Top Ten Films of 2012

topten2012 Happy New Year! 2012 was, in my opinion a very great year for movies and it was a very difficult task narrowing all my favourite films down to a list of ten.  In fact, there was over 50 films over the course of the year that I consider my favourites.  For your convenience, here is a list on Letterboxd of all the films I really liked over the year (listed in the order I watched them).  However, this post is all about my all-time favourite films of the year.  Some will seem like no-brainers, while others (including my top choice) may leave you scratching your head. Without further ado, here is my top ten favourite films of 2012!

imposter 10. The Imposter Without a doubt, The Imposter is not only one of the best documentaries of the year, but it is one of the best films.  Through its heavy use of re-enactments, the film slowly reveals a “stranger than fiction” story that rivals most Hollywood thrillers.  Definitely a must-watch film.
her_masters_voice 9. Her Master’s Voice My other documentary pick, Her Master’s Voice is a touching film about ventriloquist Nina Conti coping with the death of her mentor.  Giving each of her master’s puppets a unique personality, Conti creates a pseudo-fictional narrative that is both heart-warming and hilarious.  Not many people have seen this film (I don’t know it received a theatrical release after I saw it at Hot Docs), but I highly recommend that you seek it out.
Argo 8. Argo Argo is probably one of the best “based on a true story” thrillers that have been made.  Even though you have a good idea how the story is going to turn out, the film still remains quite an effective thriller.  It definitely demonstrated how well Ben Affleck is developing as a filmmaker.
berberian 7. Berberian Sound Studio My favourite film from TIFF 2012, Berberian Sound Studio is a wonderful little film about a sound editor, who slowly goes crazy while creating the sounds for an Italian giallo horror film.  You never see the horrific images that the editor is creating sounds for, which gives the film a macabre sense of humour.  Also, in a digital age where much of the art is missing from filmmaking, it great to see a film that plays homage to analogue sound effects.
6. Cosmopolis David Cronenberg’s latest film was a bit of a polarizing film with people either loving or hating it.  Since the film is essentially just a series of conversations, whether or not you like the film depends on how enthralled your are by the dialogue.  I for one absolutely loved the film and thought that it helped Robert Pattinson to move away somewhat from the image he developed in the Twilight films.
Frankenweenie 5. Frankenweenie 2012 saw two films released by Tim Burton.  The first of which, Dark Shadows, came and went without much fanfare (though I liked the film).  However, this stop-motion remake of one of Burton’s early short films turned out to be one of the best films of his career.  I absolutely loved this homage to classic monster movies and it was definitely a joy for me to watch.
4. The Dark Knight Rises Christopher Nolan concluded his trilogy of Batman film with this epic film that ties everything together.  While not as immediately memorable as the previous entry, this was still an excellent film and it looked great when shown in IMAX.  I look forward to see what Nolan does now that he is finished with Batman and is free to move on to other projects.
3. Killer Joe This film is the highlight of the Matthew McConaughey rebranding that has been going on for the last year or so.  Those who know McConaughey only for his roles in romantic comedies will be outright shocked at the dark places he goes in Killer Joe.  The disturbing and violent final half hour of this film makes Killer Joe stand out as one of the most shocking and memorable films I saw this year.
Seven Psychopaths 2. Seven Psychopaths This was one hell of a fun film.  Seven Psychopaths is probably one of the better dark comedies to be released in quite some time.  Director Martin McDonagh was obviously somewhat inspired by Quentin Tarantino in this very meta film with many comedic twists and turns, with some great performances by Sam Rockwell and Christopher Walken.  This is a film that I will enjoy for quite some time.
1. Compliance You have to be asking yourselves: Why did I choose this independent film, which only had a limited release, as my top film of the year?  Well, when I really got to thinking about it, there were no other films that I saw this year that stuck out in my mind as much as Compliance.  The film is not an easy watch, in fact it is outright disturbing.  As such it is not really a film that you would watch casually.  However, the film is also an excellent character study about how people seem compelled to comply to people of authority.  With me seeing so many films that can be considered merely passive entertainment, it is refreshing when I see a film that truly results in me thinking about what is happening on screen.  Compliance is not a film that is likely going to win many awards or be remembered by the general public, but it is a film that I consider to be one of the most thought-provoking of 2012.  That is why I chose Compliance as my top film of 2012.
And that’s my top ten films of 2012.  Here’s hoping that 2013 will be just as good (if not better).

Sean Kelly Author

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described über-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).