My Year-End Favorite Movies List, 2012 Edition

'Movie Posters' photo (c) 2012, Michael Coghlan - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

This is becoming an annual thing: my year-end favorite movies list (see my 2011 list if you’re interested). Since I don’t go to the theaters much (only twice in 2012!), I will talk about favorite movies between late 2011 to 2012. And be forewarned that I’m more predisposed to independent, dramatic, and sad movies. Even when I like some comedic movies, they’re usually the subtle kinds.

With that said, here are my favorite movies from late 2011 to 2012 (ranked in order of preference, with most favorite first):

Margaret (2011)
It has been called a masterpiece, and I think it’s definitely a true statement. It’s an ambitious movie that fulfilled its promise, dealing with complex ethics and moral issues at many different levels. Also, most films have one or two brilliant scenes or dialogues, but there are so many scenes of those brilliance here. I’ve watched many thousands of films, but the car accident scene near the start of the movie was so moving and so raw, that I had to pause the movie and take a break because my body was shaking. My favorite scene is the one where Emily rebuked Lisa for trying to be a heroine when she didn’t even know the victim personally. Even though the theatrical version is 2.5 hours, I didn’t want it to end, and it has stayed with me for many weeks afterwards.

Ruby Sparks (2012)
Unusual and effective romantic comedy that strongly makes the point that when you love somebody, you set them free. If you have an ideal about love and you’re trying to control everything to fit your ideal of love, you’re not really loving that person. A true labor of love by Zoe Kazan.

Hugo (2011)
Charming, heartwarming, magical movie experience that speaks volumes to lovers of films. And Chloë Grace Moretz is going to be a star.

Forks Over Knives (2011)
Potentially life-changing documentary that helps us see why we don’t need meat for protein, why we don’t need milk for calcium, and why we need to have our veggies.

A Separation (2011)
Like Margaret, this movie deals with moral dilemmas and the choices we make. The acting is strong, and it’ll keep surprising you. Well-deserved win for the 2012 Best Foreign Film award.

The Artist (2011)
They did it. A black-and-white silent film made in the 21st century that captures the Best Film award. But when you limits around what you can do technologically, this is how true creativity is squeezed out. A wonderful, creative, and fun movie.

God Bless America (2011)
A funny, irreverent movie that pokes at the ridiculousness of our crazed media culture. And you’ll find yourselves rooting for the odd couple of killers. Don’t take it too seriously, but then it does have a subtle serious message. :)

Looper (2012)
What started out as a sci-fi time-travelling action movie turned in a surprising final act that actually speaks to what a great responsibility it is to be a parent. And on top of it, it has a great Bruce Willis scene. I won’t any more away, just go watch it!

Blue Like Jazz (2012)
I’ve wrote a review of Blue Like Jazz in an earlier blog entry — read it! And please support the filmmakers — buy or rent the DVD!

Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
If I watched this when I was 12, I might have run away also… :)

We Need To Talk About Kevin (2011)
Tilda Swinton continues to take on tough acting assignments and guides us on an emotional journey of parenthood and regrets. We’re left to ask: who is to blame for evil? Watch it to help you ponder this question.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)
I liked the Swedish original, and, of course, the key to pulling it off in the US remake is to have a strong Lisbeth and a strong direction. They scored A+ on both. Watch the extra material on the DVD and be amazed at David Fincher’s dedication.

Headhunters (2011)
A superb action thriller that keeps you at the edge of your seats the entire movie. Just a fun ride.

Into The Abyss (2011)
A documentary collecting different real-life perspectives surrounding a crime, capital punishment, how people become killers, and what the victim’s families go through. There’s a subtle chill in the calmness of the criminals, and an intense sense of loss from the families. Very touching and also educational at the same time.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
The final piece of the trilogy does not disappoint. I like the fact that although the villain blows things up, the real damage done are through terror. The citizens tortured themselves because of fear. And there’s kind of a gospel parallel in the story of the Dark Knight who “rises.”

Jiro Dreams of Sushi (2011)
When you strive for excellence in your craft, this is what happens. I didn’t realized I like this documentary so much until I started talking about it with a friend. Besides being about food, it also provides a glimpse into Japanese culture. After watching it, I now look at sushis and culinary arts very differently.

Wow this has been quite a long list, and congrats to you, my reader, for making it this far in your reading! It’s great that there have been so many good movies in the last two years. In addition, although I have not had a chance to see other 2012 movies, I expect that these 2012 movies could make this list, and I hope would have the chance to watch them soon:

  • 56 Up
  • Argo
  • Bully
  • Flight
  • Les Misérables
  • Rust and Bone
  • Silver Linings Playbook
  • Skyfall
  • The Impossible
  • Zero Dark Thrity
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