How did 2012 treat you? For me there were really no big changes in my life, and I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing yet. I guess I’ll determine that a few years down the line, but as content as I am, 2012 was actually a very good year for films. It was a huge year for blockbusters with The Avengers and The Hunger Games and in addition, we saw some HUGE franchises come to an end with The Dark Knight Rises and Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2.
Also, it was a very good year for all genres across the board. While I’m not a horror fan, I have to admit that The Cabin in the Woods is probably my favorite horror since The Descent. As for comedies, while there wasn’t a film like Bridesmaids this year, there were still some good ones like Pitch Perfect, 21 Jump Street and even the darker Seven Psychopaths.
But now it’s time to get on with it. Here are my top movies of 2012:
Denzel Washington gives a powerful performance as an alcoholic pilot who saves many lives by crash-landing a damaged plane. Zemeckis returns to live action with a drama about a man’s journey to admit he is an addict. The opening plane crash scene is truly terrifying to watch.
9. The Impossible
Based on a true story of a family who is separated by the 2004 tsunami that hit south Asia, The Impossible packs a huge punch that will hit straight to your heart. A great family drama that gives you hope when you believe all hope is lost. Excellent performances by Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor, and Thomas Holland.
8. Moonrise Kingdom
A story about two kids finding friendship for the first time and mistaking it for love, and how their parents don’t know how to handle themselves when they run away. This Wes Anderson feature was his most mainstream film yet while still maintaining his quirky characters. This was a delightful, little movie.
7. Silver Linings Playbook
Jennifer Lawrence cashes in on her big year with a stellar performance in this crowd-pleasing dramedy. Dealing with mental illness, relationships, and dysfunctional families, Silver Linings Playbook had everything you want from an adult comedy.
6. Beasts of the Southern Wild
The most poetic film of the year, but still mainstream enough to keep the audience’s attention, this indie-gem proves that there is still room for imagination in cinema. You will fall in love with Quvenzhane Wallis and marvel at Dwight Henry’s performance, neither with any acting credits prior. What a magical film this is.
5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The most memorable high school film in a very long time, Stephen Chbosky (novelist, screenwriter, and director) makes his characters come to life in this film that hits upon several serious issues that high-schoolers face, such as discovering yourself, peer pressure, and personal trauma, to name a few. Complete with a trio of young, talented actors (Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, and Ezra Miller), this film will make you laugh as much as it will make you cry.
4. Les Misérables
A marvelous adaptation of the beloved musical and novel, Hooper’s direction brings you up close and personal with the characters in Les Misérables. Full of tragedy, action, and love, the movie rendition of this epic is one that will last for many years to come. Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman give natural, show-stopping performances.
A true Hollywood movie, Ben Affleck constructs another hit with the “based on a true story” thriller of how a CIA agent rescued six Americans in Iran during the hostage crisis by developing a fake sci-fi film. Argo is funny, suspenseful, and very well-made from beginning to end.
2. Zero Dark Thirty
Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to The Hurt Locker takes on a grand project about the story of how Osama Bin Laden was finally located and killed. Lead-woman Jessica Chastain gives a controlled and confident performance as Maya, the CIA analyst who took a decade to compile enough intelligence to track down Bin Laden. The procedure plays out like a classic mystery, but the final raid from the Navy SEALs provides for arguably the most tense moments of any film this year.
1. Life of Pi
Truly my favorite and the most powerful movie experience in 2012, Life of Pi was able to transcend what you expect to receive from watching a film. The ideas that the film suggests remain embedded in my mind since my trip to the theaters. Ang Lee adapted a so-called “unfilmable story” with such success that should (if not already) cement him with legendary status as a director. Life of Pi simply makes you think about your faith and your life in a way that no other film has done before.
Honorable Mention (alphabetical order): Django Unchained, Looper, The Master, The Sessions, and Skyfall.