This year's top movie list will be less valuable than ever, for two reasons: 1) I only saw 36 films. Considering I used to see well over 100 (as part of my job), I can't really be considered anything of an expert anymore. 2) There wasn't anything I saw that screamed out 'classic', or even what I would deem to be a 'four-star' film. The best film I saw in 2012 was made 50 years ago, but that doesn't exactly qualify for this list.
Like last year, I won't rank what I saw, but will list them in alphabetical order instead:
Act of Valor -- The acting is pretty bad, and you can see the ending coming a mile away. However, the acting is bad because the performers are actual Navy SEALs. The attention to detail was better than any military film I've seen since Black Hawk Down, and the action is edited very well. Plus (SPOILER ALERT!), with both of my grandparents having been given military funerals, I'm a sucker for them.
Argo -- Affleck's best film so far. Just the right amount of humor. However, it made me wish for a documentary about the topic.
The Avengers -- Even more fun than I'd hoped. Perfect escapist entertainment. If you can accept that they have a flying aircraft carrier, you can accept a couple of minor plot issues.
Django Unchained -- A love letter to spaghetti westerns, set in the era of American slavery. The first half is brilliant. The second half isn't quite as strong, and plays as a long slow burn with a semi-satisfying conclusion. However, I'll take a 'decent' Tarantino film over most directors' best works.
Flight -- The script is just so-so, and feels a little too 'movie of the week' in the final reel. However, Denzel is brilliant, and the crash sequence is flawlessly edited.
The Grey -- Carnahan's best film by far. Bleak and unforgiving. Liam Neeson delivers the gravitas.
Looper -- Hollywood has done time travel to death, but this finds a way to bring something new to the genre. It had me thinking quite a bit afterwards. It's not as good as you've heard, but still better than most.
Prometheus -- I like when science fiction dares to ask questions, even when they don't make a serious effort to answer them. Gorgeous visuals, but they come with a flawed script and one-dimensional characters. Hopefully the impending sequel will improve upon it.
Robot & Frank -- What a great surprise this little film was! It could've turned out a disaster, but Langella is perfectly understated, and you believe every moment he spends with the robot. It's sweet without feeling like it's trying to be.
21 Jump Street -- I did NOT see this one coming, but I laughed more during this film than anything else I saw this year. Raunchy but with a good heart underneath it all. Hill and Tatum have great timing, and the script pokes lots of fun at the premise. We're in on the joke, and it's all the better for it.
What were your favorite films this past year? Which ones did I miss? Let me know how much of an idiot I am in the comments!
EDIT! I've been reminded that The Raid: Redemption, while technically first released overseas in 2011, was released in the U.S. in 2012, and that puts it in this year. It was one of the best 'pure' action films I've seen in a long time, with brilliant fight editing and choreography. I've seen it three times already and could watch it again right now. Definitely Top Ten material!