We Can Be Heroes! 2012 Cinema in Review

2012 banner2012, more than any other year, felt like a time when the world needed real heroes. Given all the political bullshit that went on around the globe (especially here in the United States), the man-made tragedies such as the shootings in Aurora, Colorado and Newtown, Connecticut, and the various natural disasters, it felt like we needed someone to come down and set things right. Even at a personal level, I wanted someone to guide me through some difficult inner struggles, someone who would make things aright at the blink of an eye. Well, as we all know things don’t happen like that as the most common acts of heroism are small and go unnoticed by many. But every once in a while we get to see heroes that make a lot more noise, and inspire us to do our part in changing the world, if only for a few seconds. People like the Pakistani school girl who was shot in the heard by the Taliban simply for demanding equal education for girls in her country, the Sandy Hook Elementary School teacher who gave up her life protecting her students from the rampage of a mad man, and the man who saw the lost and scared kids who escaped from that same massacre and brought them into his home to comfort them are real life, inspiring heroes, not because they changed the world, but because they did what they felt was the right thing to do, and they truly changed the lives of a few people.

This worldwide need for a hero to change our lives, I feel, was the common thread among most of the films of the year. By this I don’t mean that The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, or Skyfall defined the year, despite the fact that most of us flocked to see them.  Rather, I’m talking about films where either an every day person makes a difference in their country, their community, or even themselves simply by taking action and doing the right thing even if at first they don’t realize this thing will bring forward more than they bargained for.

Take for example, The Hunger Games. In this, our heroine, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers for the games to save her sister from certain death, even though she might lose her own. Right then, she changes the life of her sister and everyone she knows. But what she doesn’t know yet is that while in the games she’s going to start a revolution with the simple act of kindness of helping a girl younger than her last as long as possible in there.

On a smaller scale of heroism, there’s stuff like The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Here, our hero, Charlie (Logan Lerman) simply takes the courageous decision of talking to someone. That might not seem like much, but to someone like him, who has mental issues, is just starting high school and is recovering from the suicide of the only friend he had, it was a bold step to take, and not only did he become the hero of his own story, but that one seemingly simple decision would change the lives of many.

And there were many other films, such as Lincoln, Pitch Perfect, Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, Premium Rush, Argo, Hysteria, Looper, and Hope Springs, where a character simply opting to do the right thing changes the course of one life, a group of lives, or even the fate of an entire country. This theme is not new in cinema, and it will continue to be used, but this past year, it felt extra important.


So now, once again, here is my review of the year 2012 was in cinema. Obviously, this is not the end-all-be-all as in the future I will see some films that I was not able to see prior to writing this (such as Tabu, Starlet, and Middle of Nowhere), and if I do, I will go ahead and edit this post and make a note of it.

Despite this year being much weaker than the awesome year that was 2011, I will go ahead and write about my top 25. Although there were a few films that took my breath away, there were less than there were for my previous write-up. But alas, that is bound to happen right after you have a great year that included The Tree of Life, Bridesmaids, Margaret, A Separation, David Fincher’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, Weekend, etc. But I’m still content with the films that came out this year, even if there were less outright great ones. So, read on to find my top 25 films (or, rather, 29) of the year, preceded by some honorable mentions, and followed by the superlatives in other categories.

Honorable Mentions

  • 21 Jump Street
  • The Grey
  • End of Watch
  • Haywire
  • Life of Pi
  • The Master
  • Prometheus
  • Skyfall
  • Ted
  • Think Like a Man

Very Special Mention

samsaraRon Fricke’s Samsara is something special that simply can not stand with any other kind of film this year. Filmed for many years all over the world, capturing beautiful images of every kind to solicit all kinds of emotions, from awe and happiness, to hate and fear, in beautiful 70mm film, it’s the best kind of visual story telling that there can possibly be. It’s a must see for just about everyone that has a smidgeon of affection for cinema.

Top 25

mirrormirror25. Mirror Mirror

Directed by Tarsem Singh

As I sat in the theater watching this I could not help but think how lucky the kids in the audience were to have a visual master like Tarsem making a movie for them. Not only does it carry his usual visual greatness, but it’s also a real treat to have a film solely aimed at kids that is smart by not following the formula of what’s supposed to work in kids entertainment and by telling a great story with some relevant themes that does not talk down to them. And although it is aimed at kids, it made me feel like one with the joy that is found in every frame of the film.

brave24. Brave/ Frankenweenie/ Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted/ ParaNorman

Directed by Mark Andrews & Brenda Chapman/ Tim Burton/ Tom McGrath, Conrad Vernon & Eric Darnell/ Chris Butler & Sam Fell

2012 was the best year for animation since 2009 as it gave us one animated masterpiece, and many excellent ones. And since it was such a great year for the medium, and I just decided to group some of those excellent ones into one entry, resulting in this four-way tie.

As many of its critics have said, Brave is very familiar, and it’s far from groundbreaking in the story department, especially when compared to the other films the studio has released. But ever since its conception under the tutelage of Brenda Chapman, the film was never going to have a groundbreaking story. Instead, Brave thrives on old tropes and turns them on their head by doing something very few Hollywood films, especially animated ones do: make a film that straight-up focuses on mother-daughter relationships, with the men being used as plot devices rather than as interlopers that will eventually take the spotlight. Also, it helps that our heroine is a kick-ass archer, there’s a subplot about a demon bear, and it climaxes with an awesome bear fight scene.

frankenFrankenweenie is not without its problems as its narrative is barely enough to cover the 90-minute running time, and as a result it drag from time to time. But even so, John August’s screenplay is filled to the brim with ideas and social commentary that keep things interesting enough. With this, the black-and-white cinematography, purposely ugly character design, and detailed sets, Frankenweenie becomes Burton’s most inspired and passionate film since Ed Wood. While watching the film it felt like for the first time in a very long time Burton personally cared about the story and was doing his very best to make sure his vision would be admired by all. Also, for a mainstream animated release by Disney, Frankenweenie is quite bold, and that alone would be enough to admire if it wasn’t such a beautiful and thought-provoking film.

With Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, the franchise finally reaches its initial goal of being a proper homage to the creations of the likes of Chuck Jones and Tex Avery. It does so by finally dropping the pretense of having some sort of meaningful story and by putting Alex, Marty, Gloria, and Melman in crazy, chaotic, frenetic, gorgeous, and incredibly fun set pieces. These are then tied together by a plot which only exists so that Noah Baubach can shoot joke after joke at us every minute like bananas out of a gunner turret. Because of that it is one of my most memorable movie-watching experiences, and it is one that only gets better every time you watch it.

ParaNormanWhenever I sit down to watch an American animated movie, all I want out of it is to have the balls to do something different, even if it is a failure. ParaNorman had everything I could have wanted out of it, as it told a dark story, albeit in a PG manner, at a controlled, sometimes slow pace, and didn’t pull any punches. Also it manages to be politically relevant, despite all the crazy that goes on in the screen. Between this and Coraline, Laika Studios is becoming a force of nature in the American animation world. Let’s hope they keep it up.

versailles23. The Queen of Versailles

Directed by Lauren Greenfield

The Queen of Versailles presents an entertaining and fun, but sometimes haunting look at the death of the American dream. Despite the fact that we should hate these people because of their excessive spending, even during times of crisis, and because of some despicable things that they have done, they are portrayed in a fair-enough manner that in the end you want to see them succeed, mainly because they are smart people and Jackie Siegel is not your average, vapid trophy wife. They are as bad as the rest of us, but with a higher income level.

mike22. Magic Mike

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Magic Mike‘s script is a smart look at how difficult it is to make a living in a post-recession world, particularly for those that lack any sort of advanced education. Steven Soderbergh’s direction elevates it by giving it an “otherworldly” feel about it so that when its grim moments come about you don’t feel like you are watching yet another Oscar-baity film. Oh, and the scenes with Channing Tatum, Matt Bomer, and Joe Manganiello stripping were a nice little touch.

farewell21. Farewell, My Queen

Directed by Benoît Jaquot

Farewell, My Queen is a carefully paced, beautiful, interesting, and even tantalizing look at the beginning of the French revolution from the inside of Versailles from the eyes of one of Marie Antoinette’s readers. I loved how it observed how the personalities of the people changed during this time, as the world as they know it begins to crumble, and how secrets, like forbidden loves and obsessions, begin to bubble up to the surface, and even get stronger as they chaos increases.

CropperCapture[6]20. Celeste and Jesse Forever

Directed by Lee Toland Krieger

Celeste & Jesse Forever is one of the biggest surprises of the year. It came out of Sundance last year with mostly positive reviews, but very few were ecstatic, and it really looked like it would be another Sundance vehicle for a few TV stars to get some indie cred. Well, it kind of is, but there’s much more to it than that. The script, co-written by Rashida Jones, is a quirky and at times somber look at what would happen if you married then divorced your high school sweetheart but continued to be best friends. It may be too quirky to be called realistic, but there’s plenty of genuine emotion to carry the film. This emotion is perfectly brought out by the Lee Toland Krieger’s surprisingly pretty aesthetics and by the performers, especially Jones. I can’t wait to see where Jones (as a writer) and Krieger go from here as they seem to have plenty of potential.

moonrise19. Moonrise Kingdom

Directed by Wes Anderson

The spirit of adventure and innocence of young love pitted against the cynicism and constant worries of the adult world and shot through the lens of Wes Anderson. It’s his most mature film yet, and just lovely in every regard from beginning to end.

beasts18. Beasts of the Southern Wild

Directed by Benh Zeitlin

My dad is from a small town in a rural region of Mexico. It’s so small and remote that you could walk from one end to the other at a leisurely pace in about 40 minutes and you could barely get a TV signal. For many, this would hardly be an ideal place to live. The last time I visited they had this celebration going on for something that I can’t recall. Pretty much everyone was on the twin square, burning fireworks, dancing, getting drunk, and enjoying their little town. It’s not much, but these people loved it so much that they probably would never leave it unless they absolutely had to. That one night, that feeling was infections, and I felt what they felt. Beasts of the Southern Wild brought those feelings back, not only in me, but also in my dad, who said that the way Hushpuppy saw the world reminded him of growing up in his hometown, and he is not usually one to get nostalgic. Not every film can evoke these feeling, and those that do should be celebrated.

SLP17. Silver Linings Playbook

Directed by David O. Russell

Silver Linings Playbook is not the “grand” and “brave” look at mental ilness that Harvey Weinstein wanted the world to believe it was. Rather, it’s a simple and crude romantic comedy about a pair of crazies getting a second chance at love. On that level, it succeeds greatly. With it switty script and great performances from Bradley Cooper, Robert DeNiro, and Jackie Weaver, it gave me one of my loveliest movie-going experiences of the year.

ZDT16. Zero Dark Thirty

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow

It took me tow viewings to fully appreciate this films. The first time I was so overwhelmed by all the information being shown and I wanted to absorb it all. I was also put off by how emotionally detached it was despite the fact that every review said it was that kind of film. The second time, though, it clicked. Now that I knew all of the information i could focus on how necessary it was for it to be detached. I was also able to see how great Kathryn Bigelow’s technique was and how tense she managed to make the atmosphere without forcing any unnecessary emotion onto us. It really is an achievement that will continue to grown on me for years to come.

reacher15. Jack Reacher

Directed by Christopher McQuarrie

Jack Reacher doesn’t aspire to be anything else but a gritty throwback to the action films of the 70s and 80s with a simple, silly but well thought out mystery, a charismatic lead actor, a hot damsel in “distress,” cartoonish villains, and wall-to-wall visceral thrills. Many over the years have tried this, and they show that it’s easier said than done. But not this one. Christopher McQuarrie just gets everything right. The plot is no big deal, but the way he wrote and edited the film kept me guessing from the beginning; Tom Cruise is fantastic and he reminds us of how great he can be given the right role; Rosamund Pike may not get to punch anyone, but she’s badass; Werner Herzog is a joy to watch as the shadowy villain with the most deliciously evil plans; and the action, oh my god, the action, as staged by McQuarrie and the great Caleb Deschanel, are some of the few that truly deserved to be called “‘edge-of-your-seat’ exciting.” The film may not aspire to much, but by meeting it’s modest goals, it became greater than many that try to reach farther.

CropperCapture[5]14. Dredd

Directed by Pete Travis

The premise of Dredd alone would make for a fine piece of entertainment with a competent enough director attached. But Pete Travis and Alex Garland (who handled post-production after Travis and the producers clashed and he was locked out of the editing room) elevate it to an unexpected level. First off, they create a unique and interesting world, which although it is based on fantasy, I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar comes to be at one point in the future. But its root of it success lies on just how artful it is. Anthony Dod Mantles’s compositions, lighting, and over-saturated colors give us some incredibly breathtaking and clear action scenes, which are rare these days. And don’t even get me started on the “Slow-Mo” scenes, which simply are some of the most incredible visuals of the year. It also has a haunting synth score that helps add thrills rather than distract from the proceedings. Plus, it has one of the most memorable villains of the year. In other words, Dredd is fucking awesome.

karenina13. Anna Karenina

Directed by Joe Wright

I love epics, melodrama, great love stories, great tragedies, and grand visual spectacles. Joe Wright’s take on Leo Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina has them all, and it works perfectly, and that’s why I love it so.

joe12. Killer Joe

Directed by William Friedkin

The poster for this film described it as “A totally twisted deep-fried Texas redneck trailer park murder story.” That may very well be the best example of truth in advertisement. Even so, nothing prepared me for the hilarious, crazy, and disgusting trip that William Friedkin and playwright Tracy Letts would take me on, not even their previous collaboration, the equally excellent Bug. If there was ever a time when Friedkin was in a quality slimp, he doesn’t show it here, as he is at the top of his weird-loving form, getting outstanding performances from everyone in the cast, including Matthew McCounaghey’s best work to date, and creating a sweaty and slimy atmosphere that made my skin crawl. However, he never forgets that in this is a dark comedy and provides us with many uncomfortable laughs that later has you wondering why you would ever laugh at such things. Killer Joe may be twisted and disgusting, but it’s still one of the most entertaining films of the year. Hopefully Friedkin and Letts continue collaborating as they are a match made in some sort of demented heave.

motors11. Holy Motors

Directed by Leos Carax

It is generally agreed that the meaning of Leos Carax’s bewildering Holy Motors is that of the struggle of a filmmakers trying to remain excited for cinema in a world where film making is not what it used to be and about whether or not it is worth putting your life on the line for the art in a wold where it’s likely people will not notice your work. But to me, it goes much deeper than that. Knowing about the director’s own struggles in the 13 years since he last made a film, it’s obviously more personal than what it leads us to believe. What I took from it, is that every day of our lives, we put on different fronts to face the challenges that the universe presents to us, whether they are painful, disgusting, or sweet. Doing so is the only way to get through it all as we have no choice but to get into that white limousine and do what we were put on this earth to do. Otherwise, what’s the point of it all?

h&G10. Hemingway & Gellhorn

Directed by Phillip Kauffman

Hemingway & Gellhorn is the kind of movie that Hollywood used to make quite often once upon a time, but rarely have the courage to do so anymore (which is probably why this ended up at HBO). As such, there is nothing particularly groundbreaking about it but it doesn’t really matter when you have such an engrossing story unfolding in front of your eyes. This is the larger-than-life love and lust story between two larger-than-life personalities and all the larger-than-life things they went through together. And to keep up with the largeness of it all, director Phillip Kaufman tries to avoid turning it into a Lifetime Movie of the Week by using some cool cinematic tricks and by getting career-best performances from Nicole Kidman and Clive Owen. Perhaps the critics are right and this is just a bad TV movie, but I fell in love with the grandness of it all, and I wish I had the chance to see it on a big screen.

deepbluesea9. The Deep Blue Sea

Directed by Terrence Davies

Told through soft, grainy, and gloomy cinematography, which is meant to reproduce the look and feel of post-World War II England, The Deep Blue Sea, as adapted by Terrence Davies from a play by Terence Rattingan, is a critique on the so-called “stiff upper-lip” of the British society, and on the effect the war had not only on its citizens, but also on the personalities of its fighters. He does so through Hester (Rachel Weisz in her best performance yet), who has the making of a strong-willed woman. But because of the damage caused by her upbringing, her husband’s lack of visible emotion, and her lover’s alcohol problems and inflated ego she’s trapped in a world she never wanted to be in. With this and the aforementioned gloomy cinematography as well as long, static shots of faces, Davies creates a film with a suffocating atmosphere that will no doubt keep many away (and in fact has), but for me, it was ever so inviting. He puts us right in this strange but fascinating time, and in the life of such a fascinating woman that despite the fact that we live in a time when such things are not encountered as frequently I could not help but feel for her, despite the film’s cold façade.

damsels8. Damsels in Distress

Directed by Whit Stillman

Whit Stillman’s first film since 1998’s The Last Days of Disco is unlike anything he has done before. Like his previous films, Stillman used his trademark deadpan humor and dialogue to satirize today’s youth, but does so in a completely different way. Set in the fictional Seven Oaks College, and shot with a dream-like softness, Stillman shows young people through a 1950s filter to tell us that things haven’t really changed all this time and that young people are still prone to do silly things and to think that they are better and smarter than they actually are, and it will always be that way. Thanks to the characters and their amazing dialogue, and and overall fantastic production design, Damsels is one of the greatest cinematic pleasures of the year. It may have taken 14 years for Stillman to release a new film, but it was worth the wait.

atlas7. Cloud Atlas

Directed by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer & Andy Wachowski

There is no denying that Cloud Atlas is a mess in that the story simply gets away from the capabilities of the filmmakers. This results in often jarring shifts in tone and some segments simply should not have been included. However, it still remains one ambitious achievement, and one of the best theatrical experiences I had in 2012. In addition to the ambition, the meticulous crafts and exciting set pieces put it above most films that have a tighter hold on their story. Sure, some of its philosophy is silly, but this is one of those films that you just have let wash over and just give yourself up to the experience. It’s a breathtaking film the likes of which we will not be seeing again in theaters any time soon.

cabin6. The Cabin in the Woods

Directed by Drew Goddard

In 2012, Joss Whedon released two films that assembled various genre icons at let hell break loose in both of them. One was The Avengers, which united various Marvel superheroes for no purpose other than to blow shit up real good. The other, The Cabin in the Woods, which Whedon only co-wrote, assembled not characters (well, sort of) but horror clichés, but this time he did have a purpose- to kill the modern horror movie. Whedon and Drew Goddard didn’t do it out of hate for the genre but out of love because they were tired of every horror movie more or less following the same formula, and it needed new life brought to it. In doing so, not only did they come up with one of the funniest and most clever films of the year, but actually with the best, scariest mainstream horror film since Drag Me to Hell. In the end, box office results showed that audiences didn’t want to kill horror just yet, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Whedon and Goddard have crafted a horror masterpiece.

ralph5. Wreck-it Ralph

Directed by Rich Moore

Wreck-it Ralph is made up of almost everything that has made some of Disney’s masterpieces become what they are. It has a sweet story about misfits trying to find their way in the world, like many characters in the films of the studio’s second renaissance (The Little Mermaid to Fantasia 2000), the visual ambition of Sleeping Beauty and Fantasia, and the fearlessness of films like Bambi, Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland, and even The Black Cauldron. This is then mixed with some modern tropes, shameless product placement, and the result is spectacular. It’s fun as one would expect, but it is also way deeper than what we have come to expect from non-Pixar American animation. The hero is doing what he does out of desperation because he isn’t liked by anyone in his community. His sidekick is a victim of a crime of greed, and their quest, for once, feels like there are things at stake because the filmmakers stick to the elaborate rules that the writers created for the film’s world. I’ve said it before and it looks like I’ll keep saying it for many years to come: when it comes to the Disney cannon, Wreck-it Ralph is second only to Bambi.

lincoln4. Lincoln

Directed by Steven Spielberg

Much like A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Lincoln sees Steven Spielberg being not the driving force behind the film, but rather a key collaborator in a film that required the leadership of more than one individual. By having other key collaborators like Tony Kushner and Daniel Day-Lewis, two people whose work cannot simply be treated as mere tools, Spielberg was able to hold back his usual need for grandness and presents us with something relatively smaller. The result is a film that is driven by dialogue and performances that gets down to the nitty gritty of the way American politics work as well as riveting, honest, and non-reverential look at hte last months in the life of one of the most beloved figures in American history. Even with films like Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Schindler’s List on his resume, I wouldn’t be surprised if Lincoln is remembered as the highest point in his career, and it wouldn’t be a pick I’d argue with.

403. This is 40

Directed by Judd Apatow

With its long running time, gratuitous use of potty humor, and the casting of Leslie Mann and Paul Rudd, This is 40 is without a doubt a Judd Apatow film. However, it’s unlike anything he’s ever done and when it was over, I was over-the-moon. Unlike his previous films, This is 40 is not driven by a single premise and then the whole film is spent trying to solve the obstacles these premises bring. It opens like it’s going to be about Debbie not wanting to accept that she’s 40, but although that is part of it, the scope is much larger than that. In the end, it’s an honest, held-back, perfectly acted (Rudd and Mann are Oscar-worthy) and hilarious look at the seemingly-mundane things that these people go through every day. In that, it reminded me a bit of what Mike Leigh does in his films, and much like them, the film doesn’t climax with some big set piece, but rather with an old-fashioned verbal match that brings all secrets to light. And really, that is some ballsy stuff for a mainstream comedy film. This is easily Apatow’s best, and I hope that in time it will at least come to be appreciated as such.

perks2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower/ Pitch Perfect

Directed by Stephen Chbosky/ Jason Moore

Earlier I wrote about how one of the recurring themes I saw in film this year was about individuals looking for a hero becomes their own, and not only do they save themselves, but they also end up positively affecting those closest to them. These two films, in addition to being great and entertaining (in their own particular ways, of course) are the perfect embodiment of this theme.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower became one of my most anticipated films of the year right after I read the book, because, as corny as it sound, it changed my life as it finally pushed me to come to terms with some things that had been plaguing my mind for years. Because of this, it also became one of my most feared films of the year as there were many ways it could have failed, especially with an inexperienced director and Hollywood politics behind it. Thankfully, all of my fears were put to rest. As an adaptation is perfect as Chbosky knew that not everything he wrote was going to work at a cinematic level. Also, surprisingly, it was very much a visually driven film as it used atmosphere instead of words to evoke the feelings Charlie was experiencing. As for the performances, they were everything I could have imagined. Perhaps I’m biased, but I think that even if I had never read the book I would have been as touched by the film. It really is a fantastic work of art from top to bottom and my experience with it is proof that cinema really can be more than mere moving images on a screen.

pitchUnlike Perks, Pitch Perfect wasn’t even on my radar until about a couple of weeks before its release because its producer and star Elizabeth Banks was promoting the hell out of it on Twitter. During that time I watched the trailer and thought it looked fine but too ”Glee-ish.” But even then I decided to watch it because why not? That was possibly the greatest movie decision I made in 2012. I laughed until my belly hurt. I felt so many feelings and I couldn’t help being swept away by the musical numbers. But beyond that, it simply is one of the best productions of the year. Jason Moore’s directorial debut is so filled with visual energy with its bright colors and lively camera work, and he gets perfect performances form everyone in the cast, even from the people that have only a couple of significant lines to say. The script is sharp, funny, real, and it isn’t afraid of pushing the buttons of the more conservative folks out there. But it’s most admirable trait, and what ultimately brings this all together and makes it work so well is how beautifully diverse the cast is. Sure, the white characters are still the leads and they get the happiest of endings, but I’m glad that they were not afraid to cast people of all shapes, colors, and sizes in major, non-stereo typical roles for a comedy from a major studio. This made the film rise from being a fine comedy to the most authentic one and one of the greater achievements of the year.

amour1. Amour

Directed by Michael Haneke

Many have described Michael Haneke’s latest effort as “sad,” “depressing,” and even “hateful.” Here’s another word that, in my opinion, describes it: “uplifting.” Sure, the subject matter as presented is the last thing you would think of as “uplifting.” However, Haneke’s realistic, unflinching take on love and death has an underlying beauty that shines through its cinematography, careful pacing, and performances. This beauty, despite the cold surface, shows us that no matter how ugly things can, and will get, love is everything you could possibly need to get through them, even if the ending is not an ideal one. This had a bigger impact on me than anything else on the film and it gave me a great, but odd feeling of bliss (much like last year’s Melancholia) and for that Amour is my favorite film of 2012.

The Superlatives


  1. Michael Haneke, Amour
  2. Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
  3. Leos Carax, Holy Motors
  4. Judd Apatow, This is 40
  5. Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer & Andy Wachowski, Cloud Atlas
  6. Joe Wright, Anna Karenina
  7. Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom
  8. Terence Davies, The Deep Blue Sea
  9. Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  10. Whit Stillman, Damsels in Distress


  1. Jean-Louis Trintignant as “Georges” in Amour
  2. Logan Lerman as “Charlie” in The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  3. Denis Lavant as “Monsieur Oscar” in Holy Motors
  4. Garret Hedlund as “Dean Moriarty” in On the Road
  5. Daniel Day-Lewis as “Abraham Lincoln” in Lincoln
  6. Clive Owen as “Ernest Hemingway” in Hemingway & Gellhorn
  7. Matthew McCounaghey as “Killer Joe Cooper” in Killer Joe
  8. Jake Gyllenhaal as “Brian Taylor” & Michael Peña as “Mike Zavala” in End of Watch
  9. Matthias Schoenaerts as “Alain van Versch” in Rust and Bone
  10. Bradley Cooper as “Pat” in Silver Linings Playbook


  1. Emmanuelle Riva as “Anne” in Amour
  2. Rachel Weisz as “Hester Collyer” in The Deep Blue Sea
  3. Nicole Kidman as “Martha Gellhorn” in Hemingway & Gellhorn
  4. Anna Kendrick as “Beca” in Pitch Perfect
  5. Rashida Jones as “Celeste” in Celeste and Jesse Forever
  6. Marion Cotillard as “Stéphanie” in Rust and Bone
  7. Leslie Mann as “Debbie” in This is 40
  8. Naomi Watts as “Maria” in The Impossible
  9. Keira Knightley as “Anna Karenina” in Anna Karenina
  10. Greta Gerwig as “Violet” in Damsels in Distress


  1. Samuel L. Jackson as “Stephen” in Django Unchained
  2. Sam Rockwell as “Billy” in Seven Psycopaths
  3. David Strathairn as “John Dos Passos” in Hemingway & Gellhorn & as “William Seward” in Lincoln
  4. Christopher Walken as “Hans” in Seven Psycopaths and as “Peter Mitchell” in A Late Quartet
  5. Robert DeNiro as “Pat Sr.” in Silver Linings Playbook
  6. Ewan McGregor as “Henry” in The Impossible
  7. Armie Hammer as “Prince Alcott” in Mirror Mirror
  8. Ezra Miller as “Patrick” in The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  9. Simon Russell Beale as “Sir William Collyer” in The Deep Blue Sea
  10. Alan Tudyk as “King Candy” in Wreck-it Ralph


  1. Sarah Silverman as “Vanellope” in Wreck-it Ralph and “Geraldine” in Take This Waltz
  2. Amy Adams as “Peggy Dodd” in The Master
  3. Sally Field as “Mary Todd Lincoln” in Lincoln
  4. Rebel Wilson as “Fat Amy” in Pitch Perfect
  5. Isabelle Huppert as “Eva” in Amour
  6. Carmen Ejogo as “Sister” in Sparkle
  7. Gina Gershon as “Sharla Smith” in Killer Joe
  8. Juno Temple as “Dottie Smith” in Killer Joe
  9. Alicia Vikander as “Kitty” in Anna Karenina
  10. Jennifer Ehle as “Jessica” in Zero Dark Thirty


  1. Amour by Michael Haneke
  2. The Cabin in the Woods by Drew Goddard & Joss Whedon
  3. Damsels in Distress by Whit Stillman
  4. Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
  5. Celeste and Jesse Forever by Rashida Jones & Will McCormack
  6. Hemingway & Gellhorn by Jerry Stahl and Barbara Turner
  7. Seven Psychopaths by Martin McDonagh
  8. Your Sister’s Sister by Lynne Shelton
  9. Zero Dark Thirty by Mark Boal
  10. Wreck-it Ralph by Phil Jonston & Jennifer Lee


  1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, based on his novel
  2. Lincoln by Tony Kushner, based in part on the book “Team of Rivals” by Doris Kearns Goodwin
  3. Cloud Atlas by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykver, & Andy Wachowski, based on the novel by David Mitchell
  4. The Deep Blue Sea by Terence Davies, based on the play by Terence Rattigan
  5. Killer Joe by Tracy Letts based on his play
  6. This is 40 by Judd Apatow, based on his characters from Knocked Up
  7. Anna Karenina by Tom Stoppard, based on the novel by Leo Tolstoy
  8. The Grey by Joe Carnahan & Ian Mackenzie Jeffers, based on Jeffers’s short story, “Ghost Walker”
  9. Pitch Perfect by Kay Cannon, based on the book “Pitch Pefect: The Quest for Collegiate A Capella Glory” by Mickey Rapkin
  10. On the Road by Jose Rivera, based on the novel by Jack Kerouac

art direction-f

  1. Anna Karenina
  2. Prometheus
  3. Cloud Atlas
  4. Lincoln
  5. Amour
  6. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
  8. Moonrise Kingdom
  9. Damsels in Distress
  10. Skyfall


  1. The Master
  2. Amour
  3. Anna Karenina
  4. Skyfall
  5. Lincoln
  6. Jack Reacher
  7. Dredd
  8. The Deep Blue Sea
  9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  10. Damsels in Distress

costumes copy

  1. Mirror Mirror
  2. Pitch Perfect
  3. Anna Karenina
  4. The Master
  5. Damsels in Distress
  6. The Girl
  7. Cloud Atlas
  8. Skyfall
  9. Lincoln
  10. Take This Waltz


  1. Cloud Atlas
  2. Lincoln
  3. Zero Dark Thirty
  4. Anna Karenina
  5. Skyfall
  6. Life of Pi
  7. Wreck-it Ralph
  8. Moonrise Kingdom
  9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  10. Magic Mike


  1. Holy Motors
  2. Cloud Atlas
  3. The Impossible
  4. Hemingway & Gellhorn
  5. Lincoln
  6. Men in Black 3
  7. Anna Karenina
  8. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  9. The Grey
  10. The Cabin in the Woods


  1. Anna Karenina by Dario Marianelli (Outstanding track: “She is of the Heavens“)
  2. Cloud Atlas by Tom Tykwer, Johnny Klimek & Reinhold Heil (Outstanding track: “Cloud Atlas End Title“)
  3. The Master by Johnny Greenwood (Outstanding track: “Application 45 Version 1“)
  4. Zero Dark Thirty by Alexandre Desplat (Outstanding track: “Flight to Compound“)
  5. Lincoln by John Williams (Outstanding track: “The People’s House“)
  6. Beasts of the Southern Wild by Dan Romer & Benh Zeitlin (Outstanding track: “Once There Was a Hushpuppy“)
  7. Brave by Patrick Doyle (Outstanding track: “Fate & Destiny“)
  8. Wreck-it Ralph by Henry Jackman (Outstanding track: “Wreck-it Ralph“)
  9. Life of Pi by Mychael Danna (Outstanding track: “God Storm“)
  10. Moonrise Kingdom by Alexandre Desplat (Outstanding track: “The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe Parts 4-6: Thunder, Lightning, and Rain“)


  1. Breath of Life” from Snow White & the Huntsman
  2. Freedom” from Django Unchained
  3. Skyfall” from Skyfall
  4. Learn Me Right” from Brave
  5. Song of the Lonely Mountain” from The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
  6. Strange Love” from Frankenweenie
  7. Abraham’s Daughter” from The Hunger Games
  8. Ancora Qui” from Django Unchained
  9. Who Did That to You” from Django Unchained
  10. Love Always Comes as a Surprise” from Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted


  1. Wreck-it Ralph
  2. Zero Dark Thirty
  3. Skyfall
  4. The Impossible
  5. Hemingway & Gellhorn
  6. Django Unchained
  7. Brave
  8. Prometheus
  9. Cloud Atlas
  10. The Grey


  1. Life of Pi
  2. Cloud Atlas
  3. Prometheus
  4. Dredd
  5. The Impossible
  6. Rust and Bone
  7. Skyfall
  8. The Dark Knight Rises
  9. Men in Black 3
  10. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


  1. Lincoln
  2. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  3. Pitch Perfect
  4. Silver Linings Playbook
  5. The Impossible
  6. Cloud Atlas
  7. On the Road
  8. Damsels in Distress
  9. Moonrise Kingdom
  10. The Grey


  1. Rich Moore, Wreck-it Ralph
  2. Drew Goddard, The Cabin in the Woods
  3. Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
  4. Jason Moore, Pitch Perfect
  5. Lorene Scafaria, Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

Other Categories

Biggest Surprise

Pitch Perfect

Biggest Disappointment

Les Misérables

Most Interesting Failure

Not Fade Away

Most Wasted Potential


Most Overrated

By the critics: Looper

By the public: Django Unchained

Most Underrated

By the critics: Cloud Atlas

By the public: Dredd

Best Moments

  1. Talking Limousines- Holy Motors
  2. Monster Madness- The Cabin in the Woods
  3. “Fireworks”- Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted
  4. Tsunami- The Impossible
  5. The Bellas’s final performance- Pitch Perfect
  6. The mole’s visit- Zero Dark Thirty
  7. Storm/Ship sinking- Life of Pi
  8. The last drive through the tunnel- The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  9. Final Vote- Lincoln
  10. C-Section- Prometheus

Best Shots

(In no particular order)

mrkshotMoonrise Kingdom

dbsshotThe Deep Blue Sea


pishotLife of Pi


Best Single Costume


Best Poster


Best Trailer

Best Soundtrack

Worst Films of the Year

Note: I stopped The Raid: Redemption and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance about 20 minutes in because I could not take how terrible they were. They would take the top two spots here, but I won’t because I didn’t watch them all the way through.

1. Casa De Mi Padre– A one-joke movie where the joke gets old two-minutes in

2. Journey 2: The Mysterious Island– Ugly, stupid, and, worst of all, no sense of wonder

3. Ice Age: Continental Drift– A bunch of stuff involving a yeti happens, and there are supposed to be some jokes in there, I think, and, yeah. Oh, and there’s a whale named Precious. How rude.

4. Taken 2- The same as the first one, but without a sense of fun or one ounce of creativity

5. Contraband– To be honest, I don’t remember anything about it. That’s probably enough to place it here.

6. Wrath of the Titans– Great visual effects wasted on a loud, boring, and obnoxious film. I know the director is Michael Bay’s protegé, I bet he might even be ashamed of his student.

7. Red Tails– I remember reading somewhere that George Lucas once said he was the only one who could save black cinema. If that’s the case, then Black cinema is dead.

8. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen– Why does this even exist? Offensively bad, and not even the chemistry between the leads works in its favor.

9. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel– A bunch of the best actors working out there in a thankless, offensive, and even racist film.

10. Rock of Ages– Painful to watch due to its untalented leads, and how obviously everyone else (except for Tom Cruise and Mary J. Blige) is just doing it for the paycheck.

So, that’s it for 2012! Do share your thoughts on the article, my picks, and share your own picks on the comments below. Until next year!


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