According to Entertainment Weekly, despite the dire economic situation, nearly $11 billion worth of tickets were sold in 2012, marking the first time in three years that ticket sales actually increased from the previous year. The tremendous success is due almost entirely to the unbelievable films released this year, which makes it extraordinarily difficult to select the best films of the year.
However, there were several films that were undoubtedly spectacular, so take a look at the following list of the “12 Best Films of 2012,” read the reasoning behind each decision, and feel free to comment with your own “Best of 2012” list or Tweet your list to @pghfilmcritic. Also check back soon for the list of the “13 Films to Look for in 2013.”
1. The Dark Knight Rises
The closing chapter of Nolan’s trilogy is a breathtaking knock-out – visually, dramatically and emotionally. In the epic conclusion of the trilogy, Nolan here delivers a thought-provoking and intelligent movie, a blockbuster with brains, an action movie for adults. “The Dark Knight Rises” may not have a stand-out performer, but it has features several actors performing just as brilliantly and believably as Heath Ledger did in his performance as the Joker, which puts “The Dark Knight Rises” on par with “The Dark Knight” and secures the trilogy on the list of the greatest trilogies of all time.
2. The Avengers
The unbelievable superhero film set 28 box office records this year, including the biggest opening weekend ever, the best opening theater average ($47,698), the biggest second weekend ($103.05 million), the best 10-day gross($373.1 million), and the fastest to $500 million (23 days). The film made nearly $630 million in domestic sales and more than $1.5 billion internationally, and it absolutely deserved the numbers. The superhero phenomenon really is an astounding achievement – Joss Whedon created a film that juggles an unenviable number of elements, masterfully adding enough depth, action and humor to previously seen characters and elements to create a truly remarkable piece of work.
“Argo” is truly a Ben Affleck film – he directed, he starred in it, and he made it absolutely spectacular. The film doesn’t feature an all-star cast like most of the entries on this list do, and it only has a two hour run time, but it manages to take the time to make each person behind enemy lines unique and authentic. Furthermore, the film is one of the absolute most suspenseful, electrifying and enjoyable films of the year. Affleck’s film career spans more than three decades, but “Argo” is without a doubt one of his greatest works and it permanently defines him as an elite member of the film industry.
“Lincoln” is undoubtedly one of Steven Spielberg’s greatest films in quite some time. Spielberg “Lincoln” paints a brilliant and compelling portrait of a man, who is own words is “clothed in immense power,” a man, who, within the small window of time depicted in the film, must find a way to resolve the bloodiest war in American history and cure the nation of slavery. The film features some of the finest acting of the year and leaves a lasting and powerful impression.
After breaking the $1 billion mark in international ticket sales only a few days before the end of the year, and smashing records in the UK and the rest of Europe, “Skyfall” secured itself a spot on the list of the most popular Bond films of all time. “Skyfall” was one of the greatest Bond movies of all time, and it was undoubtedly the best film with Daniel Craig. Director Sam Mendes created a film that was, in terms of cinematography, the greatest installment in one of the longest and most successful movie franchises of all time. The film also featured impeccable lighting, photography, and acting, all of which made it one of the best films of 2012.
6. 21 Jump Street
“21 Jump Street” is co-written, produced by, and starring funnyman Jonah Hill, who took exactly the right attitude towards the film – he and his costar Channing Tatum embraced the inevitable stereotypes associated with the film, didn’t take themselves too seriously created a surprisingly and brilliantly humorous film. “21 Jump Street” kept its plot in mind and used humor to advance the script – not to envelop it, which made for one of the funniest and most enjoyable films of the year. Unsurprisingly, “21 Jump Street” already has a sequel in the works.
7. Django Unchained
One of the latest additions and most controversial additions to the list, “Django Unchained,” is one of Quentin Tarantino’s most enjoyable films. Tarantino’s film contains enough captivating performances, smart set pieces, and humorous/brutal social commentary to be a thoroughly entertaining and brilliantly stylized nod to the spaghetti western genre. The film’s brutal violence and potentially offensive nature keep it from earning a higher spot on the list.
8. Les Miserables
The latest adaptation of “Les Miserables” is magnificent, not only in scale, but also in substance. Hooper has proven once again that he is capable of creating a brilliantly artistic film, and the legendary cast members have worked up to their full potential. For film and musical lovers alike, this is a film that simply cannot be missed, and it is certainly a piece of cinema that will remain in the minds’ of viewers of years to come. The film’s niche audience keeps it from a spot further up on the list, but rest assured, for those who love movies and musicals, this is one of the top films of the year.
9. Cloud Atlas
“Cloud Atlas” was one of the absolute most ambitious films in years, and it was a remarkable cinematographic accomplishment. The film boasts a spectacular cast and a brilliant and complex plot that tackles the concepts of human nature and the human condition. Unfortunately, the film is tremendously long, at times the narrative is a bit choppy, and it’s ambitious decision to transcend all discernible genre boundaries makes it a difficult watch for anyone not truly in love with the film medium.
“Ted” is the result of giving Seth Macfarlane, the immensely popular creator of “Family Guy” the freedom of an R-rating, a big budget, and final cut. Unsurprisingly, the final product is nothing short of raunchy comedy gold. The film veers off track at points and becomes a bit too serious for its own good, but overall the film is hysterical and certainly deserves a spot among the top comedies of the year.
11. The Sessions
This is certainly the least well-publicized film on the list, though it boasts some of the greatest acting. “The Sessions” is a funny, tender, humorous and mostly unsentimentalized film that deals with the complicated themes of physical and emotional triumph. The film’s adult themes and slow meditative pace keep it from placing higher on the list of the year’s top films.
12. Men In Black III
The spectacular and beloved actors, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones return as the titularly clad operatives in the third installment in the tremendously popular “Men In Black” franchise. The humorous tone, the return of the well-liked characters and the shocking conclusion put this sequel on par with the rest of the entertaining franchise. From a strictly film standpoint, “Men In Black III” wasn’t phenomenal, but as a viewer it was one of the most entertaining films of the year, which gives it the rights to the final spot on the list.