Entertainment journalists and critics tend to monopolize the Top Ten lists each year, but just as enlightening are the reactions of those who work in the indie-film industry. Many of these opinions we hear on the fly, but it's really something to see so many collected in one place.
The tastes of these executives, producers, publicists, distributors, programmers and filmmakers can be incredibly useful in terms of figuring out what they like and why, and thus which types of films they are most likely to back with financial capital, promotional efforts, script development, filmmaker support and trips to the cinema as regular moviegoers.
Once again, Indiewire's editors invited as many colleagues and sources as wanted to participate to share with our readers what moved and engaged them in 2012. Of course, no two answers are the same, and the below compendium is a treasure trove of quality and quirk as the industry has chosen to champion them. (For an extra buzz, note that there are Academy members among them.)
Read on, and please feel free to weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments section beneath.
MICHAEL BARKER, co-president, Sony Pictures Classics
Although a good year for movies, 2012 has been rough, having lost Lillian H. Barker (ma Barker), Jake Eberts, Nora Ephron, Bingham Ray, Richard Robbins, Andrew Sarris, Lois Smith, Dani Vannier and Gore Vidal. If I had not known these people you would not be asking me to make a ten best list.
My 10 Best at this moment (as usual, Sony Pictures Classics movies are exempt):
To ye who scoff: You are the folks who damned "Barry Lyndon" and "The Shining" when first released, then decades later praised them to the skies. I'll be calling you in 10 years.
2-"Zero Dark Thirty"
A seminal post 9/11 movie.
Joins "Jaws" and "Empire of the Sun" as Spielberg's best.
4-"The Dark Knight Rises"
A profound film about masks, how we all use them, how we hide who we really are, and how the good guys and the bad guys are never who we think they are. One of two movies this year where Anne Hathaway steals the show.
5-"Mad Men," "Prophet"
This Matt Weiner-directed episode evokes the best of Truffaut.
"Breaking Bad," "Dead Freight"
This episode is as lean and mean as any 30's Warner Brothers gangster classic.
6-"In the Family"
The most emotionally intelligent movie of the year.
How about an A for ambition?
8-Bill Clinton Speech at the Democratic National Convention
Riveting. A rare, simple, eloquent, charismatic, powerful political performance.
9-"Silver Linings Playbook"
Nothing like a bit of Preston Sturges for the new millennium.
Bond is back!
Having read every Reacher novel, I was skeptical. Author Lee Child is right, Tom Cruise is just fine. A genre film Blake Edwards, Don Siegel or Peter Yates might have made 45 years ago.
TOM BERNARD, co-president, Sony Pictures Classics
“Searching for Sugar Man”
“Zero Dark Thirty”
“The Queen of Versailles”
“Like Someone in Love”
NBC LA Kings vs. NJ Devils Game 7
CHARLOTTE COOK, director of programming, Hot Docs
1. "Only the Young" and "Tchoupitoulas"
"Only the Young" shows teenage friendship in a way that I’ve never seen before. With a mind-blowingly brilliant soundtrack, Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims have created a stunning, tender film and are talents I can’t wait to see develop. "Tchoupitoulas" is so beautifully crafted that it allows you to relive the excitement of young adventure and at its essence captures what I love most about filmmaking, the depiction of experience and feeling. It’s a film we’ll be watching for decades to come.
3. "Shut Up and Play the Hits"
"Shut Up and Play the Hits" comes as close to the live music experience as you can possibly get without being there. It's so exceptionally well made that it created one of my favourite festival moments of the year. When the film began at Hot Docs the sound and atmosphere was so enthralling that we found ourselves dancing in the hallway outside and had to sneak back in the theatre to see it. It's a film that perfectly demonstrates why the big screen still matters.
"Ai WeWei: Never Sorry" truly reaffirms the importance of freedom of speech and the power of art. Ai WeiWei himself is such a fantastic character that he takes you through some of the most horrible circumstances any artist, or human being, can find themselves in, but with humour and integrity. First time filmmaker Alison Klayman has done an excellent job with this entertaining, and powerful, portrait.
5. "Room 237"
"Room 237" is the ultimate depiction of geeky behaviour that I couldn't help but fall in love with it. I absolutely adored Rodney Ascher's previous short "The S from Hell" and "Room 237" is the perfect progression of that style. A must see for any nerdy film fan.
6. "Stories We Tell"
"Stories We Tell" completely blew me away. There are so many depths and layers to this film that leave your head in a spin afterwards thinking about your own views on love, decisions in life and the relationships you have. It’s also a fantastic look at the value of truth, which is a great thing to explore within a documentary.
7. "Law in These Parts"
"Law in These Parts" is a film that takes us into the legal minds who worked in the Occupied Territories in the Gaza Strip. A fascinating examination of the power of hindsight, guilt and legacy. I can see this film creating debate and discussion for many years to come.
8. "Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present"
Matthew Akers creates a portrait of performance artist Marina Abramović in such a way that will win over even the most cynical viewers. A captivating insight into an artist's physical and mental process, and one that brings you into a world and completely changes your view of it.
9. "The Final Member"
Every now and then a film comes along with a scene that burns itself into your memory forever. For those of us that saw "Sex Magic, Manifesting Maya" we can’t forget the "Welcome Home" scene, and in "The Final Member" Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math introduce us to Elmo, a character we may wish to forget, but never will.
10. "Beauty is Embarrassing"
"Beauty is Embarrassing" is such a joyful film. Director Neil Berkeley takes us into the life and mind of Wayne White, an artist whose joie de vivre is infectious and makes you feel better about the world. "Beauty is Embarrassing," and Wayne himself, are a celebration of creativity.
Honourable Mentions: "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "A Hijacking," "Holy Motors," "Magic Mike," "The Imposter," "Searching for Sugar Man," "Meanwhile in Mamelodi," "Beware of Mr. Baker."
1. "Jiro Dreams of Sushi"
2. "Django Unchained"
3. "Silver Linings Playbook"
4. "Magic Mike"
6. "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
7. "How to Survive a Plague"
9. "Room 237"
10. "Cabin in the Woods"