We asked writer Will Link of the Will Sean Podcast? for his top 10 films of 2012. Check out his list under the cut.
1) CLOUD ATLAS (Dir. Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski, and Lana Wachowski)
Screw the haters, of which there are plenty. If I were to be honest with myself Cloud Atlas was by far my favorite film of the year. It is ambitious, risky filmmaking that demands multiple views. It hit me on a pure emotional level more than any film this year. Watching a soul travel and grow throughout time from, for just one example, slave to hero wasn’t just moving but also a fun cinematic game of following the actor as they play different races and even genders. Following how what we do and even the art we create affects generations long after we are gone. Plus each of the six stories represents a different genre of film, from broad comedy to tragic romance to a Blade Runner esque adventure. I hope in the coming years people embrace this film for the masterpiece it is.
2) ZERO DARK THIRTY (Dir. Kathryn Bigelow)
The most thrilling and meticulously made film of the year. Jessica Chastain gives one of the all time great obsessive performances and Kathryn Bigelow deserves her second Oscar for directing. It takes no political sides and its moral ambiguity towards torture actually becomes one of its strengths. The film has a complicated relationship with it, just like the country does. In the final act as the Navy Seals raid bin Laden’s compound, even though you know how it’s going to turn out you can’t help but find yourself on the edge of your seat.
3) THE CABIN IN THE WOODS (Dir. Drew Goddard)
I’m a sucker for a self aware film that turns the viewer into a character and few films have accomplished this better than Cabin. See earlier review.
4) LOOPER (Dir. Rian Johnson)
Looper is easily the best pure sci-fi film since Inception. It played with ideas I had never seen in film when it came to time travel. Like when young Joe would gain a new memory, old Joe would suddenly have it. It was grounded in its own reality. But what’s best about it is how it puts its characters into an impossible situation not giving the audience a chance to figure out what might happen next or even who to root for.
5) SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK (Dir. David O. Russell)
This is the best ensemble cast of the year, with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence leading the way. They take us from the depths of despair and frustration to ridiculous heights of hilarity. No film has balanced indie character study with pure screwball comedy better in a long time.
6) THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (Dir. Christopher Nolan)
A fitting conclusion to the Christopher Nolan trilogy. The themes laid out in Batman Begins come back in full force giving us the most satisfyingly emotional conclusion to a superhero franchise. Plus Anne Hathaway steals the show, having more fun than anyone is usually allowed to in a Nolan film.
7) DJANGO UNCHAINED (Dir. Quentin Tarantino)
It’s not much of a shock that Quentin Tarantino has made the coolest, most badass film of the year. But it’s also a brilliantly made western with his usual nods to cinema greats like Sergio Leone. And Leonardo DiCaprio shows he may have a great future playing Oscar worthy slime-ball villains.
8) COMPLIANCE (Dir. Craig Zobel)
Easily one of the most uncomfortable (in a good way) films to watch all year. Not just because of what happens to the characters on screen but because it makes us question what we would do. How we handle authority. See earlier review.
9) AMOUR (Dir. Michael Haneke)
A Michael Haneke film is always a punch to the gut. He never holds back. Amour is no different. It forces us to experience the horrors of getting old and losing those we love. It forces us to examine our own mortality. See earlier review.
10) MOONRISE KINGDOM (Dir. Wes Anderson)
There was no more charming film this year than Wes Anderson’s newest. The child actors capture the nostalgia of first love in a touching and real way that transcends Anderson’s style. It’s his sweetest and funniest film since Rushmore.