The Best 20 Films of 2012

Django Unchained

The annual best film list is here. I've assembled my favorite films of 2012. They're not necessarily the ones those snotty film critics thought were best, but a mixed bag of genres that I enjoyed the most for excellence in writing, acting, creativity and direction. The movies are listed from twenty (good) to my number one pick (best).

20. Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – A fisheries expert (Ewan McGregor) is approached by a consultant (Emily Blunt) to help realize Sheikh Muhammed's (Amr Waked) vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the desert and embarks on an upstream journey of faith and fish to prove the impossible possible. The film is based on the novel of the same name by Paul Torday.

19. This Is 40 – After years of marriage, Pete (Paul Rudd) lives in a house of all females: wife Debbie (Leslie Mann) and their two daughters, eight-year-old Charlotte (Iris Apatow) and 13-year-old Sadie (Maude Apatow). As he struggles to keep his record label afloat, he and Debbie must figure out how to forgive, forget and enjoy the rest of their lives…before they kill each other.

18. Cloud Atlas – Based on David Mitchell's best-selling novel, Cloud Atlas tells the interlinking story of each character as they appear in multiple roles that take place over a thousand years – including a sci-fi tale of a man (Tom Hanks) who meets an emissary from an advanced civilization (Halle Berry), and a darkly comic yarn about a composer (Jim Broadbent) and his apprentice (Ben Whishaw).

17. People Like Us – Sam (Chris Pine), a young salesman in debt, returns home after his estranged father's sudden death and learns a devastating family secret. Sam must share his inheritance with a 30-year-old sister Frankie (Elizabeth Banks) and her son whom he never knew about. As their relationship develops, Sam is forced to rethink everything he thought he knew about this family–and re-examine his own life choices in the process.

16. Les Misérables – The story centers on Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) an ex-convict trying to build a new life of nobility and raise factory worker Fantine's (Anne Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette (Amanda Seyfried). All the while, Valjean is relentlessly pursued by the callous Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe), who doesn't intend to let him escape his past.

15. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – The film follows title character Bilbo Baggins, who – along with the Wizard Gandalf and 13 Dwarves, led by the legendary warrior Thorin Oakenshield – is swept into an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor from the fearsome Dragon Smaug.

14. The Hunger Games – Sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) volunteers in her younger sister's place to enter the Hunger Games, and is forced to rely upon her sharp instincts when she's pitted against Peeta Mellark (Josh Hutcherson) and the highly-trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives.

13. Prometheus – A team of explorers, guided by archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), discover a clue to the origins of mankind on Earth, leading them on a journey to the darkest corners of the universe. There, they must struggle to survive and it becomes clear that the horrors they experience are not just a threat to themselves, but to all of mankind.

12. Marvel's The Avengers – Agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) assembles the earth's mightiest superheroes: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to battle against the fallen Asgardian Loki (Tom Hiddleston).

11. Flight – A seasoned airline pilot (Denzel Washington) who miraculously crash-lands his plane after a mid-air catastrophe finds himself in the midst of controversy when it's discovered that he has a substance abuse problem and drank before the flight.

10. The Words – Seasoned writer Clay Hammond (Dennis Quaid) narrates his new novel about a struggling writer Rory Jansen (Bradley Cooper) who rockets to fame after passing off a brilliant found manuscript as his own. However, he soon learns that living with his choice will not be as easy as he thought when the real author surfaces (Jeremy Irons). But is Hammond's new book truly a work of fiction or a confession?

9. Argo – The story centers on CIA exfiltration expert (Ben Affleck) who created a fake Hollywood production in order to rescue six Americans from the Tehran hostage crisis. Argo is an adaptation of the book 'The Master of Disguise' by Antonio Mendez.

8. Skyfall – James Bond's (Daniel Craig) loyalty to M (Judi Dench) is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost. Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris, and Albert Finney co-star.

7. Lincoln – As the Civil War continues to rage, America's 16th president Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis) struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet to ensure that slavery would be forever outlawed.

6. Zero Dark Thirty – This military intelligence thriller tells the decade-long story of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Connecting the dots is obsessed CIA analyst Maya (Jessica Chastain) and CIA interrogation officer Dan (Jason Clarke). The film reunites the Oscar-winning creative duo of Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal behind The Hurt Locker.

5. Looper – When the mob wants to get rid of someone, they will send their target 30 years into the past where a "looper" – a hired gun, like Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) – is waiting to mop up. Joe is getting rich and life is good…until the day the mob decides to "close the loop," sending back Joe's future self (Bruce Willis) for assassination.

4. Life of Pi – A young man (Suraj Sharma) who survives a tragic disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While marooned on a lifeboat, he forms an amazing and unexpected connection with the ship's only other survivor — a fearsome Bengal tiger.

3. The Dark Knight Rises – Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, the arrival of a cunning cat burglar (Anne Hathaway) and the terrorist leader Bane (Tom Hardy) arrive in Gotham City, pushing it and its police force to their limits, forcing its former hero Batman (Christian Bale) to resurface after taking the fall for Harvey Dent's crimes.

2. Django Unchained – Django (Jamie Foxx) is a freed slave, who, under the tutelage of a German bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz), becomes a bad-ass bounty hunter himself. After taking down some bad guys for profit, they track down Django's slave wife (Kerry Washington) and liberate her from the evil plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio).

1. The Master – The story follows Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman) in his quest to promote his newly founded religion, "The Cause," with wife Mary Sue Dodd (Amy Adams) by his side. Soon, an emotionally unstable follower, Freddie Sutton (Joaquin Phoenix) arrives and becomes the Master's invaluable aid and biggest challenge.


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