Top Ten Movies of 2012


Silver Linings Playbook

Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence Silver Linings Playbook
Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence Silver Linings Playbook
Photo: The Weinstein Co.

I hesitate to simply label Silver Linings Playbook a romantic comedy, it is so much more than just a rom-com and the negative connotation that comes with that descriptor is not how I would prefer the film to be remembered.

Writer and director David O. Russell has so clearly found his groove with Silver Linings following The Fighter, two films that tell traditional narratives in emotionally honest and human ways with performances that bring the characters to life in ways that lays out all that makes them human for the audience to see, associate with and care for.

Moonrise Kingdom

Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman in Moonrise Kingdom
Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman in Moonrise Kingdom
Photo: Focus Features

Three of the films that made my top ten this year I actually saw at the Cannes Film Festival. And of the films I caught in the south of France, Moonrise Kingdom was the first as it opened the fest and immediately had people buzzing.

Earlier this year I ranked all of Wes Anderson’s films and Moonrise came out on top. As much as I hate making such claims about a relatively new film before it has had time to mature and settle into its place in history, I still have no qualms about where I placed it.

I hadn’t watched Moonrise Kingdom a second time since seeing it back on May 16 until only a week or so before finalizing this list and everything I loved about it came back to me once again. Newcomers Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman fit perfectly within Anderson’s offbeat narrative along with the joys of watching Bill Murray, Bruce Willis, Frances McDormand and Edward Norton as Khaki Scout Master Ward and Tilda Swinton as Social Services.

Django Unchained

Django Unchained
Photo: The Weinstein Co.

Coming to a conclusion on what is the best film of the year and deciding on a movie I only saw a little over two weeks before making the list is tough to commit to, but my love for Quentin Tarantino‘s work and the joy I found with Django Unchained makes me confident it’s the right choice.

Known for his strong dialogue and eccentric characters, Tarantino brought a little something more to Django than I’ve found in his other films. To answer the critics that believe he’s all about gratuitous violence and gore, he showed the difference between glorifying violence and recognizing it at its must truly abhorrent. To do so in a film that can make you laugh and revel in bloodshed is truly rare, but as I said in my review, “There are few filmmakers you can count on for a unique vision at the cinema these days. It’s nice to once again be reminded you can count on Quentin Tarantino as Django Unchained is one of his most entertaining and certainly his most terrifying film to date.”

It typically takes me a couple of viewings with a Tarantino film to fully grasp how I feel about it on a whole, but with Django all it took was seeing a trailer on television for me to realize I wanted to see it again right away.

And that does it for my top ten of 2012, here they are again in order:

  1. Django Unchained
  2. Moonrise Kingdom
  3. Silver Linings Playbook
  4. End of Watch
  5. Magic Mike
  6. Zero Dark Thirty
  7. Killing Them Softly
  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  9. Rust and Bone
  10. Lincoln

Previous Year Top Ten Lists

These are interesting to browse through, especially anything 2007 or earlier. As the lists become more recent, you can see how much more effort I not only put into making my lists, but how much more effort I put into seeing better films. On top of that, there’s an obvious change in my taste in movies on display and it really makes me want to go back and revisit a few of those years and see all I didn’t see that would have potentially made my year-end lists.

Strangely, I still think Peter Berg’s The Rundown would be up for a spot in 2003. Then again, 2003 wasn’t exactly a banner year at the cinema…

Now it’s your turn. Share your favorite films from the year directly below. I’m sure your lists will change as some of these films have still yet to make it to every market and some of you will even have to wait until DVD or Blu-ray to catch them all as the studios continue to neglect some areas of the country and world.

Over the coming weeks, I will take a look at the worst films of the year that I saw, my most disappointing as well as a final capstone on the year with my 5th Annual RopeofSilicon Awards where I name my choice for Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Actress, Director, Screenplay and more from over the course of the year. You can take a look at the previous four years right here.

Overall, looking back on 2012 I’d say it was one of the more strangely satisfying years in movies I can remember. As I continued to put this list together, memories came flooding back from many of these films and as I returned to watch some of them to make sure I felt they truly deserved their place on the list I was happy to find not only did they belong, but some belonged higher than I originally expected they would.

Films such as Magic Mike and End of Watch weren’t films I thought I’d place on my top ten after originally seeing them. I knew I liked them, but to what degree I wasn’t quite sure. It’s the magic of movies people, the question now is how many of the films mentioned here will stand the test of time and which films did I forget to mention at all that will soon be talked about even more 25 years from now. Time will only tell…

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