Best of 2012
Richard Linklater’s ruefully comic tale of what happens when the most popular guy in town commits a murder. Bernie features great performances by Jack Black as the titular “hero,” Matthew McConaughey as a slick D.A. and Shirley MacLaine as the meanest woman in East Texas.
2. Magic Mike
Steven Soderbergh’s directorial farewell tour continues. Here, he sets the sleazy milieu of a strip club against the essential naiveté of the club’s star performer (Channing Tatum). And Matthew McConaughey is wonderfully evil as the club’s owner.
3. Beasts of the Southern Wild
Elemental, fantastic, haunted and teeming with life: Benh Zeitlin’s drama was the indie sensation of the year.
Tim Burton’s remake-expansion of his early film about a boy and his dead dog is moving and funny, and the 3D animation is exemplary. If you missed it in IMAX 3D, you missed something.
Wim Wenders’ documentary showcased the work of the late choreographer Piňa Bausch, and employed the 3D process imaginatively to capture the grit and nuance of her art.
This true-life story of the secret CIA rescue of a group of American diplomats in Tehran after the Iranian revolution was tense, smart and hugely enjoyable. And I hope, at the Oscars, Alan Arkin shouts out his trademark Argo line: “Ar-go-fuck-yourself!”
Steven Spielberg and writer Tony Kushner showed the dirty, nasty work of democracy as dramatic, hilarious and—most importantly—worthwhile.
Quit complaining about plot holes, will ya? It’s science fiction. Ridley Scott got his mojo back with this Alien prequel. Also: What a great abortion scene!
9. Silver Linings Playbook
This romantic travails of a mental patient and a young widow is another in-your-face, kinetic, emotional comedy-drama from David O. Russell.
10. Safety Not Guaranteed
A fascinating drama about time-travel, in both the literal and metaphorical senses. Great lead performance by Aubrey Plaza.
Worst of 2012
A thoroughly loathsome misrepresentation of Alfred Hitchcock’s art.
2. This Means War
It’s not just Katherine Heigl’s fault: This soulless romcom starred Reese Witherspoon and Tom Hardy. The genre is broken.
3. Taken 2
Ridiculous even by the elastic standards of the action genre.
4. The Lorax
The Seuss estate has run the man’s legacy into the ground.
5. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Nic Cage is better than this crap.