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Criticwire’s Updated Year-End Cheat Sheet

Criticwire's Updated Year-End Cheat Sheet

It’s the last week of November. For film critics and cinephiles, this is the crunchiest of crunch times. We’ve got weeks, or only days in some cases, to catch up with what we’ve missed and finalize our ballots before top tens are due. To help facilitate your lists and target and find the films you still need to see, we created Criticwire’s Year-End Cheat Sheet which features dozens of 2012’s most highly acclaimed films, along with where to buy, rent, stream, or see them in theaters.

When we first published our Cheat Sheet a few weeks ago, every title was vetted by our Criticwire Network; only films that had earned an average of a “B+” or higher made the cut. For this expansion, we created a new section of the Cheat Sheet  — “High Praise, Lower Grade” — where that rule does not apply. The titles there might have a lower Criticwire average, but they’ve also all got either the benefit of a few extremely positive reviews, nominations from the Gotham or Spirit Awards, a spot on some of the early top ten lists of the year (like, for example, Cahiers du Cinema‘s), or the support of readers who emailed or tweeted their suggestions.

In addition to updated release information, this version of the Cheat Sheet also includes more than twenty new critical favorites from 2012 — which you can identify by the asterisk at the end of their entries (if you checked the original Cheat Sheet and just want to see the updates, search in your web browser for “*”). Twenty more movies to watch? Like you didn’t have enough to do already. Happy viewing and good luck on your list. I don’t know how anyone’s going to whittle these down to just ten films.

Criticwire’s 2012 Year-End Cheat Sheet

Now Playing in Theaters
Amour,” directed by Michael Haneke (Theaters — starting 12/19)*

Argo,” directed by Ben Affleck (Theaters)
Beware of Mr. Baker,” directed by Jay Bulger (Theaters)

Brooklyn Castle,” directed by Katie Dellamaggiore (Theaters)
The Central Park Five,” directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon (Theaters)*
Chasing Ice,” directed by Jeff Orlowski (Theaters)*

Compliance,” directed by Craig Zobel (Theaters)

Detropia,” directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (Theaters)

Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel,” directed by Lisa Immordino Vreeland (Theaters)

Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare,” directed by Matthew Heineman and Susan Froemke (Theaters — also on VOD)

Frankenweenie,” directed by TIm Burton (Theaters)

Girl Model,” directed by Ashley Sabin and David Redmon (Theaters)

Holy Motors,” directed by Leos Carax (Theaters)

The House I Live In,” directed by Eugene Jarecki (Theaters)

How to Survive a Plague,” directed by David France (Theaters — also on VOD)

The Imposter,” directed by Bart Layton (Theaters)

The Iran Job,” directed by Till Schauder (Theaters)

Keep the Lights On,” directed by Ira Sachs (Theaters)
Life of Pi,” directed by Ang Lee (Theaters)*

The Loneliest Planet,” directed by Julia Loktev (Theaters — also on VOD)

Looper,” directed by Rian Johnson (Theaters)

The Master,” directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (Theaters)

Middle of Nowhere,” directed by Ava DuVernay (Theaters)

Neighboring Sounds,” directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho (Theaters)

The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” directed by Stephen Chbosky (Theaters)

Photographic Memory,” directed by Ross McElwee (Theaters)

Robot and Frank,” directed by Jake Schreier (Theaters)
Rust and Bone,” directed by Jacques Audiard (Theaters)*
Samsara,” directed by Ron Fricke (Theaters)

Searching For Sugar Man,” directed by Malik Bendjelloul (Theaters)

The Sessions,” directed by Ben Lewin (Theaters)
Silver Linings Playbook,” directed by David O. Russell (Theaters)

Sinister,” directed by Scott Derrickson (Theaters)

Sister,” directed by Ursula Meier (Theaters)

Skyfall,” directed by Sam Mendes (Theaters)

This is Not a Film,” directed by Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb (Theaters)

The Waiting Room,” directed by Peter Nicks (Theaters)

Wuthering Heights,” directed by Andrea Arnold (Theaters)

On DVD, Blu-ray, or VOD

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” directed by Alison Klayman (Buy It, starting 12/4)

The Avengers,” directed by Joss Whedon (Rent It)

Beasts of the Southern Wild,” directed by Benh Zeitlin (Buy It, starting 12/4)

Beauty is Embarrassing,” directed by Neil Berkeley (Rent It)

Booker’s Place: A Mississippi Story,” directed by Raymond De Felitta (Rent It)

Brave,” directed by Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman, and Steve Purcell (Buy It)

The Cabin in the Woods,” directed by Drew Goddard (Rent It)

The Day He Arrives,” directed by Hong Sang-soo (Buy It)

Five Broken Cameras,” directed by Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi (Buy It)

The Island President,” directed by Jon Shenk (Rent It)

Jeff, Who Lives at Home,” directed by Mark and Jay Duplass (Buy It)

Last Call at the Oasis,” directed by Jessica Yu (Rent It)

The Loved Ones,” directed by Sean Byrne (Rent It)
Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present,” directed by Matthew Akers (Buy It)*

Miss Bala,” directed by Gerardo Naranjo (Buy It)

Moonrise Kingdom,” directed by Wes Anderson (Rent It)

Neil Young Journeys,” directed by Jonathan Demme (Rent It)

ParaNorman,” directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler (Buy It)

Paul Williams: Still Alive,” directed by Stephen Kessler (Rent It)

The Queen of Versailles,” directed by Lauren Greenfield (Rent It)

The Raid: Redemption,” directed by Gareth Evans (Rent It)

Safety Not Guaranteed,” directed by Colin Trevorrow (Rent It)

The Secret World of Arrietty,” directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi (Buy It)

Side by Side,” directed by Chris Kenneally (Rent It)

Shut Up and Play the Hits,” directed by Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace (Rent It)

Sleepless Night,” directed by Frederic Jardin (Rent It)

Sound of My Voice,” directed by Zal Batmanglij (Rent It)

Turn Me On, Dammit! directed by Jannicke Systad Jacobsen (Buy It)

21 Jump Street,” directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Buy It)

Under African Skies,” directed by Joe Berlinger (Buy It)

Unforgivable,” directed by Andre Techine (Buy It, starting 12/4)

Your Sister’s Sister,” directed by Lynn Shelton (Rent It)

On Netflix Watch Instantly

The American Scream,” directed by Michael Stephenson (Watch It)

Attenberg,” directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari (Watch It)

Bernie,” directed by Richard Linklater (Watch It)

Beyond the Black Rainbow,” directed by Panos Cosmatos (Watch It)

Bullhead,” directed by Michael R. Roskam (Watch It)
China Heavyweight,” directed by Yung Chang (Watch It)

Declaration of War,” directed by Valerie Donzelli (Watch It)

The Deep Blue Sea,” directed by Terence Davies (Watch It)

Elena,” directed by Andrey Zvyagintsev (Watch It)

Gerhard Richter Painting,” directed by Corinna Belz (Watch It)

Goodbye, First Love,” directed by Mia Hansen-Løve (Watch It)

The Grey,” directed by Joe Carnahan (Watch It)

Haywire,” directed by Steven Soderbergh (Watch It)

Indie Game: The Movie,” directed by Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky (Watch It)
The Invisible War,” directed by Kirby Dick (Watch It)

I Wish,” directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda (Watch It)

Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” directed by David Gelb (Watch It)

Monsieur Lazhar,” directed by Philippe Falardeau (Watch It)

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia,” directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan (Watch It)

Oslo, August 31st,” directed by Joachim Trier (Watch It)

The Pruit-Igoe Myth,” directed by Chad Freidrichs (Watch it)

Sound of Noise,” directed by Ola Simonsson and Johannes Stjärne Nilsson (Watch It)

The Turin Horse,” directed by Bela Tarr (Watch It)

High Praise, Lower Grade
Chronicle,” directed by Josh Trank (Buy It)*
Cloud Atlas,” directed by the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer (Theaters)*
The Color Wheel,” directed by Alex Ross Perry (Rent It)*
Cosmopolis,” directed by David Cronenberg (Rent It, starting 12/18)*
The Dark Knight Rises,” directed by Christopher Nolan (Rent It, starting 12/4)*
4:44 Last Day on Earth,” directed by Abel Ferrara (Buy It)*
Gayby,” directed by Jonathan Lisecki (Rent It, starting 12/4)*
Killer Joe,” directed by William Friedkin (Rent It, starting 12/21)*
Return,” directed by Liza Johnson (Rent It)*
Ruby Sparks,” directed by Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Rent It)*
Smashed,” directed by James Ponsoldt (Theaters)*
Starlet,” directed by Sean Baker (Theaters)*
Take This Waltz,” directed by Sarah Polley (Watch It on Netflix)*

Currently Unavailable

Crazy Horse,” directed by Frederick Wiseman

Easy Money,” directed by Daniel Espinosa

The Kid With a Bike,” directed by Jean Pierre and Luc Dardennes
Planet of Snail,” directed by Seungjun Yi*

Teddy Bear,” directed by Mads Matthiesen

Undefeated,” directed by Dan Lindsay and TJ Martin

Thanks to Criticwire assistant editor Steve Greene for his continued help on the Cheat Sheet.

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