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Top 10 of 2012

Movie Rating:

Here it is, folks. My top ten movies of 2012. As always, there are films missing from this list based on the fact that I simply couldn’t get to every film I wanted to see this year (and some potential award-winning films haven’t been released here yet!). But, overall, it has been a pretty strong year for film.

10.    West of Memphis

This documentary has not been released yet here in Winnipeg, but I had the pleasure of seeing the documentary at the Toronto International Film Festival. It’s an extraordinarily important film about the West Memphis Three: Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols and Jesse Misskelley, Jr., who were wrongfully imprisoned for years for the murders of three young boys. While all three men are free today, they have not been exonerated: they were released as the result of an Alford plea, which means that the convictions remain on their records. It’s a film that will make you angry, and it will make you cry, but the strength of these three men and the passion of their supporters will move you.

9.    Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

I was shocked by this film. The humour was dark (it had to be, since it was about the end of the world!), but somehow I was not expecting it to be nearly as moving as it was. Steve Carell and Keira Knightley have amazing chemistry and make a beautiful odd couple. It’s a strange little road trip film, but it is also immensely moving and lovely. The more I thought about the film, the more I loved it.

8.    Lincoln

Daniel Day-Lewis is one of the best actors working today, without question. He becomes Lincoln and gives a commanding performance. While advertised as a biopic, it is more of a political thriller about the passing of the 13th amendment. Steven Spielberg did a fantastic job directing the film, and the strong supporting cast helps to make the film tense and moving.

7.    The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises was a fitting end to my favourite film trilogy. Christopher Nolan created three fantastic Batman films. Anne Hathaway was a surprisingly good Catwoman and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was brilliant in his supporting role. I did have some problems with Tom Hardy as Bane: he was physically imposing and intimidating, but his voice was absolutely terrible.

While it does lack the re-watchability of The Avengers, we were still spoiled with two fantastic superhero films in 2012.

6.    Seven Psychopaths

Seven Psychopaths was the funniest film I saw this year. The humour is unbelievably dark, and I think I’ll need to watch it a few more times to catch all of the jokes – which is truly the mark of a great comedy. The ensemble cast was great and I’d love to see Christopher Walken receive a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination, which I doubt will happen, unfortunately.

5.    The Avengers

The Avengers was, without a doubt, the most fun I’ve had at the theatre in years. It was so fun, in fact, that I saw it four times in theatres and caught new things every time I watched it. The ensemble cast is excellent and Joss Whedon directed it perfectly. I watched it yet again on Christmas and many sequences still wow me, even after seeing it so many times. Marvel has shown the world how to create an ensemble superhero film.

4.    Argo

Argo confirmed a belief that I’ve held for awhile: Ben Affleck is a far better director than actor. That being said, he holds his own as an actor within the film. It’s the true story of how the CIA and Canadian diplomats (and the Canadian government) work together to save six Americans trapped in Tehran in 1979. It’s an odd story, but one that uses humour to good effect. The final sequence is unbelievably tense and very well done.

3.   Looper

Looper was a brilliant science fiction film, and director and writer Rian Johnson really makes the concept of time travel work. Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis were excellent and the moral issues presented within the film will leave you thinking long after the film ends. There is one sequence in the film that is so shocking that I still think of it now – months after seeing it.

2.    Wreck-It Ralph

This is where my love for animation comes in. I adore animated films, and Wreck-It Ralph is the best one Disney has done in years. John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman have beautiful chemistry, and allowed me to get really emotionally invested in the characters. They made me laugh – and cry. Fans of video games will get even more out of the film because catching cameos and the sly references to video games was so much fun.

1.    Django Unchained

Django Unchained is richly thought-provoking, but Quentin Tarantino manages to do the seemingly impossible yet again: make us laugh during a film about slavery. He knows when to use humour and when to make the audience uncomfortable. The performances by Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio were outstanding and their talent truly allow this film to shine. It was absolutely magnificent and I can’t wait to see it again.

Going through my list of films I’ve seen this year has made me realize that there have been many great films released in 2012. There are several other films that would have made this list in weaker years. Life of Pi and Robot & Frank would be 11 and 12, respectively. I’m eager to see the rest of the films I’ve missed from 2012, as well.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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  1. Jon M.
    December 31st, 2012 at 15:35 | #1

    Excellent list, and also a great reminder to get out and see more of the films that were released this year. Need to see Lincoln and Django, obviously, but Seven Psychopaths was a film I eagerly anticipated that came and went from the theaters before I had a chance to blink. Writer-director Martin McDonough is one of the most fiercely creative writers working in Hollywood today, and if you haven’t seen them, I’d highly recommend both his debut film In Bruges or his thriller play The Pillowman.

  2. Jennifer
    January 2nd, 2013 at 19:57 | #2

    @Jon M.

    I haven’t seen The Pillowman, but I did see In Bruges quite awhile ago and didn’t particularly like it. However, I’m eager to watch it again after loving Seven Psychopaths as much as I did!

  3. Rob
    February 15th, 2013 at 15:40 | #3

    Another nice write-up. I’ve only seen half. Of the ones I’ve seen, Batman’s my favorite (Moonrise = what I liked best last yr; the wkend I first saw the movie I re-watched it 3 or 4 more times, which I NEVER do. It’s a nice backdrop.)

    Avengers = fun, though I don’t remember much about it. It started off slow, though the ending was all adrenaline; they did Iron Man and Hulk right in it. No one can play Iron Man like Robert Downey Jr. (And as a little kid I thought Thanos was the coolest villain – so I’ll prob see Avengers 2.)

    Lincoln = very well-intentioned, good-hearted movie. DDL as usual shines, though Tommy Lee Jones surprised me in this; I didn’t expect him to be what I enjoyed best. He stole the movie. His last scene had me breathing deep, it was genuinely touching. I’m sure I was smiling brightly seeing that.

    Dark Knight Rises = classic. Bane killed it; I’m glad they included him. As a (recreational) student of history I was amazed at how much mirrored the French Revolution, right down to the storming of the Bastille (here, Blackgate Prison) and the sacking of those in government (here, bombing the mayor’s suit, neutralizing the police). They even called each other “brother” (instead of “citizen”), and Bane’s lieutenant (the bearded guy) goes around in red and black (remember that Les Mis song of the same name), red being the red bandana around his neck. Tale of Two Cities is my favorite Dickens, and Batman taking on the Sidney Carton white knight role at the end sealed it for me. Masterful production, everything about it.

    Looper – loved the time travel aspect, disappointed when it took a sharp left into telekinetic territory. I didn’t care for the lady and the boy in the farmhouse, it was a really solid flick til then.

    Wreck-It Ralph… fun.

  4. Jennifer
    February 16th, 2013 at 15:55 | #4


    The Avengers was definitely my most-watched film of 2012. I’ve seen it about six times now. It was so ridiculously fun.

    Tommy Lee Jones’ performance in Lincoln was very, very good. He really touched me, and I definitely wouldn’t mind if he won Best Supporting Actor for it.

    Funnily enough, even though I’m very familiar with the history behind the French Revolution, I didn’t see the parallels until you pointed it out! I love that the three films in Nolan’s trilogy have different secondary “genres” and tones, but still work together as a trilogy.

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