The Master tops Sight & Sound’s Best of 2012

1. The Master
2. Tabu
3. Amour
4. Holy Motors
5. Beasts of the Southern Wild
5. Berberian Sound Studio
7. Moonrise Kingdom
8. Beyond the Hills
8. Cosmopolis
8. Once upon a Time in Anatolia
8. This is Not a Film

(thanks to Sean Wu at thescreenteen)

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  1. Bobb
    December 1, 2012

    Won’t be surprised when The Master is very, very high on the 2022 decade list.

  2. Robert A.
    December 1, 2012

    Excellent! Since The Master is likely to get largely overlooked during this award season, I’m glad it topped the Sight and Sound Top 10, arguably the most prestigious film list in the world. Also glad to see Beasts of the Southern Wild and Moonrise Kingdom making the cut. Haven’t seen the others, unfortunately (I know, I have to catch up). I’m particularly interested in seeing Amour and Holy Motors.

  3. Keil S.
    December 1, 2012

    Very interested to see if The Master’s placement on year-end lists can help propel it back toward being a surefire BP nominee. I’m sure critics awards will prove the real fulcrum here, but it will be interesting to see how the final stage of its trajectory plays out.

    But more than anything I just want to own it on Blu-ray so I can finally have that second screening I’ve been desperately wanting.

  4. Bobb
    December 1, 2012

    I mean all time list.

  5. December 1, 2012

    I’ve seen only three: two very good films (Cosmopolis, Moonrise Kingdom) and a masterpiece (Beasts of the Southern Wild).

    Something tells me I’ll only be able to watch the rest on Blu-ray, unfortunately.

  6. Casey
    December 1, 2012

    Hooray for Holy Motors! Sure to be in my top 3 or 4 for the year

  7. Houstonrufus
    December 1, 2012

    Not surprised at their selections, and happy for it. The Master and Beasts will both rank in my top 5 of the year. I’m a little cooler on Moonrise Kingdom than others, but I admire Anderson’s meticulous craft and sense of humor.

  8. December 1, 2012

    I think the numbers on their keyboard are stuck. j/k

    Well I’ve seen 1 1/2 of these so IDK. Never heard of 3 of them. It’s like the universe wants me to watch movies illegally online.

    When does THE MASTER come out on DVD?

  9. December 1, 2012

    Great list. Loved seeing Holy Motors and Berberian. And, of course, The Master. Don’t mind seeing Beasts and Moonrise. Wasn’t crazy about Anatolia. Looking forward to seeing the rest.

  10. Lars
    December 1, 2012

    Yes Casey, I just saw Holy Motors, and it’s definitely going to be in my top 5, maybe even top 3! Too bad none of my friends want to see it:(
    In an ideal world, Denis Lavant will be in the best actor race along with Phoenix and Day-Lewis.

    One thing I don’t understand though, why does “Cosmopolis” crops up on these lists at all, and not the worst 10 of the year list? I don’t usually hate a film, but that one I genuinely hate.

    Great to see “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” on the list though, great film!

  11. December 1, 2012

    16 weeks is the usual window between theatrical premiere and disc release, yes?

    That would be around Jan 1st — so they may wait till after Oscar nominations to use that bling on the cover art?

  12. Jerry
    December 1, 2012

    Great list with the exception of Cosmopolis. That film was Cronenberg’s worse. Not even Paul Giamatti could save it. Happy to see The Master, Beasts, Moonrise Kingdom and Holy Motors.

  13. CB
    December 1, 2012

    Beasts of the Southern Wild continues to be quite literally overrated. I think the movie was underwhelming, a bit pandering, and cutesy in a way that it not only infantalized the little girl but the father. The scenes of him flipping out then being sweet in a dare-I-say primitive manner (arm wrestling, the don’t cry motif, saying sweet things in ungrammatical poetics) is white people soul food. I think even if the director had been black I’d feel this way. You want to know a great indie movie about black poverty? Precious. Why? Because it hurts to watch, it’s extremely well made, the script is impeccable, and it doesn’t glamorize poverty. It was unfairly accused of being poverty porn–quite the contrary, it shows how much poverty sucks, how disgusting the living conditions are, the food is. It shows the horror of poverty, and rather than being about the triumph of the human spirit, it’s actually about the triumph of the social services system, and how a decent education and just a little institutional support can save even the most destitute person.

  14. December 1, 2012

    Not having seen either Beyond the Hills or This Is Not a Film, I won’t comment on their inclusion. Cosmopolis aside, this is an excellent list. I at least liked the rest of them, and loved some of them. I’m seeing Amour on Monday, so I’ll be able to tell whether or not it deserves its inclusion then, but I expect to adorrrre it!

    Bleh Cosmopolis. What were they thinking?

    I can’t for Paul or Scott or someone to pitch their oar in on this page. NO HUNGER GAMES?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111 :O :O :O

  15. December 1, 2012

    *can’t wait

    P.S. I can actually.

  16. the other mike
    December 1, 2012

    where are Argo, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Mis, Silver Linings. were they not eligible, to these critics just don’t rate them.

  17. Dylan
    December 1, 2012

    seriously??? The Master tops the list and Anna Karenina isn’t on it, that’s ridiculous Anna Karenina is the best film of the year and The Master, besides the acting and direction, isn’t very good

  18. Matt
    December 1, 2012

    Happy to see The Master get some love.

    As far as its BP chances, I think it depends a lot on the size of the category. If there are at least 8 noms, I think it will sneak in. Any less I don’t think it will. I also think the Best Director crowd is too crowded for PTA to have a chance

  19. white russian
    December 1, 2012

    Heh, my first thought was also confusion over the inclusion of Cosmopolis.

    Strong list otherwise, didn’t see Tabu but i’ll remedy that soon.

  20. December 1, 2012

    I’m sure they were eligible, the other mike. This just isn’t the Oscars.

    December 1, 2012

    “TABU” is a masterpiece “Magic Realism In Rapture, As Only The Language Of Cinema Can Tell It” but…where is ARGO?

  22. steve50
    December 1, 2012

    There’s the edge I’ve been looking for. If the mainstream hadn’t cleaned up their act this year, more of these would be higher in the awards discussion. Regardless, The Master sits where it belongs, as does Tabu and Beasts (and I’m still scrambling to see Holy Motors).

    Cosmopolis? The reviews were so blah I never bothered.

  23. mecid
    December 1, 2012

    I don’t agree with critics in most cases but I really don’t know how this list is made. Cosmopolis is 58 on Metacritic, 50% among top critics on Rotten T. Or theses are just UK critics?

  24. red_wine
    December 1, 2012

    There is no eligibility restriction in this critics poll, so the films that didn’t make the Top 10 simply didn’t get the votes.

  25. Elton Almeida
    December 1, 2012

    It feels so good to see “Holy Motors” on the list. It’s maybe not only the best of the year but one of the greatest films of these last years. But what makes me more glad is “Tabu” – this wonderful portuguese masterpiece – listed at second place. I wish Oscar could reward this kind of picture.

  26. kasper
    December 1, 2012

    If you’re curious, here is the Cahiers du Cinema list. The frenchies always have unusual taste in American film, and this year they have a hardon for limousines wandering around cities:

    1. Holy Motors
    2. Cosmopolis
    3. Twixt (Francis Ford Coppola— did this even come out in the US??)
    4. 4:44 Last Day in Earth (Abel Ferrera #1)
    4. In Another Country
    4. Take Shelter
    7. Go Go Tales (Abel Ferrera #2)
    8. Tabu (obviously not the Murnau #1)
    9. Faust (obviously not the Murnau #2)
    10. Keep the Lights On

  27. Bryce Forestieri
    December 1, 2012

    Cosmopolis = AwESOME

    Amour should be #1, but at least has more chances than The Master of a Best Pic nom

  28. steve50
    December 1, 2012

    Judging from the S&S and Cahiers lists, maybe we’re in for some surprises during the next couple of weeks from our critics.

    I can’t see them straying too far, but wouldn’t it be something if the likes of Holy Motors or Tabu popped up on some lists, esp. at the expense of some bigger films that have been hogging the limelight?

  29. December 1, 2012

    One of the many reasons it sucks to be unemployed right now; I’ve only seen two of the movies on this list – The Master and Moonrise Kingdom. Liked The Master a lot, though I want to see it again, but I loved Moonrise Kingdom, so I’m glad to see the latter at least doing well with critics.


    I don’t think Twixt has come out in the U.S. yet, or, if it has, it hasn’t opened in any major markets yet. It’s too bad, cause it looks like it could be good.

  30. MovieFan
    December 1, 2012

    I didnt like The Master at all and its selection at number 1 doesnt suprise me. However I do think it will make a strong showing particularly at the NYFCC on Monday.

  31. kasper
    December 1, 2012

    I did love The Master but I do agree with you that it’s probably not going to do much on Monday since as Sasha pointed out in a previous post that they do seem to match up with Oscar nominated movies more times than not. The Master will do well, probably, in the IndieWire & Village Voice polls though. But I do think The Master is vulnerable to being shut out completely by the Oscars. There’s just sooo much out there this year that even Philip Seymour Hoffman is not a sure thing.

  32. tombeet
    December 1, 2012

    I totally agreed with the list, even with Cosmopolis which I think is perfect in its own way. Especially for The Master, in which I think the most ambitous film of the year. Happy with the inclusion of my favorites Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts of Southern Wild, Holy Motors. Just little sad that Django Unchained didn’t make it to top 10 (or they didn’t watch it). Have to check out Tabu and Berberian though.

    I think this year will be divided sharply into 2 bags of nominees: the first which include Argo, Lincoln, Life of Pi, Les Mis, Zero Dark Thirty that will dominate in more mainstream groups, while the latter which include Silver Lining Playbook, The Master, Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained and Amour will be more received in art-house, indie groups. I’m quite happy that this year offering many solid films to chose from. Anyway, this is a very great list.

  33. December 1, 2012

    I am so happy that they included Holy Motors, it is my favorite of the year so far with many more yet to see.

    Also happy for the inclusion of Cosmopolis which i really liked. Moonrise Kingdom, Beasts, Anatolia along with Holy Motors makes up my Top 4 of the year so far.

    Hooray for The Master and Amour.

  34. Jorge
    December 1, 2012

    GO TABU :)

  35. Keil S.
    December 1, 2012

    For the record, Lincoln is a bit overrated and Life of Pi is RATHER overrated.

  36. Tero Heikkinen
    December 1, 2012

    Dylan, don’t expect to see Anna Karenina on almost ANY top ten list. That is just not going to happen, whether you think it’s the best or not. Make your own top ten, and it’s there. Easy.

    The Master will be on most of them.

  37. Mattoc
    December 1, 2012

    Scary list, just because it includes many of my favorites.
    Cosmopolis I didn’t care for. I should give it another go. I didn’t care for the tone of the film, so maybe if I’m in a different mood…?
    Congrats to Beyond the Hills, which is truly a very good film. I first saw it wedged between Amour, Holy Motors and The Hunt at a festival and underrated it at first…purely because I thought it was going in a different direction and it didn’t. Over time is had grown in my head as a very important and topical film, sensitively directed and extremely well acted.
    I hope The Hunt isn’t dead in the water.

  38. Pierre de Plume
    December 1, 2012

    That still shot of Phoenix reminds me of how good The Master is.

  39. Al Robinson
    December 1, 2012

    I’m not surprised to see The Master at number 1. I don’t think Sight and Sound base their list on story and dialogue, but more on the technical aspects of the film, such as the Cameras used, cleanliness of the dialogue in relation to the actual sound. Stuff like that. Paul Thomas Anderson used 70 mm cameras, so the picture quality was the best that is known to be possible. It’s kind of like saying that Full HD is 1080p.

    With all of that in mind, where the heck is Life of Pi. That movie looked absolutely astonishing. I haven’t seem a movie that beautiful since Avatar.

  40. Dion Blackler
    December 2, 2012

    The Sight and Sound critics polled aren’t technicians, they are critics who have more esoteric arthouse taste. So story and dialogue are also very important, though the need for narrative or linear storyline isperhaps less important than mainstream critics.

    I’m very pleased to see my favourite film of the year make the list: Holy Motors. I may be crazy but I’m currently predicting an out-there Holy Motors or Denis Lavant win by one of the critics groups (L.A. perhaps?). They would be very deserving wins.

  41. julian the emperor
    December 2, 2012

    Mattoc: Don’t you worry about The Hunt. It will be Denmark’s Oscar submission next year, I’m sure. It hasn’t even been released in Denmark yet (it won’t be until January), that means that it will be up for serious awards recognition for 2013 as well. And with Denmark’s track record in the best foreign language category I will bet you that it will get a nomination (just like A Royal Affair this season). Mads Mikkelsen is proving to be quite a game-changer when it comes to foreign language movies, his name alone secures a lot of recognition. Also, it is Vinterberg’s best movie since Festen without a doubt.

  42. Yashar
    December 2, 2012

    OT but awards related:

    Django Unchained gets standing ovation at DGA screening:

    I had actually heard some rather disappointing stuff but this seems encouraging. Also, some serious praise for Waltz.

  43. Dylan
    December 2, 2012

    Tero Heikkinen – y wouldn’t Anna Karenina be on any year end list it’s an amazing film, sure Joe Wright’s directorial choice will probably turn some people off but i think everything he did worked and directors should be praised for trying something different, and if you’re reason is critical reception, look at the critical reception for Cosmopolis it’s about the same on RT and Anna Karenina is 5 points higher on metacritic, plus it’s a FAR better film

  44. VVS
    December 2, 2012

    Still my favorite of the year. I saw it 3 times in theaters, and cant wait to see it at home again.

    Unlike most, I see a very precise story/plot in the film.

  45. Chris138
    December 2, 2012

    Cosmopolis as one of the best movies of the year? Is that a joke?

  46. Tero Heikkinen
    December 2, 2012

    Dylan, I also think Cosmopolis will not be on many top ten lists. It’s just how I feel for this very strong year.

    Somehow I feel that Academy’s BP and critics will agree on many titles this time. Anna Karenina and Cosmopolis will not be BP nominees either.

    Meaning, I don’t think Academy are able find an Extremely Loud or The Blind Side this year. There’s just so much better films being offered.

  47. HahaDies
    December 2, 2012

    Damn! I am so pissed that I missed Tabu at AFI fest. Oh well.

  48. rufussondheim
    December 2, 2012

    Surprised to see Cosmopolis on the list. As a fan of DeLillo, I was sad this movie got blah reviews. I am now excited to see this.

    Really will have to give the Master a second go, even though I am not looking forward to it. Can’t stand watching Phoenix drinking gasoline and not dying.

  49. Reform the Academy!
    December 3, 2012

    What a bunch of crap…

  50. Eric Eiserloh
    December 17, 2012

    I’ve only seen 3 total from 2012, so far, and they’re all in the S & S top ten. I would rank them thus:

    1. Holy Motors- 10
    2. Once Upon A Time In Anatolia- 9.5
    3. The Master-8.5

    Next up: Amour

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