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December 27, 2012 4:26 PM
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Indiewire's Editors and Bloggers Pick Their Top 10 Films of 2012

Sophia Savage
Contributor, Thompson on Hollywood and Indiewire


Choosing a top ten was hard enough, so I am listing my films alphabetically. Some of these are imperfect and leave a lot of responsibility with the audience; they also assert a kind of creative audacity that is increasingly hard to find. With each of the films listed below, the director's voice is clear and uncompromising, the craft is impeccable and there is (in most cases) little regard for commercial obligation. They take risks, ask questions, cause arguments and present stories that truly made me feel something.

BEST FILMS (Listed alphabetically)

"Amour" - Michael Haneke
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" - Benh Zeitlin
"The Master" - Paul Thomas Anderson
"No" - Pablo Larrain
"Oslo, August 31st" - Joachim Trier
"Rust and Bone" - Jacques Audiard
"Silver Linings Playbook" - David O. Russell
"Sister" - Ursula Meier
"Wuthering Heights" - Andrea Arnold
"Zero Dark Thirty" - Kathryn Bigelow

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

"The Hunt" - Thomas Vinterberg
"The Loneliest Planet" - Julia Loktev
"Our Children" - Joachim Lafosse
"Polisse" - Maïwenn
"The Snowtown Murders" - Justin Kurzel

BEST FILM I MISSED IN 2011:

"L'Apollonide" ("House of Pleasures"), Bertrand Bonello

BEST SURPRISE(S):

"The Hunger Games," "Magic Mike"
 

Matt Singer
Editor, Criticwire Blog

In spite of doomsday proclamations from the Mayans and David Denby, it was hard to be cynical about the state of cinema this year. You could gripe in the abstract about formats or frame rates or film culture, but the movies themselves were so goddamn good. Comparing one year of films to another is an utterly arbitrary pursuit; that said, from that utterly arbitrary perspective, 2012 was an amazing year at the movies. Maybe one of the best of my lifetime.

I've certainly never had such a hard time putting together a top ten list. Throughout the year, I keep a running tally of all the films I consider 'best-of' contenders. In 2012, that shortlist ran an overwhelming fifty titles. Winnowing down to just ten final favorites was agonizing work, and a lot of great movies got excluded. At times, I nearly resorted to coin flips to decide what was in or out, and what went where. If Bruce Willis traveled back in time and got into a fight with his past self, and their conflict butterfly effected all ten films on my best-of list out of existence, I could still draft a totally respectable top ten out of my runners-up. It was that kind of year.

Finally, I decided on these ten movies. If you disagree, I don't blame you. There were so many incredible films this year, I kind of disagree with myself. How did I not find room for the haunting "Oslo, August 31st?" Where the hell is the endlessly charming "Jeff, Who Lives at Home?" Why couldn't I squeeze in the wildly ambitious "Cloud Atlas?" Shouldn't "Not Fade Away" be in there somewhere?

It should. They all should. If the Mayans and David Denby had been proved right, at least we would have gone out on a cinematic high note. It would be tough for anything to top this year at the movies, particularly these ten outstanding films.
 

Anthony Kaufman
Editor, ReelPolitik Blog

As an election year, 2012 was particularly rife with political filmmaking. Capitalizing on the highly energized, contentious race for the White House — and a body politic particularly attuned to issues of economic inequality and foreign instability — Hollywood definitely got into the act: Even "The Dark Knight Rises" presented muddled perspectives on the super-rich and the less fortunate, hero-izing and condemning both elite and revolutionaries, alike. I don't think the film is one of the best political movies of the year — can anyone clearly identify its political stance, after all? — nor will I take this space to herald "Argo" — which I've written about elsewhere, and find to be deeply problematic in its depiction of Iran's Islamic Revolution — or "Zero Dark Thirty," which, likewise, confirms my suspicions about any movie that has CIA agents or American men with guns vanquishing an enemy.

Here, instead, is an alphabetical list of the top political movies of the year that don't need any excuses.

"Magic Mike"
Peter Knegt
Senior Editor, Indiewire
"Magic Mike"
Peter Knegt
Senior Editor, Indiewire
"Magic Mike"
Peter Knegt
Senior Editor, Indiewire
"Magic Mike"
Peter Knegt
Senior Editor, Indiewire
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10 Comments

  • pook | December 28, 2012 11:40 PMReply

    Cloud Atlas; a jaw-dropping, spiritual experience, wildly creative, and with a spectacular cast.
    The Intouchables; inspiring, funny, and my introduction to Omar Sy, who I will make a point of seeing again
    Beasts of the Southern Wild; a remarkable film carried by a fiercem six year old girl.
    The Secret World of Arrietty; carrying on the tradition of the great Miyazaki. A work of art.
    The Master; with a screenplay and direction which defies convention, and a brilliant turn from Joaquin Phoenix.
    Bernie; the use of the townspeople and an incredible Jack Black, the film is a gem.
    Django; Another Tarantino masterpiece, unapologetic, and audacious.
    Skyfall; a proven director, genius cinematography and sound editor, a respected cast, and a kick-ass, sexy Bond.
    Moonrise Kingdom; whimsical, embracing, a terrific surprise with a perfect cast
    Looper; an intelligent genre film which ties up the time paradox better than any film I've seen tackle this. Bruce Willis has had a great year.

  • Vanessa Erazo | December 28, 2012 2:48 PMReply

    My Top 10 (via Remezcla.com): 10 Latino Films You Probably Didn’t See in 2012 But Should

    NO
    Mosquita y Mari
    Joven y Alocada (Young & Wild)
    7 Cajas (7 Boxes)
    Love, Concord
    Juan de los Muertos (Juan of the Dead)
    Reportero
    El Medico: The Cubaton Story
    Lemon
    Searching for Sugar Man

    http://www.remezcla.com/2012/latin/10-latino-films-you-probably-didn%E2%80%99t-see-in-2012-and-should/

  • Vanessa Erazo | December 28, 2012 2:53 PM

    And here is my survey of film programmers' top picks of the year. "LatinoBuzz Asks Programmers: What's Your Top 5 Latino Films of 2012?" (via Sydney's Buzz) http://blogs.indiewire.com/sydneylevine/latinobuzz-asks-programmers-whats-your-top-5-latino-films-of-2012

  • bob hawk | December 28, 2012 5:17 AMReply

    My ten are not about "the best" -- and they're in alpha order because I consider them incomparable. The only thing they have in common is that they all had a visceral impact. They provoked and haunted and stayed with me. A few I consider masterworks, others are somewhat flawed but balls to the wall. The honorable mentions that follow them are films I admired and enjoyed, and some are vastly superior in craft to the very subjective picks that follow:

    Amour
    Beasts of the Southern Wild
    Consuming Spirits (best animation)
    Holy Motors
    The House I Live In (best documentary)
    How to Survive a Plague
    Keep the Lights On
    The Loneliest Planet
    Moonrise Kingdom
    Zero Dark Thirty

    Honorable mentions: Argo, Chasing Ice, The Dark Knight Rises, The Invisible War, Lincoln, Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, My Sister's Sister, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Searching for Sugar Man, Silver Linings Playbook.

    Most overrated films (each with their virtues, but...): Compliance, The Master.

    (I have not yet seen Barbara, Django Unchained and Tabu, among others.)

  • bob hawk | December 28, 2012 2:45 PM

    In my post above I keyboarded my top ten in a vertical stack, thus flattening it all out into an unpunctuated stream. Here's a more reader-friendly version, with a tweak that concerns a film I associated with 2011. Top ten: AMOUR, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD, CONSUMING SPIRITS (best animation), HOLY MOTORS, THE HOUSE I LIVE IN (best documentary), KEEP THE LIGHTS ON, THE LONELIEST PLANET, MOONRISE KINGDOM, OSLO AUGUST 31st, ZERO DARK THIRTY. Honorable mentions: Argo, Chasing Ice, The Dark Knight Rises, How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War, Lincoln, Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present, My Sister's Sister, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Searching for Sugar Man. Most overrated films (each with their virtues, but...): Compliance, The Master. (I have not yet seen Barbara, Django Unchained, Tabu and West of Memphis, among others.)

  • randy | December 28, 2012 4:21 AMReply

    where is oslo august 31st?

  • justin | December 28, 2012 4:26 AM

    thank you randy. "oslo" was one of my favorite movies of the year.
    other than that i do love some of the more oddball inclusions.

    i have to ask though, am i the only one who found the directing in "lincoln" to be heavy handed and the screenplay to be too quaint and feel-good?

  • Michael | December 27, 2012 10:07 PMReply

    Jay Fernandez, I'm glad someone finally noticed People Like Us. It's conventional on the surface, but very well done and contains some great moments of realism rarely seen in studio films.

  • Harris Gurny | December 27, 2012 6:07 PMReply

    I still plan to see Django Unchained, Tabu and Les Miz

    1-BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
    2-THE MASTER
    3-HOLY MOTORS
    4-LINCOLN
    5-ZERO DARK THIRTY
    6-AMOUR
    7-THE KID WITH A BIKE
    8-MOONRISE KINGDOM
    9-SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
    10-ARGO
    Check out my film blog, where an updated list will be posted with explanations soon: http://thecinemaniacs15.wordpress.com/

  • Tyler Belk | December 27, 2012 4:56 PMReply

    2012 was such a good year for film-fans. To name just ten of my favorites seems like a crime when so many good ones would be left out. So here are my top 25 picks:
    25- Cabin In The Woods
    24- Les Miserables
    23- The Avengers
    22- Skyfall
    21- Compliance
    20- Chasing Ice
    19- Argo
    18- Carnage
    17- End of Watch
    16- Seven Psychopaths
    15- Django Unchained
    14- Headhunters
    13- The Master
    12- The Imposter
    11- Looper
    10- The Dark Knight Rises
    9- Hitchcock
    8- Holy Motors
    7- Cloud Atlas
    6- Silver Linings Playbook
    5- Killer Joe
    4- We Need To Talk About Kevin
    3- Prometheus
    2- Beasts of the Southern Wild
    1- Moonrise Kingdom