My Favorite Movies of 2012

Alright. Although I'm not a critic, I love picking my favorite movies each year. It's a good way of looking back at what movies I saw this year. As always, I pick among the movies I saw this year no matter where I was. Since I split time between the U.S. and Korea, some movies have yet to be released in Korea or vice versa. If you wanna know what movies I chose last year, you can visit here.

My Favorite Movies of 2011

So, this is my top 10 favorite movies of the year and honorable mentions.

1.   Life of Pi (Ang Lee, USA, China, 2012)

Actor friend Jeffrey Wright who worked with Ang Lee in Ride with the Devil, once called him an angel (pun on his name). After I saw Life of Pi, I now call him a God making such a stunning film. How does he do it? How can he keep challenging himself and yet even his failures are more interesting than other filmmakers' great works? Haven't seen such a cinematic 3D since Avatar and it's better than Avatar.

2.   Amour (Michael Haneke, Austria, France, Germany, 2012)

I saw this film on December 20 and I said, if the world ends the next day as the Mayans falsely predicted, I'm glad it would be the last film I'd see in this world. It was a painful film to watch because I saw my dad's health deteriorate over the years although I wasn't there for him all the time like Georges did in the film. Made me think about life, death and love and as the title indicates, love is a powerful thing.

3.   A Separation (Asghar Farhadi, Iran, 2011)

Finally saw this film early this year. This was the big art film from last year which won the Oscar for the Best Foreign Language Film and it deserved it. It shows us the contemporary Iranian society which is changing and it also teaches us no matter where you live, human beings are the same.

4.   Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson, USA, 2012)

One of the quirkiest films in years. Wes Anderson is like our generation's Woody Allen films. Like a generation before us grow old with Woody Allen's films, we grow old with his films except that Anderson unfortunately makes far less films. Make more, Wes!!! Speaking of them, they share the same initials. Coincidence? :)

5.   Searching for Sugarman (Malik Bendjelloul, Sweden, UK, 2012)

Truth can be really stranger than fiction. This film proves that. As a film, it might not be a superior one but the story it's telling is so incredible that it makes it to my top ten list. More than anything else, it's inspiring. Rodriguez is a decent human being and gifted artist. That alone is a triumph.

6.   The Kid with a Bike (Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, Belgium, France, Italy, 2011)

Heard great things about the Dardenne Brothers but never saw any of their films until now. This was a tough film to sit through but at the end, it was such a rewarding experience. The allusion to the Bicycle Thief is obvious but I saw a little bit of the 400 Blows, too. How did the Dardennes get such a powerful performance out of such a young inexperienced boy? Interestingly, this film and Beasts of the Southern Wild have something in common. A kid's sense of abandonment. One film shows the harsh reality as it is and the other shows it through the the child's fantasy. Both are excellent in their own ways.

7.   The Dark Knight Rises (Christopher Nolan, USA, UK, 2012)

Chris Nolan did it again. This film is so operatic and epic that I could almost see the musical version of TDKR a la Les Miserables. Hey, you've got the talented Anne Hathaway. You might as well.

8.   Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin, USA 2012)

This is truly one of the most impressive debuts in years. I'm not sure if Benh Zeitlin can repeat this again but this film works thanks to one thing. It's the most powerful performance by the then 6 year old Quvenzhané Wallis. If I were an Oscar member, I would vote for her as the Best Actress. She's that good. Hypnotic.

9.   Argo (Ben Affleck, USA, 2012)

We often laughed at Ben Affleck. This guy who did Gigli? We wrote him off. How wrong were we? I heard good things about Affleck's previous directorial works (Gone Baby Gone, The Town) but I didn't know he was this good. Argo takes place in the 70's and it does resemble the movies made in the era. American films in the 70's were amazing and this one could be up there with them.

10. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Tomas Alfredson, France, UK, Germany, 2011)

Okay, when I first saw the film almost a year ago, I had no idea what the film was about. Then, I saw it again. It became clearer to me. I still think about this film these days. Although directed by a Swedish filmmaker, it is a quintessential British film at its best. A beautifully rendered film. I still don't understand what the movie is about, though.

Of course, if I can include more movies, these following movies are as good as many of the films I mentioned above. Who knows? I may like them better on a given day.

Bernie (Richard Linklater, USA, 2011) 
Beyond the Hills (Cristian Mungiu, RomaniaFranceBelgium, 2012)
The Descendants (Alexander Payne, USA, 2011) 
End of Watch (David Ayer, USA, 2012)
The Invisble War (Kirby Dick, USA, 2012)
Nameless Gangster (Yoon Jong Bin, Korea, 2012)
National Security (Jung Ji Young, Korea, 2012)
Skyfall (Sam Mendes, UK, USA, 2012)
Take This Waltz (Sarah Polley, Canada, Spain, Japan, 2011) 
You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet (Alain Resnais, France, Germany, 2012)


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