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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