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The Best Films of 2012

Written by on December 31, 2012 

Dan Mecca’s Best Films of 2012

Though the year may not have been the creative juggernaut it could/should have been (with new films from P.T. Anderson, Spike Lee, David Cronenberg, Andrew Stanton and Ridley Scott, my hopes were very high), there were some undeniably bright spots.

And though the best of them are listed below, I’d be remiss not to mention the smart, violent Looper, the daring Anna Karenina and the beautiful The Impossible (perhaps the best shot movie of the year) as strong contenders sadly left off. And let us not forget the top-notch performances that came out of Silver Linings Playbook and Flight.

Now then, to the list:

Honorable Mentions

Top Ten

10. Burning Man (Jonathan Teplitzy)

A quiet, soulful and devastating look at a man who’s lost the love of his life, Jonathan Teplitzy’s film features an incredibly honest performance from Matthew Goode, one of the most underrated performers working today. Goode matches Teplitzy’s flashy camera moves punch for punch, making what could have been a rudimentary melodrama into some that’s so much more.

9. Tchoupitoulas (Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross)

This is the way documentaries should be made. In following three brothers as they journey to a place they’ve never been before, filmmakers Bill and Turner Ross watch young men discover themselves and face some very real fears. All in one night.

8. This is Not A Film (Jafar Panahi)

Jafar Panahi’s personal statement on his state of creativity as it relates to his physical state of house arrest (within his home country of Iran) is cinema at it’s purest and most important. With perhaps as much honesty as a man can offer on the subject of himself, Panahi struggles with the burgeoning narratives in his head as his own narrative becomes something bigger each second the camera continues to roll.

7. Compliance (Craig Zobel)

This affecting, horrifying thriller gets under your skin slowly, decision by decision, exploring the moral evils of persuasion without the weight of responsibility. We watch the characters involved and the choices made and can’t believe something like this could happen. Then we remember it has, and will again. And what makes these people so much different than us?

6. Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie (Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim)

The duo that specializes in absurdist comedy builds their magnum opus here, a feature-length something-or-another that is worried about one thing and one thing only: being as irreverent as possible about any and all subjects. It works 95 percent of the time, and it’s the funniest 95 percent of the year.

5. Seven Psychopaths (Martin McDonagh)

Coming off the much-loved In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths offers many more laughs and just as much violence. The difference, however, is McDonagh’s willingness to eschew the central narrative he builds for something lighter and more peaceful. We watch his characters struggle with the change, the writer fighting with the writer.

4. Oslo, August 31st (Joachim Trier)

This journey into the world of one who is damned is unforgettable. Anders Danielsen Lie offers up one of the best performances of the year, working perfectly against director Joachim Trier’s calm, confident direction. All involved know the importance of simple, concise storytelling, and the result is astonishing.

3. Holy Motors (Leos Carax)

Over a decade passed between Holy Motors and French auteur Leos Carax’s last feature, and the director was clearly determined to make up for lost time. In one film we get several strange, bewildering, provocative tales lived by our hero Oscar, played with chameleonic brilliance by Denis Lavant. And yet, the chaos all feels controlled. This may be the ultimate comment on cinema.

2. Les Miserables (Tom Hooper)

Unabashedly grand and on-the-nose, Tom Hooper’s bold imagining of the classic musical features some of the most intricate, inventive production design of the year along with the great Hugh Jackman in the role he was born to play. The timeless themes have never been more affecting, the characters never more heartbreaking.

1. The Deep Blue Sea (Terence Davies)

Romance at it’s most simple and most tragic. Davies has been making elegant, brutal films his whole life, and this might be the best of them all. Rachel Weisz so perfectly captures the feel of unrequited love it hurts to watch. You’re afraid she might break at any moment. The great Tom Hiddleston, the object of her affection, plays the other side perfectly; he watches what he’s doing to this woman, but doesn’t know how to stop the pain.

The Film Stage’s Best Films of 2012

[Jordan Raup] [Dan Mecca] [Nick Newman] [Raffi Asdourian]

[Danny King] [Jared Mobarak] [Jack Giroux] [John Fink]

Follow our look back at 2012: The Year In Film

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