Lets face the facts. 2012 was a great year for films. From emotionally driven dramas to tremendously entertaining comic-book movies, it had much to offer. The year may not have been the best bet for movies in every genre, but as a whole, it offered many diverse, innovative, and award-worthy movies.
Listed below are my picks for the ten best movies and honorable mentions of the year. I found it very difficult to put movies in a specific order, but for right now, this is the proper list. Do keep in mind that these movies are coming out of a personal opinion and not one that should be universally recognized. After all, everyone has their own opinion.
As a further note, I have to say that my pick for the best movie of the year could have easily switched positions with number 2 on my list. It was a close call and a difficult decision.
Honorable Mentions (or Movies That Almost Made the List)
I’m not a huge fan of foreign language films, especially Indian movies, but Anurag Basu’s Barfi! is a certainly an exception.It is very rare to see emotionally rich movies from the Bollywood industry. The aspect of mental-illness is handled in a risky approach, but this movie is a gem. And that’s mainly due to the phenomenal performances from it’s devoted cast. Even if you’re not an avid watcher of Indian films, you’ll be surprised at what Barfi! has to offer.
What really clarified this movie’s greatness was the fantastic performance from it’s lead star. Denzel Washington makes you believe in his addiction, creating a complex and fascinating character that unfolds at the end of the film. In addition to be being a notable character study, this film tackled the subject of drug addiction effectively and realistically. At a time when they are used extensively across the world, Flight really shows the downsides of taking drugs. It remains an important movie today.
Animated films can get innovative and diverse. A homage to horror movies, ParaNorman proves it. While it features great visuals and interesting characters, the area where this film hits all the right notes is the story. You don’t always come across an animated feature that has a strong and thoughtful ending.
The Hunger Games
A great adaptation of the beloved novel. Apart from some enticing visuals and strong writing, this movie features pitch-perfect performances. Jennifer Lawrence is a stunning revelation in the lead role, but its not only her that stands out. Everyone is superb.
The Top Ten
A serious subject interpreted in Quentin Tarantino’s style seems like a long-shot risk. Yet Django Unchained remains one of the most entertaining films I’ve seen in a long time. With a running time of nearly 3 hours, one would immediately expect this Western to be too long. It is, but only a little bit. I was surprised at how much I adored this film. From a fantastic opening sequence that pays tremendous homage to classical westerns, to unexpected twists in the end, this movie never disappoints. Both as a writer and director, Quentin Tarantino takes risks, but as a whole the film works. It is absurd to see R&B/Rap music in a western, but Tarantino somehow makes it shine. And that, right there is undeniable talent from a gifted director.
5. Life of Pi
It isn’t easy to adapt a book that many have considered to be in-adaptable, but director Ang Lee manages to do so. Magnificently. Life of Pi is a visually enticing, beautifully written film about survival and hope. Bringing to screen such a difficult concept seems almost impossible, but a fantastic crew succeeds. Actors usually take time to improve their performances, but that is not the case here. First-time actor Suraj Sharma delivers an extraordinary, emotionally-charged performance as Pi. In an extremely difficult role, Sharma is surprisingly the perfect choice for the film. And then there is Richard Parker, a digitally created tiger that stands out as a true accomplishment in the movie. Not only is it realistic, it behaves like an actual character.
Steven Spielberg has always had his own style or way of making movies. He shows it through directing Lincoln, one of his best films in several years. A period piece and interesting look into the emancipation of slavery, this is a movie that really displays Spielberg as a masterful director. What really carries it from start to finish is the magnificent performance from Daniel Day-Lewis. From quiet mannerisms to a kind personality, Day-Lewis completely transforms himself into the 16th President of the United States. Yet it is not only him that shines. Sally Field is great as Lincoln’s wife, while Tommy Lee Jones is at the top of his game as a slavery abolitionist.
The concept of time travel never seemed as complex. When I first heard of Looper, the concept was a bit complicated for me to understand. Yet the film is even more so than I originally thought it would be. However, no one can deny that it has one of the most effective twists ever put to screen and an ending that completely leaves you stunned. Looper is carefully constructed, and despite it’s flaws, very well-made. It remains one of the most original movies of the decade.
8. The Avengers
It isn’t easy to stuff 5 superheroes into one film, but The Avengers proves that a devoted director and talented cast can get the job done. Not only is this film one of the best super-hero movies of the decade, it is also one of those rare expertly-written ones. What’s most fascinating to watch is the interactions between the superheroes in this movie, which works tremendously because of an excellent cast. The actors are so great that it is hard to pick out a standout. And I can finally say that the character of Hulk is seamlessly brought to screen. Who can deny such fun pop-corn entertainment? Definitely not the fans of these superheroes.
9. The Dark Knight Rises
I don’t recall being as excited or thrilled for any film’s release other than The Dark Knight Rises. The thought of creating a sequel to 2008’s masterful The Dark Knight really caught my attention. It was my most anticipated movie of the year and it did not disappoint completely. Despite some glaring flaws, it was an amazing conclusion to a fantastic trilogy. It wrapped up Bruce Wayne’s story arc effectively, while also introducing new characters such as John Blake, Selina Kyle, and Bane. Yes, it was just shy of 3 hours long, but very well-paced for that matter. However, the best thing about this film, apart from several spectacular set-pieces was the ending. The last 15 minutes of this movie were breathtaking to watch and smartly crafted. It is one of the best conclusions ever and perhaps the most satisfying ending to any film.
After the disappointing Quantum of Solace, it seemed unlikely that any Bond film would live up to the standard of 2006’s Casino Royale. Sam Mendes’ Skyfall almost does. It is an exhilarating experience that does not have a dull moment. Daniel Craig is the best he’s ever been as James Bond, but what really pushed this film into my list, was Javier Bardem’s psychotic and unforgettable performance as the main villain. Let’s not forget Roger Deakins’ fantastic cinematography either.