Filmworks board picks favorite films of 2012


1. Napoleon — Abel Gance’s biopic was originally released in 1927, but the screenings of the newly restored five-and-a-half-hour version at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland, with full orchestra, was the cinematic event of my year. The film is massive in scope and avant-garde in style–a true masterpiece.

2. Moonrise Kingdom — Wes Anderson has never been better or quirkier. The entire cast delivers wonderfully offbeat performances.

3. Beasts of the Southern Wild — Beautiful and magical. I want to see Quvenzhané Wallis get an Oscar nomination for her enchanting performance as Hushpuppy.

4. Lincoln — Daniel Day-Lewis’s mournful portrait of Abraham Lincoln is the best performance of the year. Add to that a complex, literate script from Tony Kushner and beautiful, somber cinematography from the great Janusz Kaminski.

5. This Is Not a Film — His house arrest and a twenty-year ban from making films didn’t stop Iranian director Jafar Panahi from producing this “non-film,” a powerful statement about political and artistic freedom.

Note: I’m also looking forward to seeing Zero Dark Thirty, Amour, and Holy Motors before finishing my full list for the year. If these late 2012 releases live up to expectation, they will join Anna Karenina and Silver Linings Playbook for my top ten.


1. The Master — A masterpiece of psychological struggle, crystalline dialogue, and visceral acting.

2. Beasts of the Southern Wild — Nothing predictable, cliché, or sentimental, yet the most touching movie in recent memory.

3. Lincoln — Tony Kushner’s intelligent script brought inspiring drama to otherwise drab politics.

4. Life of Pi — The book required a great deal of imagination to bring it to life and Ang Lee supplied it in this movie.

5. Tie: Moonrise Kingdom and Silver Linings Playbook — The triumph of misfits.

Note: My list was chosen only from movies that I actually saw.


The Sessions

Searching for Sugar Man

Moonrise Kingdom

5 Broken Cameras


Beasts of the Southern Wild

Note: These are unranked, and I just can’t take any one of these off my list!


1. Moonrise Kingdom — Wes Anderson always has me at hello. And, as a friend of mine aptly explained: Your first love is like the first time you get your ears pierced.

2. Beasts of the Southern Wild — To me, this little girl named Hushpuppy absolutely personifies fearlessness.

3. The Master — Paul Thomas Anderson writes and Joaquin Phoenix delivers an Oscar-worthy depiction of madness.

4. The Extraordinary Voyage and A Trip to the Moon — Technically released in 2011, true. But this exceptional documentary traces an essential piece of cinematic history: the painstaking restoration of the Georges Méliès experimental classic film. Inspiring!

5. Seven Psychopaths — My new favorite movie about a movie within a movie.

Note: I’d give an honorable mention to the wistful documentary Searching for Sugar Man, and I’d still like to see Anna Karenina and This Is Not a Film.


1. Beasts of the Southern Wild

2. Searching for Sugar Man

3. Le Havre

4. Monsieur Lazhar

5. The Sessions

Note: I guess you could say I loved the characters, the acting, and the stories. All inspiring!





Beasts of the Southern Wild

Moonrise Kingdom

The Master

Take This Waltz

Life of Pi


Turn Me On, Dammit!

Note: These are unranked.


1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower — There are not too many movies I wholeheartedly love; it’s about one per year now. This is that movie. I saw the film and cried, then I read the book and cried, and then I saw the movie again and cried.

2. Moonrise Kingdom — So this is just Wes Anderson doing another Wes Anderson film, right? Well, I’m okay with that. This will never beat Rushmore as his best, but I’m okay with that too.

3. Argo — Ben Affleck gets more competent with every movie he makes. Even though the last twenty minutes are a complete fabrication, the movie is worthy of all its nominations.

4. Looper — Ever since Brick, I’ve decided that I will watch Rian Johnson direct anything. In film, 2012 was a year of high concepts, and nothing was a higher concept than what Johnson was doing here.

5. The Grey — Yes, the movie where Liam Neeson fights wolves with his bare hands. This film checked off a lot of things I like: a plane crash like I’ve ever seen before, breathtaking visuals in an Arctic setting, and a full examination of faith and survival that has been a long-time coming in a mainstream film.


1. Silver Linings Playbook — Best representation of bipolar disorder that I’ve seen in a movie ever. Great acting.

2. Seven Psychopaths — The plot is never predictable. It has violence – but it’s only movie blood.

3. Beasts of the Southern Wild — Many layered. The little girl is amazing.

4. Searching for Sugar Man — Now this is a documentary!

5. The Sessions — They had me with the trailer.

What are YOUR favorite films of 2012? Please share your lists here in the comments, or share your lists with us on Facebook.