2012 was a pretty solid year for movies. There were a lot of fantastic films, but these 10 stood-out above the rest in their own, unique ways:
Ben Affleck not only stars-in but masterfully directs this drama based on the true story of six Americans hiding-out during the Iran Hostage Crisis. Affleck’s achievements both in front of and behind the camera are amazing. Bryan Cranston (who appeared in practically every movie this year) has some strong moments. And Alan Arkin and John Goodman are 2012’s best duo playing a producer and make-up artist who are key characters in this daring rescue plan. Arkin’s a frontrunner for every Best Supporting Actor award. “Argo” is part drama; part movie about the making of movies; part suspense thriller, and it was the only film this year where my heart was truly pounding while I was watching it and it’s made a lasting impression on me since.
2. SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK
Bradley Cooper stars in this “slice of life” comedy about a some-what dysfunctional guy who’s looking to put his life back together. It works every step of the way. Jennifer Lawrence is excellent; Robert De Niro and Chris Tucker help maintain a perfect tone throughout. It’s an engaging story with very believable characters. Probably the most FUN I had at the movies this year.
3. RUBY SPARKS
It’s rare that someone in Hollywood comes-up with an original concept for a film – and then can pull-it-off. Writer/Star Zoe Kazan created this story of a struggling writer who dreams-up a character – a young woman, and after he writes about her, she literally comes to life. Great cast: Paul Dano, Annette Bening, Antonio Banderas, Chris Messina and Steve Coogan. Watch it.
4. SEEKING A FRIEND FOR THE END OF THE WORLD
I’ve been telling you about it since it opened in June because it’s simply incredible. Steve Carell and Keira Knightley are at their finest, dealing with a “what would you do if the world was ending in a few weeks” scenario. Funny, sad, smart and an honest pay-off at the end.
5. THE IMPOSSIBLE
Based on a true story, Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor play parents vacationing with their kids in Thailand when the deadly 2004 tsunami hits and tears them apart. Strong performances by Critics Choice nominee Watts and newcomer Tom Holland – and McGregor is great as well. This is a powerful and moving film.
Daniel Day-Lewis is simply outstanding as our 16th President. It has the best ensemble of the year – including Sally Field, Tommy Lee Jones, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Hal Holbrook. And Steven Spielberg stages it all perfectly.
Tim Burton’s first animated film since 2005’s “Corpse Bride” is smart, funny, emotional and visually stunning. It’s the best animated film of the year and has a real shot at taking home the Oscar.
8. SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN
It was a great year for documentaries, and this is the best of the bunch. Tells the story of a singer from Detroit named Rodriguez who is unknown in America, but his music becomes legendary in South Africa. Fascinating, featuring some candid interviews, amazing footage. Inspiring filmmaking.
9. LES MISERABLES
The first movie musical in which actors performed every song live (no prerecorded music), and it paid off. Credit to Director Tom Hooper. Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway are locks for Oscar nominations.
10. MARVEL’S THE AVENGERS
Director Joss Whedon’s extravaganza brought together all of the Marvel superheroes and dominated the box office, becoming 2012’s highest-grossing film with $623 million. Action-packed, good performances, particularly by Mark Ruffalo and Samuel L. Jackson, and a whole lot of fun.
BERNIE – Jack Black and Shirley MacLaine star in this true-life crime story. Fascinating and fun.
BULLY – Powerful documentary about the current state of bullying in our education system.
HITCHCOCK – Anthony Hopkins is perfect as the legendary film director, and Helen Mirren is equally strong as his wife. One of the best times I had at a theater in years.
MADAGASCAR 3: EUROPE’S MOST WANTED – The best of the trilogy. Great script and vivid animation.
ZERO DARK THIRTY – Kathryn Bigelow’s hunt for Osama bin Laden drama may be the most authentic-looking film of the year.