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The Indie-Film Industry’s Top Ten Lists of the Best in 2012 Movies and TV

The Indie-Film Industry's Top Ten Lists of the Best in 2012 Movies and TV

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.

READ MORE: Indiewire’s Editors and Bloggers Pick Their Top 10 Films of 2012

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 MORE: Indiewire 2012 Year-End Critics Poll

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):

1-“The Master
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.

7-“Cloud Atlas”
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!
“Jack Reacher”
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

“Patience Stone”
“Searching for Sugar Man”
“Zero Dark Thirty”
“The Queen of Versailles”
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“Like Someone in Love”
“The Paperboy”
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.

4. “Ai WeiWei: Never Sorry”
“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.”

CARA CUSUMANO, programmer, Tribeca Film Festival

1.  “Jiro Dreams of Sushi”
2.  “Django Unchained”
3.  “Silver Linings Playbook”
4.  “Magic Mike”
5.  “Amour
6.  “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
7.  “How to Survive a Plague
8.  “Argo”
9.  “Room 237”
10.  “Cabin in the Woods”

JEFF DEUTCHMAN, director of acquisitions, IFC Films

I’m disincluding films that I worked on from this list, which is always unfortunate because I love many of them.

1. TABU – The best film of the year does what cinema does best: immortalizes the mortal.

2. ZERO DARK THIRTY – At a screening of ZODIAC several years ago, Kent Jones commented (I’m paraphrasing) that most films about uncertainty seem to suggest that humans can only achieve a 50/50 level of knowledge about anything, but that ZODIAC suggests a more realistic 80/20. From this, I started to think about the new crop of meta-procedurals (ZODIAC, THE WIRE, POLICE ADJECTIVE, ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA) — wherein professionals test the boundaries of what it is possible to achieve/know in a flawed society/uncertain universe — as 80% Cinema. ZERO DARK THIRTY may have started out as an entry into this canon, but it turned out to be the rare story of 100% success. Or did it? Even if we are to believe that Maya’s identification of her victim is completely trustworthy, Bigelow leaves open the question of what comes after total success for a character who zeroes in on the “How?” at the expense of the “Why?”

3. THE TURIN HORSE – The film equivalent of an ancient rock formation that looks precarious to stand under, but after all, they’ve been there for so many thousands of years, you can trust them not to fall on you.

4. AMOUR – Haneke takes our universal best-case scenario and creates a Rorschach that evokes beauty and horror in equal measure. When the worst thing you can say about a movie is that it’s too perfect, I’ll take it.

5. THE MASTER – An intimate inquiry into two opposite world-views: the war vet who sees reality too clearly versus the cult leader who bends reality to his will. PTA’s trick is that he takes them both seriously. And it’s funny.

6. NORWEGIAN WOOD – Perhaps this year’s most underrated film, a gorgeous descent into the madness of young love.

7. DETROPIA – If the City Symphony film was designed as a tribute to the ascendance of modern American cities, in all their hubristic utopian glory, DETROPIA flips the genre into a study of postmodern urban decay. The results are mesmerizing and devastating.

8. MAGIC MIKE – The most fun you will ever have contemplating the flaws of Capitalism.

9. MOONRISE KINGDOM – It takes many partial adults, as well as an Auteur/God willing to use bolts of lightning, to raise a child. Anderson’s best live-action film since RUSHMORE.

10. THE COMEDY – Hilarious and alarming at the exact same time.

NELSON GEORGE, filmmaker, “Brooklyn Boheme”

“An Oversimplification of Her Beauty” — Terrence Nance’s autobiographic, experimental, funny look at a woman who got away. Passed up a glamorous dinner to see this and was happy I did.

“Looper” — Clever as hell with a sly Bruce Willis.

“Django Unchained” — Black folks have been worried about this film since the script started floating around cyberspace over a year ago, but the craziest stuff is out (I credit producer Reggie Hudlin with that) and the resulting film is both challenging and dynamic.

“The Imposter” — Jigsaw puzzle of a story. A doc that is like a real-life “Blood Simple” down to its Texas setting and odd private detective.

“Moonrise Kingdom” — Haven’t liked this director’s stylish, lightweight work in years, but he charmed with this. Another fine performance by Bruce Willis, who’s quietly become one of the best actors working.

“The Dark Knight Rises” — Opera in comic-book form.

“Chico & Rita” — Delightful, vivid and musically sophisticated animated film about Cuban jazz. Bravo.

“Beasts of the Southern Wild” — It worked for me.

“Boss” — Criminally unappreciated cable series with a majestic performance by Kelsey Grammer.

DADE HAYES, senior VP, Rubenstein Communications, Inc.
Twitter: @dadehayes

“Mad Men,” Season 5
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“Moonrise Kingdom” soundtrack
“The Master”
“Louie,” Season 3 finale
“First Winter”
“Side By Side”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Fame High”

EUGENE HERNANDEZ, Director of Digital Strategy, Film Society of Lincoln Center
Twitter: @eug

In the early years of Indiewire we talked a lot about discovery. This was our raison d’etre. We aimed to find, support, showcase and introduce new faces, filmmakers, ideas and industry. Since I’m gearing up to attend my twentieth Sundance, the fest where Indiewire was conceived in the mid-’90s, I’ve been thinking a lot about discovery. It’s the ideal theme for a Top 10. Setting aside my love for new films by Bela Tarr, Paul Thomas Anderson, the Dardennes Brothers, Michael Haneke and Wes Anderson (hailed on my Criticwire Top 10), this was a terrific year for discoveries. These are the filmmakers to watch (and it was such a strong year for new voices that there were even more I could have included)!

1. “Holy Motors” (Leos Carax): The film of the year is actually a re-discovery. The return of a director perhaps many had forgotten. In the exceptional “Holy Motors” Carax asks, do we still want experience? In just one day, the French filmmaker explained, we witness the experience of being alive.

2. “Tabu” (Miguel Gomes): While it’s his third feature, “Tabu” introduced me to the Portuguese critic-turned-filmmaker. The Berlin fest award winner, toying with our notions of memory, is an engrossing two-part tale told with the stunning flourishes of classic art cinema.

3. “Neighboring Sounds” (Kleber Mendonça Filho): Not unlike the upstairs-downstairs dichotomy that people love so much in “Downton Abbey,” “Neighboring Sounds” explores tension within northern Brazilian lives situated on an urban block in Recife. Another former film critic, Mendonça Filho described his own movie as, “A melodrama that would rather be a thriller.”

4. “Bonsái” (Cristián Jiménez): Literature and loneliness among a pair of 20-somethings is captured in Chilean Cristian Jiménez’ second feature film. They share the screen with a tiny tree. “Bonsai” is a movie about memory and maturity that’s rooted in a profound political moment from Chile’s past. Kids seek solace in books.

5. “How to Survive a Plague” (David France): Powerfully assembling home video footage from New York’s ACT UP movement in the ’80s, American journalist David France’s first documentary is a poignant look at the seeds and solutions of activism.

6. “Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present” (Matthew Akers): An insightful non-fiction exploration of performance art and art itself, American Akers’ first feature is an expertly crafted, moving portrait that offers a unique perspective on observation and seduction.

7. “Now, Forager” (Jason Cortlund, Julia Halperin): Is it easier to find a famous fungus than achieve a perfect relationship? It turns out both are quite rare, as is explored in this American indie about fragility and obsession, both in mushrooms and in people.

8. “The Night Watchman”/”El Velador” (Natalia Almada): This observant Mexican documentary, Almada’s first film to receive a theatrical release, explores violence in the country at large by patiently studying a flourishing cemetery that’s filling with deaths driven by the Mexican drug crisis.

9. “Girl Walk // All Day” (Jacob Krupnick): An exuberant music video that has Girl Talk’s “All Day” as its feature-length soundtrack. 372 interlocked music samples drive a trio of dancers to unexpected moments around New York City. See it to believe it.

10. “An Oversimplification of Her Beauty” (Terence Nance): Winner of the Gotham Awards’ prize for Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You, American musician and artist Terence Nance’s vibrant, personal exploration of love and emotion was a festival favorite all year long. As 2012 came to a close it was rewarded with a distribution deal. Watch for it in theaters early next year.

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.

2. KILLER JOE – McConaughey delivers the performance of the year in the best-written film of the year.

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

DOUG JONES, Associate Director of Programming, Los Angeles Film Festival

“Crazy and Thief”
“Everybody in our Family”
“Gravity Falls”
“Holy Motors”
“The Master”
“Only the Young”
“Premium Rush”
“Room 237”

DAVID LAUB, Oscilloscope Laboratories

*This excludes any films released by O-scope

1. “Amour”
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”
8. “Looper”
9. “Compliance”
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

1. “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia”
2. “Declaration of War”
3. “The Master”
4. “Looper”
5. “Holy Motors”
6. “Django Unchained”
7. “Amour”
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).

DYLAN MARCHETTI, president, Variance Films

“Middle of Nowhere”
Ava DuVernay’s film features one of the best screenplays and two of the best performances (Emayatzy Corinealdi and Lorraine Toussaint, both delightfully nuanced) of the year. If you skipped it because it was an “African-American film,” you’ll note I didn’t say “best African-American screenplay” or “best African-American performances.”

“Cloud Atlas”
Maybe the makeup is distracting (and yes, the yellowface is definitely a poor choice), but it’s the most ambitious studio film I’ve seen in ages and I was disappointed to see audiences ignore it.

“The Master”
The fact that this was not “There Will Be Blood 2: Fucking With Scientologists” seemed to throw a few people off, but I can’t understand why. Every frame is tension and sex and misdirected power, and Joaquin Phoenix is a revelation. Bonus points for reviving 70mm film presentation, which is easily the best way to experience a film outside of film (not digital) IMAX.

“Beyond the Black Rainbow”
The “we don’t have money but we can do this anyway” attitude is in every frame, and the more of that we can have in indie film, the better.

“The Color Wheel”
People are consistently praising all sorts of talky, low-budget films for “crackling dialog” and “whip-smart writing.” This film is one of the few of those that lives up to the hype, and then some.

“Holy Motors”
Divisive in that very special “Enter The Void” category, where you walk out of the theater and half the people love every frame and half look at the other half like they’re insane. I’m in the former.

“Indie Game: The Movie”
Don’t be fooled by the title — it’s not a film about video games, it’s a film about the drive, passion, hard work, joy and heartbreak that come along with a compulsion to create something in a field that you love — which I’d think nearly anyone involved in indie film can relate to.

“BAD 25”
Ignore the dreadfully chopped 51-minute version that aired on ABC and seek out the full 127-minute cut (on Blu-ray this February), because, without question, it’s the best documentary of 2012. Digs deep, but still keeps the energy level at 11 from start to finish thanks to perfect structure and the genuine sense of love that pervades the project.

“BURN: One Year on the Front Lines of the Battle to Save Detroit”
This would be interesting enough if it were just a film about firefighters, but it goes further to examine the consequences of the choices we allow our government to make. When you hear the word “cutbacks,” it’ll mean something entirely different after you see this fantastic doc.

“Community,” “Digital Estate Planning” – “Community”’s ratings are always horrid, and maybe that’s because it doesn’t really work as a sitcom that airs once a week. “Community” is really an Internet series in disguise — tailor-made for binging on, one episode after the next, as in-jokes designed for the hyper-aware Internet generation pile on and smash them week after week. A perfect example why everyone panicked about Internet streaming killing theatrical indie film has it totally wrong — what it’ll end up killing is episodic network TV. Think it’s an accident “Arrested Development” is coming back on Netflix? It’s not — that’s exactly where it belongs.

Addendum: I haven’t yet seen ZERO DARK THIRTY, AMOUR or TABU, all likely additions.

JARED MOSHE, writer-director, “Dead Man’s Burden”
Twitter: @jaredmoshe

To judge two films that are trying to do very different things and declare one better than the other is not a simple task. In the end, the ones that made this list are those that lingered on in my mind and my heart long after watching them. Whether it recreated and reconstructed history before my eyes; manifested an indescribable cinematic experience; or introduced me to a character who still chatters in my head, these are films – none perfect, all wonderful – that spoke to me in 2012.

“Zero Dark Thirty”
“How To Survive a Plague”
“Breaking Bad”
(Season 5)
“Holy Motors”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Django Unchained”
“The Grey”
“Once Upon a Time in Anatolia”

BRIAN NEWMAN, Founder/Consultant, Sub-genre Media

These aren’t my “best” films of 2012, but the “truly indie” ones that made me think, challenged me or somehow managed to rise above the noise. In order, with notes just where I thought there needed to be more explanation.

1. “Sleepwalk With Me”
2. “Your Sister’s Sister”
3. “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry” – with full disclosure that as an advisor I was biased, but a great first doc on a great subject.
4. “Green”
5. “Marvin, Seth and Stanley”
6. “Michael”
7. “Dark Horse” – Todd Solondz defied the fest world, which largely shunned this movie (except the ones that matter – Venice and Toronto), and went on to get the best reviews he’s had in awhile. The film was a new take for Solondz and featured an excellent cast.
8. “Only The Young”
9. “VGHS”Video Game High School by Freddie Wong. Great to see an indie building his fan base and expanding his repertoire by moving from short pieces to serial work. Every indie can learn something from Freddie.
10. “Etsy Handmade Portraits”Etsy’s short docs – Handmade Portraits – are brilliant short documentaries. While they are based in commerce at the end of the day, each one is artfully made and tells its story well.

DAVID NUGENT, artistic director, Hamptons International Film Festival
Twitter: @HamptonsFilm

Many of my favorite films of the year thankfully ended up playing at our Festival’s 20th edition this year, or at our SummerDocs series that I program with our board member Alec Baldwin. These include, but are not limited to:

“Searching for Sugar Man”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Rust & Bone”
“Not Fade Away”
“La Demora”
“Mea Maxima Culpa”
“The Sessions”

With regard to films that were not at our festival, in alphabetical order:

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Holy Motors”
“Grand Illusion” re-release
(for my money, one of the greatest films of all time)
“The Grey”
“Life of Pi”
“Planet of Snail”
“Your Sister’s Sister”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

I very much enjoy “The Walking Dead,” “Mad Men,” “Portlandia” and “Louie.”

JENNI OLSON, VP marketing and e-commerce, Wolfe Video
Twitter: @JenniOlsonSF

“The Wise Kids”
This perfect American drama simultaneously portrays the angst (and joy) of growing up gay. The wonderful Tyler Ross (who can be seen in “Milkshake” at Sundance this year) stars as a well-adjusted gay Baptist teen, while the film’s writer-director Stephen Cone gives an unforgettable portrayal of a painfully closeted church drama teacher.

It’s an absolute joy to follow this story of the Silver Platter Latino drag bar in Los Angeles. As the bar (d)evolves into a queer hipster destination director Wu Tsang explores race, class and gender politics with an innovative approach, which includes the voice of the bar itself.

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower”
Ezra Miller is fabulous as the perfect gay pal for Logan Lerman, the period details are perfectly understated, and the showcasing of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” clinches the deal. “Perks” has all the elements of an anthemic teen film including a great soundtrack, quotable dialogue, deep dark undercurrents and the angsty soaring melodrama of high school.

“Joe + Belle”
Nominated for an Israeli Academy Award for Best Picture, Veronica Kedar’s wonderful lesbian road movie has a smart, dark-comic sensibility combined with a great sense of cinematic style and a deeply romantic core.

“Mosquita y Mari”
I love the way Aurora Guerrero’s slowly unfolding lesbian love story conveys the ache of submerged and emerging longing between two Latina teens in Los Angeles.

“United In Anger: A History of ACT UP”
Jim Hubbard’s powerful profile of ACT UP captures the spirit of the movement — combining a diverse array of activist interviews with the inspiring original activist videos that Hubbard himself has worked so tirelessly to preserve. A must-see film.

“Call Me Kuchu”
Bringing to life the horrifying story of Uganda’s “Kill the Gays” bill (which has not yet been put to rest), this in-depth exploration showcases the work of Ugandan activist David Cato and his colleagues, who continue to fend off some of the most virulent homophobia on the planet.

“Kiss Me”
This beautiful Swedish feature pretty much nails everything you want in a lesbian romance: two beautiful actresses with great sexual chemistry, an excellent script and a terrific director. Also numerous hot love scenes.

This hilarious, foul-mouthed, geriatric lesbian marriage-equality adventure from out gay director Thom Fitzgerald co-stars Brenda Fricker and Olympia Dukakis as Dot and Stella, a lesbian couple on the run from a nursing home and Dot’s homophobic granddaughter. You will laugh so hard you’ll cry.

“Love Free or Die”
This riveting documentary follows Bishop Gene Robinson through the gauntlet of homophobic hatred that accompanied his appointment as the first openly gay Episcopal Bishop all the way up through his opening invocation at President Barack Obama’s inauguration at the Lincoln Memorial.

Full disclosure: LGBT distributor Wolfe Video distributed “The Wise Kids,” “Joe + Belle,” “Mosquita y Mari,” “Kiss Me” and “Love Free or Die.”

ROB SCHEER, Brigade Marketing

1. “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
2. “The Master”
3. “How to Survive a Plague”
4. “Zero Dark Thirty”
5. “Amour”
6. “Looper”
7. “Lincoln”
8. “Seven Psychopaths”
9. “The Grey”
10. “Django Unchained”

RICHARD J. SHEEHAN, VP & Sr. Relationship Manager, HSBC Bank USA, Entertainment & Media Group

“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“The Intouchables”
“Keep the Lights On”
“Life of Pi”
“Searching for Sugar Man”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

Television was all about cable: “Homeland” (although season 2 was not as believably coherent, it was still compelling), “Newsroom,” “Veep,” “Girls,” “Game of Thrones,” “Walking Dead” and “Breaking Bad” were all must-see television. The only network shows that have been as consistent are “Modern Family” & “The Good Wife.”

GENNA TERRANOVA, director of programming, Tribeca Film Festival
Twitter: @gennaterranova

“Zero Dark Thirty”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“Girls” (TV)
“The Master”
“Searching for Sugar Man”

My top film/TV-centric book this year was “The Storytelling Animal” by Jonathan Gottschall.

BASIL TSIOKOS, programming associate, documentary features, Sundance Film Festival
Twitter: @1basil1

Following is an unranked, alphabetical list of my top ten documentaries of 2012. As always, it’s tough to narrow down the great non-fiction to just ten films, and there were several other great titles that could have been included here, but these are definitely among this year’s crop that left a strong impression:

“The Central Park Five”
“The Gatekeepers”
“How To Survive A Plague”
“The Imposter”
“Indie Game: The Movie”
“Low and Clear”
“Only the Young”
“Room 237”
“Searching for Sugar Man”
“¡Vivan las Antipodas!”

JOHN VON THADEN, Manager of Acquisitions, Magnolia Pictures / Magnet Releasing

My Top 10 for 2012 – in alphabetical order and excluding films distributed by Magnolia/Magnet.


LUCY WALKER, filmmaker, “Waste Land”
Twitter: @lucyjwalker

I can’t get my list of favourite documentaries down to 10. I’m pleased to announce that there are way too many docs I’ve liked this past year. And I haven’t watched enough fiction films in order for this to be a definitive list, as I’ve been consumed making my new film. But here are ten fiction films in my mind:

“Holy Motors”
“Zero Dark Thirty”
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Shadow Dancer”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“The Master”
“Life of Pi”
“Django Unchained”
“Anna Karenina”

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