There is no secret formula when it comes to making a year-end top ten list. There are those who strive to ensure that their end of the year list line up with critical consensus, while others strive to make their list unique by bucking popular opinion. However, at the end of the day it all boils down to which films moved you, entertained you, or hopefully both. The only rule I have is that my list only includes films that were released theatrically in 2012. Keeping that in mind, here are my favourite films of the year:

10. Holy Motors

The film is a wild trip down the rabbit hole that is cinema. It is not easy to decipher but I cannot deny I had a fun time trying to figure it out. Denis Lavant is one of those actors who I will now follow anywhere. He easily gave the best male performance that I saw in 2012.

9. Django Unchained

Django Unchained may not represent Tarantino’s best work, but that does not mean it is any less entertaining. Blending together the Spaghetti Western and Blaxploitation genres, and sprinkling in Tarantino’s stylized dialogue, the film offers a new twist on the classic revenge film. Leonardo DiCaprio gives a particularly inspired performance as an evil plantation owner.

8. The Avengers

Marvel took a huge gamble and it paid off in spades. There is good reason why this was the highest grossing film of the year. The Avengers not only proved that the superhero genre was far from dead, but that audiences are still willing to pay top dollar for franchise films as long as it is a quality product.

7. Skyfall

After 50 years of service, audiences still have much to learn about the world’s top secret agent. Filled with stellar performances and gorgeous cinematography, Skyfall exceeded my expectations on every level.

6. Argo

Very few films had me on the edge of my seat like Argo. The funny thing was I knew exactly how things would turn out but was hooked nonetheless. Ben Affleck has grown into a fantastic director and he knows how to deliver the thrills.

5. Cloud Atlas

It is the epic independently financed film that turned out to be one of the most audacious films of the year. Cloud Atlas is a film that I am confident a lot of the naysayers will come around to years from now. It was an ambitious attempt at filmmaking on every level. Sure the central themes may come off as simplistic, and not every tale works, but the film offers an experience unlike anything I have encountered in theatres in quite some time.

4. Moonrise Kingdom

Wes Anderson’s tale of young love is film that gets better and better with each watch. It is easily Anderson’s most accessible film to date, yet that does not make it any less an Anderson film. The film features a lot of the director’s trademark quirky and amusing traits. However, it is the genuine heart in the film that makes Moonrise Kingdom so endearing.

3. The Dark Knight Rises

The final film in The Dark Knight trilogy ended just like Christopher Nolan’s series started, on its own terms. Taking aspects from comic books such as The Dark Knight returns and Knightfall and mixing them with the real life economic crisis was a brilliant move on Nolan’s part. It was a fitting farewell for a hero whose only desire was to inspire the hero in all of us.

2. The Master

The latest film from Paul Thomas Anderson is one that divided audiences and critics alike. The Master is a dense film that will evoke a different response and meaning from everyone who watches it. The performances by Joaquin Phoenix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, and Amy Adams are outstanding and the film begs for repeat viewings in order its crack the numerous layers.

1. The Imposter

No film impacted me more this year than The Imposter. It is not only one of the best documentaries of 2012, but one of the best documentaries of the last decade. Bart Layton masterfully edits together talking head segments with lush re-enactments to tell a story that you would not believe had it not been true. I have seen The Imposter twice now and will most like have watched it a third time by time you read this. Yet each viewing manages to entertain and break my heart all at the same time.

Honourable Mention: Oslo,August 31st , Headhunters, Bernie, Killer Joe, Silver Linings Playbook, The Queen of Versailles, Tyrannosaur, The Invisible War, Looper, Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry, Haywire, The Raid Redemption and We Need to Talk About Kevin

Festival films I loved that you should keep an eye on in 2013 and beyond: Frances Ha, Graceland, Much Ado About Nothing, Blondie and Lore.


  1. I like THE MASTER. Need to see HOLY MOTORS. Still haven't seen Imposter or Django either, probably won't see the latter anytime soon.Hollywood just didn't woo me this year. The rest of your picks range from okay to downright awful in my own personal estimation. Honestly, I preferred the craziness of THE RAID: REDEMPTION and Jackson's THE HOBBIT over Hollywood's bigger outputs.

  2. Unlike most years, Hollywood made several films that I just connected with. There were many smaller films I enjoyed as well, but these were the ten that impacted me the most.

  3. I completely agree on The Avengers and Moonrise Kingdom. The only other one on your list I've seen was The Dark Knight Rises. I liked it, but didn't love it. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of the films on your list.One film I liked a lot that you didn't mention was Safety Not Guaranteed. Maybe you saw it and wasn't that impressed, but if you haven't seen it, I definitely feel it's worth your time. It's a fun movie.

  4. Great selection. Your list shows how diverse 2012 has been. I think Hollywood have produced some great films this year. From the mega-bucks superhero romps to dramatic features like Argo.The Imposter nearly made my list and I'm glad to see you hold it in such high regard. I'd encourage people to seek it out.

  5. I still have yet to see most of these, but I enjoyed The Master, Batman and Avengers a lot. Django not so much, but that's ok. Great list and I look forward to seeing the other titles in the coming year! I'm always so behind. Happy new year, CS! Hope you have a great 2013!

  6. I started to watched Safety Not Guaranteed but the wife fell asleep halfway through. This was merely a result of us starting the film really late. We have not got around to finishing the film yet, though I did enjoy what I watched so far.

  7. Nice to see you have put The Imposter so high. It is an amazing documentary. It didn't make my top 10 (which is up now if you'd like to drop by), but would probably be in my top 20.

  8. Excellent list. Love seeing The Imposter at number 1. You're right, one of the better docs made in the past decade. And is it just me, or has that film kind of fallen off the Oscar radar? No idea why.

  9. Last I heard, The Imposter made the shortlist but it is just not getting the publicity it needs. I do not think people realize how innovated The Imposter really is from a documentary standpoint. Also, I find that the Oscar shortlist for documentaries this year is very odd. Highly praised films like The Queen of Versailles missed the cut.

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