The Best Movies of 2012: #20 – #1
Here we are, folks. My super subjective Top 20 for 2012. All in all, not a bad year for movies. And in case you’re just joining us, here’s how the other 82 fared:
And with that being said, so it goes…
20. The House I Live In
As enlightening as it is appalling from both deeply personal and historical standpoints. Further proof that while drugs themselves are badder than bad, our war against them has been far costlier on more levels than I had known. Give it a watch before shooting the messenger on this one.
19. Searching for Sugar Man
Wonderful. Just wonderful. Makes you long for the days when there was still mystery to music.
18. Monsieur Lazhar
A subtle, poignant, human story that’s as timeless as it is universal. Not to mention it’s home to one of the best endings of the year and some of the best child actors I’ve ever seen.
17. The Kid with a Bike
Comes this close to irreparably shooting itself in the foot, yet somehow ends up being that much better for it. All in all, an exceptional coming-of-age story driven by brutal honesty, tough love, and two of the most genuine characters I saw in a movie all year. Not since Fish Tank has growing up felt so real.
16. The Secret World of Arrietty (Full Review)
One of the best movies that Studio Ghibli’s ever made. And that, dear readers, is some awfully high praise.
A tad heavy-handed, but nothing short of stunning in what it has to say and how it goes about saying it. Unlike anything I’ve ever seen.
14. The Queen of Versailles
What an inspired, bizarre way to approach the economic crash. Still can’t believe how emotionally torn I got while watching this, but boy, does it work like gangbusters. Mark my words, folks, because it’s only a matter of time before this family winds up on Bravo.
13. Dredd (Full Review)
Color me shocked and don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. It was the biggest surprise of the year, it was the best action movie of the year, and it was so much better in every way than I was expecting it to be. If you’re going to reboot a franchise, this is how you should do it. We’ll get back to that subject shortly.
12. The Island President
Mohamed Nasheed: the latest addition to my shortlist of personal heroes. A terribly important doc on one of the most important issues of our time. As enthralling as it is infuriating, and bonus points for a score made up entirely of Radiohead songs. A rarest of treats if there ever was one.
11. The Dark Knight Rises (Full Review)
Remember what I was saying about how to reboot a franchise? Nitpick all you want, this was one hell of a sendoff for one of the greatest movie trilogies you can find. Chris Nolan, man. Christopher-freaking-Nolan.
10. How To Survive a Plague
In a year where many docs revolved around a need for change, it was really something to find one where that change actually happened. A knock-you-on-your-ass, powerhouse of a movie that provides an utterly compelling, emotional insight into a movement that changed our world. Really makes you wonder what else we as a people could accomplish with the right leadership, determination, and focus.
9. ParaNorman (Full Review)
Wouldn’t have seen it if it hadn’t been for my 10-year-old brother, but good gravy, am I that much more grateful to be rolling with my 10-year-old brother. The best “kids movie” of the year by a long shot that has more humor, wisdom, and creativity than most “grown-up movies” I saw this year. Terrible name, but man, was this something special.
8. Looper (Full Review)
Time paradoxes aside, this is exactly why Rian Johnson needs to make more movies. What a great premise, and holy hell, was it executed to a tee. And can we all agree that 2012 was the best year Bruce Willis has had in years? Keep it up, dude.
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Full Review)
More so than any other movie on this list, I’ve had a damn hard time articulating what it is that I loved so much about it. But at the end of the day, it’s just one of the most human, palpable, and life-affirming movies I saw all year. Really something else, folks.
Incredibly sad and incredibly beautiful. Reminiscent of the humanity and power that was once commonplace in movies. And while she probably won’t get it, Emmanuelle Riva absolutely deserves Best Actress this year.
5. Django Unchained
Not only the most important movie Tarantino’s ever made, but also home to what might be the best characters he’s ever written (if not the best character in Django himself). I really keep waiting for the day when I’m gonna get tired of Tarantino, but now I’m starting to wonder if that day will ever come.
4. The Cabin in the Woods (Full Review)
Been waiting a long, long time for someone to make this movie, and couldn’t have imagined a smarter, funnier, or more flat-out brilliant result. Might not be the scare-fest some were hoping for, but in my humblest of opinions, it’s the biggest game-changer for the genre since good old Shaun of the Dead.
3. Indie Game: The Movie (Full Review)
For an industry that’s made a habit out of butchering and debasing everything I love about video games, it’s about damn time we got a movie that treats them as art. Really hit home on a whole lot of levels, and did wonders to help me forget about the damage done by Wreck-It Ralph. Just crossing my fingers that this is a sign of things to come.
2. Moonrise Kingdom (Full Review)
I’ve been pretty jaded about Wes Anderson for a while now, but after this, I am totally back on the bandwagon. Not only his best live-action movie since The Royal Tenenbaums, not only home to the best ending of the year, but also the only movie I saw twice in theaters. And believe you me, that is saying a lot. God, do I love those kids.
1. Undefeated (Full Review)
Hesitated to even put this on the list since it already won the Oscar for Best Doc last year, but since it didn’t get a theatrical release until last February, I’m making an executive decision. Folks, this is the culmination of every great sports movie you’ve ever seen, only it’s non-fiction. It’s not just lightning in a bottle, it’s everything I could ask for in a moviegoing experience, and if you give it a chance, it might just restore your faith in humanity. This is why I watch movies, this is why movies are important, so do yourself a favor and see this before Hollywood goes and remakes it. You can thank me later.
And that should do it. Even with 102 movies down, there are still a bunch that I’m kicking myself for missing (eg: Seven Psychopaths, End of Watch, This is Not a Film, Holy Motors, Detropia, Ted, Your Sister’s Sister, Neil Young Journeys, Brooklyn Castle), but alas, I’m just one man. At any rate, thanks a mil for tuning in, would love to know what your favorites were, and look for more new reviews starting up next week. Keep it real, folks!