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Top 10 Movies of 2012

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by James Newcombe (subscribe)
Freelance writer for feature articles, web content and blogs. Specializing in non-fiction articles on a range of subjects including lifestyle, travel, architecture and product reviews.
Published December 31st 2012
The best films of the year
1. Looper

Bruce Willis stars in this futuristic, imaginative action thriller. Time travel is invented in 2074 but is controlled by criminals who send those they want killed back to the present for assasination. The assasins or "loopers" are paid with gold bars strapped to the victim's backs. When crime bosses want to end a looper's contract, they send the looper's future self back to be killed by his past self, which is called "closing the loop". Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a looper, learns that a mastermind (called the "Rainmaker") has taken over organized crime and is closing all the loops. Complicated, intelligent sci-fi drama with an unexpected ending.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis
Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis are part of the great cast in Looper which includes Emily Blunt. Sony Pictures

2. Argo

Gripping political thriller based on a true story of events in 1979 when Iranian revolutionaries storm the US embassy in Tehran, taking 52 American hostages. Six Americans escape unnoticed, and take refuge in the Canadian embassy. CIA "extractor" Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) hatches a plan to fly into Iran, and along with the captives, pretend to be a Canadian film crew scouting for locations to shoot their Sci-Fi movie, Argo. This nail biting, intense drama is well directed by Ben Affleck who plays the central character with aplomb.

Argo Ben Affleck
Image courtesy Warner Brothers

3. A Royal Affair

Lavish historical drama brilliantly acted with an intriguing story. Set in the 18th century at the court of mentally-ill king Christian V11 of Denmark, and focuses on the romance between his young Queen and the Royal physician Struensee. A story of brave idealists who risk everything and start a revolution which changes their nation forever. This underrated Danish film won the best actor and script at the Berlin film festival.

A Royal Affair
Mads Mikkelsen as Struensee and Alicia Vikander as Caroline Mathilde (the queen) give electrifying performances.Magnolia Pictures

4. Arbitrage

Richard Gere's conflicted performance as crooked-billionaire Robert Miller is arguably his career-best. Miller manages a hedge fund with his daughter which he is about to sell for a handsome profit. He hides the true nature of the company's financial position from investors and the IRS, meanwhile his life becomes further complicated by the death of his mistress in a car accident whilst he is behind the wheel. He engages long time friend Jimmy Grant (whom he previously helped get off the streets) to cover his tracks. With police detective Bryer (Tim Roth) closing in on the murder puzzle, Millers daughter discovers the serious financial irregularities of the company. A tense drama with plenty of twists and turns about a well-respected man's life unfolding.

Susan Serandon, Richard Gere
Susan Serandon and Richard Gere as husband and wife in Arbitrage. Fandango

5. The Descendants

George Clooney plays Matt King, a Honolulu based lawyer and the sole trustee of a large block of pristine land on the island. With the trust expiring in seven years, the family decide to sell the land to a developer. Not a very good father, Matt is faced with the prospect of raising his 10 and 17 year old daughters alone as his wife slips into a coma after a boating accident. Matt discovers that his wife was having an affair with a man who is related to the developer, who stands to gain a lot of money from the sale of the family's land. This generates a lot of angst within the family as they decide what to do. This touching, funny and beautifully acted film reminds us of how complicated and messy our lives can become.

George Clooney, Shailene Woodley (as Alexandra) and Amara Miller (as Scottie) in
George Clooney, Shailene Woodley (as Alexandra) and Amara Miller (as Scottie) in "The Descendants".Fox Searchlight Pictures

6. Shame

Gritty British drama starring Michael Fassbender as Brandon, a New York advertising executive who shuns intimacy with women but is caught in the grip of sexual addiction. Brandon's life is turned upside down when his emotionally dependant sister unexpectantly arrives to stay. Brandon's addiction spirals out of control, affecting both his relationships with friends and his career. His relationship with his sister deteriorates as she learns the true nature of his problem. The film's explicit sexual scenes are not for the faint-hearted, but the performances of the actors are stunning.

Michael Fassbender
Michael Fassbender stars in the harrowing tragedy, "Shame". Fox Searchlight Pictures

7. My Week with Marilyn

Depicts the making of the 1957 film The Prince and the Showgirl which starred Marilyn Monroe (Michelle Williams) and Laurence Olivier (Kenneth Branagh). Aspiring filmmaker Colin Clark (Eddie Redmayne), fresh out of University, travels to London to get a job on Laurence Olivier's next production. The film focuses on the week in which Monroe spent time being escorted around London by Clark, after her husband had left the country. Michelle Williams gives a great performance capturing the vulnerability and mystique surrounding Marilyn. The film documents the tense interaction between Olivier and Marilyn during production of the movie.

Michelle Williams as Marilyn
Michelle Williams captures the troubled character of Marilyn brilliantly.Entertainment Film Distributors

8. Seven Psychopaths

A black comedy in the Tarantino mould, this movie takes 'pot shots' at violent Hollywood films. The story centres around Marty (Colin Farrell) an alcoholic writer trying to write his next big screenplay. Best friend Billy (Sam Rockwell) has a business with Hans (Christopher Walken) kidnapping rich people's dogs and returning them later to collect the reward. Things go awry when Billy steals the prized Shih Tzu of gangster Charlie (Woody Harrelson). The resultant mayhem adds plenty of fodder for Marty's story. Tom Wait's has a great cameo as a retired serial killer.

Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell
Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken and Sam Rockwell really enjoy themselves in this off-the-wall flick.CBS

9. The Hunger Games

This action/adventure/sci-fi movie is based on a young-adult novel, and takes place in a nation known as Panem, established in North America after an unknown apocalypse destroys civilization. The nation consists of the wealthy Capitol which controls twelve surrounding poorer districts. As punishment for a past rebellion against the Capitol, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected by annual lottery to participate in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death in an outdoor arena. The story centres around 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence), a girl from District 12 who volunteers for the 74th annual Hunger Games to protect her younger sister, who was initially chosen. An entertaining ride with great casting and rich characters.

Katniss Everdeen (Jennifer Lawrence) in the Hunger Games
Jennifer Lawrence plays Katniss Everdeen in "The Hunger Games."Lionsgate


An American Depression-era gangster film with a straight forward narrative and screenplay by Nick Cave. Set during the prohibition period in Franklin County, Virginia, a bootlegging gang of three brothers is threatened by a new deputy and other authorities who want a cut of their profits. As corrupt Law officer Rakes, Guy Pearce's brutal, sinister character borders on the ridiculous. This grim, bloody but ultimately flawed crime drama has excellent performances but lacks focus.

Jason Clarke, Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf in
Jason Clarke, Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf in "Lawless".The Weinstein Company

Other films I would recommend include: The Master, Life of Pi, Cosmopolis, The Dictator.
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Your Comment
Michelle Williams looks like a great Monroe. Not only does she look the part, but has captured the pose perfectly.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12626) 3015 days ago
I would have made Argo no 1. It's one of the best movies I saw in 2012 (not that I see many, but it was the best). The characters were believable and the plot, being based on a true event, makes it even better. I was literally on the edge of my seat most of the time. Seeing the fantastic fashion of the 70's & 80's was a hoot as well. Argo is well worth watching and Ben Affleck really deserved his Golden Globe.
Mandy E.
by steve (score: 2|134) 3002 days ago
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