Tuesday, February 5, 2013

My Favorite Films Of 2012

Opinions are like Direct-To-DVD films: They’re cheap, readily available, and nobody really wants to hear about them. That’s why I usually try to focus my blogging on objective - or at least strategic - assessments of what Oscar voters will do, instead of bombarding you with my personal tastes and quirks. But the Large Association of Movie Blogs is currently hosting their annual LIONS For LAMBS Awards, which is our own chance to vote for our best and worst of the year. And since I’m filling out my ballot, I figured that I might as well share my choices with all of you.

Please note that these are NOT predictions. I haven’t received any gift baskets from Harvey Weinstein (although I’m not opposed to getting them in the future!). I haven’t voted based on buzz or coattails or a witty conversation at a Hollywood cocktail party. There are no automatic nominations just because you’re a big star or a career veteran or shared screen time with someone else who gave a great performance. These are simply my favorites for the year, and I’ve tried to judge each element on its own merits. 

And as you’ll see below, my love of the Oscars does NOT mean that I always agree with them. You can tell me whether I did better or worse in the comments below.

My Top Ten Films of 2012
1. Cloud Atlas
2. Les Miserables
3. Argo
4. Life Of Pi
5. Anna Karenina
6. Beasts Of The Southern Wild
7. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower
8. Rust And Bone
9. Keep The Lights On
10. Lincoln

Honorable Mentions in no particular order: Zero Dark Thirty, Skyfall, The Dark Knight Rises, Looper, Silver Linings Playbook, Django Unchained, The Words, End Of Watch, The Master, Prometheus, Wreck-It Ralph.

Best Director
1. Ang Lee for Life Of Pi
2. Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski for Cloud Atlas
3. Joe Wright for Anna Karenina
4. Ben Affleck for Argo
5. Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master

Honorable Mentions in no particular order: Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty, Benh Zeitlin for Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Christopher Nolan for The Dark Knight Rises, Steven Spielberg for Lincoln, Tom Hooper for Les Miserables, Ira Sachs for Keep The Lights On, Wes Anderson for Moonrise Kingdom, Michael Haneke for Amour

Best Lead Actor
1. Joaquin Phoenix for The Master
2. Daniel Day Lewis for Lincoln
3. Jamie Foxx for Django Unchained
4. Thure Lindhardt for Keep The Lights On
5. Suraj Sharma for Life Of Pi

Honorable Mentions in no particular order: Jean-Louis Trintignant for Amour, Hugh Jackman for Les Miserables, Matthias Schoenaerts for Rust And Bone, Denzel Washington for Flight, John Hawkes for The Sessions, Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook, Jake Gyllenhaal for End Of Watch, Bradley Cooper for The Words, Joseph Gordon-Levitt for Looper, Ewan McGregor for The Impossible, John C. Reilly for Wreck-It Ralph.

Best Lead Actress
1. Emmanuelle Riva for Amour
2. Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty
3. Quvenzhane Wallis for Beasts Of The Southern Wild
4. Marion Cotillard for Rust And Bone
5. Naomi Watts for The Impossible

Honorable Mentions in no particular order: Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook, Jordin Sparks for Sparkle, Keira Knightley for Anna Karenina, Helen Hunt for The Sessions, Halle Berry for Cloud Atlas, Judi Dench for Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Meryl Streep for Hope Springs, Helen Mirren for Hitchcock, Maggie Smith for Quartet.

Best Supporting Actor
1. Leonardo DiCaprio for Django Unchained
2. Javier Bardem for Skyfall
3. Dwight Henry for Beasts Of The Southern Wild
4. Michael Pena for End Of Watch
5. Ezra Miller for The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

Honorable Mentions in no particular order: Jim Broadbent for Cloud Atlas, Tom Holland for The Impossible, Zachary Booth for Keep The Lights On, Christoph Waltz for Django Unchained, Eddie Redmayne for Les Miserables, Aaron Tveit for Les Miserables, Jason Clarke for Zero Dark Thirty, Jeremy Irons for The Words, Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln, James Spader for Lincoln, Philip Seymour Hoffman for The Master, Tom Courtenay for Quartet.

Best Supporting Actress
1. Anne Hathaway for Les Miserables
2. Carmen Ejogo for Sparkle
3. Doona Bae for Cloud Atlas
4. Samantha Barks for Les Miserables
5. Sally Field for Lincoln

Honorable Mentions in no particular order: Judi Dench for Skyfall, Pauline Collins for Quartet, Anne Hathaway for The Dark Knight Rises, Emma Watson for The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, Olivia Colman for Hyde Park On Hudson, Zoe Saldana for The Words, Maggie Smith for Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Amy Adams for The Master, Kerry Washington for Django Unchained, Kelly Reilly for Flight, Nicole Kidman for The Paperboy, Jane Lynch for Wreck-It Ralph, Sarah Silverman for Wreck-It Ralph.

Best Screenplay
1. Cloud Atlas
2. Rust And Bone
3. Django Unchained
4. Keep The Lights On
5. The Perks Of Being A Wallflower

Honorable Mentions in no particular order: Beasts Of The Southern Wild, Life Of Pi, Argo, Lincoln, Les Miserables, The Words, Looper, Zero Dark Thirty, End Of Watch, Wreck-It Ralph.

Best Documentary
1. Searching For Sugar Man
2. How To Survive A Plague
3. 5 Broken Cameras
4. Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
5. The House I Live In

Best Foreign Film
1. Rust And Bone (France)
2. Amour (Austria)
3. No (Chile)
4. Bwakaw (Philippines)
5. A Royal Affair (Denmark)

Worst Films Of The Year
I abstained from this category. I’m very lucky to be one of those bloggers who picks which movies I get to see, rather than trying to catch every new release. Not only do I skip any film that might come close to qualifying here, but I generally don’t even do enough research to guess which ones deserve this “honor”.

If you’re a LAMB member who hasn’t cast your vote yet, you can do so until February 9 HERE.

The results from our association will be announced one category per day, running from February 15 to February 24. You can track those as they come out, as well as check out past winners, by clicking HERE.


  1. Great post. I've also included Cloud Atlas in my top ten. However I ranked Les Miserables as #1. I guess Leo still has a lot love from moviegoers despite the ignores by critics.

    1. I had Les Mis pretty high too, but ultimately had to respect the risks taken in Cloud Atlas for the win.

      Leo did get a few critics noms, but his problem is that he doesn't seem to like to campaign, which hurts him when it comes to the bigger televised awards.

    2. I'm not either sure if Cloud Atlas makes top ten, however, I'd love to see it in the list.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks Squasher. I'm looking forward to seeing the collective results to see where we stand as a collective.

  3. Nice to see love for Searching For Sugar Man, such an emotionally powerful story for me. Also nice to see top 10 love for Beasts and Perks.
    Though his demeanor is questionable(I'm Still Here I HATED), I'm rooting for J Phoenix in The Master, he was robbed a few years ago for Walk the Line

    1. Thanks Chris.

      Yeah, I tried really hard to just consider the art for this list, and I thought Phoenix was sensational in The Master. Of course, I think DDL's Lincoln will walk away with the Oscar, but if I had a ballot I'd put Joaquin at the top, regardless of his real-world issues.

  4. Great list! I really wish Rust and Bone had received significantly more recognition.

    1. Agreed. Perhaps it was too much to hope that two foreign films would get some Oscar love though.

  5. Well you have inspired me to vote! A lot of these are 2013 films for the Uk so we are still waiting for Cloud Atlas for example! Seeing it next week actually so hope to enjoy it as much as you did. Also I'm still waiting to see Django and Zero Dark Thirty but that's my own fault.

    1. Glad you're voting Pete! Sorry to hear that these haven't gotten Cloud Atlas yet, but it's really good so hopefully you voted for it just based on my recommendation. Hahaha!

      I still need to see The Hobbit myself, which I'll probably do this weekend.

  6. While I've never considered you crazy, I must admit that I questioned my own sanity for loving The Cloud Atlas so much.

    Glad to see I'm not alone.

    Additionally, I've been dying to see Sugarman as I've routinely heard how excellent it is.

    1. That's exactly why I started blogging: To find all the people who were as crazy as me! ... Uhm... I mean to keep us all sane when the professional critics and box office miss the mark on great films. :)

      I think Sugar Man has a good chance of winning the Oscar this year, especially since they've expanded the voting so that all Academy members can vote if they've seen the films, even on DVD. That should give a boost to fan favorites like this.

  7. Such a shame that so many of these films weren't out in 2012 here in the UK. I'd love to know why. Heck, Cloud Atlas still isn't out. I am intrigued by it. Seems to be a love it/hate it film. For the most part, I'm on the side of Wachowski films.

    Great choice :)

    1. Thanks Jaina. Sorry to hear that some of these haven't opened near you yet. I've never understood why they have such a gap in the international releases for films like these. I get that some festival and indie films need to release slowly to gain traction, but Cloud Atlas has Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent and Hugh Grant for goodness sake! Those aren't exactly small time names there.

  8. I've only seen one film on your list (Argo) and don't agree with you on it. Hahaha

    1. Thanks Joel. I'm starting to worry how well my choices might do in the LIONS, since it sounds like different release dates in different parts of the world might hurt several of them.

      If you don't like Argo coming in at number three on my list, then you're gonna love it when they hand the Oscar to it later this week. Hahaha!

  9. Very interesting list David. Unfortunately I have only seen 3 of your Best list, most of the ones I did see are in your Honorable Mentions. I'm championing for ARGO this year, glad to see it made your top 5 :D

    1. Thanks Ruth. I'm thinking Argo is going to win big this Sunday. Hope you get a chance to catch some of these other ones soon too.

  10. I have Life of Pi among my top 5, and Rust & Bone and Perks in my top 10. Suraj Sharma was great in Life of Pi. Not too fond of Argo as well. But, very nice list!

    1. Thanks Andina. Glad to see that we share some favorites!

  11. Okay, i know it's a little bit late, but some of those movies "came" to israel only in february. so, i think that my favorite movies of 2012 are:

    10. Skyfall
    9. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
    8. Beasts of the Southern Wild
    7. Moonrise Kingdom
    6. Lincoln
    5. Looper
    4. Django Unchained
    3. The Dark Knight Rises
    2. Zero Dark Thirty
    1. Chronicle