Wrapping up the year of Channing Tatum (he had five movies this year!) here are our picks for the top 12 movies of 2012. Unfortunately no Channing Tatum movies made the cut. But this year saw genre films step up their game, battling with Oscar-baiters for quality movie entertainment.
12: "Ted" Who would have thought that a film about an adult loser and a talking teddy bear would be one of the most poignant movies of the year? Seth McFarlane’s uproarious feature film debut is laugh-till-it-hurts funny, combining his signature taboo humor and pop culture zingers. McFarlane’s vocal performance as Ted is priceless.
11: "Cloud Atlas" One of the most polarizing films of the year, “Cloud Atlas” is an impressive piece of filmmaking. Based on a book by David Mitchell, this film encompasses six different stories from six different genres and creates an exhaustive tapestry of romance, adventure and out-of-this-world zaniness. It also gives actors like Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving and Hugh Grant the chance to play a wide variety of characters.
10: "Dark Knight Rises" Christopher Nolan’s existential Batman series comes to a close and once again the director showcases the power of combining complicated characters with the heightened reality of the superhero genre. The “Dark Knight” films are a big-budget exploration of good versus evil; comic book movies that require you to think and be involved in the story. From Michael Caine’s exquisite performance as Alfred to Wally Pfister’s gritty photography, “The Dark Knight Rises” is mature and intelligent popcorn entertainment.
9:"Looper" What an outstanding year for Joseph Gordon-Levitt, with roles in “Lincoln,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “Premium Rush,” but his wild turn as a time-jumping assassin in Rian Johnson’s sci-fi noir is tops. Refreshingly different from the recent mosh-pit of bloated sci-fi films, “Looper” is an intense film that poses some seriously difficult moral questions. The best sci-fi by Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury and Robert Heinlein used the genre as a means to question our reality and Rian Johnson’s “Looper,” following in their footsteps, is one of the best films of late to do so.
8: "Arbitrage" Richard Gere has aged very well, giving the best performance of his career in this indie sleeper. Gere is a hedge fund magnate who, on the sly, tries to sell his bankrupt company for oodles of money, but when he gets involved in the death of his mistress, his world begins to unravel. Gere’s nuanced performance is wonderful, and the excellent screenplay by first-time director Nicholas Jarecki, allows Gere to sift through a pile of complicated emotions and dilemmas. “Arbitrage” is a fiercely smart and layered thriller with superb supporting roles by Tim Roth and Susan Sarandon.
7: "Skyfall" Director Sam Mendes celebrated James Bond’s 50th anniversary this year by delivering, arguably, the best Bond film ever. Here is an action film surprisingly packed with character and emotion. Javier Bardem turns in a chilling performance as a complicated megalomaniac, giving this installment a sense of unpredictability and genuine suspense. But it’s this emotionally troubled Bond’s relationship with his superior, M (Judi Dench) that pushes this Bond to the top. Mendes pulls some fine acting from his cast while writers Neal Purvis, Robert Wade and John Logan give us a compelling drama that not only makes this a great Bond, but a great film.
6: "Silver Linings Playbook" David O. Russell’s romantic dramedy about crazy people is a very sweet, funny spin on the genre. Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper deliver great performances as two troubled people coping with loss and their own personal demons. With an unpredictable and funny script, plus Robert De Niro’s performance, “Silver Linings” is a delight.
5: "Django Unchained" Quentin Tarantino’s nearly 3-hour epic Spaghetti western is his most linear film is also his most satisfying as he explores the relationship between evil and justice. Though it’s another revenge film in the director’s canon, “Django” features some of his best writing. Right from the opening scene, Tarantino hypnotically wraps you tightly around his finger and doesn’t let you go until the closing credits.
4: "Lincoln" Steven Spielberg’s most subtle film to date. Daniel Day-Lewis’s performance as Lincoln should go down in the history books. Tony Kushner’s screenplay is chock-full of beautiful writing, allowing everyone from Sally Field to Tommy Lee Jones to showcase their craft. Written and staged like a cinematic play, “Lincoln” focuses on the final few months of the president’s life, allowing for a more compact, involving and satisfying film. As far as ensembles go, “Lincoln” has the best of the year.
3: "Argo" Ben Affleck has proven he is one talented director. “Argo” blends hilarious comedy with gut-wrenching suspense. To make a film this intense, with an ending most people already know, takes some serious talent. John Goodman, Alan Arkin and Bryan Cranston effortlessly bring this wild tale to life. It seems too nutty to be true, but it was.
2: "Beasts of the Southern Wild" Director Behn Zeitlin’s feature film debut is a powerful piece of cinema. When a fictional bayou called the Bathub is wiped out by a hurricane, a young girl named Hushpuppy embarks on a magical journey through the water and wreckage to make sense of her destroyed universe. This is a poetic film about standing tall in the face of disaster. The cast is made of local Louisiana actors and young six-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis gives an awe-inspiring performance.
1: "Moonrise Kingdom" Quirky, daring and unflinchingly original, Wes Anderson’s drama delivers one surprise after another. From the incredible production design to the delightful performances by the two young stars, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, “Moonrise Kingdom” is a sugar-rush of entertainment. Anderson’s children’s adventure for adults is charming and colorful and is a playground for actors like Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Harvey Keitel, Bob Balban, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand and Bill Murray to let loose.