Monday, December 31, 2012

The Best of 2012: The Best New Movies I Saw

The greatest challenge, for me, in ranking the Best Movies of a given year, at the end of that year, is a matter of time.

By this, I don’t mean—primarily—the difficulty of comparing a film I saw literally minutes ago with one I watched in early January. Certainly, faltering recollect can be an issue, but I rate all movies in a database shortly after seeing them and refer to those ratings when making a list such as this.

But more problematic is trying to figure out which movies should be eligible for consideration. For instance, the film that is topping many Best of 2012 critics lists—Zero Dark Thirty—won’t be released in Chicago until early 2013. I haven’t seen it and can’t put it on my 2012 list, but am I going to remember that it should, presumably, be on the Best of 2013 list?

Basically, for my purposes, the year of Chicago release—and not just at a film festival—is what I go by, rather than the calendar year criteria used by most professional critics and the Academy Awards. So foreign films—including three that were 2011 Academy Award nominees—that opened in Chicago in 2012 are fair game.

Of course, confusing matters even more is that although I saw about 50 new releases in 2012—out of 280 total films that I watched—I certainly don’t presume to have seen every worthwhile new movie from this year. And while some of the ones I missed were films I had adequate chance to catch in a theater, or even perhaps on DVD, others were pictures that may have only played for a week or two at the Music Box or Century Centre Cinema.

So what all this mishegas adds up to is my need to precede my primary Best Movies of 2012 lists with a couple of other lists.

2011 Movies seen in 2012 that could have made my Best Movies of 2011 list:
Take Shelter, The Ides of March, Drive, 50/50, Terri, In A Better World (F), Incendies (F), The Help, The Interrupters (D), Sing Your Song (D), Bill Cunningham New York (D), Bobby Fisher Against the World (D)

Notable 2012 Movies Not Seen (first 2 not released in Chicago)
Zero Dark Thirty, Amour, The Sessions, The Master, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Holy Motors, Cloud Atlas, End of Watch, Sister, Prometheus, Hitchcock, The Deep Blue Sea, Your Sister's Sister, Rust and Bone, Killer Joe, Premium Rush

The Best New Movies I Saw in 2012
(F) = Foreign Film; (D) = Documentary

1. A Separation (F)

2. Argo

3. Monsieur Lazhar (F)

4. The Kid with a Bike (F)

5. Flight

6. Les Miserables

7. Moonrise Kingdom

8. Skyfall

9. The Impossible

10. Arbitrage

11. Life of Pi

12. Jiro Dreams of Sushi (D)

13. Bernie

14. The Imposter (D)

15. Safety Not Guaranteed

16. Silver Linings Playbook

17. Ted

18. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia (F)

19. Looper

20. The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Honorable Mention

The Dark Knight Rises
Footnote (F)
Hell and Back Again (D)
Marley (D)
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
The Queen of Versailles (D)
The Amazing Spider-Man
Django Unchained
Safe House
Salmon Fishing in the Yemen
The Avengers
The Bourne Legacy
The Hunger Games
Shut Up and Play the Hits

Other 2012 Films Seen

Jack Reacher, Killing Them Softly, Seven Psychopaths, 21 Jump Street, The Vow, Dark Shadows, The Dictator, Underworld Awakening, Total Recall, Rock of Ages, Goon

My Friend Dave’s Top 12

Like me, Dave saw plenty of movies in 2012, both new and old, but notes that The Master, Skyfall, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, The Hobbit, Les Miserables and Zero Dark Thirty are among those he has not seen. His top pick is a movie that opened in Chicago in fall 2011, but had such a short and limited release that he didn't hear of it until after it was gone and only came to see it in 2012.

1) Margaret
2) A Separation
3) Argo
4) The Kid with a Bike
5) Silver Linings Playbook
6) Moonrise Kingdom
7) Django Unchained
8) Bernie
9) Killing Them Softly
10) Looper
11) The Perks of Being a Wallflower
12) Compliance

1 comment:

Tom said...

Good list Seth. Interesting that your friend Dave hasn't seen some of the biggest hits of the year/of all time.