Best Films of 2012


While it’s still harder and harder to get to the movies, I try and see what I can, when I can.  I wish I could give you a more extensive list but alas I cannot.  So these 10 will have to do.  All of which are worth watching.  I’m sure some of the late releases from this year (Zero Dark Thirty, Django Unchained) might make the list if I updated it but this is what I give you.  The best films of 2012.  Enjoy!

1)   Your Sister’s Sister (Lynn Shelton)

Jack’s (Mark Duplass) brother just died and he escapes  to the cabin of his brother’s ex-girlfriend Iris (Emily Blunt).  There he finds solace in the sister of Iris, Hannah (Rosemary DeWitt).  A love triangle is a simple way of describing this little seen gem.  The best way to describe it?  An outstanding performace by everyone involved.  Emily Blunt has never been better, Rosemary DeWitt is absolutely breathtaking and Mark Duplass proves that he may be one of the most talented person you have never heard of (hint, he co-directed a film on this list as well as playing the lead role on a great sitcom, ‘The League’).  I thoroughly enjoyed this film.

2)   I Wish (Hirokazu Kore-eda)

Full disclosure, Kore-eda’s earlier film, ‘Nobody Knows’ is the hardest I have ever cried in a film before.  He loves to make emotionally wrenching family dramas that get to you.  He painstakingly makes every detail about having children in the modern world seem flawless.  He’s unlike many directors working today.

3)   Moonlight Kingdom (Wes Anderson)

I’ve always been a big fan of Wes Anderson’s and his films have cracked the top 10 many times before.  With this film however, he may just have hit his highest point.  A beautifully told children’s tale of doing whatever it takes to get away and make a life for yourself.  Do the 2 main characters last on their own, no.  But the ride that Anderson takes us on is truly one for the ages.  I don’t know if it’s his most personal film but it is his most heartfelt.

4)   Jiro Dreams of Sushi (David Gelb)

There is no way you won’t want to run out and grab the best pieces of sushi ever after watching this sweetly told story of one of the most revered chefs and restaurants in the world.  I’m sure you’ve never heard of it, it’s a small venue (15 seats?) that is situated inside of a Tokyo subway station.  It’s amazing what the human spirit will do.

5)   The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson)

With a career performance from Joaquin Phoenix and an equally incredible score by Johnnie Greenwood, ‘The Master’ is Paul Thomas Anderson’s answer to Scientology.  Phoenix plays Freddie Quell an alcoholic WWII veteran who scatters from job to job until he meets a man that will become his spiritual advisor, Lancaster Dodd (Phillip Seymuor Hoffman).  The rest needs to be watched.  These 2 characters go at each other with every breath they can muster (and in one scene, literally).  And watching these 2 superb actors is amazing.

6)   Jeff, Who Lives at Home (The Duplass Brothers)

Yes, Mark Duplass from ‘Your Sister’s Sister’ is one of the co-directors on this little seen film.  Another good companion to Adam Wilson’s novel, ‘Flatscreen’.  The loser, stoner trying to make good on his life.  And I thought the ending on this film was surprising and incredibly rewarding.  Try and see it if you can.

7)   Wreck-It Ralph (Rich Moore)

Most of the films I do get to see is when I take my daughter.  Brave was really good and just missed the list, but this fine piece of work is the type of “kids movie” made for someone of my generation.  And while I was never a big video game fan, it really brought me back to the late 80’s/early 90’s when you had arcades and Sega Genesis.  A finely crafted experience.  And highly original.  Hard to make in a kids movie.

8)   Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)

David O. Russell is a weird director to describe.  This big indie (small studio) pic is making the rounds as a front-runner for Best Picture Oscar honors.  Great work done by everyone involved especially Bradley Cooper as the main character.  He brings an emotional characteristic and vulnerability to many actors that would be afraid to take on a role that was so complex.  And if you’re a Philly native or Eagles fan then there’s even more to love for you.

9)   Bernie (Richard Linklater)

Jack Black in his best performance plays Bernie the killer of his 81-year old millionaire wife.  In most director’s hands this film would come across as hammy and soporific.  Especially when you know the story before the movie starts.  But with Linklater, this black comedy becomes a well told tale and uncomfortably funny film.

10) Wanderlust (David Wain)

The director of ‘Wet Hot American Summer’ (and member of the best comedy troupe of all time, ‘The State’) made the funniest film of the year.  Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston are a perfect match for a couple trying to find a new slice of life.


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