Austin Dale’s Film Honors for 2012

1. Zero Dark Thirty

2. Elena

3. The Master

4. Silver Linings Playbook

5. Cosmopolis

6. Lincoln

7. The Deep Blue Sea and Take This Waltz

8. Killer Joe and Holy Motors

9. Bachelorette and Pitch Perfect

10. Wuthering Heights and Beasts of the Southern Wild

Best Actor

Joaquin Phoenix, The Master

Best Actress

Rachel Weisz, The Deep Blue Sea

Best Supporting Actor

Matthew McConaughey, Magic Mike

Best Supporting Actress

Nicole Kidman, The Paperboy

Best Director

Andrei Zvyagintsev, Elena

Best Screenplay

Tony Kushner, Lincoln and David O. Russell Silver Linings Playbook

Best Cinematography

The Master

Best Documentary

How To Survive A Plague

Best First Feature

Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild

I’ve been reading David Thomson’s incredible, all-encompassing new history of films, The Big Screen. It’s always interesting to read something like this during Oscar season, because once again, at year’s end, I find myself imagining our collective memories of 2012 in film. After all, on the morning after the Oscars, every film from 2012 suddenly becomes a part of history, and the industry starts fresh with more love stories, more explosions, more Gosling and Wahlberg, and more hobbits. Most of the big pictures are forgotten – Will anyone seriously be watching Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close in twenty years’ time? – and a select few stand the test of time. What are the moments I’ll remember when Elle Fanning is collecting retirement?

The climactic seige in Zero Dark Thirty

This was the scene of the year. Visceral, violent, and as climactic as climaxes get, the end of Zero Dark Thirty will be talked about for as long as people remember Bin Laden. Just as The Birth of a Nation is the cultural moment we associate most often with America’s legacy of institutionalized racism, Zero Dark Thirty is the morally-questionable colossus we’ll associate with 21st century American warfare.

The fantasy sequence in The Master

Smack-dab in the middle of the year’s strangest studio picture, Joaquin Phoenix’s fantasy sequence is just straight-up unforgettable and haunting. The film’s masterful depiction of sexual dysfunction hasn’t been discussed anywhere near as much as it should’ve been. This scene is great.

Sally Field gasping in Lincoln

This great actress has a moment in Lincoln during one of the film’s domestic disputes that sears my soul.

The face of Quvenzhane

Nothing made me believe in the future of cinema more than the wisdom behind this child’s eyes. Quvenzhane Wallis is the breakthrough of the year, and even if she doesn’t do another film, I’ll be grateful for what she brought to the screen this year: Hope.

K-Fry-C and The Jellyfish Piss

Was 2012 the year white trash really, really went mainstream? Honey Boo Boo became more popular than Mitt Romney, Gina Gershon fellated K-Fry-C and Australia’s finest pulled off her pantyhose and pissed on Zac Efron. God Bless America.

The dream sequence in Life Of Pi

If all CGI was used to this end, I’d be more inclined to go see superhero movies. Go for the life-or-death stakes, stay for the hallucinations.

The end of How To Survive A Plague

Not even Amour made me cry like seeing the proud faces of ACT UP’s finest, alive and well thanks to their work. As a young queer person, I felt inclined to throw my gratitude at the heroes on the screen. Documentaries aren’t normally this valuable and educational, and fiction films are almost never this moving.

Tilda Swinton’s five blissful minutes

How is Tilda Swinton a movie star? How did it ever happen? Did I sleep through this? How is it that a bankable Oscar winner still feels so much like a cult icon? How is it that the total of five minutes she spends on screen this year was so memorable and wonderful and awe-inducing? How is it that during Moonrise Kingdom, a fabulous film chock-full of outstanding talent, this little cameo appearance is what I cherished most?

Liz And Dick

The film that ended an era for me. For years, I’ve been the biggest Lindsay Lohan apologist on the planet, and now I have nothing to say in her defense. Whatever this was, it was not a movie. It was a meta disaster so ill-conceived, cheap, and bombastically brittle that it self-implodes, and its central performance is one of the least watchable I’ve ever seen. I already know that I will never watch this movie again. Watching Lindsay act herself off the screen forever gave me a one-of-a-kind discomfort and too much to bear twice.

Matthew McConaughey’s striptease in Magic Mike