The Top 10 Best Movies of 2012

By Kevin Finnerty

As we put away all the holiday decorations, begin a new year and say goodbye to 2012, it’s time to look back at a year that had superheroes dominating the box office, two political thrillers getting rave reviews from both the critics and the public, and love fighting to conquer all including summer camp and high school. Here are my choices for the Top 10 films of 2012 that not only entertained the movie-going public but had the audiences mesmerized by the magic up on the big screen.

Jake Gyllenhaal in End of Watch
© Open Road Films
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena
Not since perhaps the Oscar-winning film The French Connection has a cop film captured the friendship, loyalty and danger two partners face out on the streets stopping crime so wonderfully. Made on a shoestring budget, End of Watch chronicles two Los Angeles policemen as they accidentally get involved going up against a drug cartel and end up being targeted for death. The performances by both Gyllenhaal and Pena come across so authentic and real the audience is likely to forget they are watching a fictional Hollywood movie.
Salmon Fishing Top 10
© CBS Films
Starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt
This sweet, funny and romantic comedy was the first entertaining and original film to hit theaters back in March. With a fresh script, an improbable premise, and the two stand-out performances by Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt as two very unlikely co-workers/lovers, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen was the first charming film for audiences to enjoy in 2012.
Zero Dark Thirty Top 10
© Columbia Pictures
Starring Jessica Chastain and Jason Clarke
Gripping, dark and expertly directed by Kathryn Bigelow, Zero Dark Thirty focuses on the manhunt for Osama bin Laden through the eyes of CIA operative Maya (Jessica Chastain). Despite all the controversy over how accurate the movie is and if classified information was leaked to the filmmakers, the movie stands out as a harrowing, suspenseful political thriller that will have the audiences fascinated by the drama and action up on the screen.
Moonrise Kingdom Top 10
© Focus Features
Starring Bruce Willis, Bill Murray and Kara Hayward
Set in 1965 at a summer camp off the New England coast on a small island and directed by Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom is a quirky, funny and very sweet film about two 12 year olds, Sam and Suzy (Jared Gilman & Kara Hayward), who fall in love with each other and run off to be together, and the chaos it creates for their parents and those involved in trying to find them. It captures the innocence of first love so oddly and richly that at times the audience is sure to be rooting for the kids to make it even though that’s just not possible…or is it?
Django Unchained Top 10
© The Weinstein Company
Starring Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz
Directed by Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained is a mix of spaghetti Westerns, violent revenge flicks, and blaxploitation films. It’s also 40 minutes too long and goes WAY, WAY OVERBOARD with its violence. So why is it on the Top 10 best list for 2012? Two reasons. First, Christoph Waltz’s scene-stealing performance as Dr. King Schultz, a German native who used to be a dentist but gave it up when he discovered being a bounty hunter was far more lucrative. It’s his best performance to date and deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, which Waltz is sure to win. Second, the writing in the film – especially the first half – has some of the best dialogue in a film this year. Anyone who is a Quentin Tarantino fan or a fan of the old spaghetti Westerns is sure to love this movie.
ParaNorman Top 10
© LAIKA, Inc
Featuring the voices of Kodi Smit-McPhee, Casey Affleck and Anna Kendrick
This fun-filled, zombie-infested stop-motion animated film has just the right mix of laughs and fright to entertain almost all moviegoers, with the exception of any children under the age of eight who might find some of the scenes with the witch too dark and disturbing. ParaNorman has a strong voice cast bringing these characters to life and looks visually beautiful with all its different colors and images. It’s hands-down the best animated film of the year.
Seven Psychopaths Top 10
© CBS Films
Starring Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken
Sharply written and very original, this dark crime comedy has a wonderful ensemble cast with two stand-out hilarious and unforgettable performances by Sam Rockwell as Billy, the outlandish and crazy best friend of Marty who gets poor struggling writer (played by Colin Farrell) inadvertently involved in dognapping the absolute wrong dog in town and Christopher Walken as Hans, the stylish, religious man who’s Billy’s business partner. The film is sure to have the audiences laughing and jolting out of their seats with its humor and shocking violence.
Perks of Being a Wallflower Top 10
© Summit Entertainment
Starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller
Sweet, charming and sentimental, Perks is one of the best coming-of-age films to hit the big screen in decades. Emma Watson delivers a beautiful performance as Sam, the good-hearted, slightly damaged new best friend and first love to the main character, Charlie (Logan Lerman). The scenes where she subtly conveys Sam’s growing attraction for Charlie the more time she spends with him are flawless. It’s a truly memorable performance by an actress who is one of the best of her generation. The film captures perfectly the pains, sorrows and joys of losing and finding best friends, falling head over heels in love, and beginning to discover the person you’re going to grow up to be.
The Dark Knight Rises Top 10
© Warner Bros Pictures
Starring Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy
This riveting, action-packed third and final installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman legacy is the perfect farewell to the Caped Crusader and his beloved Gotham City. The film’s action scenes are stunning, especially the first 13 minutes of the film which ranks as one of the best, most exciting and visually shocking openings of a film in movie history. The cast is superb, but the stand-out performance in the film has to go to Anne Hathaway as the sexy, slinky and sly cat burglar Selina Kyle. She’s the best Catwoman to grace the screen…yes, even better than Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns. Compelling and emotional at times, The Dark Knight Rises brings a perfect end to the Batman saga and makes the film franchise one of the best trilogies of all time.
Argo Top 10
© Warner Bros Pictures
Starring Ben Affleck, John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Bryan Cranston
Based on a true story and flawlessly directed by Ben Affleck, Argo is without a doubt the number one best film of 2012. It has everything a moviegoer could want or ask for from a film. It captures the look, tension and emotions of the 1979 Iran revolution perfectly. It has powerful, engaging performances from the cast, especially Alan Arkin as the famous movie producer backing the CIA’s cover financially and Bryan Cranston as Affleck’s character’s boss who goes above and beyond what’s possible to try to get the six Americans back home safely. It’s a masterpiece of filmmaking and IS the best movie of the year.

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