Continuing my best of 2012 lists, here are my favorite movies from 2012. There are a couple of movies still due out technically in 2012 that I am looking forward to, and expect (based on advance word) would make a best of list, but since I’m not going to have a chance to see them until 2013, that’s inevitably where they’ll end up.
10. Looper. Smart Science Fiction, with an excellent performance by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who shows up all over this list.
9. The Dark Knight Rises. While The Avengers succeeded in perfecting the superhero movie formula, Nolan’s conclusion to his Batman Trilogy reached for the loftier goal of starting with a pulp framework and building a masterpiece. While he didn’t quite reach his goal, I really enjoyed watching him try.
8. The Hobbit. I have a formal review yet to come on this one, but for now I’ll just say it exceeded my expectations, and fits nicely with The rest of Jackson’s Tolkien adaptations.
7. Cabin in the Woods. Not a perfect movie, but one of the most entertaining movies I saw this year, particularly because it committed so fully to it’s gonzo premise right up to the end.
6. The Master. A deeply divisive film, certainly, but the performances were towering, the direction was sharp, the cinematography was gorgeous, and the story captivated me, and I really couldn’t ask for more from it.
5. Moonrise Kingdom. Really sort of the polar opposite to The Master. Where P. T. Anderson was challenging the viewer with something akin to Mailer or Hemingway in it’s aggressive impenetrability, Wes Anderson used strong performances, sharp direction, and beautiful cinematography to tell the most engaging and accessible story of his career.
4. Safety Not Guaranteed. This is an excellent counter example to the argument that films today lack originality, and a beautiful exception to the apparent rule that Sci-Fi movies have to be grand scale dystopian visions.
3. Beasts of the Southern Wild. Rough-hewn though at times it may be, this movie brimmed with remarkable acting and skillful direction. Watching this was truly seeing the first flashes of talented performers we can expect much from in years to come.
2. Argo. Ben Affleck brought us one of the sharpest, most nail-bitingly tense movies of the last five years at least.
1. Lincoln. This is the kind of flawless film-making Spielberg is always capable of, yet rarely achieves much anymore. I am very glad he exceeded the hit bar we set for him, aided by stunning performances from Daniel Day Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field, and every other actor in this film, regardless of how big or small their part.