Resurrected Living
"What are you going to do with your new resurrected life? This is the heroic question." Richard Rohr

Best Films of 2012

When I sit down to write my list of the top films of any given year it is always a task that I both love and hate. I love to reflect on the best films of the year and what made them great, but I hate that I have not had an opportunity to see all the films (I have yet to see Zero Dark Thiry, Les Miserables, The Master, and a few others). If I was simply missing out on the latest Adam Sandler comedy that would be one thing, but many good films are released at the very end of the year and some of them only receive a limited release. It is also difficult to see all the great documentaries and foreign films in a theater. I have decided this year to include films that were technically released in 2011 but did not receive wide release until 2012. Roger Ebert has done this from time to time, and I figured if it is good enough for Roger, then it is good enough for me. I have troubled you long enough with my rant concerning talk of limited releases and a person’s opportunity to see good films. Here are the best films of 2012.

argo

Argo

As I reflect on 2012 I believe there were many good films made, but there were few great films made. Argo is a great film. This was Ben Afflek’s third motion picture to direct. Each film has built upon the other and gotten better and better. Argo has everything a movie lover desires, a great story that happens to be true, a talented cast of actors, and a well written script full of drama, suspense, and comedy. I cannot think of a better film in 2012 than this one.

django

Django Unchained

You can accuse Quentin Tarantino of many things, but one thing you cannot accuse him of is making boring films. Django Unchained has been attacked by people on the right and the left. People have complained about how violent it is and its use of derogatory language. These accusations are true, and I would warn anyone who wants to watch this film that it is not a film for everyone. At first Django Unchained seems to be your average western with strong themes of justice, but Tarantino is too smart to duplicate something verbatim. Instead Tarantino pays homage to the western and reworks it to bring the viewer something entertaining and unique. One example of this is the complicated King Schultz character played brilliantly by Christoph Waltz. After seeing the film I recommend reading William Randolph Bradford’s article, Django Unchained’s Moment of Moral Clarity.

pi

Life of Pi

Life of Pi is a beautiful film about the power of story. Whereas Django Unchained is a violent and vulgar film because it depicts a world full of hatred and sin, Life of Pi is a clean and decent film because it is a celebration of life. Ang Lee takes on the challenge of making a film that uses a lot of CGI and succeeds. With this film he shows people why he is a well respected director.

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Beasts of the Southern Wild

Beasts of the Southern Wild contains one of the best acting performances of the year. Quvenzahne’ Wallis, a six year old school girl from Louisiana, will blow you away as Hushpuppy, a fearless little girl who lives outside the levy and has to deal with a catastrophic storm hitting her home. You will not soon forget this beautiful film about hope amidst disaster, or the wonderful performances by Wallis and others.

lincoln

Lincoln

Steven Speilberg’s Lincoln is not a perfect film, but it does something no other film does this year. It takes a larger then life figure and introduces the audience to who this man really was. Daniel Day Lewis gives another incredible performance. The film depicts President Lincoln in his final days and reminds us of why we have come to idolize a common man from Illinois.

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Bernie

Bernie is a hilarious dark comedy about a murder in east Texas that is based on a true story. Jack Black and Matthew McConaughey give stellar performances. Director, Richard Linklater, is in top form and delivers one of the best movies of his career. This is a movie that should have gotten a wider release and should have been seen by more people.

dark knight

The Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan may have given us the greatest trilogy of all time. I do not say this lightly, and I am still contemplating whether or not this is true. The Godfather trilogy ended with a film that is far more inferior than the first two. The original Star Wars trilogy is incredible, but the acting and direction of Christopher Nolan’s films is much better. The Dark Knight Rises completes the trilogy beautifully. It has ties to the other two films and it introduces us to new characters and villains. Nolan amazes the viewers with special effects, but he is also very restrained. He has not forgotten his roots as an independent filmmaker and he pays close attention to direction. Christopher Nolan is able to please both critics and fans and this is not an easy thing to do.

safety

Safety Not Guaranteed

Comedies often get overlooked at the end of the year, but I have decided to include two on my list. A good comedy is hard to find. Safety Not Guaranteed is not a laugh out loud comedy. It does not contain slapstick or college humor. It is a film that surprises you because you do not know where it is going. Safety Not Guaranteed slowly draws the viewer in until he or she becomes intrigued by the characters and begins to laugh and care. Do not miss this indie comedy gem.

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Prometheus

Oh how I have missed good sci-fi films. Finally, Ridley Scott returns to the genre that launched his career, and he does not disappoint. Prometheus is a wonderful film about the origins of the Alien saga. It looks great, it is entertaining, and it has some great performances (notably Michael Fassbender who plays an android). Prometheus does not just aim at entertaining the audience, which it succeeds at doing, but also seeks to bring depth to a big budget blockbuster. You will enjoy Prometheus, but it will cause you to think as well.

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Searching for Sugar Man

Searching for Sugar Man is not only an amazing story, but it also introduces the world to a talented artist. Director Malik Bendjelloul does a superb job of creating a balanced film that is part story and part music. At the same time the story develops the viewer is discovering incredible music that has not been heard by anyone outside of South Africa. Part of the mystery is in the story itself, but part of it is also in how a musician like this could go undiscovered for so long. I not only left Searching for Sugar Man moved by a great film, but I left a fan of Rodriguez, a man I had never heard of before the film began.

Honorable Mention: Skyfall, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Chronicle, Undefeated, Silver Linings Playbook, Jeff Who Lives at Home, Marley, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Frankenweenie, Moonrise Kingdom, Wreck it Ralph, Blue Like Jazz, The Hobbit, Brave, The Queen of Versailles

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