Top 40 Films of 2012

Here are the list of the best and most fantastic films released over the past year, ranging from comedies,, action-adventures, thrillers, and dramas:

40. Think Like a Man
Rated: PG-13 for sexual content, some crude humor, and brief drug use
Director: Tim Story (“Barbershop”)
Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Kevin Hart, Gabrielle Union
Synopsis: A feel-good romantic comedy about a group of young twentysomethings finding love in odd and hilarious ways.

Consensus: Although it contains a formulaic plot, Think Like a Man is a likable, sympathetic look at modern romance, led by an attractive and emotionally satisfying cast.  

39. Prometheus

RatedR for sci-fi violence including some intense images, and brief language
Director: Ridley Scott (“American Gangster,” “Blade Runner,” “Alien”)
Starring: Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassenbender, Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, Guy Pearce
Synopsis: In the distant future, a group of explorers discover a clue to the origins of mankind, leading them to a frightening and eerie venture into the dark depths of the universe. 

Consensus: Despite its attempt to recreate a similar feel to Alien and its anticipated sci-fi ambiguity, Prometheus displays some incredible elements: heart-pounding intensity, chaotic violence, fast-paced direction, and an engaging albeit complex plot.    


38. Ted

Rated: Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, and some drug use
Director: Seth MacFarlane (creator of “Family Guy”) 
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Seth MacFarlane, Joel McHale
Synopsis: A stoner comedy about the adventures of a young guy living with his trash-talking teddy bear, Ted, whom he had magically wished could talk one Christmas morning as a kid. 

Consensus: Yes, we know, it’s Seth MacFarlane’s debut film and it’s pretty predictable, but give credit to the fact that he actually does a pretty good job of providing irreverent and pervasive comedy with surprising heart and mellow sentimentality.


37. The Amazing Spider-Man

RatedPG-13 for sequences of action and violence
Director: Marc Webb (“500 Days of Summer”)
Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Dennis Leary, Martin Sheen
Synopsis: A young Peter Parker receives radioactive powers, produced by a mutated spider, causing him to shoot webs and detect danger. His newly discovered abilities transform into the superhero Spider-Man.

Consensus: Although The Amazing Spider-Man contains similar material to its predecessors and some undone plot points, it succeeds with a grabbing script, stylized direction, and an acceptable lead performance from Garfield as the everyday neighborhood Spider-Man.

36. We Need to Talk About Kevin

Rated: R for disturbing violence and behavior, some sexuality and language
Director: Lynne Ramsay (“Movern Callar”)
Starring: Tilda Swinton, John C. Reilly, Ezra Miller
Synopsis: A psychological thriller about a depressed mother who struggles to connect with her estranged, teenage son, only to realize that he might be plotting against her.

Consensus: Dark, frightening, and almost too intense, We Need to Talk About Kevin is a scarier yet engaging take on the mother-son relationship, providing audacious performances from Swinton and Miller, who plays the troubled Kevin.

35. Celeste & Jesse Forever

Rated: R for language, sexual content and drug use
Director: Lee Toland Kreiger (“The Vicious Kind”)
Starring: Rashida Jones, Andy Samberg, Elijah Wood
Synopsis: A feel-good rom-com about a young divorce couple, who try to maintain a steady friendship while pursuing other people.

Consensus: Celeste & Jesse Forever triumphs from its outstanding lead performances from both Jones and Samberg, as well as their undeniably compatible chemistry. 


34. Men in Black 3

RatedPG-13 for sci-fi action violence, and brief suggestive content
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld (“Get Shorty”)
Starring: Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin
Synposis: The third sequel to the sci-fi comedy, Men in Black III revolves around Agent J (Smith), who travels back in time on a mission to protect his friend and mentor, Agent K (Jones and Brolin), from being murdered by an alien. 

Consensus: Much improved from its predecessor, Men in Black III is a delightfully entertaining and refreshingly funny sequel, providing a unbelievably well-suited Brolin performing as a younger Jones. 

33. Chronicle

RatedPG-13 for intense action and violence, thematic material, some language, sexual content and teen drinking
Director: Josh Trank
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jorda
SynposisWhilst attending a party, three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery underground. Soon, though, they find their lives spinning out of control and their bond tested as they embrace their darker sides.

Consensus: Although some may think that the found-footage filmmaking is amateur, Chronicle is nevertheless an enthralling and thought-provoking sci-fi drama, brought on by a clever script and a young cast.

32. Pitch Perfect

Rated: PG-13 for sexual material, language and drug references
Director: Jason Moore (“Dawson’s Creek”)
Starring: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow, Rebel Wilson
SynposisBeca (Kendrick), a freshman at Barden University, is reluctantly persuaded into joining The Bellas, her school’s all-girls singing group. Injecting some much needed energy into their repertoire, The Bellas take on their male rivals in a campus competition.

Consensus: Coming off as one of 2012’s funniest, brightest, and spunkiest musical comedies, Pitch Perfect is a charming rom-com, succeeded by its wonderful cast, engaging performances, and a surprisingly hilarious breakthrough for newcomer Rebel Wilson. 


31. Rust and Bone

RatedR for strong sexual content, brief graphic nudity, some violence and language
Director: Jacques Audiard (“A Prophet”)
Starring: Marion Cotillard, Matthias Schoenaerts
SynposisPut in charge of his young son, a trouble street fighter leaves Belgium for Antibes to live with his sister and her husband as a family. His bond with Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, grows deeper after Stephanie suffers a horrible accident.

Consensus: Deep, sensual, and engrossing, Rust and Bone is a classic and beautifully told love story about troubled and conflicting romance.


30. Flight

RatedR for drug and alcohol abuse, language, sexuality/nudity and an intense action sequence
Director: Robert Zemeckis (“Forrest Gump”)
Starring: Denzel Washington, Bruce Greenwood, John Goodman
SynposisAn airline pilot saves a flight from crashing, but an investigation into the malfunctions reveals something troubling.

Consensus: Flight is both a tense action thriller and an intriguing character study, triumphed by Denzel Washington’s dedicated acting.


29. Frankenweenie

RatedPG for thematic elements, scary images and action
DirectorTim Burton (“Alice in Wonderland,” “Corpse Bride”) 
Starring: Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara, Martin Landau
SynposisYoung Victor conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous, consequences.

Consensus: Although it’s not as refreshing as Corpse Bride, Frankenweenie is another delightful animation by Burton, through its creative storytelling, dark characters, and charm. 

28. The Sessions

RatedR for strong sexuality including graphic nudity and frank dialogue
Director: Ben Lewin
Starring: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy
SynposisA man in an iron lung, who wishes to lose his virginity, contacts a professional sex surrogate with the help of his therapist and priest.

Consensus: Although The Sessions is rather unusual thematically, it never wavers with its appealing cast, kinky humor, and emotional depth. 
27. Compliance

RatedR for language and sexual content/nudity
Director: Craig Zobel
Starring: Ann Dowd, Dreama Walker, Pat Healy
SynposisWhen a prank caller convinces a fast food restaurant manager to interrogate an innocent young employee, no-one is left unharmed.

Consensus: Both groundbreaking and perceptive, Compliance delivers a fascinating and disturbing outlook on strip search prank call scams, as well as suspenseful dialogue and committed acting.

26. Brave

RatedPG for some scary action and rude humor
Director: Mark Andrews, Brenda Chapman
Starring: Kelly MacDonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson 
SynposisDetermined to make her own path in life, Princess Merida defies a custom that brings chaos to her kingdom. Granted one wish, Merida must rely on her bravery and her archery skills to undo a beastly curse.

Consensus: Although it’s not the best Pixar movie and its material is similar to How to Train Your DragonBrave still delivers beautiful animation, a touching story, and plenty of excitement to entertain kids.

25. ParaNorman

RatedPG for scary action and images, thematic elements, some rude humor and language
Director: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
SynposisA misunderstood boy takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse.

Consensus: Paranorman can be compared to other stop-motion flicks, such as Monster House, but still brings forth fantastic animation, a solid script, and genuine scares for both younger and older kids.

24. Wreck-It Ralph

RatedPG for some rude humor and mild action/violence
Director: Rich Moore
Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch
SynposisA video game villain wants to be a hero and sets out to fulfill his dream, but his quest brings havoc to the whole arcade where he lives.

Consensus: Colorful and charming, Wreck It Ralph is filled with fantastic animation, nostalgic references, and cute humor that both parents and children will love. 


23. Your Sister’s Sister

RatedR for language and some sexual content
Director: Lynn Shelton
Starring: Mark Duplass, Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt
SynposisIris (Blunt) invites her friend Jack (Duplass) to stay at her family’s island getaway after the death of his brother. At their remote cabin, Jack’s drunken encounter with Hannah (DeWitt), Iris’ sister, kicks off a revealing stretch of days.

Consensus: One of this year’s most underrated indie films, Your Sister’s Sister subverts cliché romantic melodramas with an interesting plot, delightful acting, and a loving sentiment. 

22. Amour

RatedPG-13 for mature thematic material including a disturbing act, and for brief language
Director: Michael Haneke
Starring: Jean-Louis Trintignant, Emmanuelle Riva, Isabelle Huppert
SynposisGeorges (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and Anne (Emmanuelle Riva) are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter (Isabelle Huppert), who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack. The couple’s bond of love is severely tested.

Consensus: Amour is an elegant and beautiful portrait of love, struggle, and passion that is embodied by its riveting leads, lovely script, and endearing message.


21. Smashed

RatedR for alcohol abuse, language, some sexual content and brief drug use
Director: James Ponsoldt
Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer 
SynposisA married couple whose bond is built on a mutual love of alcohol gets their relationship put to the test when the wife decides to get sober.

Consensus: Smashed delivers vivid authenticity, powerful performances from Paul and Winstead, and an insightful disclosure about the troubles with alcohol.

20. Beasts of the Southern Wild

RatedPG-13 for thematic material including child imperilment, some disturbing images, language and brief sensuality
Director: Benh Zeitlin
Starring: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry, and Levy Easterly
SynposisFaced with both her hot-tempered father’s fading health and melting ice-caps that flood her ramshackle bayou community and unleash ancient aurochs, six-year-old Hushpuppy must learn the ways of courage and love.

Consensus: Imaginative and wondrous, Beasts of the Southern Wild is both a poetic, visual masterpiece and an insightful story, from the view of a child, played magnificently by newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis

19. The Master

RatedRated R for sexual content, graphic nudity and language
Director: Paul Thomas Anderson (“Boogie Nights,” “Magnolia,” “There Will Be Blood”)
Starring: Joaquin Phoenix, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams
SynposisReturning from Navy service in World War II, a drifter enters into several breakdowns. Finally he stumbles upon a cult which engages in exercises to clear the emotions. He becomes deeply involved with them, but becomes concerned when it changes everything fundamental in his life.

Consensus: Enigmatic, beautifully directed, and superbly acted, The Master is a psychological drama that mixes dark humor with unwavering melodrama, which is achieved through both insight and absurdity. 

18. The Cabin in the Woods

RatedR for strong bloody horror violence and gore, language, drug use and some sexuality/nudity
Director: Drew Goddard
Starring: Chris Hemsworth, Richard Jenkins, Sigourney Weaver
SynposisFive friends go for a break at a remote cabin in the woods, where they get more than they bargained for. Together, they must discover the truth behind the cabin in the woods.

Consensus: Providing all the elements to a classic horror tale, The Cabin in the Woods is a sadistically funny and frightening monster flick. 

17. The Dark Knight Rises


Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language
Director: Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight series, “Inception”)
Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Morgan Freeman
SynposisDespite his tarnished reputation after the events of “The Dark Knight”, in which he took the rap for the crimes of hero-turned-villain Harvey Dent, Batman is once again compelled to avenge Gotham and its police force which is struggling to cope with madman Bane’s plans to destroy the city.

Consensus: Although it doesn’t live up to the standard of its predecessor, The Dark Knight Rises is a triumphant, ambitious, and intense conclusion to the Batman thrillogy.

16. The Hunger Games

RatedPG-13 for intense violent thematic material and disturbing images – all involving teens
Director: Gary Ross (“Seabiscuit,” “Pleasantville”)
Starring: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Huctherson, Liam Hemsworth
Synposis: In a futuristic America, young Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister’s place in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to compete.

Consensus: Aside from its controversial thematic material, The Hunger Games provides action-packed sequences (albeit slightly disturbing), an engaging story, and an earnest performance from Lawrence as the endangered Katniss Everdeen.

15. Looper

RatedR for strong violence, language, some sexuality/nudity and drug content
Director: Rian Johnson (“Brick,” “The Brothers Bloom”)
Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt, Jeff Daniels
SynposisIn 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits, the targets called loopers. A looper named Joe one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.

Consensus: Despite its complex plot, Looper offers stylish violence, stern dialogue, and a great, although unlikely, duo, comprised of Willis and Gordon-Levitt.

14. Safety Not Guaranteed

RatedR for language including some sexual references
Director: Colin Trevorrow
Starring: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson
SynposisThree magazine employees head out on an assignment to interview a guy who placed a classified ad seeking a companion for time travel.

Consensus: Another undervalued indie rom-com, Safety Not Guaranteed brings forth a refreshing script, heartfelt story, and charm from both Plaza and Duplass.

13. Lincoln

RatedPG-13 for an intense scene of war violence, some images of carnage and brief strong language
Director: Steven Spielberg (“War Horse,” “Munich,” “Jaws”)
Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones
SynposisAs the Civil War continues to rage, America’s president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.

Consensus: While Lincoln is overlong and slightly flawed, Daniel Day-Lewis’ effervescent performance strikes an uncanny resemblance to the 16th president. In addition, Lincoln‘s meaningful essence and relevance towards slavery and freedom, as well as its committed cast and thorough script,  is undoubtedly bold and captivating.

12. Les Miserables

Rated: PG-13 for suggestive and sexual material, violence, and thematic elements
Director: Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”)
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Russell Crowe
SynposisIn 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s daughter, Cosette. The fateful decision changes their lives forever.

Consensus: Despite its endless length and occasional bombastic material, Les Miserables is a heart-wrenching visual masterpiece, as well as a riveting adapted musical brought on by wonderful performances, dramatic vibe, and captivating direction.  

11. 21 Jump Street

RatedR for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, drug material, teen drinking and some violence 
Director: Phil Lord, Chris Miller
Starring: Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube
SynposisA pair of underachieving cops are sent back to a local high school to blend in and bring down a synthetic drug ring.

Consensus: One of this year’s funniest buddy-cop films, 21 Jump Street is a hilarious modern spin on the famous 80s crime show, with plenty of nostalgic themes, intriguing characters, an impeccable script, and uproarious performances from Hill and Tatum. 

10. Life of Pi

RatedPG for emotional thematic content throughout, and some scary action sequences and peril
Director: Ang Lee (“Brokeback Mountain,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”)
Starring: Suraj Sharma, Irrfan Khan
SynposisA young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with a fearsome Bengal tiger.

Consensus: Beautifully filmed, visually enchanting, and almost too good to be true, Life of Pi is a sincere adaptation from the supposedly “unfilmable” hit survival novel. 

9. Seven Psychopaths

RatedR for strong violence, bloody images, pervasive language, sexuality/nudity and some drug use
Director: Martin McDonaugh (“In Bruges”)
Starring: Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Walken
SynposisA struggling screenwriter inadvertently becomes entangled in the Los Angeles criminal underworld after his oddball friends kidnap a gangster’s beloved Shih Tzu.

Consensus: Seven Psychopaths is a darkly funny, sadistic crime comedy that dispatches plenty of crazy violence, clever dialogue, and character development.  

8. Django Unchained

RatedR for strong graphic violence throughout, a vicious fight, language and some nudity
Director: Quentin Tarintino (“Inglorious Basterds,” “Pulp Fiction,” “Kill Bill”)
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, Samuel L. Jackson
SynposisWith the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Consensus: Another entry into Quentin Tarintino’s genius yet controversial collection of ultra-violent films, Django Unchained is gritty, brutal, and sometimes cringing to watch, but it’s nevertheless impeccably acted, solidly scripted, artistic, and bold.

7. Zero Dark Thirty

RatedR for strong violence including brutal disturbing images, and for language
Director: Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”)
Starring: Jessica Chastian, Joel Edgerton, Chris Pratt
SynposisA chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May, 2011.

Consensus: Daring, fervent, and culturally relevant, Zero Dark Thirty is a bona fide action thriller that brings the Osama bin Laden manhunt to light with gripping sequences and open-minded perception. 

6. Silver Linings Playbook

RatedR for language and some sexual content/nudity
Director: David O. Russell (“The Fighter”)
Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert DeNiro, Jacki Weaver, Chris Tucker
SynposisAfter a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano (Cooper) moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany (Lawrence), a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

Consensus: It’s not exactly the most effective rom-com, but Silver Linings Playbook‘s best moments are insightful, endearing, and filled with passionate acting, careful direction, and a well-written screenplay. 

5. The Avengers

RatedPG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference
Director: Joss Whedon
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johanson, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans
SynposisNick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki and his army.

Consensus: The Avengers might just be the ultimate superhero film of modern cinema, but it also displays heart and depth from each character, as well as satisfying action sequences, a meticulously put-together plot, and even some humor.

4. The Perks of Being a Wallflower

RatedPG-13 for mature thematic material, drug and alcohol use, sexual content including references, and a fight – all involving teens
Director: Stephen Chbosky
Starring: Logan Lerman, Emma Watson, Ezra Miller
SynposisBased on the novel written by Stephen Chbosky, 15-year-old Charlie (Lerman), an endearing and naive outsider, copes with first love, the suicide of his best friend, and his own mental illness while struggling to find a group of people with whom he belongs. The introvert freshman is taken under the wings of two seniors, Sam (Watson) and Patrick (Miller), who welcome him to the real world. 

Consensus: An instant coming-of-age classic, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a sincere adaptation from the teenage novel reinforced by its astonishing leads, humorous script, sentimentality, and sensitive direction from writer-director Stephen Chbosky. 

3. Moonrise Kingdom

RatedPG-13 for sexual content and smoking
Director: Wes Anderson (“Fantastic Mr. Fox,” “Rushmore,” “The Darjeeling Limited”)
Starring: Bruce Willis, Edward Norton, Frances McDormand, Bill Murray, Jason Schwartzman, Tilda Swinton
SynposisA pair of young lovers flee their New England town, which causes a local search party to fan out and find them.

Consensus: Aside from its over-quirkiness, Moonrise Kingdom is not only a poignant and aesthetic portrait of young love, given its colorful feel, intricate detail, whimsy, and devoted acting, but possibly director Wes Anderson’s best and most distinctive out of his unconventional films.

2. Skyfall

RatedPG-13 for intense violent sequences throughout, some sexuality, language and smoking 
Director: Sam Mendes (“American Beauty,” “Revolutionary Road”)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Javier Bardem, Naomi Harris, Judi Dench
SynposisBond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her, bringing MI6 under attack.

Consensus: Perhaps the best Bond film and much improved from its forerunner, Skyfall is a fantastic spy drama, an insightful and intimate look at the esteemed 007, and an overall emotionally satisfying motion picture.

1. Argo


Rated: R for strong violence and language
Director: Ben Affleck (“The Town,” “Gone Baby Gone”)
Starring: Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman
SynposisA dramatization of the 1980 joint CIA-Canadian secret operation to extract six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran.

Consensus: Compelling, enthralling, bold, and unwavering, Argo is brought on by an outstanding star-studded cast, breathtaking intensity, and an immaculate script. It possibly Ben Affleck at his best, directing wise, and should be taking all the Oscar glory this coming year.

Note: Although I’ve seen most of the movies listed, I have not seen all of them. For the ones that I have not seen yet, I hope to see soon. My critiques on them are based off of movie trailers, rottentomatoes.com, and imdb.com.  

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