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

Guy Lodge's best films of 2012

  • 1


    A dreamy, semi-silent colonial romance wrapped in absurdist contemporary comedy, Miguel Gomes's monochrome marvel is a love letter to cinema, sure, but also to love itself.

  • 2

    The Master

    Forget Scientology: Paul Thomas Anderson's mesmerisingly elastic new film finds Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman playing out one of the year's saddest love stories.

  • 3

    Damsels in Distress

    After a 13-year hiatus, Whit Stillman showed not a hint of rust in this defiantly daffy ode to campus life, dance crazes and the quicksilver charms of Greta Gerwig.

  • 4


    Andrei Zvyagintsev outdoes ‘The Return’ with a crystalline morality tale, unpicking the class structures of modern-day Russia with positively Chekhovian acuity and wit.

  • 5

    Magic Mike

    The posters emphasised the man-candy, and there was plenty of it, but Steven Soderbergh's cool character study delves far beneath the bronzed skin of American masculinity.

Guy Lodge's worst film of 2012

  • The Knot

    2012 was overrun with terrible wedding comedies and terrible films written by Noel Clarke: this shocker represented the nadir of both trends.

Guy Lodge's film hero of 2012

  • Alfred Hitchcock – He's been dead since 1980, but in one year, he's toppled ‘Citizen Kane’ from the 'greatest film of all time' podium, headlined a blockbuster BFI revival season and is the subject of two new biopics. Who did more in 2012?

Guy Lodge's favourite scene of 2012

  • Kylie Minogue's musical number in 'Holy Motors' – ‘Who were we when we were who we were back then?’ warbles Kylie wistfully as she stalks an abandoned department store in the most moving, melancholy interlude from Leos Carax's bonkers Parisian fantasia.

Guy Lodge's hope for 2013

  • For long-absent directors to deliver. Jonathan Glazer is returning after nine years away with ‘Under the Skin’, Alfonso Cuaron after seven with ‘Gravity’, Wong Kar-wai after six with ‘The Grandmasters’. These are all ambitious genre projects from master stylists.

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?