The best of 2012: film

The Time Out film team reflect on the movies of the past 12 months

As 2012 draws to a close, Time Out’s film critics offer up their five favourite films of the year, plus their least favourite movie, a film hero, a favourite scene and a quick look ahead to 2013.

It’s been a very strong year for international cinema, and our critics’ lists reflect that, with the French-Austrian co-production ‘Amour’, Turkish cop drama ‘Once Upon a Time in Anatolia’, American indie ‘The Master’, Portuguese oddity ‘Tabu’ and homegrown Olympic tie-in documentary ‘London: The Modern Babylon’ proving the most popular overall.

Click on the thumbnails below to see each critic’s top five films – and one stinker.

Dave Calhoun,Time Out film editor Cath Clarke,Time Out deputy film editor Tom Huddleston,Time Out film writer Trevor Johnston,Time Out film critic Anna Smith,Time Out film critic Geoff Andrew,Time Out film critic Guy Lodge,Time Out film critic Anil Sinanan,Time Out film critic Ben Walters,Time Out film critic Nigel Floyd,Time Out film critic Time Out readers

Dave Calhoun's best films of 2012

  • 1

    Once Upon a Time in Anatolia

    Turkish filmmaker Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s long, dark night of the soul buries deep into what it means to be alive – and dead – as a group of policemen, soldiers, a doctor and others search for a buried body in rural Turkey.

  • 2


    Michael Haneke’s portrait of an elderly married couple dealing with illness and mortality is both devastating and wise. The performances from Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva are for the ages.

  • 3

    London: The Modern Babylon

    Right place, right time: Julien Temple released this moving, energetic portrait of London just as the Olympic spirit took over. It reminds us what a beautiful, chaotic, ever-changing, always-renewing, glorious mess this city is.

  • 4

    The Master

    Paul Thomas Anderson’s film has some fascinating things to say about early Scientology, but its strange heart is the coming together of two extraordinary characters, played by Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

  • 5

    The Turin Horse

    Long, bleak and repetitive – but also utterly mesmerising: Hungarian filmmaker Bela Tarr gives us six days in the life of a father and daughter living in rural drudgery in late nineteenth-century Hungary. It feels like the end of the world – and the end of cinema – when the light finally goes out.

Dave Calhoun's worst film of 2012

  • W.E.

    Madonna’s film about 1930s celeb divorcee Wallis Simpson and a modern woman obsessed with her was utter nonsense born of another planet.

Dave Calhoun's film heroes of 2012

  • Andrew Kötting and Iain Sinclair for sailing to London in a swan-shaped pedalo for ‘Swandown’; Danny Boyle for bringing his vision to the world at the Olympic Opening Ceremony; Ken Loach for dusting himself down and carrying on after a bad fall on the set of ‘The Angels’ Share’; and Alfred Hitchcock, for keeping on giving via the BFI season, the restorations and more.

Dave Calhoun's favourite scenes of 2012

Dave Calhoun's hope for 2013

  • That the programmers of the Cannes Film Festival don’t find themselves once again justifying a complete absence of women in the running for the Palme d’Or.

More highlights from the past 12 months in London

  • What a year that was! Brilliant festivals, amazing restaurants, sensational bars, unbelievable gigs, mind-altering exhibitions, gob-smacking shows… if it happened in London, Time Out was there. So who better than our unrivalled team of critics to come up with the definitive list of the best of 2012?