TOH! Top Tens of 2012 (UPDATED)

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by TOH!
December 20, 2012 12:26 PM
12 Comments
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Bradley Cooper in 'Silver Linings Playbook'
JACOB COMBS

(in no particular order)

"Silver Linings Playbook"

Unexpectedly, David O. Russell's quirky but affecting slice of Philadelphia life was the most enjoyable movie of the year in my book.  Jennifer Lawrence is a knockout, Bradley Cooper does his best work, and the genre shifts from psychological drama to screwball family weirdness to straight-up romcom are handled with an admirable deftness.

"Lincoln"

With "Lincoln," Spielberg reminds us why he's a totem in American film: his direction has a light, subtle touch, Tony Kushner's script makes political wonk-talk into poetry, and the big-name cast turns in exquisite performances.  This film will be a classic--and one we look back to in order to examine how we envisioned ourselves (and our shared history) during our own time of great political divide.

"Brave"

Yes, "Brave" is B-level material for Pixar--but if anyone other than the premiere American animation studio had made this movie, we would have said it was the best animated movie of the year.  The scenery is breathtaking, Merida's hair is a technological triumph, and the characters mess up and sometimes treat each other badly, just like we do.

"The Dark Knight Rises"

To some extent, this is a nod to Nolan's entire Batman trilogy.  Was "The Dark Knight Rises" the best of the new Batman movies?  No.  But it's a fitting conclusion to a series that asked us questions few recent movies--let alone superhero movies--have, and nobody makes big-screen blockbusters like Nolan right now.

"Argo"

Ben Affleck excels in this movie--behind the camera, that is.  His Tony Mendez was perhaps my least favorite part of "Argo," but his direction is sharp and perceptive.  The scene in the airport was perfect I-know-this-will-end-fine-but-I'm-so-stressed moviegoing.  And for some reason, I love the period awful-but-great glasses, hair and clothing.

'The Hunger Games'
"Skyfall"

As a Bond movie, "Skyfall" wouldn't top my list of the Daniel Craig films (that would be "Casino Royale") but as a Bond movie, it's tops.  The visuals are great, the action is crisp, and I'm not too proud to say I love the idea that Bond might have tussled in the sheets with another guy at some point in his storied career.

"Wreck-It-Ralph"

OK, I admit it: I'm a sucker for animated movies.  But seriously--I loved every minute I spent watching this film, and as someone who almost never cries at movies, I teared up twice.  After "Tangled" (and "Bolt," which I enjoyed), I'm excited to see more of this new direction Disney's heading in.

"Flight"

Whoa.  "Flight" is a surprisingly and refreshingly dark film, which makes it exciting that it even made it to the big screen (apparently Robert Zemeckis and Denzel Washington waived their fees to make it happen).  Filled with deft, nimble camerawork--especially during its thrilling, disturbing and remarkable plane crash sequence--this film turns addiction into a high-stakes battle where the protagonist and antagonist are one and the same.  Washington is great; Don Cheadle does wonders with a supporting part.

"The Hunger Games"

I'll probably be the only TOHer to put this on my list, but "The Hunger Games" was one of the very few times I've ever liked a movie more than the book it was adapted from.  Gary Ross, Billy Ray and Suzanne Collins (who wrote the original novel) open up the world of Panem, making it more grounded and nuanced in the process, and get us out of Katiss's head and into the games themselves.  And, of course, Lawrence does great, great work, as does a supporting cast of (literally) colorful characters.

"Life of Pi"

It's one thing to read a book about a boy stuck in a boat with a tiger--it's another thing entirely to go through two-hour immersive 3D experience on that boat, with that tiger.  "Life of Pi" dragged a bit for me, but Ang Lee's visuals are stunning (the scene of Pi's boat drifting through a sea of stars still lingers for me), his use of 3D is story-based and not gimmicky, and the animation/effects that went into this movie deserve ample recognition

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12 Comments

  • Austin | December 28, 2012 9:47 PMReply

    Great lists! I'm glad I'm not the only one who thought TDKR has received undeserved praise.

  • raprap | December 28, 2012 1:39 PMReply

    AMOUR for me was the best film this year. Hands down.

  • Simon Paiva | December 26, 2012 7:06 PMReply

    Ok, I just need to say something here. I've been trough all the lists and I see that The Hobbit was not mentioned in any of them, not even as an " honorable mention", and I find that to be quite unnaceptable. Anyone with knowledge of Tolkien's book knew months prior to seing the film, that it was not going to be like LOTR, it's a different story, different aproach at times. But I didn't think the movie was dissapointing. It's Peter Jackson's return to Middle Earth after nine years, that alone for me made the movie the biggest cinematic event of the year. And it didnt made it into any of these lists? and movies like: Hunger Games, Premium Rush and Cabin in the Woods did? Seriously???

  • LeZee | December 21, 2012 7:53 AMReply

    Really good specially Top5

  • JAB | December 19, 2012 8:23 PMReply

    After revisiting "The Dark Knight Rises" & getting some distance from it on a 32" Blu-Ray TV screen after having 1st catching it on IMAX this summer, I think this film maybe even better than "The Dark Knight" & will go down as the most under-appreciated movie in an "awards season" since Michael Mann's crime classic "Heat". How long is Christopher Nolan going to have to wait for his Oscar?
    (I loved "Lincoln" & "Argo" & really enjoyed "John Carter" & "Flight". Haven't seen "Zero..." yet, but I'm big fan of Kathryn Bigelow.)

  • JAB | December 19, 2012 8:23 PMReply

    After revisiting "The Dark Knight Rises" & getting some distance from it on a 32" Blu-Ray TV screen after having 1st catching it on IMAX this summer, I think this film maybe even better than "The Dark Knight" & will go down as the most under-appreciated movie in an "awards season" since Michael Mann's crime classic "Heat". How long is Christopher Nolan going to have to wait for his Oscar?
    (I loved "Lincoln" & "Argo" & really enjoyed "John Carter" & "Flight". Haven't seen "Zero..." yet, but I'm big fan of Kathryn Bigelow.)

  • Steve G | December 16, 2012 9:47 PMReply

    Is a list from Meredith Brody forthcoming?

  • eurocheese | December 15, 2012 9:13 PMReply

    Love all the lists and loved hearing Anne's comments on the podcast. It's been such a wonderful year for movies. In other years I've ended up passionately defending the one or two I really like, but this year there is so much to love. I'm hoping Jan/Feb just serve as catch up time to watch all the great films we had in 2012. We need more years where a slew of great directors make top tier work and we all walk away liking them more!

  • John | December 15, 2012 6:34 PMReply

    I think I like Jacob Combs list best. No critic would probably put it in their top 10 list for the year, but I had a hell of a good time watching the Avengers. A few good movies (like the Master and Lincoln) I still haven't gotten around to seeing yet.

  • brian fantana | December 14, 2012 11:14 PMReply

    so BEASTS is a better film than either DARK KNIGHT RISES or SKYFALL - seriously??? the absence of serious film criticism in this country is stunning (but then again not surprising given this blogger's history)

  • Sara | December 18, 2012 12:40 PM

    Dude... TDKR was bad... I mean... when you really think about it... I can see that was a bad film

  • turner | December 16, 2012 11:37 AM

    @Brian-Beasts is an original piece of work and deserves mention here. Batman and James Bond are well executed rehash.

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