The Young Folks writers have come together to list the very best in entertainment and pop culture for the year 2012!
2012 has been a great year for movies. From The Avengers to Les Miserables, there was a lot to love. Check out each writer’s Top 10 Movies list below. It’s important to note that not all of us have seen every movie this year had to offer. (Highly critically-acclaimed movies like Zero Dark Thirty and Amour are not playing in some of our cities until January.) Sound off in the comments with your favorite movies of the year!
Tyler Stevens’ Top 10 Movies of 2012
This film defines why we go to the movies: I laughed, I felt for the characters, and I sat on the edge of my seat. Argo is the definitive Hollywood movie-going experience at its very best: incredibly written and directed, full of wit and tension.
Kathryn Bigelow’s latest modern war epic is full of tension and rousing drama, complete with a great supporting cast, wonderful cinematography, and a fantastic lead performance from Jessica Chastain.
Emotional, supremely acted, and powerful, Perks isn’t just one of the best films of the year, it is one of the greatest teen films ever made.
Managing to be classic Bond while also ushering the iconic superspy into a new age, Skyfall gives you everything you could possibly want out of a Bond film: thrills, style, classic cars, emotion, and a brilliant villainous turn from Javier Bardem.
With amazing production design and cinematography, Les Misérables is a deservedly epic adaptation of an iconic musical, complete with great songs, a lot of emotion, and plenty of wonderful performances.
Powerful and thrilling, The Dark Knight Rises is an imperfect but utterly epic, emotional, and satisfying conclusion to Nolan’s iconic superhero trilogy.
7. The Avengers
The definitive event movie of 2012, The Avengers is undoubtedly one of the most entertaining, hilarious, and thrilling superhero epics of all time, full of wit and dynamic characters.
8. Django Unchained
A classic Tarantino epic: bloody, well written, and fantastically acted, Django Unchained is a slightly uneven but endlessly hilarious and badass piece of cinema.
Full of emotion and wit, The Intouchables is one of the best foreign-language films I’ve ever seen: fantastic lead performances and a whole lot of heart.
Heartfelt and memorable, with a good cast of characters and some brilliant stop-motion animation, ParaNorman is a well-meaning and rewarding family film: funny for adults and kids, endlessly entertaining for all ages.
Allyson Johnson’s Top 10 Movies of 2012
1. The Avengers
This technically speaking is very likely not the best of the year; however, I’ve yet to leave a theater as excited and happy as I was when I left the midnight screening of this film. Joss Whedon managed to perfectly capture the spirit of the universe and was able to tell a story with equal measures of levity as well as moments of darkness. It was never going to emulate the Batman series in terms of tone, and I’m glad it didn’t. It was everything a super hero movie of its kind should be, and when the group of damaged superheroes were finally all together and the camera pulled an aerial shot around them, not only did the grin I was wearing nearly split my face in two, I was also sitting there rooting them along as if it were one of my first times in a theater. No, this film isn’t cinematic genius, but I can’t remember a time when I’ve enjoyed going to the movies more.
Let’s make a list. This film had Sam Mendes at the helm of the film, it had a reinvigorated Daniel Craig, it had powerhouses Judi Dench and Javier Bardem, as well as Britain’s best kept secret weapon Ben Whishaw. The story of redemption in all of its simplicity is the most affecting. It’s a film that feels like it derives from the Bond universe, but there is no need to have watched any of its predecessors to enjoy this one. The cinematography is some of the best of the year; the storyline is gripping, the action fresh and exciting and the acting top notch. This film exceeded my expectations and left me wanting to immediately see it again.
3. Life of Pi
This is cinematic magic at its best. With the wondrous eye of Ang Lee, the expansive world he managed to create, and the astonishingly, heartbreaking performance by first time actor Suraj Sharma; this isn’t a film to miss. Despite the trials and tribulations our protagonist must face, the underlying theme is so overwhelmingly hopeful that it’s truly awe inspiring to watch a boy who’s lost everything, fight as if he still has everything to lose. One of the most moving pictures I’ve ever seen and a real step forward in terms of filmmaking. Ang Lee has done it again.
4. Monsieur Lazhar
Mohamed Fellag is something of a revelation in this role, managing to convey fear, compassion and loneliness in singular looks. It’s beautifully shot with the director/writer Philippe Falardeau going in with a clear vision and executing it with precision. It’s about a sad man who finds a little bit of joy in a classroom full of traumatized and soul searching adolescents, and it’s the simplicity of the want to better oneself that makes this film of the year’s highlights.
This was a love or hate film, and I was on the love side. From the second it opened with the theatrical stage as its setting and the stylized, balletic movements and the details of the costumes. Keira Knightley gave the best performance of her career, and Joe Wright proved why he is one of his generation’s best directors with one of the greatest eyes for beauty.
There are a number of reasons it’s on my list other than it being far and away the best animated film this year. One, Laika Studios knows how to manipulate the absurd and macabre and make it semi kid friendly, while still packing an emotional punch. Two, the plot allows for some genuine shocks to play out, refusing to play it safe like so many other American animated films. Three, the ending, which I won’t spoil, but it’s great on a number of levels.
7. Safety Not Guaranteed
It’s about love, loss, growing up and time travel, and the time travel bit is done with just the same amount of realism as the rest. It’s one of the best independent films of the year with Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass and Jake Johnson all taking titular roles. It’s sweet and charming and tells the tale of two misunderstood individuals who are drawn together out of want without either becoming self-pitying caricatures of people.
The film begins, and you’re left wondering about the world cinema has put you in this time. While it appears to settle in normality, it instead ends up exploring the fantastical. Quvenzhané Wallis is a pint-size powerhouse, and it’s her and onscreen father, Dwight Henry, that carry this film to its climatic ending. It’s emotional and inspirational and one of the most innovative narratives in years.
Let’s disregard Tom Hooper’s direction and call it a day with that fluke because otherwise it was a fantastic film. Properly setting the tone for a film about loss, hope, the loss of hope and redemption in the face of your fate, this film touts nuanced and heartbreaking performances by Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Hugh Jackman and Samantha Barks. Although it’s almost three hours in run time, it flies by and leaves you wanting for more.
Gifted with great performances by Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller, this film is another example of the movie version being better than the original source. It’s a look at an insecure teenager’s life with one of the best soundtracks this year. It’s wonderfully shot, emotionally impactful, and has yet to get the recognition it deserves.
Maxwell Zupke’s Top 10 Movies of 2012
2012 was a great year for cinema, and as such there were far too many films to come to the theaters for me to see them all. There are several that have not made their tortuous trek to my local multiplex yet, and others still which I failed to see upon release and have yet to catch up on. Consider this, then, simply a list of ten of the best films of the year.
Let this be a lesson to the artistically segregating naysayers: authors can adapt their own books, and direct them too. Steven Chbosky not only managed to translate his hit teen tale The Perks of Being a Wallflower from spine to screen, but has also established himself as a major new cinematic presence. Even more noteworthy is the heartbreaking trio of stars. Emma Watson sheds her Hermione robes for the trappings of the spunky Sam, Ezra Miller practically steals the film as the flamboyant Patrick, and Logan Lerman is note perfect in a tricky performance as the shy but goodhearted Charlie.
The biggest risk of the year was also one of the biggest successes. Sibling auteurs the Wachowskis filmed three of the six stories featured in David Mitchell’s meditation on storytelling and, um, the transmigration of souls, while Run Lola Run director Tom Tykwer took the remaining three. Disparate directing styles, uneven acting choices, weird demon characters and all, this is a film for the ages. It’s a grand, gonzo symphony of life, and that’s the true-true.
The word zhané means ‘fairy’ in Swahili, and it fits Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhané Wallis perfectly, who at nine years old may just become the youngest Best Actress nominee ever. The girl is strong-willed but naive and innocent, and the film – which perfectly mixes reality with fantasy – is one of the finest fairy tales ever put to film. Everything about this indie, even in the darkest and grittiest of moments, feels absolutely magical. Beasts of the Southern Wild is spellbinding cinema.
“He said you had a story that would make me believe in God,” a writer tells a man named Pi, who was named after a Parisian swimming pool that, when photographed from beneath the water, makes its occupants look as though they are swimming through the sky. Though I was impressed with Ang Lee’s fairy tale pastel India and majestic CGI animals, I was worried that the agnostic critic in me would leave the theater feeling disrespected and preached to. I wasn’t. A triumph of filmmaking as well as the human spirit, Life of Pi is a subtle and loving ode to spirituality in all its many forms.
There’s a reason Skyfall has become the world’s first billion dollar Bond. Sam Mendes and Roger Deakins were responsible for some of the year’s most impressive cinematography. The cast – especially Judi Dench as the silvery M and Javier Bardem as a Joker-esque sociopath – has drawn applause from Red Carpet commentators and awards bloggers alike. The storyline was dark and filled with complex characters, while the script was littered with knowing homages to the old and bright beacons to the new. Bond is back in business, and he’s just getting started.
This is probably my most polarizing pick. The fanboys have wasted no time or space unfettering their hatred of Ridley Scott’s Alien-sort-of-prequel. But for me, the movie was enigmatic, atmospheric, and undeniably thought-provoking – plot holes, imperfections and all. The ambiguity of nearly every moment in the film only added to its mystique, which was founded in a flawless android performance by the ubiquitous Michael Fassbender.
When I first saw the trailer for Lincoln, I thought it would be another hamfisted, preachy history lesson from Steven Spielberg. I’ll admit that it’s certainly hamfisted and preachy in places, and that the film’s ending simply isn’t satisfying – but who cares? Never have politics been so electrifying as in Tony Kushner’s Lincoln script, which somehow manages to slip in a word-for-word rendition of the Gettysburg Address alongside pithy era-appropriate insults.
8. Moonrise Kingdom by Wes Anderson
Any year that sees the release of a new Wes Anderson movie is automatically a little bit funnier, more whimsical, and more unabashedly surreal. This year’s was no surprise, with a delightful romp of a screenplay that allowed Anderson to photograph the (totally real) New Penzance wilderness as well as Edward Norton in full “Khaki Scout” regalia. The ending shot is perhaps the best of the year, or any year for that matter, and the film marks the arrival of two major new young actors – Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward.
Ben Affleck’s filmography as an actor may not be anything to write home about – okay, it’s dismal – but he’s quickly building an impressive portfolio as a director. Argo contained some of the year’s most visceral and exciting suspense scenes, especially the tour de force opening sequence. Alan Arkin’s getting most of the Oscar buzz for his role as a belligerent Hollywood producer, but he’s matched by Bryan Cranston as Ben Affleck’s incisive CIA boss.
2012 was the year of India, with both John Madden’s carefree geriatrics dramedy The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Ang Lee’s astounding ocean adventure Life of Pi beautifully showcasing the country’s vivid hues. Sweet, funny, and very, very predictable, this sleeper was quite possibly the most charming movie of the year. The film boasts great performances by the always dignified Judi Dench, Maggie Smith as an irascible racist, Tom Wilkinson in the film’s most layered performance, and the surprisingly and delightfully earnest Bill Nighy.
Gabrielle Bondi’s Top 10 Movies of 2012
Coming up with this list was hard, but there was no doubt which movie would sit atop my list. There’s no movie I loved more this year than Perks, a movie adapted from one of my favorite novels as a teen. Well-acted, directed and written, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a movie full of heart, life and anticipation, making it an instant classic. (It also has an awesome soundtrack.)
2. Django Unchained
Quentin Tarantino is one of the best and craziest directors out there, and I thank God for him. Django Unchained is brilliant, funny, jarring and just full-out entertainment. Plus, it’s packed with great performances.
I’m pretty surprised that a rom-com made my list, but director/writer David O. Russell had managed to put a quirky, sincere and very entertaining spin on the rom-com genre. Silver Linings Playbook is amazingly well-acted. Bradley Cooper gives his best performance yet. Robert De Niro finally turns in a performance we’ve been waiting years to see. And of course, Jennifer Lawrence continues to prove that she’s one of Hollywood best new talents.
Ben Affleck’s thriller had everything you could ask for and more. Chris Terrio’s script is excellently written, and Ben Affleck directs it just as well. Also, the cast is amazing, all turning in good performances.
This movie blew me away. Quvenzhané Wallis is electrifying to watch onscreen. Her screen presence is so huge for someone so small. Benh Zeitlin created a unique and moving film with a lot of heart and whimsy. This movie also has my favorite score of the year. (Listen to it here!)
The performances and music make this new adaptation of Les Misérables a true musical spectacle. Although I wish the direction was better, this movie was packed with emotion and meaning, thanks to fine performances from the entire cast, especially Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway.
Lincoln is Spielberg’s best movie in years. Sure, top-notch performances from Daniel Day-Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones and Sally Field help make it great. But it’s really Tony Kushner’s script that makes what could’ve been a boring history lesson, an almost thriller-like and very interesting look at President Lincoln’s last days.
Laika Animation’s movie was the biggest surprise for me of the year. As someone who never really cared for stop-motion animation, ParaNorman made me fall in love with it. Laika does an incredible technical job on this film. The details and movements are beautiful and flow. On top of that, the story, which is reminiscent of John Hughes’ movies, is touching and funny. It’s a real treat for both kids and adults.
This list wouldn’t be complete for me if The Hunger Games wasn’t included. Gary Ross brought one of my favorite novels to life with style and heart. I obsessively kept track of this movie’s developments since the rights were optioned a few years ago. To see it finally hit the big screen and be even better than I imagined was the best feeling in the world.
These movies are very different, but what they have in common are that they were both panned by critics and yet I love both of these movies. I know having a tie is kinda cheating, but I couldn’t pick which one I wanted to have the last spot on my list more. Brave meant a lot to me, being a movie about mothers and daughters. Of course, the animation in it was breathtakingly beautiful. The Dark Knight Rises was an astounding end to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. It wasn’t exactly the ending everyone expected, but it was still a heart-stopping and satisfying end to one of the best superhero stories to ever hit the big screen.
Luciana Villalba’s Top 10 Movies of 2012
It needs to be said that I haven’t seen A BUNCH of movies released in 2012, and I still indeed need to catch up. However, here are my favorite movies this year:
Tarantino’s best film since Pulp Fiction.
Since Zero Dark Thirty won’t be released this year in Miami, Argo is my favorite suspense film this year. Ben Affleck, keep directing, would you?
The movie that deserves all the recognition in the world for being by far the best book-to-movie adaptation. May I also say flawless cast?
From the bottom of my heart, I loved what Gary Ross did with the film, and I hope that Catching Fire is just as good with director Francis Lawrence.
Putting your OTP to SHAME. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone’s chemistry is just too much for words.
The movie that I thought that would suck ended up being one of the best comedies of the year.
7. Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson’s amazing film through sort of Instagram filters.
The remake that no one thought that would be so hilarious!
9. The Avengers
You did not live in the summer of 2012 if you didn’t see The Avengers.
Some hate it, some love it; I’m part of the ones who loved Nolan’s finale of The Dark Knight trilogy.
Nick Foster’s Top 10 Movies of 2012
I can watch this movie any time, any place. It gets to the point quick, Channing Tatum gets his ass kicked, and my future second wife stars in it.
This movie is the reason I will daydream about having superpowers for the rest of my adult life.
Any movie that causes as much nerd discussion as this one did deserves to be on my list.
4. Think Like A Man
This movie is good movie that happens to have a black cast, not a black movie, and that’s why I love it.
5. The Avengers
The movie that completely proved me wrong. I’ve seen this movie too much to not put it on the list.
6. Silent House
I have a crush on Elizabeth Olsen because of this movie. The fact that it was presented as a one shot film (doubtful if that’s actually true) was pretty impressive too.
Turns out kids killing each other is WAY more entertaining than I originally thought. For the record, I’ve seen Battle Royale, and the two are nothing alike, so shut up internet.
A much better sequel than I expected.
I saw this movie inadvertently around five or six times in theatres. I like it better than the emo-heavy Dark Knight, but in seeing it so many times, I realized that there’s a lot it did wrong purely as a movie, so it has to be lower on the list.
Because this movie did a complete bait and switch if you saw it because of the trailer. I respect the boldness of all involved to lie like that.
Alex Hanavan’s Top 10 Movies of 2012
6. The Avengers
Annie Rishty’s Top 10 Movies of 2012
6. For a Good Time… Call
7. The Vow
8. The Avengers
10. Project X
Shane A. Bassett’s Top 10 Movies of 2012 (In no particular order)
Jon Espino’s Top 10 Movies of 2012 (in no particular order)
Safety Not Guaranteed