Top Films of 2012

The following is a compilation of the films I liked best in 2012.

Thin Ice (♦♦♦♦): This movie delivers a few good laughs brought about by situations that appear silly at the time, but no doubt it’s the ending that packs a big punch. I liked the script and the performances… It’s a caper movie with a stylized plot; though not as elegant as Ocean’s Eleven, it’s certainly more believable.

The Hunger Games (♦♦♦♦): I am fascinated with this movie. It is entertaining yet gritty, and there’s plenty of action to satisfy all tastes. The story delivers in great, satisfying ways.

Mirror Mirror (2012) (♦♦♦♦): I really loved this movie. It pokes fun at aging (gracefully or otherwise), at beauty, at people who have married multiple times, at suffering… The humor, however, is oriented towards adults… Mirror Mirror is a fun, lush and just plain cute movie for the whole family.

Chimpanzee (♦♦♦♦): Without the clues provided in the trailer it’s hard to anticipate young Oscar’s fate after his mother’s death, but this movie ends up having a Disney-esque ending. The film documents the journey of a gang of chimps and their numerous and unfortunate encounters with a rival gang competing for food sources and territory. This little film is a triumph that will delight the whole family.

Hysteria (♦♦♦♦): Hysteria is witty, charming but definitely oriented towards mature audiences. The first half of the movie is hysterical, while the second half digs deep and finds its heart and that of the audience. This film is a romantic comedy full of naughtiness but lacking the vulgarity so prevalent in today’s most commercial motion pictures.

Snow White and The Huntsman (♦♦♦♦): SWATH is epic, with plenty of action and odd occurrences to satisfy odd tastes. It is a gothic tale, as dark as it comes…The best performance of the movie is Charlize Theron’s as Queen Ravenna, obsessed with beauty, power and immortality.

People Like Us (♦♦♦♦♦): is touching and heartwarming. It explores themes of family dynamics: marital betrayal, trust and the emotional toll of having two families at the same time. The plot is original and very well developed. People Like Us has a robust screenplay and the actors make the most of it with fantastic results.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (♦♦♦♦): The solid script is a breath of fresh air and provides an original backdrop for a love story that has all the ingredients of a classic. The jokes are elaborate yet far between, so this film wouldn’t be properly considered a romantic comedy, though comedic elements are certainly present…Salmon Fishing in the Yemen is a film about faith, realizing impossible dreams, miracles big and small and the experiences that we can draw from nature….And old fashioned love.

Argo (♦♦♦♦♦): is a wow movie the like of which I hadn’t seen this year. It’s co-produced, and splendidly acted and directed by Ben Affleck. Out of the myriad of movie directors out there, no one does climatic, full of tension movies as Affleck does. He proved it when directed the devastatingly gritty The Town and Gone Baby Gone, but in my opinion he has outdone himself with Argo.

Cloud Atlas (♦♦♦♦): Karma, the connection of lives through the fabric of time is what Cloud Atlas is about. The stories are told in glorious detail; this movie is a feast for the eyes, a giant leap of imagination. Great makeup, costume designs, and astonishing visual effects are almost breathing elements in the story… Cloud Atlas is a movie event that shouldn’t be missed!

Flight (♦♦♦♦½): Denzel Washington’s performance as an alcoholic is so nuanced that the audience gets to watch a man who has gone to the Gates of Hell and has come back by sheer willpower and bad luck with a positive spin. Denzel Washington’s acting in Flight is a tour-de-force, Oscar winning material, the best acting by a male I have seen in this and in several years.

Skyfall (♦♦♦♦½): Directed by Sam Mendes, Skyfall is a smart, utterly sexy, taut thriller that kept me on the edge of my seat for most of the movie. There is plenty of action, gadgets and explosions to please action junkies. Daniel Craig oozes sex appeal as Bond, his scenes wearing little to nothing burn the screen.

The Dark Knight Rises (♦♦♦♦½): With still more surprises under his belt, Christopher Nolan has outdone himself with the last installment of his Batman Trilogy. There are lots of explosions, threats, lots of gun fights and not for the sake of destruction but with plenty of justification within the context of the story. The toys and gadgets are the coolest yet. And if you thought Ra’s Al Ghul and the Joker were bad, you haven’t seen anything.

Lincoln (♦♦♦♦): This is not a great movie, but it is a very good one. Steven Spielberg directs and co-produces the film. Lincoln suffers greatly due to its running for close to 3 hrs, and the heavy political discussions involved that have more resonance these days due to the partisan bickering ubiquitous in Capitol Hill. Despite these flaws, Lincoln shows acting performances for the ages, particularly the ones belonging to Daniel Day-Lewis in the role of Lincoln, Sally Field as Mary Lincoln and Tommy Lee Jones as Representative Stevens.

Silver Linings Playbook (♦♦♦♦½): The feel good movie of the year. Masterfully directed and acted, this film is unpretentious, heartwarming and funny. Even though the mental problems the protagonists face get them into funny situations, hysterical even, the movie makes no fun of those issues, it embraces them. Silver Linings Playbook is at the core a romantic movie with plenty of issues worth exploring and beautifully explored.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (♦♦♦♦): If anyone had any doubts that director Peter Jackson had lost his Middle Earth mojo, those doubts have been dissipated with the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The magic is back and so are the luscious visual effects and the fantastic creatures that populate a realm only J.R.R. Tolkien could have imagined and only someone with the imagination and creative genius of Peter Jackson can bring to life. The result is breathtaking.

Les Misérables (2012) (♦♦♦♦): This year’s version of Les Misérables is a big screen adaptation of the homonymous stage musical. Though sweeping, lush and vast in scope, I found it wanting. Somehow feelings and emotions got lost in translation. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, in fact for most of the movie I was hypnotized, but I don’t think is the musical to end all musicals—as I have heard critics rave.

Still to be watched:

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Django Unchained

Promised Land

Zero Dark Thirty