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The Best Indie Movies of 2012 So Far, According to Criticwire

By Steve Greene and Eric Kohn | Indiewire June 28, 2012 at 12:26PM

With nearly six months of 2012 already gone, Criticwire takes a look back at the films with the highest averages of the year. Some are new favorites and some are holdovers from 2011 festivals, but there a number of 2012 movies that might become more well-known in the months (and years) to come.
(clockwise from top left) "Sleepless Night," "Sleepwalk with Me," "High Tech, Low Life," "Graceland," "Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story"
(clockwise from top left) "Sleepless Night," "Sleepwalk with Me," "High Tech, Low Life," "Graceland," "Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story"

With the year in film halfway over, over 200 critics listed in Indiewire's Criticwire network have submitted thousands of grades for movies that have played at film festivals in addition to opening in theaters and VOD.

Halfway through 2012, Criticwire’s lists of the top films of the year feature an interesting blend of films that have largely been discovered at festivals such as Sundance, Cannes, Toronto and Tribeca.

Overall, documentaries performed especially strong, with a trio of Tribeca offerings topping the list. Of the films that qualified for these lists, three of the five films to average a 10.0 or higher on our Criticwire grading scale were documentaries. As June winds down, Raymond De Felitta's "Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story" holds the mid-2012 mantle, occupying a spot that went last year to Steve James' "The Interrupters."

Different festivals wound up providing fodder for each of the individual lists based on their various specialties. Sundance helped launch many of the top English Language films, while Cannes gave rise to nearly half of those in the Foreign Language category. Seven of the top ten theatrical premieres were films that debuted at 2011 festivals, suggesting that some of the top films on this list may have significant staying power if their distribution plans extend into 2013.

As with any ongoing grading system, these ratings are intended to serve as a temporary glimpse at some of the buzzworthy films to screen this year, rather than a final, definitive statement on any film's worth. For each list, we've indicated the number of grades that each film has received in order to distinguish between the juggernaughts that seemingly everyone has discussed and those that only a select few critics have seen.

We broke down the highest graded films into five main categories: Theatrical Premieres, Festival Premieres, Documentary, English Language, and Foreign Language. In order to qualify, the film must have premiered at a 2012 festival or received a theatrical release over the past six months. Additionally, to pare down the sheer volume of potential entries, we limited the field to movies for which at least five different Criticwire members had submitted grades.

Continue to the next page for the lists.

This article is related to: Sleepless Night, This is Not a Film (In Film Nist), The Turin Horse, The Island President, Under African Skies, The Raid: Redemption, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, I Wish, The Kid With a Bike, 5 Broken Cameras, Booker's Place: A Mississippi Story, High Tech, Low Life, Journey to Planet X, The Invisible War, Tchoupitoulas, Side by Side, West of Memphis, Graceland, Holy Motors , Amour, No, Yossi, Sleepwalk With Me, Sightseers, Compliance, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Sound of My Voice, The Sessions, Moonrise Kingdom, The Cabin in The Woods, Liberal Arts, Somebody Up There Likes Me

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