My Top 10 Movies of 2012

2012 has been one of the best years in film in recent memory for me because it covered the bases of all of genres I’m drawn to. We had great character dramas like The Master, Moonrise Kingdom and The Grey; a plethora of excellent Science Fiction like Looper and Prometheus; exceptional thrillers like Argo,  terrifying horror with Sinister, and the best year the superhero genre has had since 2008 with The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and Chronicle. No matter how you feel about this list I hope you can agree that this has been a fantastic year with a multitude of great movies to choose from.

I’ve built this list based on my preferences as opposed to what I thought was the “best” which means this list is my list of favorites. In a year where there have been so many excellent films it is nearly impossible to say that there were 10 that were just so much better than everything else because that’s simply just not true with so much firing on all cylinders in so many different genres this year.

Here’s are my 10 favorite movies of the  year:

10. Skyfall
Skyfall 2


Just barely making the cut was 007’s latest and possibly best outing in which he takes a hard look at his history and longstanding relationship with MI6. I am a huge fan of Casino Royale’s new take on the series and Skyfall felt like a sequel that truly lives up to the original in terms of character, scale, and execution. I love Skyfall because it is not just a great Bond movie, but a great movie that was carefully crafted by director Sam Mendes(American Beauty, Road to Perdition). Everything from the breathtaking cinematography(seriously some of the best of the year), tightly written story, and extraordinary leading performances by Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, and Judi Dench just works together to  forge the best 50th anniversary tribute film any franchise could hope for.

9. The Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods

Joss Whedon’s The Avenger’s may have gotten far more box office attention this year, but I think his team-up The Cabin in the Woods with Drew Goddard(co-writer of Buffy) was far smarter and craftier than  Marvel’s superhero spectacle. I absolutely love this movie because it breaks down and deconstructs the current state of the horror genre in an incredibly creative manner while also being a movie of that same genre.This movie is an absolute must for fans of horror because of its inherent love/hate for the genre it is presenting. This movie is about as Meta as they come, but never pretends to be smarter than it actually is which makes it even more enjoyable.  The movie is loaded with Easter eggs and fun surprises for fans so I dare not spoil the movie here for those of you who haven’t seen it. This may be one that flew under many movie-goers radar, but that certainly does not make it any less worthy of a mention as one of the best movies of the year.

8. Prometheus

Prometheus

Prometheus may be one of the most polarizing movies to hit theaters earlier this summer with a very large part of the film going community absolutely hating the movie. People have criticized it for being vague, to ambiguous, and too wrapped up in its philosophical premise which ironically is the very reason I love this movie. This is a classic form of science fiction that contemplates themes such as creator vs creation, man & machine, and the character of God. These big ideas and themes are presented, but never explicitly answered which leaves the movie feeling like a puzzle waiting to be solved. Controversial screenwriter Damon Lindelof and legendary director Ridley Scott have created a movie that assumes that we as the audience have an intellectual curiosity to think about these questions and interpret the movie in our own way which I find to be a form of film making that has become more and more rare in Hollywood. Aside from the controversy the movie does paint a gorgeous and atmospheric picture that is absolutely stunning spectacle. I’m sure that many people will disagree, but I found Prometheus to a fantastic film that was crafted for viewers like me who enjoy pondering and discussing the big questions movie is raising.

Read full review here

7. Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom is Wes Anderson’s latest movie that explores the lives of  two children in the 1960s who believe they are in love. Wes Anderson uses his wit and charm to make an island in the New England area feel more lively and intriguing that anyone could have expected. What really sells this movie as one of the best this year is the portrayal of  of these characters who are all well intentioned, but ultimately misguided when dealing with people. When you throw Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Bill Murray, and Jason Schwartzman into the mix; you’ve got a flat out heartwarming and entertaining character drama unlike anything else on the big screen this year.

Read full review here

6. The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises 3

How does one end a trilogy that featured The Dark Knight as the second act of the story? You make The Dark Knight Rises which tells an incredibly different story than its predecessor in the biggest way imaginable.  I’ll make no bones about it on this film; I am a fan first, critic second. This film may have had some pacing problems, required some ridiculous suspension of belief in moments, and may have a final confrontation that was not quite as epic as we hoped, bu I say  to those issues I say “I don’t care” because I think this is one of the best conclusions to a trilogy that has ever been made. It is a worthy final entry because it is still comparable to(and debatably be better than) its predecessors. The movie features an incredible take Bane, Bruce Wayne’s lowest low, Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, and a setting and scope that can be taken seriously outside the realm of comic book movies. This trilogy has transcended the comic book genre by giving us characters, a story, and stakes that hold toe to toe with some of the greatest in cinema which is why I think this movie deserves recognition as one the best of 2012.

Read full review here

5. Argo

Argo

Argo is a movie that just feels like classic Hollywood suspense at its best. The story is thrilling and exciting,the characters are relateable and incredibly well acted, and the direction is excellent while the writing is tight. I don’t know how else to put it, but to say that this is a fine movie that does not disappoint in any way that I could find. The movie does an amazing job giving the story an adrenaline pumping intensity despite the fact that we already knew how everything ended up before even walking in to the theater. Ben Affleck’s acting has been a point of criticism for many people over the years, but Argo proves that acting aside he is an incredibly talented director who has been able to knock 3 movies out of the park. While Argo may not be the flashiest movie on the list, I think it may be the most satisfying theater going experience I’ve had this year.

Read full review here

4. Looper

Looper

Looper was a film that I had been hotly anticipating for nearly a year by the time it was finally released because of the fresh premise and hugely underrated director Rian Johnson. Looper doesn’t disappoint for a second with Joseph Gordon-Levitt delivering a mindblowing performance as a young Bruce Willis type character. This movie is smart, creative, and is constantly delivering surprise after surprise in its inventive premise that lives up to its rich ambition. What really sets its self apart from other movies I’ve seen this year is how it deals with some of the ethical questions of human nature and time travel. The movie smartly places and develops every character in a way that builds to a truly heart wrenching moral dilemma that concludes with a jaw dropping character moment that left me in shock for days. Looper is easily the best sleeper hit of the year and it is one that I will gladly rewatch over and over again.

Read full review here

3. Cloud Atlas

CLOUD_ATLAS_Banner_2

In many ways Cloud Atlas is a movie that appealed to me on a very personal level in the same way that last year’s magnificent Tree of Life did. This movie’s themes of human connection and a spiritual desire to find a greater purpose and meaning in life are things that I find the most moving in cinema. This movie did not disappoint as it was filled with ideas and huge ambition that is unlike any other movie I’ve ever seen. The grand story this film is told through six smaller storylines that work in harmony with each other to reveal the greater truth of human nature and a longing for something bigger. While I may have been in love with all of the subsequent story lines  I couldn’t help but fall in love with the ambition of this tale which despite its scope forged a deep connection that truly moved me on a spiritual level when the whole experience was done. Cloud Atlas may not be a movie for everyone, and some of its new-age ideas may turn off many viewers who just don’t like or connect with the larger than life ideas on display. For me this was an absolute one of a kind experience that did what the very best cinema is capable of: creating a truly emotional experience that causes me to re-examine my own beliefs.

Read full review here

2. Les Miserables

Les Mis

Les Miserables was an incredible musical experience that I believe is unmatched by any other musical to hit the big screen. This adaption of Victor Hugo’s classic novel focused less on the philosophical ideas and political undertones of the story and more on the human experience that each of the characters goes through. Team this story with Academy Award winning director Tom Hooper’s masterful storytelling and you get one of the most emotionally electrifying films of the year. I found this movie to be absolutely gorgeous in nearly every respect with musical numbers that new exactly how to pack a punch. This film is able to convey the human experience of living in this complex and sometimes horrifying world better than any other movie this year because of its masterful direction and career defining performances by both Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway. This movie may be telling a darker tale of broken dreams and a downtrodden world, but ultimately is a tale of hope, redemption, and reformation into something greater. I saw this movie twice in the same week and what was truly amazing and satisfying about it was that it moved me to an even more emotionally challenging place on the second viewing. This is without a doubt one of the greatest musicals I’ve ever had the pleasure to see in film.

Read full review here

1. Life of Pi

Life of Pi

Life of Pi is a great example of how it’s always the movies you don’t expect that can make the biggest impact. I am not a real Ang Lee fan and had almost zero interest in catching this movie until I heard some of the early buzz.  When I went to the theater I had no real expectations for the movie and was simply expecting a fantastic visual experience. What I got was a movie that did not just move me, but really challenged my understanding of God and how we as human beings perceive higher power. You may not know this based on the tv spots, but this is actually a movie about a boy finding the will to survive against all odds through his faith in God. The movie is an enticing tale about a boy named Pi who is retelling his experience being stranded on a raft with a tiger for 227 days. This movie delves into the Pi’s history with multiple religions and then applies the lessons he has learned to his time on the raft. Ang Lee delivers an amazing character story with breathtaking 3D visuals that challenge even Avatar’s definitive 3D experience. What I find most impressive about this movie is its ability to connect with nearly all audiences no matter what race,age, gender, or ethnicity. Like Cloud Atlas, this movie challenged me and moved me on a spiritual level with its characters, ideas, and imaginative world. It seems to me that no matter who you are, there should be something to be taken away from Life of Pi. Life of Pi is my favorite movie of the year because it was constantly dazzling me visually while also connecting with me on a spiritual and emotional level that very few films can.

Honorable Mentions(Alphabetically)

The Avengers

Chronicle

Django Unchained

The Grey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Lincoln

The Master

The Raid Redemption

Sinister

Sleepwalk with Me

Wreck-It Ralph

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