CHRISTOPHER HORTON, Associate Director, #ArtistServices, Sundance Institute
Six memorable movies/TV shows that come to mind (I decided not to flesh this out to 10, as I'm still waiting to see many late-entry awards contenders):
1. ROOM 237 – Although this won't be released (by IFC) until next year, this was the best film I saw in 2012. This wildly entertaining doc manages to prove both the indispensability and absurdity of criticism, and the madness and genius of Kubrick.
3. BREAKING BAD, "Dead Freight" - No Hollywood thriller I've seen this year came come close to matching the tension wrought in this excellent episode. And the tonal brilliance of the ending — a tragedy immediately following the successful train heist — shifted the balance of the show's moral world and our role as viewers in it.
4. MAD MEN, "Far Away Places" - Everyone will remember Sterling's acid trip (with due credit to John Slattery's magnificent performance), but the yearning for escape from places we don't belong is something that dominates all of the characters in this episode, one of the best in the history of the series.
5. MAGIC MIKE - You try directing that movie.
6. MOONRISE KINGDOM – Form and function in perfect sync. We may now unabashedly praise Wes Anderson for being Wes Anderson.
EVAN HUSNEY, producer, Drafthouse Films
"Compliance" – Craig Zobel
"Django Unchained" – Quentin Tarantino
"Holy Motors" – Leos Carax
"Kill List" – Ben Wheatley
"Killer Joe" – William Friedkin
"Klown" – Mikkel Nørgaard
"Last Days Here" – Don Argott & Demian Fenton
"The Master" – Paul Thomas Anderson
"Michael" – Markus Schleinzer
"The Three Stooges" – Robert Farrelly & Peter Farrelly
“Crazy and Thief”
“Everybody in our Family”
“Only the Young”
DAVID LAUB, Oscilloscope Laboratories
2. "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
3. "Zero Dark Thirty"
4. "The Master"
5. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower"
6. "The Cabin in the Woods"
7. "Silver Linings Playbook"
10. "Django Unchained"
Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order): "Arbitrage," "Argo," "Barbara," "End of Watch," "The Gatekeepers," "The Grey," "The Impossible," "The Kid with the Bike," "Killer Joe," "Moonrise Kingdom," "Promised Land," "This is 40"
MICHAEL LERMAN, artistic director, Philadelphia Film Festival
2. "Declaration of War"
3. "The Master"
5. "Holy Motors"
6. "Django Unchained"
8. "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
9. "Anna Karenina"
10. "Ruby Sparks"
Best Undistributed Film — "Everybody in Our Family" (really my favorite film of the year)
I also really liked: "Elena," "The Grey," "The Impossible," "The Loneliest Planet," "Lincoln," "Magic Mike," "Miss Bala," "Moonrise Kingdom," "Polisse," "Skyfall," "Your Sister's Sister"
DAVID C. MAGDAEL, President/CEO, David Magdael & Associates, Inc.
1. HOMELAND – I didn’t get into this until it starting winning awards and I went back and ordered season 1 on iTunes. Oh my goodness – what an amazing show and that first season was just so intense, and now I understand why it won all the awards. And with season 2 – just left me wanting more.
2. MAD MEN – this show always leaves you wanting more, and this season starting with Don Draper’s new wife singing the sexy ZouBisouBisou all the way to Joan making a deal with the devil to get ahead just keeps this show so compelling. Another iTunes subscription!!!!
3. THE GOOD WIFE – this show I can’t get enough of either – every character just blows me away and the twists and turns makes this show so unique and gives me new appreciation for network shows.
4. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES – why am I so thrilled by this film? I don’t really know – but this to me was just great filmmaking and acting and all of that all in one film. It was so dark but so good – I think I am a huge fan of the director. This was my fave film of the year next to SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK.
5. THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE – one of the best documentaries that I have worked on in my career. This was a life-changing moment to meet the subjects and work with Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahaon on one of the most important documentaries of our time. Meeting and working with Yusef, Kevin, Raymond and Korey was the highlight of my life this year.
6. BIG BOYS GONE BANANAS*! – having this film that I participated in premiere at Sundance was surreal and took me personally back to a time when I had to decide what to do – and watching this film underscored that we made the right decision to support a filmmaker who was being attacked by the big conglomerate. Shame on you Dole Foods!
7. Death of Whitney Houston and her funeral – for some reason her death really affected me – much in the same way the death of Michael Jackson did. I loved her music and her voice and her funeral was amazing. A talent that was taken too soon. Other deaths that knocked me and made me realize that life is precious included DON CORNELIUS, DICK CLARK and DONNA SUMMER – each had a special place in my growing older at different points in my life.
8. 5 BROKEN CAMERAS – working on this amazing documentary at Sundance, where we introduced it to U.S. audiences, blew me away. Working with both filmmakers from Israel and Palestine was proof that we can live and work together even with whatever our differences are. And when they won at Sundance 2012 – there was a moment when both Guy Davidi and Emad Burnat held their hands together in the air. It was amazing and so moving!
9. AVA DUVERNAY winning SUNDANCE 2012 BEST DIRECTOR for MIDDLE OF NOWHERE – history-making for a black female director to finally win this award, and deservedly so. Her film was beautiful and so different and unique than anything else that was out there in 2012 and had a quiet power that smacked you in the face. From the story to the acting to the cinematography to the score/soundtrack. Proud to have worked on this amazing film with such a gifted director and now friend.
10. CALL ME KUCHU – working on this film during the U.S. festivals blew me away. Working with Long Jones and the Bishop and the two filimmakers MALIKA and KATHERINE was also life-changing. Wow. Can’t wait for this to come out in 2013 for others to experience. The 10-minute standing ovation at the Castro Theatre at Frameline is historic and moving!
11. Outside of the films I have already mentioned above – these others also moved me and stayed with me – THE PAPERBOY (many “no they didn’t” moments – wow); SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (rich – through and through); MAGIC MIKE (much needed comic relief and eye candy in a crazy year); THE INVISIBLE WAR (nuff sed); COMIC CON EPISODE IV: A FAN’S HOPE (because it captures COMIC CON like no other film has or can); IN THE FAMILY (one of the most overlooked films of 2012); and ASAD (one of the most amazing short live action films one will ever see).