the 10 films of 2012

Select­ed by Paul Stathakis | March 14, 2013:

In 2012, we were thrilled as we watched a bike mes­sen­ger zigzag dan­ger­ous­ly through traf­fic in New York City to deliv­er pack­ages on time. James Bond pre­sent­ed him­self before us like nev­er before: old­er, tired, rugged, and per­haps at his most vul­ner­a­ble ever. We had a lit­tle dose of his­to­ry as we watched a high­ly-regard­ed U.S. Pres­i­dent pas­sion­ate­ly fight with mem­bers of his own cab­i­net to abol­ish slav­ery dur­ing the Civ­il War. We had the plea­sure of see­ing a num­ber of films that touched on life mat­ters with excep­tion­al authen­tic­i­ty. One dealt quite open­ly and beau­ti­ful­ly with bipo­lar dis­or­der while anoth­er remind­ed us about the frailty of life. Then we were intro­duced to a cou­ple in the midst of a divorce, con­fused about their feel­ings. We were trans­port­ed to Iran for a grip­ping res­cue mis­sion but thank­ful­ly not in the same plane pilot­ed by an alco­holic pilot. We wit­nessed the highs and lows of teach­ing in one of the rough­est schools in Amer­i­ca. And then there was a  bond between two men, one quad­ri­pleg­ic and his amus­ing care­tak­er, that lift­ed our spir­its and touched our hearts pro­found­ly. With­out fur­ther due, the 10 films of 2012:


1. Les Intouchables 
(Dir. Olivi­er Nakache and Eric Toledano, R, 112 minutes)

Why? Because no oth­er film in 2012 was this heart­warm­ing. This is an excel­lent feel-good film with sol­id per­for­mances. Omar Sy and Fran­cois Cluzet are mag­i­cal in their roles. The film also per­fect­ly blends dra­ma with com­e­dy. This one’s sure to please the whole family.

1 Les Intouchables

2. Argo
(Dir. Ben Affleck, R, 120 minutes)

Why? Because it is expert­ly direct­ed and act­ed. It is based on the true sto­ry about a mis­sion to free U.S. hostages in Iran — a mis­sion that was orches­trat­ed by the U.S. with the help of Cana­da. The last 30 min­utes are incred­i­bly tense and that’s when you real­ize just how ter­rif­ic and com­plete a film “Argo” real­ly is.

2 Argo

3. Sil­ver Lin­ings Playbook
(Dir. David O. Rus­sell, R, 122 minutes)

Why? Because of the way it exam­ines bipo­lar dis­or­der so open­ly and beau­ti­ful­ly. It is also worth see­ing for the tal­ent involved behind and in front of the cam­era. Jen­nifer Lawrence and Bradley Coop­er are irre­sistible. There are also great sup­port­ing  per­for­mances by vet­er­ans Robert De Niro and Jac­ki Weaver.


4. Sky­fall
(Dir. Sam Mendes, PG-13, 143 minutes)

Why? Because it puts a new spin on the James Bond expe­ri­ence. For once, the vil­lain is not after Bond but instead, some­one close to him. And speak­ing of vil­lains, Javier Bar­dem deliv­ers an eerie per­for­mance that mea­sures up to the one he gave in “No Coun­try for Old Men.” Craig is at his most vul­ner­a­ble as Bond here and the open­ing sequence, along with the title song by Adele, is one of the best in a long while.

4 Skyfall

5. Lin­coln
(Dir. Steven Spiel­berg, PG-13, 150 minutes)

Why? Two main rea­sons: 1) Daniel Day-Lewis becomes Lin­coln and 2) because let’s face it, Steven Spiel­berg just knows how to make fan­tas­tic movies.

5 Lincoln

6. Amour
(Dir. Michael Haneke, PG-13, 127 minutes)

Why? Because of the out­stand­ing per­for­mances by vet­er­ans Jean-Louis Trintig­nant and Emmanuelle Riva. To wit­ness such stel­lar act­ing from actors this late in their careers is exhil­a­rat­ing. But this entry comes with a warn­ing: this film is for those who are not afraid to watch sad films. “Amour” is dra­mat­ic, aims for the heart and, lit­tle by lit­tle, crush­es it as it nears its con­clu­sion. But that’s the point and it is very touching.

6 Amour

7. Flight
(Dir. Robert Zemeck­is, R, 138 minutes)

Why? Because this is per­haps Den­zel Wash­ing­ton’s great­est per­for­mance. He is every bit con­vinc­ing in the role of an air­line pilot deal­ing with alco­hol and drug depen­den­cy as a thrilling inves­ti­ga­tion into a plane crash unfolds.

7 Flight

8. Celeste and Jesse Forever
(Dir. Lee Toland Krieger, R, 92 miutes)

Why? Because it is the most over­looked film of the year. It is at once fun­ny and touch­ing.  It also proves that Andy Sam­berg can be a seri­ous actor and that Rashi­da Jones deserves to be in more movies. I loved the look of this film, the actors, the sto­ry, and espe­cial­ly the sound­track. Def­i­nite­ly the biggest sur­prise of the year.


9. Detach­ment
(Dir. Tony Kaye, NR, 97 minutes)

Why? Because it makes a film like “Dan­ger­ous Minds” look soft. Adrien Brody, an under­rat­ed actor, is fan­tas­tic in the role of a sub­sti­tute teacher work­ing in a rough Amer­i­can school. There is also an impres­sive sup­port­ing cast: Mar­cia Gay Hard­en, James Caan, Christi­na Hen­dricks, Lucy Liu, Blythe Dan­ner, Tim Blake Nel­son, William Petersen, and Bryan Cranston. This entry also comes with a warn­ing : this film is not for those who can’t han­dle dra­ma. It deals with a lot of per­son­al sub­ject mat­ters includ­ing sui­cide. It’s a dark and cold film, yes, but one which I haven’t been able to for­get about since see­ing it.

9 Detachment

10. Pre­mi­um Rush
(Dir. David Koepp, PG-13, 91 minutes)

Why? Because it’s cool, orig­i­nal, thrilling, and down­right enter­tain­ing. Joseph Gor­don-Levitt shines in the role of a New York bike mes­sen­ger who will do what­ev­er it takes to deliv­er a spe­cif­ic pack­age on time. Of course, the fact that he is being pur­sued by a cor­rupt cop played by the won­der­ful Michael Shan­non makes things that much more chal­leng­ing for him. I meant it in my review when I said how the film, much like the cen­tral char­ac­ter’s bike, has no brakes. It nev­er slows down. It is ener­getic and on the move from start to finish.

928290 - Premium Rush


Oth­er notable films of the year: Djan­go Unchained, Sev­en Psy­chopaths, The Life of Pi, This is 40, Wreck-it-Ralph, 21 Jump Street, The Hunger Games, Jeff Who Lives at Home, Wan­der­lust, The Words, Hitch­cock, and The Amaz­ing Spider-Man.

Dis­ap­point­ments of the year: This Means War, Les Mis­er­ables, Moon­rise King­dom, Jack Reach­er, End of Watch, Killing Them Soft­ly,  The Vow, Rock of Ages, The Tall Man, and Cosmopolis.


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