The Top Ten Films of 2012: Ray Manukay’s Picks

By Ray Manukay

 
The Dark Knight Rises 2012 Best
 

 

The Notable Films of 2012:

 
This year had some great films.
 
I honestly can’t think of a better year in recent memory, that featured so many impressive and genuinely enjoyable and thought-provoking films. Because of the sheer volume of excellent, quality movies this year it didn’t feel right that I leave some of them off my best films of the year list. So, in addition to my Top Ten Films of 2012, I’ve included some of my favorite films of the past year and separated them into different genres. (Yeah…this year was that good.)
 

Noteworthy Action Films of 2012:

The Avengers
The Dark Knight Rises
Skyfall
The Hobbit
Haywire
Looper

 
Haywire-movie
 

Noteworthy Dramatic films of 2012:


Argo
Lincoln
The Impossible
Lawless
Zero Dark Thirty
The Sessions
Life of Pi

 
lawless_2012
 

Noteworthy Character Studies of 2012:


Flight
Arbitrage
The Grey
Bernie
Silver Linings Playbook

 
Arbitrage movie 2012
 

Noteworthy Comedies of 2012:


This is 40
Ted
To Rome with Love
21 Jump Street  


 
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Noteworthy Animated films of 2012:


Paranorman
Wreck-it-Ralph
Frankenweenie
The Dark Knight Returns Part 1

 
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And now, without further ado…

My Top Ten Films of 2012:

 

10.The Dictator

directed by LARRY CHARLES
 
the-dictator-2
 
Sacha Baron Cohen’s latest comedy is arguably his best yet. Yes, The DICTATOR is scripted and it lacks the gonzo appeal, and dangerous, comedic energy of his previous films Borat and Bruno. But The Dictator still features his trademark mix of crude, inappropriate shocking moments of wit and pointed socio-political jabs. Take for example the final speech in the film:

Why are you guys so anti-dictators? Imagine if America was a dictatorship. You could let 1 percent of the people have all the nation’s wealth. You could help your rich friends get richer by cutting their taxes and bailing them out when they gamble and lose. You could ignore the needs of the poor for health care and education. Your media would appear free, but would secretly be controlled by one person and his family. You could wiretap phones. You could torture foreign prisoners. You could have rigged elections. You could lie about why you go to war. You could fill your prisons with one particular racial group and no one would complain. You could use the media to scare the people into supporting policies that are against their interests.

It’s both hilarious and painfully truthful. The essence of great comedy.

 

9. Les Miserables

directed by TOM HOOPER
 
lesmis005
 
Yes, the voices could be stronger. The cinematography is dizzying and unusual. But there’s a reason that Les Miserables is arguably the most popular musical of all-time. The music is great and the story is emotionally stirring. There are lots of ways this film could have gone bad. (Think Rock of Ages or The Producers). Instead, we got a solid and entertaining film adaptation that can be shared for years to come. The highlight of the film is Anne Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream.” It’s an instant film scene classic.
 

8. Holy Motors

directed by LEOS CARAX
 
holy-motors04
 
So what in the world is HOLY MOTORS about? Well…it’s about everything and anything. A smorgasbord of storytelling. The film is part David Lynch, part Ridley Scott, and part Jean-Pierre Jeunet. It defies categorization and simple synopsis. HOLY MOTORS also hints at the true potential of film and storytelling. Which is limitless. HOLY MOTORS defies convention.

7.The Perks of Being a Wallflower

directed by STEPHEN CHBOSKY
 
Perks of being a wallflower 2012
 
As far as coming of age stories go, there hasn’t been a more touching, honest and sensitive portrayal of youth on film since STAND BY ME. ThE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER succeeds in capturing the real-life angst, awkwardness, pain and even magic of growing up. The film features some impressive performances from the entire cast, which defies their youth. Perhaps a testament to the excellent script and thoughtful direction of Stephen Chbosky.
 

6. Safety Not Guaranteed

directed by COLIN TREVORROW
 
Safety-Not-Guaranteed
 
More of a character piece than a time travel yarn, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED is about human connection. Connecting, emotionally, and spirtually with the people in one’s past to advance one’s relationships in the present. It’s a film about examining who we are, faults and all to become the people we hope and wish to be. It’s about risking and investing in one’s self and also on others. No matter how scary or unlikely the connection may be. Because as terrifying or intimidating as time travel may be, it pales in comparison to exploring one’s own heart and soul.
 

5. Cloud Atlas

directed by LANA & ANDY WACHOWSKI, TOM TYKWER
 
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Ambitious, sprawling, genre-bending, even epic. CLOUD ATLAS is alot of movie. Maybe too much movie for some people. Different stories, in different time periods, featuring the same actors, in different story-lines, all connected spiritually and emotionally. Yeah it’s a mouthful and definitely challenging storytelling. But it’s also great and fantastic movie magic. If one is looking for a can’t miss movie to check out. This is it. Because even if one isn’t crazy about the film as a whole. There is likely a storyline, genre or character in the film that will appeal to one looking for entertainment.
 

4. End of Watch

directed by DAVID AYER
 
End-of-Watch_03
 
I can’t think of a bigger challenge for a Hollywood film than to make LAPD street cops appear as heroes in a movie. With the history of well documented real-life corruption within the LAPD, and it’s often evil or general incompetent portrayal of the LAPD police force in film, it’s hard for audiences to feel anything but disdain for the Hollywood version of the LAPD. If anything LAPD street cops are often seen as obstructing clowns in films, not heroes. But END OF WATCH presents them as just that. The police officers in END OF WATCH are shown as working class, civil servants, not one-dimensional stereotypes. They have hopes,dreams, aspirations and human faults just like everyone else. But they also get paid to protect us. By the time the final Hollywood style shootout happens we are invested in these characters, almost like family. Amazing work and affable, effective performances from Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena.
 

3. Killing Them Softly

directed by ANDREW DOMINIK
 
bradpitt-scootmcnairy-Killing-Them-Softly-1984281
 
This little seen gem is on the surface a neo-noir crime drama with anti-violence overtones. But the reality is KILLING THEM SOFTLY is also a cautionary tale on capitalism. It’s a harsh criticism of American consumerism. It’s a critique of the kill or be killed, me first mentality that is crippling America’s economy. Pretty heady stuff for a crime thriller. Sad that the American audience didn’t embrace this film. But now’s your chance to check it out. Warning, however, it’s not for the faint of heart.
 


 

2. The Master

directed by PAUL THOMAS ANDERSON
 
The Master
 
Paul Thomas Anderson’s film THE MASTER is an actor’s showcase. It is a character piece exploring two seemingly extreme personalities, played by Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman. These are characters who are actually more alike than different. It’s about trying to find direction in the meaninglessness of life. Critics got hung up on the similarities to Scientology and the lack of narrative through line. The real magic of the film is the performances of Hoffman and Phoenix as well as a surprisingly strong one from Amy Adams. With Paul Thomas Anderson at the helm, the film is a testament to these great artists exploring the human condition at the top of their collective games.
 


 

1. Django Unchained

directed by QUENTIN TARANTINO
 
Django 1
 
Django 2
 
Django-Unchained 3
 
Controversy aside DJANGO UNCHAINED is thrilling popcorn entertainment. Sure that’s an odd description for a film that uses pre-civil war, southern american slavery as a back-drop. But the trap of the film is to dig too deep into it’s meaning or message. Which… I honestly did on my initial viewing. After additional viewings and some consideration, I concluded that DJANGO UNCHAINED is truly and at it’s core a tribute to genre film-making. It’s escapist entertainment. It’s a spaghetti western wrapped in a southern black exploitation flick. If Tarantino were to neglect the more gruesome and disturbing elements of the black exploitation genre, the controversy would be his watering down of America’s dark history. Instead, viewers are discussing the subject of pre-civil war slavery. Even more than audiences of the overtly, anti-slavery, historical drama LINCOLN. DJANGO UNCHAINED is entertaining and thought provoking. While not being preachy or insulting. Exactly what great art is supposed to do.
 


 

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000364684498 Luke Dollard

    Great article, theres some films i had no idea about that’ll i’ll watch now.

    thanks