If originality, or better yet, the follow-through of an original conceit, is most important to you, than it would be hard to refute Rian Johnson’s time-traveling opus as the best film of 2012. So I didn’t.
2) Silver Linings Playbook
There wasn’t a more justifiably joyous film this year, and by that I mean a story that celebrated characters’ downs as well as their ups with equal measure. Every tear jerked from your eye is earned and by the time the wet drops reach your lips, they’ll find a smile waiting.
3) The Master
Confounding, confusing, and irrefutably crazy, Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest is told in as grand a manner as any of his other masterful tales. The themes may not be as relevant, but the story’s elaborate construction makes the characters just as riveting.
4) Safety Not Guaranteed
A charming SXSW hit that stuck with me through the year, Safety Not Guaranteed is a fairy tale rooted in the skepticism of modern times. Never would I have thought the two could come together so beautifully.
5) Killer Joe
Though also benefitting from strong buzz at SXSW, Killer Joe has very little in common with the film listed ahead of it. It’s charming, but in the darkest way imaginable. Funny, but only when you don’t want to laugh. Above all, it’s violent-so much so it can only be redeemed by its impeccably crafted script.
6) Ruby Sparks
Zoe Kazan’s script is impressively imaginative, and that’s what hooks you. Its frighteningly realistic finale is what sticks.
7) Killing Them Softly
Designed to hated by the general public but released for their mass consumption nonetheless, Brad Pitt’s pet project has bigger balls than any other movie this year. It says what it has to say without censorship or fear of reproach.
8) Les Miserables
Unparalleled performances from Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway bring this incredibly emotional and faithful adaptation of Jean Valjean’s ageless tale to vibrant life.
9) 21 Jump Street
Any year-end list without one Channing Tatum movie on it is simply wrong. If this was, I don’t know, too funny for you, there’s Magic Mike. If you’re too homophobic for that (or women suffering from phallophobia), there’s 10 Years. If you didn’t know that existed, there’s Haywire. If you didn’t like Haywire, well, I don’t blame you.
10) Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson does it again, this time with the help of some gifted child actors and veteran thespians, but newcomers to Wesland. Bruce Willis and Edward Norton seem especially at home.