you.
The Dark Knight Rises: Christopher Nolan's gotham is the best we've ever seen and this was a solid ending to a fantastic trilogy. While I did enjoy the other two films better, this was still a stunning cinematic achievement.
Cabin in the Woods: A unique and fresh horror-spoof, this film was a ton of fun from the mastermind of Joss Whedon and co-writer/director Drew Goddard. I have a soft spot for good horror films and this one was awesome and didn't take itself too seriously.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: I sure do love me some Middle-Earth and thought it was a great film. Peter Jackson is a master of this world and the art of the quest. I did enjoy the "Lord of the Rings Trilogy" more however, so it didn't quite make the cut this round.
Hitchcock: What a great film. Anthony Hopkins absolutely crushed it portraying Alfred Hitchcock and Helen Mirren and Scarlett Johansson were fantastic as well. It was fascinating to learn the backstory of the master of suspense, through a very clever narrative.
What does your list look like? Let us know in the comments section below!
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