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

Anna Smith's best films of 2012

  • 1

    Life of Pi

    A hugely ambitious project that Ang Lee, amazingly, pulls off – an immersive experience that gives new weight to the pro-3D argument. Crucially, it’s as strong in terms of story as it is visuals.

  • 2

    The Hunt

    A heartbreaking look at the power of lies, rumours and misunderstanding from the ever-fascinating Thomas Vinterberg.

  • 3


    I never thought I’d have a Bond film in my top five, but what a triumph, with bags of wit, style and character depth.

  • 4

    Young Adult

    It seems like a long time ago now but Jason Reitman’s darkly funny stint in suburbia is still one of my personal favourites of 2012.

  • 5


    Another fantastic dark comedy that does Britain proud, proving Ben Wheatley’s a director to reckon with. Bring on a sequel!

Anna Smith's worst films of 2012

  • Tim and Eric's Billion Dollar Movie

    I saw this at the otherwise terrific Edinburgh International Film Festival and remain grateful to Time Out for commissioning a review – at least I didn’t suffer it in vain.

Anna Smith's film heroes of 2012

  • I've always adored Tim Burton's style and the year of 'Frankenweenie' seems like the ideal time to pay tribute: it's loaded with classic Burton touches, with its playful take on the dark side of suburbia, perfectly blending humour with heart. He's a truly distinctive filmmaker who also forges strong long-term relationships with terrific cast and crew.

Anna Smith's favourite scene of 2012

  • The shipwreck scene in ‘Life of Pi’ – one of the most breathtaking moments of cinema I’ve ever experienced.

Anna Smith's hope for 2013

  • I’d love to see more strong, intelligent female directors get their hands on comedies. Susanne Bier directs ‘Love Is All You Need’ in April which is a good start. I’ll be keeping an eye on what Jennifer Westfeldt (‘Friends With Kids’) does next and acting wise it’s been a great year for Emily Blunt – I’d be glad to see more of her in 2013.

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?