Top 10 Movies of 2012

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What a year at the movies, huh? 2012 was one of the best years in recent memory. Delivering both outstanding crowd pleasers and political dramas unafraid to go too far, there were a ton of opportunities for filmmakers to fall flat on their face. But in many cases, they didn’t. Sure, the Wachowskis bought off more than they could chew with Cloud Atlas and The Hobbit was just too damn long. But for every one of those there was a Zero Dark Thirty, or a Skyfall. I actually had a lot of trouble putting this list together because I fell in love with so many movies this year. In 2011 I would never have had to part ways with such films as Moonrise Kingdom, Cabin in the Woods and Django Unchained. But alas, ten is definitive, and here are my ten picks for the best films of the year.



Photo Credit: Silver Linings Playbook

One of the best surprises of 2012 was that we got a classic rom-com, something fairly rare to see. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence are perfect as a pair of people who could both be institutionalized. Robert De Niro is perfect as Cooper’s hard nosed father, and a huge fan of the Philadelphia Eagles. There was not a single movie more romantic and dementedly sweet as this one in 2012.


Photo Credit: Argo

Ben Affleck’s thriller about Hollywood creating a fake movie to save hostages in Iran had just about everything you could ask for in a movie. Featuring insightful humor about the film industry and one of the tensest climaxes this year, Argo was an unforgettable film and a reminder of how we got where we are today.



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8. The Avengers

In a year with so many great awards-y films coming out how does this all-action, all-fun blockbuster make the top ten? Because it was the superhero movie people have been waiting for since 1978’s Superman. Sure, its not as politically charged or smart as Chris Nolan’s Batman films, but this is the first comic book film to unapologetically embrace its roots. Surprise! It totally worked.


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7. Skyfall

50 years and this old dog is still able to learn new tricks. The Sam Mendes directed 23rd entry to the James Bond franchise was both a celebration of the past and an exploration of why Bond is still relevant. Not to mention Javier Bardem’s instantly iconic turn as the film’s villain. It also dove into the spy’s past, a first for the series. If this is the direction the series keeps going in, Bond can easily live to 100.


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6. The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson returned this year with one of his best films, a deep examination of mental health and cults, said to be inspired by the real life origins of Scientology. Joaquin Phoenix and Phillip Seymour Hoffman have never been better. Their chemistry sizzles as the plot slowly develops to a risky climax. Don’t worry, they stick the landing.



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5. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

I didn’t think this little high school drama would be as high on the list as it is, but then I started thinking about it. The scarily spot on narrations by Logan Lerman. Emma Watson’s sultry turn as the high school girlfriend you never had. And the fact that Ezra Miller gave one of the best performances of the year. Perks is destined to become a high school classic and become a part of the same conversation as The Breakfast Club.


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4. Beasts of the Southern Wild

Two words: Quvenzhane Wallis. That little girl deserves an Oscar more than any other woman this year. And she’s six. Playing Hushpuppy, a girl trying to survive in post-Katrina New Orleans with her dad, she lends a refreshing fantasy element to this dark material. The result is an adorable yet effective peak at life and death through the eyes of a child.



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3. Zero Dark Thirty

So few directors capture the time we live in as well as Kathryn Bigelow does. Her follow up the The Hurt Locker follows the nearly decade long hunt for Osama bin Laden. Jessica Chastain, who only rose to fame last year, is a serious contender in the Best Actress race for her performance in this film. Zero Dark Thirty is frighteningly nostalgic, and one of the best movies of its kind.


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2. Lincoln

In this pivotal election year, there was not a better portrayal of American politics than Steven Spielberg’s biopic of our 16th president. Daniel Day Lewis portrays Lincoln as a quiet but powerful figure, and Spielberg shoots him like a god. Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field give great performances as well. But the climax was so brilliantly done without any of the main cast that we know it had true substance.


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1. The Dark Knight Rises

How many trilogies end on a good note? (I count two others, take a wild guess) Christopher Nolan finished up his Batman saga with this stunning conclusion. Featuring one of the best villains ever in Tom Hardy’s Bane, and the purrrfect Catwoman through Anne Hathaway, this was a Batman movie fans have been waiting for. But with the cries of the 99% being an issue in Gotham City and the parallels to A Tale of Two Cities, Rises is every bit as smart and powerful as Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln. Plus, Bruce Wayne gets something he has never had before in his 70 years of existence, a proper ending.


What are you favorite movies of the year? Do you agree with my list? Am I a hack? Sound off below!

By Matt Dougherty


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