Davis Edelstein at New York Magazine is early out of the gate with his Top 10 films of 2012.
1. Zero Dark Thirty
It opens in darkness with sounds, sirens, and sobbing phone calls from the burning Twin Towers. Revenge—such as it is—will take time. Kathryn Bigelow’s thriller is mercilessly gripping. It’s all hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait. Captured suspects don’t want to talk, and wearing them down—with waterboarding, sleep deprivation, and other methods of extreme interrogation—takes weeks, months, each day uglier than the last.
…Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal (who wrote The Hurt Locker) give you one lonely protagonist, but she’s not in every scene and she doesn’t fight—except to make herself heard: a CIA analyst, played by the arresting Jessica Chastain, who shows her character’s rage via tension in her face and body. This is a phenomenal piece of action filmmaking—and an even better piece of nonaction filmmaking. It also borders on the politically and morally reprehensible. By showing these excellent results—and by silencing the cries of the innocents held at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and other “black sites”—it makes a case for the efficacy of torture. How to reconcile these two feelings? The debate begins December 19.
Steven Spielberg comes at our sixteenth president from an unexpected angle: He’s an executive pushing a vital piece of legislation through a Congress full of boobs, cowards, and racists. How modern. The peerless Daniel Day-Lewis lets you see the wheels turning in that overfamiliar head. James Spader, John Hawkes, and Tim Blake Nelson can lobby for me anytime.
4. The Gatekeepers
5. The Deep Blue Sea
6. Life of Pi
There’s nothing safe or cute about Ang Lee’s 3-D, CGI-infused fairy tale in which a boy drifts through the South Pacific with a man-eating tiger. For once Lee’s over-meticulousness connects with his hero: The film is a testament to the transformative power of storytelling in the face of unimaginable horror.
7. How to Survive a Plague and Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
8. Pitch Perfect
9. Oslo, August 31st
10. Friends With Kids