Year-in-Review: Best movies of 2012

From the December 27, 2012 edition

As I look over the motley collection of my favorite movie experiences of the year, it’s a weird bunch … but hey, I’m a weird dude. And this was a good year to be weird at the movies …

10. Samsara

This stunningly gorgeous, non-narrative documentary just lets its images wash over the viewer. The experience is downright meditative.

9. Beasts of the Southern Wild

Filmed on the cheap in Louisiana with mostly non-professional actors, this wholly original, wholly imaginative tale was a wonder of spirit in its Hurricane Katrina allegory.

8. Holy Motors

If you made an entire movie out of the weirdest parts of David Lynch films, you might get this hallucinatory French import. You can say it makes no sense, but you can’t say you’ve had an experience like this before.

7. Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino made this spaghetti-Western-flavored revenge tale of a freed slave his personal filmmaking playground. You could tell he was having a blast.

6. The Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan’s closing chapter in his operatic Dark Knight saga was the final act in what history may well remember as the best film trilogy ever.

5. The Master

Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest film was challenging and obtusely plotted — and not the Scientology exposé some expected — but I’m always on board with this master director.

4. Silver Linings Playbook

Romantic comedy-drama can be risky business, but writer-director David O. Russell nailed it in this heartfelt winner. I expected Jennifer Lawrence to be a delight, but so was Bradley Cooper.

3. Looper

Writer-director Rian Johnson took a high-concept time travel idea, a healthy dose of noir and some exceptionally gripping story with real emotional heft. It was this year’s “Inception.”

2. Moonrise Kingdom

You love Wes Anderson, or you hate Wes Anderson. I love. And this was Wes at his warmest, quirkiest and best.

1. The Cabin in the Woods

Wildly inventive within a genre that didn’t seem to have anything left to invent and deeply, madly funny, this horror-comedy was perfectly executed and remained the most damn fun I had in a theater this year.

Brad Keefe's (next) best movies of 2012 >>