The Buzz

Top movies of 2012

Categories: Movies


Only 10.

After another year in the dark, it's almost cruel to winnow it down to just a few titles. Yet as I emerge into the light rubbing my eyes, here are the visions that refused to fade.

10. Looper

A time travel movie that doesn't take itself too seriously, with a third act that hits like a buckshot blast. I'm hoping for a spin-off with Jeff Bridges as Abe, the laconic dude from the future.

9. The Raid: Redemption, Magic Mike, Killer Joe

(Three-way tie of guilty/filthy pleasures)

Whether you like furious ass-kicking, down and dirty hip-grinding or a scheming Southern Svengali, that's three movies with pleasures aplenty.

8. Rebelle

A tear-out-your-heart performance by Rachel Mwanza as the orphan-turned-child-soldier who uses her spirituality as her shield.

7. Skyfall

James Bond as you've never seen him: broken and bruised. It's worth it just for Javier Bardem's brilliant turn as the campy, but cruel Silva and Roger Deakins' breathtaking pictures.

6. Lincoln

State of the cinematic union Part One: Daniel Day Lewis astounds once again, this time as Abraham Lincoln — the quiet commander-in-chief. Plus, you have Tommy Lee Jones in the role of a decade and a script by Tony Kushner that puts words, glorious words, on a pedestal.

5. Anna Karenina

Shouldn't-work-but-does Part One: Joe Wright squeezes the Russian epic into a musty theatre and breathes new life into Tolstoy's classic

4. The Master

State of the cinematic union Part Two: Post-war America, shaken and stressed, as personified by Joaquin Phoenix. A psychic tug of war with leader and follower locked in an embrace.

3. Django Unchained

State of the cinematic union Part Three: As audacious as it is eloquent, Django shows Tarantino aiming his sights at slavery, with Jamie Foxx strutting his stuff as an ex-slave-turned-gunslinger. The wonderful Christoph Waltz once again has his way with the English language and Leonardo DiCaprio is deliciously depraved. The word "gusto" was meant for movies like this.

2. Stories We Tell

Shouldn't-work-but-does Part Two: Playful and curious, Stories is as much a meditation on the investigative process as it is an emotional exploration of Sarah Polley's knotted family tree.

1. Moonrise Kingdom

An immaculate diorama devoted to young love and the masterwork that Wes Anderson has been building toward. Sam and Suzy are a pre-teen Bonnie and Clyde on the run from cub scouts and depleted parents. In this inversion of the usual Anderson formula, the adults (Bill Murray, Ed Norton, Bruce Willis, Tilda Swinton) are empty husks, while the children are vibrating with potential (and occasionally violence.) A celluloid dream of the childhood we wish we had. Plus Bob Balaban to push it to the top of my list.

And the Runners-Up

The Avengers, The Queen of Versailles, Holy Motors, A Royal Affair, Paperboy, The Sessions, Bernie, Amour, Cabin in the Woods, The Deep Blue Sea, Paranorman, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Searching for Sugar Man, Beasts of the Southern Wild.

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