The following is the top 12 films that I think represent the best Hollywood had to offer us this year. I am not saying these are the most entertaining films, but I found them to be the best in quality (“Les Miserables” is missing from this list since I haven’t seen it yet):
1. “Life of Pi:” The story of a boy lost at sea becoming a man, facing his fears, and surviving against all odds. Based on a best-selling novel of the same name director Ang Lee (“Brokeback Mountain”) takes us on a compelling journey filled with spectacular visuals and thrilling cinematography.
2. “Silver Linings Playbook:” A romance/comedy/drama all tied up in one with an impressive cast, excellent direction, fantastic dialogue, and a compelling story about personality disorders. This was a surprise for me, and I can’t recommend it enough
3. “Argo:” Written/Produced/Directed/and starring Ben Affleck, “Argo” is based on a true story, and while funny at times, it manages to keep you on the edge of your seat as a thriller. This makes 3 for 3 on Ben Affleck directed films as his previous efforts, “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town” were phenomenal as well.
4. “Django Unchained:” Quentin Tarantino is back and better than ever. What many are hailing as one of his greatest achievements since “Pulp Fiction,” “Django Unchained” is a kick-ass throw back to the Spaghetti Westerns of old, features an incredible cast and performances, amazing action pieces, and the best dialogue you’ll find in any movie this year. Tarantino can’t be beat when it comes to writing, and anyone that can turn Leonardo DiCaprio into a compelling villain deserves some kind of award.
5. “Flight:” With a touchy subject at its core (alcoholism), and an amazing team behind the camera (director/producer Robert Zemeckis (“Cast Away”)), Denzel Washington (“Training Day”) was able to deliver his greatest performance since “Man on Fire.” There were even a few amazing scenes with John Goodman.
6. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower:” Based on a critically acclaimed novel by the same name we are given a story about a loner kid who finds his place in the world. This movie has an excellent soundtrack, fantastic acting, compelling drama, and really struck me at my core.
7. “Lincoln:” Never before have I been so enthralled with a movie about a historical event until this amazing piece of cinema. Top notch performances from everyone (Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones stand out of course), fantastic writing, amazing sets, excellent direction, and all around interesting.
8. “The Sessions:” John Hawkes delivers his finest performance to date in this true story about a man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity, and contacts a professional sex surrogate with the help of his therapist and priest. A great supporting cast, funny heart-warming dialogue, and excellent pacing make this one of the most under-rated films of the year.
9. “The Avengers:” While it doesn’t particularly stand out in any category outside of visual effects and action it does stand out as a fantastic movie. This is the definition of a summer popcorn flick, and it delivered in spades. It had excellent direction, some funny dialogue (and moments), great acting all around, and most importantly it captivates you, and keeps you entertained throughout the entire thing.
10. “The Cabin in the Woods:” Many people hate this film, but I think it is damn near perfect for what it was trying to do; be a satire on the horror genre, and it did an excellent job. It was entertaining, well acted, skillfully written, and directed in a way to keep you interested from start to finish. I only had a few plot issues with this movie (why was there a purge all button?), but putting those aside it definitely made this the best horror film, and almost comedy, this year, and I will remember and watch it for years to come.
11. “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel:” With an excellent ensemble cast of veteran actors and actresses this charming movie came out of nowhere, and gave us an entertaining film that didn’t rely on special effects or loud noises to get its point across. You are never too old to start living again, and you will never be too old to enjoy this movie.
12. “Looper:” From an excellent writer/director we are given a A-grade action/thriller that relies on story and plot development to progress instead of action set pieces. A Great cast, great writing, excellent music and cinematography, and excellent practical/special effects make this a must-see.
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