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Top 10 Best Movies of 2012

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2012 was a marvelous year for cinema, offering an endless stream of excellent major studio releases and artsy independent fare. And when it came time to assemble our list of the year’s best, the decision-making process hinged on a few simple questions. Which movies have stuck around in our minds the longest? Which ones will we frequently revisit? And, most importantly, which films excelled the most in their respective genres?

Here are the ten jewels of 2012′s cinema industry:

The Grey

Director: Joe Carnahan
Stars: Liam Neeson, Frank Grilo, Dallas Roberts, Dermot Mulroney, Joe Anderson, Nonso Anozie, James Badge Dale

Guided by an extraordinary, well-rounded performance from Neeson, The Grey is anything but a man-versus-animal smackdown. Pitting a small group of airplane crash survivors against not only the threat of malicious wolves but also ferocious weather and depleting hope, Carnahan’s uniquely solemn action film challenges feelings of spirituality, masculinity, and emotional fortitude, all with superior deftness. It’s the uncommon “guy movie” with an active brain and a big, beating heart.

The Dark Knight Rises

Director: Christopher Nolan
Stars: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Ben Mendelsohn, Juno Temple

With staggering ambition comes the occasional misstep, and Christopher Nolan’s third, and final, Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises certainly has its fair share of slip-ups. While being swept away in every stirring, visceral, and emotionally resonant moment, audiences can’t help but succumb to Nolan’s magic, but take a few post-viewing steps back and the film’s script begs a large number of questions. How could they end Bane’s (Tom Hardy) story line with such an anticlimactic punch line? How in Sam hell did Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) manage to restore his broken-down body, with its cartilage-less knees, to walk properly, let alone fight an army of bad guys? And how could Batman’s customized airplane get away from that nuclear bomb’s three-mile blast radius?

Argo

Director: Ben Affleck
Stars: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Tate Donovan, Scoot McNairy, Clea DuVall, Christopher Denham, Kerry Bishe, Rory Cochrane, Kyle Chandler, Chris Messina, Titus Welliver, Taylor Schilling

Since his 2007 debut Gone Baby Gone, Affleck’s directorial chops keep getting better by the project, first improving from excellent to mesmerizing with The Town (2010) and now elevating to master status with Argo. Based on an incredible true story, Argo follows CIA specialist Tony Mendez (Affleck) as he heads to Iran to use a fake Hollywood cover to secretly escort six U.S. diplomats trapped there after the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. It’s one of those real-life cinematic exercises that’s contingent on selling the suspense even though audiences know exactly how everything will turn out. Affleck’s film is a funny, engrossing seat’s-edge thriller that generates an impressive amount of excitement during its (somewhat fictionalized) third act.

Skyfall

Director: Sam Mendes
Stars: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, Berenice Marlohe, Albert Finney

It’s not that James Bond fell off with 2008′s Quantum of Solace—007 merely stumbled, albeit in a mostly boring and ridiculous fashion. In both that film and its predecessor, the far superior Casino Royale, Daniel Craig’s phase with the iconic super-agent continued its pushing back against the franchise’s trademarks and vintage spirit, trying for a darker, grittier tone that was only half successful.

Craig gives his best 007 performance yet, executing too-cool-for-school mojo when necessary but also nailing every moment of subtle vulnerability, most of which is sparked by two counterparts: the motherly M (Judi Dench) and the charismatically sinister Silva (Javier Bardem), the latter being the strongest Bond villain in decades.

To say that James Bond got his swag back would be a serious understatement. Calling Skyfall one of the best 007 movies ever made feels much more appropriate.

Snow White and the Huntsman

Director: Rupert Sanders
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron and Chris Hemsworth

The classic Snow White fairytale with a modern day twist. Audiences flocked to this movie, not only because of the cast, but also because of recent TV shows such as Once Upon a Time and Grimm.

Charlize Theron plays the Evil Queen who decides to kill Snow White. Why’s that you might ask, when she has never met Snow White? Well because her Magic Mirror told her if she eats Snow White’s heart she will remain young forever. The Evil Queen sends The Huntsman out to kill Snow White and bring back her heart. The Huntsman changes his mind and decides to help Snow White kill the Evil Queen.

Brave

Director: Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman
Stars: Emma Thompson, Kelly McDonald, Robbie Coltrane, Julie Walters and Billy Connolly

Brave was most anticipated Disney/Pixar project of 2012 and it lives up to the hype. Follow the adventures of a Scottish Princess as she tries to forge her own path. Watch as she fights against the shackles placed upon her as a Princess and does her utmost to obtain her freedom. However, her actions have consequences and shes must make amends before it is too late. If this sounds like Braveheart…..

Princes Merida is unlike other any Disney Princess. She’s strong and independant. She doesn’t want to get married to any of the boys who turn up to make a claim for her hand. I can’t really blame her. None of them were breathtaking and most of them looked dumb or geeky. She makes a deal with a witch to try and convinve her mother that she doesn’t need to get married. However, this quickly backfires and results in a bear and thre little cute cubs. Merida must make amends or face the destruction of everything she holds dear.

The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey

Director: Peter Jackson
Stars: Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Kate Blanchett, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis, Steven Fry, Hugo Weaving, Orland Bloom and Christopher Lee

Last but not least, The Hobbit promises to be a great film, as Peter Jackson is at the helm once again. He did a wonderful job with The Lord of the Rings and has been trying to get The Hobbit underway for a number of years. The Hobbit has to be one the best movies of 2012.

The Hobbit is a prequel to The Lord of The Rings and is the story of Bilbo Baggins, Froddo Baggins uncle. The story is of how a simple Hobbit is whisked away on an adventure with Gandalf the Wizard and a number of dwarves. Watch as Bilbo must face many hardships and comes face to face with Golim. Learn how he is able to obtain the ring and where the story all began. Along the way, we’ll meet new characters and also some of the characters we are familiar with from Lord of the Rings. Look out for familiar faces amongst the elves, after all they live for hundreds of years.

Twilight – Breaking Dawn Part 2

Director: Bill Condon
Stars: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Dakota Fanning and Michael Sheen

The much anticipated and looked forward to movie franchise of the year has to go to Twilight – Breaking Dawn Part 2. Much like the Harry Potter series of movies, a large number of people will be sorry to hear this is the last we’ll probably see of Edward and Bella. Others are grateful it’s finally almost over. Regardless of which camp you fall into, Twlight Breaking Dawn is movie that appeals to a large audience and has been very successful in the past.

The Twilight Saga has been very true to the books and the final movie in the series promises to continue that theme. Bella and Edward have the baby and the Volturi hear about it. It is agaisnt Vampire Law to turn a child into a Vampire, as they can not properly defend themselves. The Volturi come to make war on the Cullens.

The Hunger Games

Director: Gary Ross
Stars: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth

Although it would appear there is no-one of note starring in this movie then you would be mistaken. Although the lead actors are all teens/younger actors there is an older pedigree, just below the surface. You’ll spot Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci and Donald Sutherland all making appearances in The Hunger Games. Also keep a look out for Lenny Kravitz.

The Hunger Games is set in the future where the world has suffered from natural disasters such as drought, famime, wars and wild fires. North America ceases to exist and is now called Panem. Panem is split into 12 districs plus the Capitol.

In order to keep order and peace in Panem, a yearly lottery is held to pick a young man and girl from each district. This is no ordinary lottery and no-one wants to win the lottery. However, when Primrose is chosen to represent her district, her 16 year old sister Katniss volunteers to take her place. Katniss is forced to participate in the televised games that everyone on Panem is forced to watch. The 24 youths chosen in the lottery must eliminate their competition, while the world watches on. There can be only 1 survivor. Of course, the game is rigged so it’s highly unlikely Katniss will win.

Looper

Director: Rian Johnson
Stars: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Noah Segan, Paul Dano, Jeff Daniels, Piper Perabo, Pierce Gagnon, Garret Dillahunt

Watch, years from now, when critics and cinephiles look back on Rian Johnson’s Looper, they’re going to realize that it’s a new genre classic.

As of now, folks are well aware of its many virtues, least of which is Johnson’s ability to make time travel story mechanics easily digestible while never skimping on the headiness and ambition. Joseph Gordon-Levitt (hardly recognizable under tons of makeup) plays a futuristic mob-hired hitman whose job requires him to murder people sent back from the 30 years into the future, and whose life gets very complicated once his future self (played by Bruce Willis) becomes his latest target. And with that, you’ve got a high-concept action film rooted in science fiction and driven by characters.

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December 26th, 2012

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