- Lincoln – Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner took a big, complicated story from history and crafted a riveting political procedural out of it.
- Argo – Ben Affleck successfully transported us to the late 1970s in this fictionalized but thrilling retelling of a long-classified true story.
- Silver Linings Playbook – David O. Russell reboots the movie romance with this tale of damaged people trying to work through their baggage and make a connection.
- Django Unchained – In his best movie since Jackie Brown, Quentin Tarantino fearlessly takes on slavery, using the tropes of the spaghetti western and blaxploitation films.
- Cloud Atlas – This dizzyingly ambitious film adaptation of David Mitchell’s novel sweeps us along through six interconnected stories about freedom, slavery, justice and human progress.
- Life of Pi – Ang Lee took a tricky book and made an absolutely beautiful movie of it. Go see it.
- Moonrise Kingdom – It’s been a long time since I’ve even liked a Wes Anderson movie, and I LOVED this one. It’s quirky, dear and features production design to die for.
- Compliance – One of the most disturbing movies I’ve ever seen, particularly because it’s based on actual incidents. Watch the movie, then go to the internet and read about it.
- Safety Not Guaranteed – Perhaps the first film inspired by a Craig’s List ad, and for a time traveler, yet.
- Sound of My Voice – An eerie, ultra-low-budget psychological time-travel thriller starring and written by the beautiful and talented Brit Marling.
HONORABLE MENTION: Robot and Frank, Chronicle, The Impossible, End of Watch, Arbitrage, Not Fade Away, Les Miserables, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Stand Up Guys, 21 Jump Street
*Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emanuelle Riva, Amour
Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
*Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Jack Black, Bernie
John Hawkes, The Sessions
Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Jean-Louis Trintignant, Amour
HONORABLE MENTION: Denzel Washington, Flight; Frank Langella in Robot and Frank; Richard Gere in Arbitrage; Tom Holland, The Impossible
Compliance's Ann Dowd
Susan Sarandon, Jeff Who Lives At Home
*Ann Dowd, Compliance
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Melissa McCarthy, This is 40
Javier Bardem, Skyfall
Robert DeNiro, Silver Lining’s Playbook
The glorious Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained
Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
Christoph Walz, Django Unchained
*Samuel L. Jackson, Django Unchained
Honorable Mention: Jake Johnson, Safety Not Guaranteed; Ezra Miller, The Perks of Being a Wallflower; Francois Cluzet, Little White Lies; Domhnall Gleeson, Anna Karenina
Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
*Ben Affleck, Argo
Wes Anderson, Moonrise Kingdom
Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski, Cloud Atlas
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
Adapted Screenplay – it’s a TIE
*Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell)
*Lincoln (Tony Kushner)
*Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino)
Safety Not Guaranteed (Derek Connolly)
Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola)
Foreign Language Film
The Intouchables (France)
Snabba Cash (Sweden)
Generation P (Russia)
The Queen of Versailles
*How to Survive a Plague
The Central Park Five
Life of Pi
Hysteria (the vibrator movie!)
Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
Best Action Thriller
Funniest Movie of the Year
21 Jump Street
Okay This Has to the VERY LAST Documentary about the West Memphis Three
West of Memphis
I Know It Wasn’t Exactly GOOD, But That Director Tarsem Singh Can Sure Bring the Pretty
Most Misnamed Movie
Bully: A documentary about bullying in which almost no bullies appear.
What a Great Career He’s Having
Mark Duplass, who’s directing films (Jeff Who Lives At Home) and acting in them (Zero Dark Thirty, Safety Not Guaranteed). Go Mr. D.!
What a Great Career SHE’S Having
Not only does Jennifer Lawrence have a huge big-budget franchise going, but she’s got TWO Best Actress Academy Award nominations. At age twenty-two.
Show Me Something, Spurlock
While Morgan Spurlock is still appealing and handsome, his film Mansome was shallow and inconsequential. He still hasn’t put out a feature that fulfills the promise of his superb debut Super Size Me.
Ray And Tayler “Get In Shape For Your Movie” Award
Colin Farrell, Total Recall
Please Can We See More Of
Snabba Cash’s Joel Kinnamon
Safety Not Guaranteed’s Aubrey Plaza
Compliance’s Ann Dowd
Stand Up Guys’ Lucy Punch
Generation P’s Vladimir Epifantsev
Anna Karenina’s Domhnall Gleeson
The Impossible’s Tom Holland
Not Totally Sure He Can Actually Act, But He Can Sure Heat Up the Screen
Everyone Loved It But Me
The Avengers. I’m so tired of comic book superhero movies. They simply devolve into CGI showcases. Yawn.
Special “Three Strikes, You’re Out” Award
To the hilariously named Taylor Kitsch, who brought his great looks and charisma-free presence to THREE expensive bombs in one year: John Carter, Battleship, and Savages. Hope you have a Plan B, handsome!
Further Proof that Pixar’s Best Days are Behind Them
Worst Theatrical Trailer for a Good Movie
Amour. The trailer gave you no inkling of what the damn movie was about. Except that it was about old people.
By a Large Margin, The Most OVERRATED Film of the Year
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Worst Movies I Saw This Year
Keep the Light On
Rise of the Guardians
Absolutely Positively the Worst Film of the Year
Prometheus. It was shockingly, swinishly bad. It was stupid and virtually incoherent. I did not enjoy it.
Trends That Need to Be Over
No title card at the beginning of a movie (it’s pretentious)
Unnecessarily jerky handheld camera work (also pretentious)
Too much frantic energy on the screen (I’m looking at you, Hobbit and Rise of the Guardians)
Davy Jones (66)
Marvin Hamlisch (68)
Hal David (91)
Andy Williams (84)
Dave Brubeck (91)
Ben Gazarra (81)
Kathryn Joosten (72)
Richard Dawson (79)
Ann Rutherford (94)
Ernest Borgnine (95)
Celeste Holm (95)
Sherman Hemsley (74)
Tony Martin (98)
Phyllis Diller (95)
Michael Clarke Duncan (54)
Herbert Lom (95)
Larry Hagman (81)
Jack Klugman (90)
Charles Durning (89)
Robert B. Sherman (86)
Nora Ephron (71)
Richard Zanuck (77)
Whitney Houston (48)
Tony Scott (68)
Dick Clark (582)
Comments? Complaints? Fawning compliments? Leave a comment!!