Andrew’s 10 Best Films of 2012

So 2012 is at an end, and there’s been some fantastic movies. Not quite as many sequels this year thankfully, meaning a lot more original ideas, and some genuinely surprising movies. Here’s my top 10 of the year, along with some that didn’t quite make it into that list but are deserving of mention.

10. The Cabin In The Woods

Written by Joss Whedon and directed by Drew Goddard, a horror-comedy with a twist like only Whedon can write. Taking the genre that is now stale as a week old load of bread and completely turning it on it’s head. See as little of this before you watch it, you will not be prepared for the twists and turns that you’re in stock for, or for how much fun and laughter it will evoke.

9. Looper

Every now and then we’re lucky enough to get an intelligent science-fiction movie, Inception, Source Code, and now Looper. Where those were about dreams and alternate realities, Looper is about time travel, and stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis as two different ages of the same person who meet when the one has been sent back to be killed by the other. Also helped by a great performance by Emily Blunt who turns up later in the movie in a strong female role, something that’s been unfortunately lacking this year.

8. Paranorman

A great animation which covers the subject of a zombie movie… for kids. Though it does have it’s moments that will scare younger audiences, but thrill others. Great references to the genre throughout, with humour that will be a hit with most and animation that will surprise people, especially being that they are stop motion and not computer generated.

7. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo

Yes, technically it was a 2011 release, but the Monday Movie Show year starts from roughly 20th December, and this was released after that. One of my favourite directors, David Fincher, adapts the first of the Millenium trilogy, with Daniel Craig giving a solid performance as journalist Mikael Blomkvist as he investigates a decades old murder. The stand out though is Rooney Mara as Lisbeth Salander, the troubled woman who joins him in his investigation. A visual feast and a great soundtrack by Trent Reznor and Attacus Ross to boot.

6. Headhunters

A.K.A. Hodejegerne, this Norwegian thriller was a honest surprise that I was not expecting. Extremely well written, and with twists that I did not see coming, this is something that should be seen. Some will avoid because it’s not in English and requires reading subtitles. Their loss.

5. The Raid

Beware this trailer contains graphic scenes.

A.K.A. Serbuan maut, Gareth Evans Indonesian homage to the martial arts movies of the 70’s and 80’s, introduces us to the little known martial art Silat as we follow a SWAT team when they attempt to storm a drug dealer controlled tower block with disastrous results. A sequel is currently being made and you should see this to be sure and ready for the sequel when it’s out.

4. Argo

Ben Affleck not only shows that he can act but also that he can direct, and not just well… fantastically well. Argo is the true story where in the 1970’s the CIA needed to smuggle out U.S. diplomats from a foreign country after the embassy is stormed. The plan to disguise them as a movie crew scouting for filming locations is so strange you couldn’t make it up, but makes for a fascinating movie. In lesser hands it would have been at best average, but here we have a great tense thriller which has great comedy moments that bring levity as it switches between a Hollywood set ‘cover’ location and the situation overseas with those trapped behind enemy borders.

3. Ted

Without a doubt the funniest movie not only of the last year but possibly of the last decade. Seth MacFarlane brings Ted to life and infuses the character with a personality that helps to make the effect of a real living breathing teddy bear work, helped by the comedy timing of Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis (as well as a great Cameo from Sam Jones, A.K.A. Flash Gordon). Not only is this funny, it genuinely has heart to it. Be sure to see this with as large an audience as possible.

2. Margin Call

How do you take a subject like the inner workings of Wall Street and the financial collapse of recent years without making a boring movie. This is how. J.C. Chandor’s written and directorial debut is a powerhouse of acting which focuses on the people instead of getting caught in the technical pitfalls of it’s subject matter. If you’re looking for a reason to watch this I’ll give you five – Zachary Quinto, Paul Bettany, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci and Jeremy Irons. If you need more than that, then you can’t be saved.

1. Killer Joe

William Friedkin directs this adaptation of the stage play of the same name. With a cast like Emile Hirsch, Matthew McConaughey and Gina Gershon, you would be forgiven for choosing to give this a miss, but you shouldn’t. Friedkin has done the impossible, and not only managed to get good performances out of them, he’s gotten great performances out of all of them. Adding to this is also the ever good Thomas Hayden-Church, and relative newcomer Juno Temple, who has the hard job of playing against an on top form McConaughey who gives what may be a career best. Be warned that this is not for everyone, there are some extremely brutal and harsh scenes, but it is a fantastic piece of work.

Honourable Mentions

Rust And Bone

A great drama focusing on the relationship between  two characters played by Marion Cotillard and Matthias Schoenaerts that grows after one of them suffers an accident. The performances of both actors are what make this great, and though it’s weird to describe it as such, it’s a romantic drama without the romance.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Adventure

A late addition to the list, and the first part of what looks like will be another great trilogy from Peter Jackson as he takes us back to Middle Earth. Martin Freeman is perfect as the younger Bilbo Baggins, and though it’s a lengthy experience, it’s a great one that is just as good as any of the three parts of Jackson’s Lords Of The Rings trilogy.

The Dark Knight Rises

I know that Christopher Nolan’s conclusion to his Batman trilogy will be in most people’s top 10’s, and although I do absolutely love it and what he did, I found it a fun movie and a great end to the story, but one that just didn’t stand out as much as it should. Still, if you haven’t seen it be sure not to miss it, the trilogy as a whole is fantastic, and this deserves to be seen. For a similar reason The Avengers isn’t in the above list, it’s a fun movie, but not of the level as those that are there.

The Grey

Who would have thought that Joe Carnahan would follow up The A-Team with this brutal tale of survival that was this year’s first real surprise to me. Liam Neeson gives a fantastic performance as one of the survivors of a plane crash in the Alaska wilderness who find themselves being pursued by a pack of wolves as the battle to survive the elements.


Michael Fassbender’s best performance to date as a man who suffers from an addiction to sex. With a subject that could have easily been turned into a horrid comedy, this is a drama that uses the story to cover addiction as a whole, showing the toll that it takes on a person and the depths that it will take you to. A Brutal look at the subject that it exhausting to watch but should be seen, if only for Fassbender’s performance.

Dredd 3D

A genuine surprise and highly enjoyable take on the character from the 2000 AD comic books. This time, as opposed to the previous version which starred Sylvester Stallone, attempts to be faithful to the source material have been made and the casting of Karl Urban as the titular character works a charm. A true visual master that is the closest to a moving comic, every bit as visceral and graphic as it should be. And in 3D that works nicely.

Posted on December 22, 2012, in Features and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I’m glad you acknowledged “The Dark Knight Rises” though it seems your tastes tend to go toward more realistic films, even if Nolan’s Batman saga is done in a “realistic” manner (relatively so).

    • Not sure that The Cabin In The Woods, Looper or Ted could be considered realistic. The Dark Knight rises was a fantastic movie, but the acting in it wasn’t exceptional as Nolan has proven with The Dark Knight, it’s flawed, and overall while it’s great, these are better. I didn’t mention The Avengers, though I loved it, again, it’s fun, but the acting IS cmic book acting, it’s big, loud, popcorn blockbuster material. That it’s good and well written is a plus, but still, not as effective to watch a movie as those listed here.

  2. We have much overlap whether it be Top 10 or honorable mentions. I enjoyed your Top 2 choices but they’re somewhat unexpected as I haven’t seen them on many lists. But that‘s cool because it makes your list unique. (Margin Call was a 2011 release in the U.S. but even last year I didn’t see it mentioned too often.)

    Great list! Check mine out when you get the chance.

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