The best movies of 2012

Team Film chooses its best movies of 2012, as well as the next ten that would have made their personal lists—plus, the worst films of the year.

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The Master

The Master

David Fear's ten best movies of 2012

1
The Master

The Master

Cryptic, crazed and can’t-look-away compelling, Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest pits Joaquin Phoenix’s lost-soul Neanderthal against Philip Seymour Hoffman’s charlatan-guru in an epic commentary on the American character. It deserves to have -piece added to its title.

2
Ann Dowd, left, and Dreama Walker in Compliance

Compliance

This indie dramatization of a real-life hoax questions how far we’re willing to compromise our morals in the face of authority—and Craig Zobel inadvertently gives us the year’s best horror film.

3

Bestiaire

Animals…so like us? Canadian filmmaker Denis Côté begs to differ in this extraordinary experimental documentary, about an inherent human need to dominate other species.

4
Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty

We know the story of Osama bin Laden’s death; Kathryn Bigelow’s national-security procedural details the manhunt leading up to that midnight raid, while charting the agonies and ecstasies of all-consuming obsession.

5
Channing Tatum, front, in Magic Mike

Magic Mike

The Citizen Kaneof male-stripper melodramas, Steven Soderbergh’s backstage musical gives you rippling eye candy, a cutting social critique and, courtesy of Matthew McConaughey, the embodiment of capitalism in assless chaps.

 Watch now on iTunes    Watch now at Amazon Instant Video

6
Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln

Lincoln

Biopic, schmiopic: Steven Spielberg’s look at the Great Emancipator is less about Lincoln than legislation, focusing on the political process and turning this into a wonky, talky All the 16th President’s Men.

7
Iko Uwais, left, and Sofyan Alop in The Raid: Redemption

The Raid: Redemption

There are action movies, and then there’s Gareth Evans’s relentless, winner-kill-all blast about an Indonesian drug kingpin, a locked-down apartment complex and a cop fighting his way to safety. In a word: Wow!

 Watch now on iTunes    Watch now at Amazon Instant Video

8
Jean-Louis Trintignant in Amour

Amour

Yes, Virginia, Michael Haneke has a heart—and his gut-wrenching story of an elderly couple dealing with their mortality proves that the feel-bad-cinema auteur can do emotional just as well as cerebral.

9
Thure Lindhardt, left, and Zachary Booth in Keep the Lights On

Keep the Lights On

A gay couple goes through a decade of breakups, breakdowns, euphoric highs and narco-fueled lows in Ira Sachs’s personal, no-prisoners look at how our relationships both sustain us and drain us.

10
Kaya Scodelario in director Andrea's Arnold's version of Wuthering Heights

Wuthering Heights

In a year full of unusual literary adaptations, Andrea Arnold’s take on Emily Brontë’s novel lays out the competition: Her feral, wild-child version taps into romantic (and Romantic) elements that transcend the source material.



See ten more of David Fear's best movies of 2012


David Fear's worst movie of 2012

This Means War

Take the most toxic elements of modern rom-coms, lowest-common-denominator pandering and contemporary surveillance culture; add three talented stars that should know better; amp up the ickiness factor to Silkwood-shower levels; rinse, never ever repeat.

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