As I was going through this list (this is Gabe, by the way, which I only point out because Kelly wrote some of these movie blurbs, too, but she is not the one talking right this second, and it is always weird when someone says I but you don’t know who the I is, OK) I realized that I didn’t like very many movies this year. Even the movies that I have picked out as my favorite movies all have some kind of qualification, or include some laundry list of movies from years past that were better movies but, you know, were not from this year. There were good movies for sure, but none of them were all-time faves (CAVEAT: there are at least two movies I can think of off the top of my head–Silver Linings Playbook and Beasts of the Southern Wild that are supposed to be great that I simply haven’t seen yet, so there is that also). But there were good movies, I don’t know. How pumped is everyone for this list! Get in there, guys! Mix it up! LOL! And I’ll see YOU at the movie!

The Dark Knight Rises
The Dark Knight Rises didn’t offer the dark glee of The Dark Knight, in fact just the opposite. It was dour and thick and heavy. And OK, there may have been a couple of plot holes. But it was still pretty darn good. In pure theory alone, sneaking an existentialist movie featuring the anarchic nightmare of inevitable annihilation into a summer blockbuster about superheroes is a neat magic trick. Oh, and considering how terrible third movies in trilogies often are, and how bad the third act of the these third act films often are, the ending of The Dark Knight Rises was perfect. So yeah. More like The Dark Knight Ruleses!

The Master
The Master! All the nerds were foaming at the brains for this movie to come out, and then once it did it seemed like people were trampling each other Black Friday style to declare it an incredible masterpiece with the ever-present caveat that no one understood it and needed to see it again. Frankly, we thought the movie was a little bit like an expensive meal at a four star restaurant that leaves you feeling hungry at the end. It had nothing of particular interest to say about its purported subject matter, and the surrogate father-figure themes are something we have seen Paul Thomas Anderson deal with before and much better. But the acting in this movie was, like, totally the best acting. And it was beautifully filmed. And all in all it WAS one of the better movies of the year, even if we’d rather watch There Will Be Blood again before rewatching this.

The Avengers
Hey, do you guys like to have fun?! Well then we have great news for you: this movie is fun! Considering that it is the third highest grossing movie of all time and that it has all of our old pals in it, you would think it would be even better than it is, actually. Like, we enjoyed the first Spider-Man (2002) more as a movie-goer looking for a blast, and we think The Dark Knight (2008) is a straight up better movie, but this is still just very fun. That sequence where the camera flies around all of the different Avengers and shows how they are kicking the spaceworm butts in their own unique ways? COME ON, MAN! AWESOME STUFF, GUYS! #fun

Moonrise Kingdom
When the trailer for Moonrise Kingdom came out it looked like a viral video parody of a Wes Anderson movie, and the fact of the matter is that the full-length movie wasn’t that much different. This guy sure has a couple of aesthetic notes and emotional beats and quirky overtones that he sure likes to hit as hard as he can. The fact of the matter is that this movie was pretty far down on our list of Wes Anderson movies, easily beating out The Life Aquatic with Steve Zisou for second-to-last-place but no comparison to all of the movies stacked above it. That being said, it’s like a few years ago when everyone was complaining about how tired and annoying The Office had become and Mindy Kaling in some interview said something to the effect of “if you shot a pilot today with this incredible cast, everyone would want to watch that show,” which is certainly true. A mediocre Wes Anderson movie is still a lot better or at least more interesting than a lot of other movies. So here we are.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi
This is just a beautiful movie about finding your purpose in life and dedicating yourself to that purpose with everything that you have. There’s also this scene of Jiro shopping for tuna in the legendary Tsukiji fish market that very quietly and unintentionally reminds you of just how big the world is and how many different kinds of lives are being lived in it every single day that you cannot even begin to comprehend, so that seems like it’s worth SOMETHING.

Safety Not Guaranteed
You may remember our glowing review of Safety Not Guaranteed back in July, and all of our feelings still stand. (Mostly because we have not seen it again since then, and it is only a wonderful, distant memory of a perfect, at once light-hearted and emotionally-heavy dramady in which Jake Johnson shines in the way he always does, Aubrey Plaza shines in a way she rarely does, and Mark Duplass shines kind of in the way you expect him do when he’s featured in someone else’s work.) See it! Why not just On Demand it right now?

The Do-Deca Pentathlon
We have to admit that we were not very excited to see The Do-Deca Pentathlon. The Duplass brothers are fairly hit-and-miss, and a film about a pair of brothers secretly competing in a olympic-style series of events behind everyone’s backs at a family reunion sounds like almost literally the last thing we want to watch a movie about. But! BUT! The Do-Deca Pentathlon proved to be just the incredibly moving, honest, dark, and humorous enough look at interpersonal relationships that you look for in a Duplass film. Possibly their best yet, and certainly our favorite.

Beasts of the Southern Wild
Beasts of the Southern Wild is a big, beautiful movie showcasing a tiny, wonderful actress. (We’re going to break the “we” for a moment, since Gabe pointed out that he has not seen this movie yet. Kelly has. “I” have!) It would be a lie to say that our love of this movie extends very far beyond Quvenzhané Wallis’s performance as the young Hushpuppy, but also it would be a lie to say this movie in general extends very far beyond Quvenzhané Wallis’s performance as the young Hushpuppy. The fantasy and reality-blended story gets lost in the scenery, and the scenery gets lost whenever Wallis is on-screen, but they all join together to create one of the best viewing experiences of the year.

(Honorable Mentions)

Silver Linings Playbook
Honestly, this might be the movie of the year, I wouldn’t know, I haven’t had a chance to see it yet. So it can’t be officially counted as one of my favorites of the year. But other people sure seem to like it a lot, and I love David O’Russell’s movies (I even liked I Heart Huckabees, so…) so who knows. If you like it, now you don’t have to be mad that it wasn’t included. And if you don’t like it, now don’t be mad because I didn’t actually say it was my favorite yet.

Wreck It Ralph
See above. Honestly the honorable mentions are really just the movies of 2012 that we haven’t gotten to yet that we cannot wait to get to. Life is what happens when you’re busy watching other movies.

Sound Of My Voice

Oops! See above. But we’d be remiss to not mention this cult-y film co-written by one of last year’s Best People, Brit Marling. It looks great! Can’t wait to finally see it someday.

Save the Date
We actually saw this one, and it was very good! One of those movies that quickly gets labeled “white people problems” because that is EXACTLY what it is, but it is also a wonderful, funny look at being in a relationship that you don’t want to be in, or do you? OR DO YOU?

Django Unchained

Rust and Bone

(Main image via Shutterstock.)

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Comments (44)
  1. I would love to comment on this post and say something interesting about these movies, but I’ve only see two of them (Dark Knight Rises and Avengers). They were both fine!

    Hey monsters! Anyone else working today?

  2. i love reading movie lists! with beasts and jiro being my favorites. i have to admit, i wasn’t crazy about the master! i just sort of got bored. it’s tricky because i recently moved to london and it’s so much more expensive to go see a movie there. some places charge 24 pounds! which is criminal in my opinion. so anyway having to dish out so much cash to see it might have made me bitter when i was watching. anyway i think it’s my new years resolution to start commenting. p.s. sound of my voice wasn’t great. almost comically bad actually.

    • Hmmm, I quite liked Sound of my Voice. While the ending left something to be desired from a logical standpoint, I had a fun time getting there. (Admittedly, once you know the ending, there’s not much point to watching.) I think there’s just something very likable about Brit Marling, separate from how talented she may or may not be as a writer. Her performance, at least, I liked very much.

  3. I’ve only seen The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, and Moonrise Kingdom from this list, but I liked them all very much. I liked Bernie quite a bit, mainly because the main actors were so good! I thought Sleepwalk with Me was good. Cabin in the Woods was mostly funny with a little bit of scary, which is how I like my horror movies. There are many others that I want to see, and I will soon watch them all for free from my library!
    The worst movie I saw this year was something I watched with my mom called Darling Companion. Mark Duplass, Elisabeth Moss, Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline were in it, and I like them all! But it was terrible. Basically, Diane Keaton and Elisabeth Moss find a dog on the side of the road. They grow to love it. Kevin Kline hates it. The dog runs away after Elisabeth Moss’ wedding to the vet to helped save the dog, and then they use a psychic to find the dog, but she is not much help. They don’t find the dog until they are flying away and see the dog from the plane window. Someone fakes an injury to get the plane to land. The dog comes back. The end. The only character I liked was the dog and he was barely in the movie.


      • Sorry, I forgot. SPOILER ALERT: This movie will put a damper on what was otherwise a very nice Thanksgiving and is a big waste of time. It will also make you question why actors that you normally really like were thinking when they decided to be a part of this mess.


      • Yes! So they are flying back from the site where they had the wedding, which was in the mountains, and everyone is super bummed because they can’t find the dog. So they are flying over the trees, and in a clearing, someone sees the dog out the window. So they get the pilot to land, and somehow don’t go to the nearest hospital, but go out into the woods and yay, the dog is back! I cannot say enough how much I disliked this movie. I end up watching a lot of those schmaltzy feel-good movies with my mom because that’s what she likes, and that’s what we thought this was going to be. She didn’t like it either. It was worse than some of the Hallmark movies I’ve watched with her, and boy, those can be pretty bad.

  4. Holy Motors.
    See it.
    Love it (or hate it).
    Just see it.
    It is worth a watch.

  5. I saw Sound of my Voice and it was ok, no Another Earth. That is my review .

    • I actually liked it more than Another Earth, but then again I had some real problems with Another Earth (mainly EWWW LEAVE THAT GUY ALONE HAVEN’T YOU DONE ENOUGH?!?!?!?). Also I love cult movies.

  6. Cabin in the Woods was awesome! So was Man with the Iron Fists! That’s all I got!

  7. I remain astounded that so many people liked The Dark Knight Rises. One of the dumbest movies I’ve ever seen, not just this year. Insanely long, tedious and nonsensical. I’m so glad that trilogy is done. No more Batman ever again please, Batman is the worst. And rather than lay out the myriad idiotic qualities of the movie I will simply ask what kind of villain decides to detonate an atomic bomb and kill themselves with it? That’s what hired goons are for! Christ, what a piece of shit movie.

    • Depending on a terrorist’s ideological ideals, plenty will (and have, and will continue to) take people out at the cost of their own lives. That was not at all the hardest pill to swallow in TDKR by a long shot.

      But hey, everybody gets it. You don’t like Batman.

      • I just was uncomfortable with the tone of the last movie; it seemed like a straight-up endorsement of Batman’s methods rather than the ambigous presentation of said methodology in the Dark Knight.

  8. Nothing I saw this year jumps out as my FAVORITE, but I’m going to plug Robot & Frank because I don’t think a lot of people saw it. It was a very good movie! It’s kind of like Lovely Still except less depressing and with robots and crime.

    • I saw it and it was definitely my favorite movie this year. I won’t spoil anything, but there’s a moment at the end that just killed me.

    • I saw that one too, so you’re not alone. I liked it a lot too, but then again I’m a bit of a sucker for sci-fi movies that don’t have too many impossible things in them.

  9. Did anyone see Killing Them Softly? That was a good one. I think it was the last movie this year that I unreservedly enjoyed (sorry, The Hobbit, but you took too damn long to get to the point!)

  10. Didn’t get to see too many movies this year, was really busy with other stuff, starting college mostly, but even the one’s I haven’t seen sound great from the list. I really do feel like I’m the only one who loved The Amazing Spider-Man sometimes though, it’s probably the movie I’ve enjoyed and watched the most this year. I didn’t even see it in theaters since it was getting such mixed reviews, rented it when it first came out with low expectations, but I loved it. I’m also a huge Spider-Man/Andrew Garfield/ Emma Stone fan boy though, so it was really a perfect storm for me. At any rate, much better than the old trilogy.

    Also, been ages since I’ve dropped by here! Like, I think it’s actually been over a year. I miss good old Videogum, such a fun site to follow.

    • The Amazing Spider-Man was pretty all right. I still prefer Sam Raimi’s movies (even the third one) because they have more of an idiosyncratic personality, but I appreciated that they tried to do something different with the character of Peter Parker in the new one. And the scene where he’s webbing across the city, all beat up, and they line up the cranes… call me a sucker, but that was genuinely uplifting.

  11. I really loved Looper. I know theres the time travel plot holes and all, but its kind of unfair to judge the movie on that when the movie itself doesn’t want you to focus on it. To pick apart Looper’s plot holes due to the time travel thing is kind of missing the point. As a character study as well as a thought provoking sci-fi/action movie I thought it was really great.

  12. I’m appalled battleship iz not on this list, that was my fav movie of the year.

  13. Queen of Versailles was fantastic. I really liked the Hunger Games. Magic Mike is great, but could have used more Bomer and Alcide. Avengers was fun, but I’ve liked other related movies more. Didn’t care for Cabin in the Woods, but I didn’t hate it either. Just too… all the 4th wall I’m so clever winking at everyone the whole time bugged me. Stick to my TV shows, Whedon. Moonrise Kingdom reminded me of all Wes Anderson movies put into a blender and drained and turned into what it was. Didn’t make it the whole way through, figured I’d watch a different Wes Anderson movie if I were in the mood. Amy Heckerling’s Vamps was super fun. Liked a 5-Year Engagement a lot more than I expected. Didn’t hate We Bought a Zoo but I was feeling down at the time at the time. The parts with Charlize Theron in that Snow White movie were amazing, the rest was shit. Journey 2 was fun, but I love anything with my good buddy, The Rock. Gasland is very good and everyone should see it.

    Also Stanley Tucci better get nominated for Best Supporting Actor in the Hunger Games. Take note, Academy… otherwise you will have to answer to ME.

  14. Very upset that Magic Mike wasn’t #1 on this list of best movies of 2012 that you saw while drunk.

    • My friend was really hungover, and I was sad. Then we saw Magic Mike. I’m not going to say the movie has healing powers (it does), but this movie literally cured us of our ailments.

  15. Favorite Movie of 2012 was really hard to find in a theatre, but if you can find Iron Sky, watch it. A ton of fun and a lot going on structurally undergirding it.

  16. I think that everyone is forgetting about BREAKING DAWN!!!

    (Please don’t downvote me, I am just kidding)

  17. I just saw Les Mis and what a big movie! and all the cry singing! who knew anyone could be so good at cry singing! Hugh Jackman kept cry singing out his nose though. sounded weird. what a pants wetting weirdo.
    but also,

    #wolverineforAlfred #photoshopstylez #happynewsyear

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