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Paul Thomas Anderson's 'The Master' Tops Sight & Sound's Best Of 2012

by Kevin Jagernauth
December 1, 2012 11:04 AM
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The Master Joaquin Phoenix

It's December 1st, which means we're just weeks away from 2013, and critics will be compiling their 'Best of 2012' lists over the next few weeks. The Cahiers Du Cinema already got the ball rolling with their selection of the best films of the year, and now another venerated cinema magazine has unveiled their choices.

Decided by a poll of around 100 critics, Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" has topped Sight & Sound's Best Of 2012. American cinema made a particularly strong showing, with Benh Zeitlin's "Beasts Of The Southern Wild" and Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom" also making the grade. Leos Carax, Miguel Gomes and David Cronenberg continue to get international love as "Holy Motors," "Tabu" and "Cosmopolis" all find slots here, as they did on the Cahiers Du Cinema list. The lone UK film is "Berberian Sound Studio" which is a nice boost for the little thriller.

Do you like this selection? Check out the full slate below courtesy of Film Detail.

"Sight & Sound" Best Of 2012

1. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, USA) (review)
2. Tabu (Miguel Gomes, Portugal/Germany/France) (review)
3. Amour (Michael Haneke, France/Germany/Austria) (review)
4. Holy Motors (Leos Carax, France/Germany) (review)
5. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin, USA) (review)
= Berberian Sound Studio (Peter Strickland, UK/Germany) (review)
7. Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, USA) (review)
8. Beyond the Hills (Christian Mungiu, Romania/France/Belgium) (review)
= Cosmopolis (David Cronenberg, Canada/France/Portugal/Italy) (review)
= Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey/Bosnia & Herzegovina) (review)
= This is Not A Film (Jafar Pahani & Mojtaba Mirtahmaseb, Iran) (review)

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  • Jackie Brown | March 3, 2013 12:15 AMReply

    Argo is a good movie but best picture of the year i don't think so. Beast of the southern wild, The Masters, are better than it. But today everything about anti Islam wins the Oscar. In 2010 Hurt Locker won best picture because it support the American Propaganda of war against Iraq as they show three man Explosive Ordnance Disposal team a hero and Iraq civilians an antagonist who are responsible for terror and anarchy in country .Argo is another western supportive movie which is based on the Canadian Caper that took place during the Iran hostage crisis in 1979 and 1980. Mass destructive weapons were just an excuse to cover their greediness everybody knows that the U.S invaded Iraq in order to conquer oil and natural gas there. Now a day’s Academy and BAFTA are doing the same thing, covering their dirt by rewarding such kind of movies .

  • Fadays | January 12, 2013 12:28 AMReply

    Argo should be on this list

  • gerard kennelly | December 5, 2012 12:56 AMReply

    The Master ..gonna buy it on region 1 dvd
    Amour ...too depressing
    Holy Motors... too weird
    Beasts of the Southern Wild ...gonna watch it this week
    Berberian Sound Studio ...the kind of film depalma used to make
    Moonrise Kingdom ...saw it weeks ago loved it
    Beyond the Hills ...too boring
    Cosmopolis ...saw it last week loved it
    Once Upon a Time in Anatolia... gonna buy it on dvd next week
    This is Not A Film ...too dull

  • Huffy | December 3, 2012 12:11 AMReply

    Nice list: plenty of interesting choices without the pretensions bias to established-auteurs that Cahiers' list was full of.

  • lenij | December 2, 2012 10:44 PMReply

    As long as the Master is on the top spot. It's all good.

  • Richard | December 2, 2012 2:55 PMReply

    Big joke

  • Dan | December 2, 2012 10:56 AMReply

    That's because The Master is the best film of the year and deserves to be number 1 and deserves to win Best Picture and most of the other awards, espicially acting. But It won't because some self celebratory conventional explain everything to the audience crap like Lincoln or sing-along Les Miserables. Ugh. Cinema is going to die people.

  • Glass | December 3, 2012 6:05 AM

    Anderson's BEST film??? omg... And stop getting personal with me, Sarcasmo :)

  • ben | December 3, 2012 3:08 AM

    Glass, please stop pretending your opinion is fact, and implying that anyone who disagrees is wrong. I happen to think it's Anderson's best film. Not having been a huge fan of his, nor having a lot of expectations about the movie, I was extremely impressed. Sorry that people like myself are getting wrapped up in something you're not a fan of. Something you--authority that you are--consider "pretty good at best." It really is a big deal, isn't it?

  • Glass | December 3, 2012 1:00 AM

    Dude, The Master was my most anticipated film of the year, PTA is one of my biggest filmmaking inspirations, and I drove almost 300 miles to see it opening night in LA. Through ALL of that, I had to admit to myself that it wasn't a great film... I'm not trying to troll it, but it's lame to see the blogosphere get so wrapped up in movies that are intriguing but PRETTY GOOD at best. And Finding Nemo is a great litmus test to see where a person's critical head is at - if they diss it, they aren't very interested in storytelling. That or they haven't seen it in a long time, or they're mad because they think I'm trolling THE MASTER.

  • Huffy | December 3, 2012 12:29 AM

    @GLASS: Are you trying to be cute and clever by railing out against the "popular" art film choices or do you actually believe what your saying?

  • Glass | December 2, 2012 11:55 PM

    Buddy that's exactly right

  • nightgoat72 | December 2, 2012 8:19 PM

    @GLASS: Hahahahahahahahahahahaha

    The Master is "anti-entertainment," but Finding Nemo has "deep emotional/intellectual roots." Whatever, buddy.

  • Piotr | December 2, 2012 6:22 PM

    Girls, you're both pretty.

  • Glass | December 2, 2012 1:26 PM

    If cinema is going to die (it won't), it'd be because people keep calling murky anti-entertainments like The Master 'great films'. How about rooting or wishing for something that is totally entertaining on a surface level with deep emotional/intellectual roots, like The Godfather or Finding Nemo or something?

  • Ted | December 2, 2012 10:47 AMReply

    For me The Master had the makings of a "masterpiece" but never quite got there, it was all so nebulous and remote. However, I give PTA credit because he at least tries to make something exciting. There are so few American, and especially Hollywood, directors who try to make daring masterpieces anymore. Beasts gets too "obvious" on repeated viewings and becomes preachy. I enjoyed Holy Motors, but sometimes it just went too far down the rabbit hole and lost structural coherence. I didn't get Cosmopolis at all. Moonrise is enjoyable, but not a great film. The only film I thought was really great here is Amour, but even that film isn't especially daring in the way I've come to expect from Haneke. Anatolia and This Is Not a Film are excellent, but I saw both in 2011. Honestly, 2012 seemed like a weak year for cinema.

  • Glass | December 2, 2012 7:45 AMReply

    Can I get a +1 from anyone that S&S shouldn't be seen as a credible authority on movies? "Mulholland Dr." being in the top 30 movies of all-time? lulztown

  • nightgoat72 | December 3, 2012 9:30 AM

    The AFI Top 100 is a joke. They're one of the most boring film recognition groups this side of the Academy.

  • Glass | December 3, 2012 6:00 AM

    Totally you nailed it. Mulholland Dr. is an AWESOME movie, but I steer clear of lists that place it as the 28th greatest film of all time. And I know they're polls of outside critics/etc. - I never said "anyone at S&S". Crazy swath of people they poll... Now the AFI Top 100? That's a fuckin list.

  • ben | December 3, 2012 2:55 AM

    Right, and without any authority whatsoever you're arguing that (1) these critics are not authoritative on the subject of film and (2) that Mulholland Dr. is not as great as they think it is. And for the record, the majority of critics who vote on these polls do not work at Sight & Sound. They come from all around the world. So who are you referring to when you say "anyone at S&S?"

  • Glass | December 2, 2012 11:56 PM

    I'm not an authority on movies, period. Their lists are the ones getting blog headlines all over the internets - I'm in a comment section of one of those blog posts.

  • ben | December 2, 2012 6:07 PM

    And you ARE a credible authority on movies? Mulholland Dr. is NOT one of the top 30 movies of all-time because some guy named "Glass" says so?

  • Glass | December 2, 2012 1:31 PM

    HAHAHA... The list games are wearing me out at this point too. I know it's the journalists' jobs to make sense of the noise for everyone (daunting in the information age), but holy shit I need a break. If I followed the lists and the critics all the time, I wouldn't have found out that Birth is one my favorite movies of all time

  • Ted | December 2, 2012 1:17 PM

    Oh, I also found the S&S top 30 editors list of the 2000s. You are right we probably shouldn't take S&S too seriously. The list has some good stuff like Yi Yi or Colossal Youth, it also featured Bourne Supremacy and Inland Empire ... so yeah.

  • Ted | December 2, 2012 1:13 PM

    I see what you mean now. Yeah these lists can get bizarre sometimes. A lot of critics don't know what they are talking about. But it's important to remember on these aggregated lists you only need 15 or so ardent supporters of some silly film to get it into top 30 territory. All you have to do is snooker 10-20 pseudo intellectuals into a frenzy. I doubt most critics would put Mulholland near their top 30. Honestly though I find top ten of all time lists a bit silly. I mean how do I even compare something like Late Spring to Playtime? I can't even decide between Late Spring and An Autumn Afternoon, let alone start comparing different films across directors, language, era, culture, genres etc.

  • Glass | December 2, 2012 1:02 PM

    That's what I mean - these critics lists they amass and publish are pretty bonkers to me. But maybe I'm too used to the RottenTomatoes lamestream opinions

  • Ted | December 2, 2012 10:25 AM

    While I agree that Mulholland Dr has no business in any top 30 list, this does not reflect poorly on S&S. All they did was poll hundreds of critics and that is the result. Similarly here they just polled 100 critics and this is the result they got. I think this is a useful service because it's interesting to know what a large number of top critics believe. I do wish the S&S editorial board would release their own top ten list alongside it though. I believe they did a top 30 list of the 2000s but I do not recall whether the list was any good or not.

  • nader | December 2, 2012 7:33 AMReply

    Rob pattinson Oscar for the film cosmopolis

  • just me | December 1, 2012 10:42 PMReply

    in my list The Master and Cosmopolis are the best, simply because sometimes you need to see the Acting rather than special effects which is a rare thing nowadays. whoever says Cosmopolis is full of himself should try to see past all the sophisticated bs written by critics.

  • DG | December 1, 2012 10:27 PMReply

    The Master is great. It sounds like a cheap excuse but you really have to see it more than once to fully appreciate it. I hope we won't have to wait as long for Inherent Vice though.

  • Daniel Delago | December 1, 2012 7:40 PMReply

    This film will be on my Top Ten List too. American audiences didn't get it but it is doing well overseas. Paul Thomas Anderson is an auteur and his films are masterworks.

  • Kevin Dean | December 1, 2012 4:24 PMReply

    The Master is kinda slow and boring.

  • Sovie Hinsdale | December 1, 2012 4:42 PM


  • Scootm | December 1, 2012 3:40 PMReply

    Beasts of the Southern Wild? Really?! Cheesy movie.
    How is Tabu number 2 and Amour 3? Blood of My Blood(portuguese as well) is so much better than Tabu anyways.
    And Cosmopolis? wow - now that's crazy

  • Remy | December 1, 2012 3:36 PMReply

    Very intellectual.

  • Jon | December 1, 2012 12:32 PMReply

    The salt from these responses is delicious, please keep it up

  • Evan | December 1, 2012 12:21 PMReply

    ALL HAIL THE MASTER!!! In my mind it is the best of the year. Huge P.T. Anderson fan.

  • mikeR | December 1, 2012 12:15 PMReply

    Those are the top 10 most pretentious movies of the year, right?

  • Josh | December 1, 2012 5:15 PM

    D - long time reader of playlist, first time commenter. Your response warmed my heart. THANK YOU.

  • Sovie Hinsdale | December 1, 2012 4:45 PM

    My sentiments exactamundo...

  • Josh | December 1, 2012 3:36 PM

    D - long time reader of playlist, first time commenter. Your response warmed my heart. THANK YOU.

  • d | December 1, 2012 2:36 PM

    quick what does pretentious mean

  • MovieFan | December 1, 2012 12:05 PMReply

    Had to just roll my eyes at The Master being selected as Number 1, as if there were any doubt. Critics love meandering, non-linear storytelling,unique acting and flashly cinematography to be easily pleased these days. No doubt this overrated film will continue to sweep the critics awards as the weeks pass.

  • d | December 1, 2012 6:09 PM

    hey remy why don't you speak for yourself? who says the audience didn't "care about the subtext?"

  • Remy | December 1, 2012 3:41 PM

    If a movie doesn't do enough with its "text" to make the audience care about the subtext, it's not necessarily the audience's fault. I love "The Master", but "Cosmopolis" and "Holy Motors", for example, are too full of themselves to be believed, and critics have no reason to vote for them except to show that they're good leftist intellectuals.

  • Saria | December 1, 2012 3:04 PM

    You mean people with taste recognize films which elevate the artform? Films which express more in their subtext than you can evidently comprehend? You're right, it is a shame (to be you).

  • jt | December 1, 2012 12:01 PMReply

    This group didn't screen the The Hobbit, Django Unchained, etc... I can't take this list seriously.

  • The Fanciful Norwegian | December 2, 2012 11:51 AM

    They were going to call it "Best Films the Bulk of Our Respondents Saw Between December of Last Year and December of This Year," but that wouldn't fit on the masthead. (Plus "The Hobbit" is the only one of the films mentioned in this thread that will actually play in the UK this year.)

  • Glass | December 2, 2012 7:39 AM

    @Christopher Bell -- Yeah.

  • Christopher Bell | December 2, 2012 12:37 AM

    Look at the list. Do you really think "The Hobbit" or "Les Mis" or "This is 40" or even "Django Unchained" would've made a difference?

  • AS | December 1, 2012 12:34 PM

    That's what I was going to say. If you compile a top 10 best films of the year list when you haven't even seen some of the years major releases, you have absolutely no credibility.

  • yer | December 1, 2012 11:25 AMReply

    America cinema reigns again.

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