10. Cloud Atlas
Ambitious, unfairly maligned literary adaptation. Apparently, we don't deserve movies like this. Here's my original review: http://www.examiner.com/review/cloud-atlas-review?cid=db_articles.
9. Cabin in the Woods
Hilarious, conceptually brilliant deconstruction of the American horror movie.
8. Tie: Searching for Sugar Man and Bernie
Two great, true stories, both haunting in their own way.
7. Tie: Frankenweenie, Paranorman, and Brave
Three great, scary animated movies, collectively guaranteed to scar a generation of young moviegoers.
6. Silver Linings Playlist
Classic O'Russell: familial dysfunction, awkward comedy, location specificity, heartwarming sentimentality. (Plus Jennifer Lawrence.)
5. Django Unchained
The story is straightforward for Tarantino, but the film nevertheless leaps around fearlessly from dark to light, smart to stupid, hilariously funny to disgustingly disturbing. And somehow, somewhere in all of that, some serious truths about slavery get revealed anew.
4. Beasts of the Southern Wild
Brilliant work of magical realism on film, or just the most heartrending Levis commercial ever? Either way.
3. Tie: Zero Dark Thirty and Chronicle
Two flawlessly executed masterworks, one a critically acclaimed Oscar nominee (derailed by misguided politicking) and the other a well-regarded but still criminally underrated genre flick.
2. Moonrise Kingdom
Wes Anderson's first movie since The Royal Tenenbaums that didn't feel like he was just spinning his wheels.
1. The Dark Knight Trilogy
I'm cheating: The Dark Knight Rises might not be my favorite movie of the year, but with its release, we finally have a complete trilogy, and just about as great a trilogy as you can find in the movies. This was the film series that the iconic character deserved.
*Full disclosure, I did not see the following films: Cosmopolis, Keyhole, Life of Pi, Lincoln, The Turin Horse, Holy Motors, and Rust & Bone.