Top Ten Lists

1. Wuthering Heights

If there’s an element of Terrence Malick-like cinematic abstraction and landscape photography to this “Wuthering Heights,” it feels more pre-modern than postmodern, as if it’s trying to dig backward through all the costume-drama adaptations to the physical, elemental truths of life and love on the frigid moors of Yorkshire. As a visual and sensual out-of-body experience (mention must go to Robbie Ryan, Arnold’s amazing cinematographer), no other movie released this year comes close.

2. Holy Motors

There’s no point trying to decode the ultimate whys and wherefores of “Holy Motors,” in which a man named only Monsieur Oscar (Denis Lavant) travels through multiple identities, multiple realities and many different genres of film, from science fiction to motion capture animation to action flick to romantic musical to family melodrama. You have to enjoy the ride rather than the destination…

3. Amour
4. Zero Dark Thirty

No one thinks the discussion about the depiction of torture in Kathryn Bigelow’s Osama-hunting thriller is over, but since I don’t believe the film either justifies torture or seeks to, I see that conversation as a proxy for bigger questions about the uses of art in depicting political and moral crisis, and about the global role of the United States. A sweeping, moody historical chronicle of almost Tolstoyan breadth.

5. Rust and Bone
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From The Atlantic:

1. Zero Dark Thirty (accompanying article worth the read)
2. Lincoln
3. Beasts of the Southern Wild
4. The Avengers
5. Moonrise Kingdom
6. The Master
7. Silver Linings Playbook
8. The Cabin in the Woods/Seven Psychopaths
9. Amour
10. Frankenweenie

Honorary mention: Argo, Brave, Compliance, The Dark Knight Rises, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Looper, Les Miserables, Rust and Bone, Rise of the Guardians, The Sessions, Skyfall

More of their awards after the jump.

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86 critics participated in the Voice poll this year.  Full results will published in a few days. Here’s their top ten:

1. “The Master”
2. “Zero Dark Thirty”
3. “Holy Motors”
4. “Moonrise Kingdom”
5. “This is Not a Film”
6. “Amour”
7. “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia”
8. “The Turin Horse”
9. “Lincoln”
10. “Tabu”

He writes them in prose (“You provide the prose poems, I’ll provide the war”) but begins:

It’s possible that 2012 will be remembered not as the year of the auteur but as the year of inspired writer-director partnerships. The two strongest movies of the year—“Lincoln” and “Zero Dark Thirty”—would have been inconceivable without the extensive collaboration between (as Variety would put it) a scribe and a helmer.

In Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” you can see a few (very few) sentimental touches and underlinings of the kind that Spielberg has indulged in the past; most of the movie is sombre and quietly fervent. Lincoln himself, I suppose, can be viewed as a redemptive figure in the mold of Oskar Schindler, though the two men couldn’t be farther apart in manner, body, tactics, and speech. Compared to every other Spielberg film, the use of the camera and color is remarkably restrained. (Think of Spielberg’s other major historical film, “Empire of the Sun,” with its dazzling shimmer, its gold-blue brilliance; I prefer not to think of “Amistad” at all.) The genius of “Lincoln,” as we all have said, is that it’s not an epic or a bio-pic but a charged account of one month in the President’s life—a film about democratic process and legislation, and thus, inevitably, about pressure, patronage, guilt-mongering, deception. All the elements of deal-making.

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Kris Tapley’s Top Ten (from In Contention)
1. “The Grey” (Joe Carnahan)
2. “Moonrise Kingdom” (Wes Anderson)
3. “Looper” (Rian Johnson)
4. “Django Unchained” (Quentin Tarantino)
5. “Amour” (Michael Haneke)
6. “Lincoln” (Steven Spielberg)
7. “Zero Dark Thirty” (Kathryn Bigelow)
8. “Argo” (Ben Affleck)
9. “The Queen of Versailles” (Lauren Greenfield)
10. “The Master” (Paul Thomas Anderson)


Beasts of the Southern Wild
Definitely not to be taken literally, Beasts is an ominous children’s fable, a beautiful tone poem, an allusive allegory and, in the hands of director Benh Zeitlin, an astonishing debut – like crossing the menace of Maurice Sendak with the meaning of Terrence Malick.

Holy Motors
Ferociously paced, blisteringly smart, Leos Carax’s film is a potent display of imagination that cuts with a double edge. Here, imagination incarcerates and it liberates, trapping our brain even while freeing our senses – life’s unholy predicament and art’s holy delight.

Life of Pi
Ang Lee and Yann Martel’s fable are a match made in cinematic heaven. The director has mastered the shiny technology (dazzling 3-D, ferociously credible CGI) the story needs, and the story offers the director the deeper themes he craves. The result: magic realism, indeed.

With Daniel Day-Lewis a marvel of quiet containment in the title role, Lincoln is a dramatized political essay largely confined to what politicians do. Really, it’s a movie about people talking in rooms – and the talk fascinates.

Moonrise Kingdom
Tracking a boy and girl through a Labour Day weekend on the Atlantic shore, director Wes Anderson cranks up the artifice to weave a beguiling Late-Summer Night’s Dream. And this New England owes a magical debt to that old one, where sprites roamed free and young love triumphed.


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Three AP film critics — Christy Lemire, David Germain and Jake Coyle — share their lists of Top 10 movies of 2012. (thanks Marshall)

The top 10 films of 2012, according to AP Movie Critic Christy Lemire:

1. “Argo” — Directing just his third feature, Ben Affleck has come up with a seamless blend of detailed international drama and breathtaking suspense, with just the right amount of dry humour to provide context and levity. He shows a deft handling of tone, especially in making difficult transitions between scenes in Tehran, Washington and Hollywood, but also gives one of his strongest performances yet in front of the camera. The story of a rescue during the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis sounds like eat-your-vegetables cinema, and mixing it with an inside-Hollywood comedy sounds impossible, but Affleck and screenwriter Chris Terrio pull it all off.

2. “Beasts of the Southern Wild” — This is sheer poetry on screen: an explosion of joy in the midst of startling squalor and one of the most visceral, original films to come along in a while. The story of a little girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhane Wallis) living with her daddy on a remote, primal strip of eroding land in the southernmost reaches of the Louisiana bayou is so ambitious and so accomplished, it’s amazing that it’s only director Benh Zeitlin’s first feature. His film is at once dreamlike and brutal, ethereal yet powerfully emotional.

3. “Skyfall”

4. “Holy Motors” — This movie is just straight-up nuts, in all the best ways. Writer-director Leos Carax’s journey provides a joyous, surprising and darkly funny exploration of all the best cinema has to offer. Yes, this is a capital-A art film, one that challenges the viewer and leaves a lot of room for interpretation, but that’s part of the adventure. Denis Lavant gives a tour-de-force performance, assuming nine different roles as a mysterious man who travels around Paris in the back of a limousine all day, carrying out various assignments. Hop in and buckle up.

5. “Zero Dark Thirty” — A huge achievement from both technical and storytelling perspectives. Following the Oscar success of “The Hurt Locker,” director Kathryn Bigelow reteams with writer Mark Boal to tell an even larger and more complicated story: the decade-long hunt for Osama bun Laden. The attention to detail, to getting it right each step of the way, is evident in every element. And Jessica Chastain is relentless and self-possessed in a rare leading role as a young CIA officer on the case.

6. “The Master”

7. “The Imposter”

8. “Moonrise Kingdom”

9. “Oslo, August 31st” — A film of quietly intense precision and vividly honest humanity. Anders Danielsen Lie gives one of the great, underappreciated performances of the year as a heroin addict who’s allowed to leave rehab for the day to head into the Norwegian capital for a job interview. Instead, he wanders around visiting old haunts, reconnecting awkwardly with friends and facing his demons. It’s a performance of both subtlety and darkness, as director Joachim Trier leads him down an unpredictable and poignant path.

10. “This Is Not a Film”

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(LA Times)

Life of Pi
Django Unchained/Lincoln
Zero Dark Thirty
Beasts of the Southern Wild / Moonrise Kingdom
Silver Linings Playbook
The Impossible

(I’m going to guess that the slide-show represents Sharkey’s choices since it’s the only part of the article presenting an organized collection of titles with descriptions written in the form of tributes. But the headline disagrees, naming The Master as well. So we’ll list the 10 movies Sharkey talks about in the body of her article after the cut).

(thanks, mecid)

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1. Amour

And then in alphabetical order:

The Dark Knight Rises
The Gatekeepers + The Law In These Parts
Rust and Bone
Silver Linings Playbook
Middle of Nowhere + Robot & Frank + Safety Not Guaranteed
Zero Dark Thirty
–Special pick – The Deep Blue SeaD

Details at the LATimes

(thanks Marshall)

(thanks Marshall!)

Top 10 Films

1. AMOUR (Michael Haneke) With ruthless clarity, but also with tact and compassion, Mr. Haneke invites us to look at the arrival of death at the end of a Parisian couple’s long marriage, and shows, almost as if for the first time, how the saddest and most intractable facts of life can be transformed into art. Months after its debut at Cannes this film already feels permanent.

2. LINCOLN (Steven Spielberg) A great, flawed movie about a great, flawed president of a great, flawed nation. Argue about the flaws, but allow yourself to be moved by the grand, noble sentiments that swirl through Tony Kushner’s eloquent script and Daniel Day-Lewis’s sly performance.

3. BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (Benh Zeitlin) A thousand years from now scientists will know that there was a Hushpuppy, who lived in the Bathtub with her daddy.

4. FOOTNOTE (Joseph Cedar)

5. THE MASTER (Paul Thomas Anderson)

6. ZERO DARK THIRTY (Kathryn Bigelow)

7. DJANGO UNCHAINED (Quentin Tarantino) Mr. Tarantino follows “Inglourious Basterds,” his action-cartoon about the Holocaust, with an even bolder provocation: a blaxploitation spaghetti western about American slavery. More than any other director he tests and extends the power of pop-culture fantasy to engage the painful atrocities of history.

8. GOODBYE, FIRST LOVE (Mia Hansen-Love)

9. NEIGHBORING SOUNDS (Kleber Mendonça Filho)

10. THE GREY (Joe Carnahan)

Manohla Dargis:

  1. “Amour” (Michael Haneke)
  2. “The Deep Blue Sea” (Terence Davies)
  3. “The Gatekeepers” (Dror Moreh)
  4. “Holy Motors” (Leos Carax)
  5. “The Master” (Paul Thomas Anderson)
  6. “Moonrise Kingdom” (Wes Anderson)
  7. “Once Upon a Time in Anatolia” (Nuri Bilge Ceylan)
  8. “Searching for Sugar Man” (Malik Bendjelloul)
  9. “Silver Linings Playbook” (David O. Russell)
  10. “Zero Dark Thirty” (Kathryn Bigelow).

Full details at the NYTimes. Honorable mentions and docs after the cut.

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1. Holy Motors
Director: Leos Carax
2. The Master
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson
3. Moonrise Kingdom
Director: Wes Anderson
4. This Is Not a Film
Directors: Jafar Panahi & Mojtaba Mirtahmasb
5. Amour
Director: Michael Haneke
6. The Turin Horse
Director: Béla Tarr
7. The Kid With a Bike
Directors: Jean-Pierre & Luc Dardenne
8. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Director: Nuri Bilge Ceylan
9. Lincoln
Director: Steven Spielberg
10. Zero Dark Thirty
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
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Lumenick and Smith face off with dueling top 10 lists and briefly bicker about their choices at The New York Post.

Thanks to reader Josh who pulled out their top ten. But they do a top thirty hit trolling extravaganza – that’s they they’re the number one site on the net. Awards Daily will have to start thinking better on this sort of thing.  Here are their top ten:

1-Zero Dark Thirty
3-Beasts of the Southern Wild
5-Django Unchained
6-Moonrise Kingdom
7-Silver Linings Playbook
9-Les Miserables
Other films nearing the top — no comment on why they didn’t get placed higher than some of those that did — The Master, Life of Pi, The Dark Knight Rises, Amour, Pitch Perfect, Perks, Holy Motors, 21 Jump Street, Flight, Promised Land, Magic Mike.

From The Washington Post

  1. “Zero Dark Thirty” Kathryn Bigelow’s taut thriller about the hunt for Osama bin Laden exemplifies the Oscar-winning director at the top of her game, working with a script by Mark Boal that not only allows viewers to make sense of the complicated intelligence, military and foreign policy issues that have animated the past decade, but also creates a brand-new cinematic genre: the reported film.
  2. “Lincoln” Steven Spielberg and Tony Kushner’s historical drama about the 16th president leaves behind fusty, great-man portraiture, instead engaging in a lively game of political cat and mouse that bears uncanny contemporary echoes and leaves viewers feeling as if they’ve just spent two hours with the shrewd, funny, melancholy — and yes, great — man himself.
  3. “The Waiting Room” 
  4. “Monsieur Lazhar” 
  5. “Middle of Nowhere” Ava DuVernay’s finely calibrated drama about a woman navigating life while her husband is in prison featured a breakout performance by lead actress Emayatzy Corinealdi; its unforced, restrained tone was enhanced by the expressive cinematography of Howard University alumnus Bradford Young, who also shot two 2012 10-best runners-up, “Restless City” and “Pariah.”
  6. “This Is Not a Film”
  7. “Argo” 
  8. “Margaret”
  9. “Anna Karenina”
  10. “Amour”

1. The Master
2. Zero Dark Thirty
3. Beasts of the Southern Wild
4. Lincoln
5. Argo
6. Silver Linings Playbook
7. Les Miserables
8. Life of Pi
9. Moonrise Kingdom
10. The Dark Knight Rises

Peter Travers’ top ten list is an annual event here at Awards Daily, so we’re thanking longtime reader Jack for sending it to us.  His tastes can often mirror Oscar’s, matching anywhere from three to five (back when there were five Best Picture nominees). In 2010, all ten Best Picture nominees were on Travers’ list! Going way back, he’s always had Oscar’s Best Picture winner on his list.  His top ten are the exact ten I am predicting to get nominated for Best Picture except that I have Flight on mine in the place of The Master (well, not at number one but on the list).

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EW’s site has their top ten up – if you’d like to read what they wrote about each film, head on over. Here are their top tens:

Owen Gleiberman
1. Lincoln
2. Amour
3. Silver Linings Playbook
4. Room 237
5. Zero Dark Thirty
6. Perks of Being a Wallflower
7. Killing Them Softly
8. Argo
9. Flight
10. Bernie

Lisa Schwarzbaum
1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. Lincoln
3. The Master
4. Amour
5. Argo
6. The Gatekeepers
7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
8. Skyfall
9. The Loneliest Planet
10. How to Survive a Plague

Thanks, Joseph.


01. Amour
02. Beasts of the Southern Wild
03. Life of Pi
04. Anna Karenina
05. The Dark Knight Rises
06. Zero Dark Thirty
07. Dark Horse
08. Dragon
09. Frankenweenie
10. Invisible War

Top Ten performances after the cut.

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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.

2. Lincoln
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.

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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)

Nick James’ introduction to the Sight & Sound poll results gives us some insight into their methodology:

As a qualification of what ‘greatest’ means, our invitation letter stated, “We leave that open to your interpretation. You might choose the ten films you feel are most important to film history, or the ten that represent the aesthetic pinnacles of achievement, or indeed the ten films that have had the biggest impact on your own view of cinema.”  Each entry on each list counts as one vote for the film in question, so personal rankings within the top tens don’t matter.

The Playlist and others have been poring over the S&S Poll issue now on newstands and have culled some of the more interesting Top Ten lists compiled by the filmmakers themselves.  Whether you like to think of these as the top 10 favorite movies of your favorite directors, or the top 10 greatest films according to our greatest directors, either way I’m glad to see they’re all over the map.

Woody Allen
“Bicycle Thieves” (1948, dir. Vittorio De Sica)
“The Seventh Seal” (1957, dir. Ingmar Bergman)
“Citizen Kane” (1941, dir. Orson Welles
“Amarcord” (1973, dir. Federico Fellini
“8 1/2″ (1963, dir. Federico Fellini)
“The 400 Blows” (1959, dir. Francois Truffaut)
“Rashomon” (1950, dir. Akira Kurosawa)
“La Grande Illusion” (1937, dir. Jean Renoir)
“The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie” (1972, dir. Luis Bunuel)
“Paths Of Glory” (1957, dir. Stanley Kubrick)

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