There were several standout films in 2012, and many that could have easily made the top 10. Nonetheless, here’s our take on the leaders of the race for best film. (Django Unchained and Silver Linings Playbook are available for rent in the HitBliss Store!)
Whether you love him or hate him, Quentin Tarantino is one of the few filmmakers who can turn stylized violence into a vehicle for comedy, serious reflection and suspense. Django Unchained, an epic revenge tale that blends motifs from the Deep South with the Old West, features an inventive soundtrack, all-star performances from its illustrious cast, and all the thrills and chills of a great film. It earned Tarantino his second Oscar for Best Screenplay and Christoph Waltz his second Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.
2. Life of Pi
Directed by Ang Lee, this visually stunning film is a prime example of what 3D looks like at its best. This screen-adaptation of the critically praised novel of the same name is a beautiful tale of good and evil, the role of religion, and love. Not only is the storytelling spot on, the technical achievement alone is noteworthy – the story wouldn’t have been this well-represented in any other hands.
This winning portrayal of a pair of lovable, quirky (and a bit unstable) misfits who form an unlikely friendship won over audiences and critics alike. Due to the success of the film, it’s easy to take for granted that without masterful performances from the cast and the skilled direction of David O. Russell, the film could have easily been clumsy and unpolished. Thankfully for movie fans, the film does the original novel justice.
4. Beasts of the Southern Wild
The film boasts a lyrical, poetic quality as it captures the wild, untamed power of nature and the resilient spirit of the community who lives in the Bathtub – a regularly flooded region of the Louisiana Bayou. The performance by Quvenzhane Wallis, who embodied her role of a six-year-old facing orphanhood with bravado, is the heart and soul of the production.
5. Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson is at his directorial best in this charming love story between two 12-year-olds in a sleepy Rhode Island town in the summer of 1965. The film has a delightful, playful quality and the hero and heroine (Jared Gilman, Kara Hayward) are further evidence of the acting chops of the younger generation. Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand and Bill Murray deliver the idiosyncratic comedy that defines Anderson’s work.
6. Zero Dark Thirty
The desperate search for the most wanted man of the 2000s finally ended in 2011. Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty stirred controversy for its depiction of torture and its claims of historical accuracy. While these issues are up for debate, the film is poised to be the singular depiction of the most notable manhunt of the decade. Jessica Chastain’s performance as Maya (a composite character of several women who led the operation) is gripping. The style of the film brings to mind Bigelow’s previous critically-acclaimed film The Hurt Locker.
7. The Master
Standout performances from Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams are the foundation of this character study that revolves around an enigmatic leader (Hoffman) of “The Cause” who takes a struggling veteran (Phoenix) under his wing. Audiences become consumed by the monopolizing personalities of the leading stars who jockey for influence in this
Daniel Day-Lewis is an Oscar-nabbing machine, and his turn as the revered Abraham Lincoln built up a lot of anticipation. His embodiment of the titular hero, with careful attention to the pitch and tone of his voice, made this a stand-alone performance. Steven Spielberg was in the director’s chair, but the highlight of the film is the acting, particularly Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens and Sally Field as the First Lady.
9. The Dark Knight Rises
The Batman franchise has fared well in the hands of Christopher Nolan and Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader. This final Nolan Batman film was a fitting a remarkable end to his trilogy. The film hits on all cylinders, offering poignant social commentary, the emotional rollercoaster of watching a hero fall and rise again, and top-shelf acting by Bale, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard. Bruce Wayne’s moving escape from the prison pit paired with chilling monologues from Bane is among some of the standout scenes in the film.
Ben Affleck finally struck gold with Argo, which earned him the Academy Award for Best Film and Golden Globe for Best Director. Based on a true story, the film captures the tension surrounding the attempt to sneak Americans out of Iran in the fall of 1979. The imaginative escape plan hinges on convincing the world that the diplomats are Canadian filmmakers.
Think this list is missing some titles? Let us know what your favorite movies from 2012 are!