Best of 2012 – The year’s 10 best movies

Recently, we’ve been bringing you recaps of some of the best content HoboTrashcan had to offer in 2012. Obviously, a big part of the site is our movie reviews, so in addition to looking back at the best we had to offer, I thought it would be fun to put together my list of the best (and worst) Hollywood had to offer.

Obviously, a lot of these best and worst films lists get posted online this time of year. But the Internet was invented so people could argue about movie rankings. I figured it was my duty to put together a list of my own. Here’s the 10 best films I saw last year …

10. Life of Pi
The film is an extended allegory on the power of religion and the importance of belief. It lacks any real subtly or finesse in explaining that allegory, but it is still the most visually-stunning film I saw this year and, allegory or no, the bulk of the film, in which Pi and a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker are trapped in a lifeboat together, is gripping and solidly entertaining. It also is one of the few 3D films to actually use the technology in a worthwhile way.

9. Argo
I jumped on the Ben Affleck bandwagon right after watching The Town. I’m surprised at just what a great director he’s become. Unfortunately, while I thought Argo was a nice film with a great premise, I was a bit disappointed by it overall. It features great performance, particularly by Alan Arkin and John Goodman, and some wonderful scenes, but Affleck’s decision to abandon reality in favor of an over-the-top Hollywood action movie ending really left a bad taste in my mouth.

8. The Sessions
If you told me the woman from Mad About You and the brother from Eastbound and Down were getting together to make a movie about a 38-year-old man losing his virginity, I would have thought you were talking about a bizarre raunchy comedy, most likely one directed by the Farrelly brothers. Instead, the story of Mark O’Brien, a thoughtful and charming man confined to an iron lung, ends up being a sweet and touching love story that deals with the handicapped in a frank way that is rarely seen in our society.

7. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World
It starts as a dark comedy featuring a cavalcade of talented comedic actors throwing out all of the rules of polite society in the face of an unavoidable Apocalypse, then transitions effortlessly into a quieter film about two lost people who find each other during the most dire of circumstances. The comedy is great and the emotional scenes work. Plus it has a really enjoyable soundtrack. This one seemed to get lost in the shuffle during the summer blockbuster season, but I recommend finding it and giving it a shot.

6. Django Unchained
Pacing problems and a lackluster performance by Jamie Foxx mar an otherwise entertaining film. The ending drags and Foxx gives a performance that feels flat and inaccessible, but the supporting pieces are strong enough to pick up the slack. Leonardo DiCaprio gives one of the best performances of his career, while Christoph Waltz and Samuel L. Jackson also shine. And it features some great comedic moments and captivating action sequences.

5. The Dark Knight Rises
I still feel like this movie was made just for me. Reading the Knightfall storyline as a child, I’ve always loved the character of Bane (a love which was further fueled by the excellent work Gail Simone did in Secret Six). I loved Christopher Nolan’s take on the character, as well as Tom Hardy’s performance. It never could have lived up to the colossal expectations set by The Dark Knight, but for Nolan’s swan song to Batman, I thought it was a fitting end.

4. Marvel’s The Avengers
I’m still amazed Disney pulled this one off. With all of the hype they generated with each of the characters’ standalone films, it seems like nothing could have lived up to fan expectations. But with Joss Whedon at the helm, they delivered. Every character gets a chance to shine, the story has the proper sense of grandeur and the action scenes are all presented perfectly. What Disney and Marvel did with this franchise should be the textbook for all future comic book films.

3. Looper
I’ll admit that I’m a sucker for time travel stories. But what sets Looper apart is what it does with the time travel conceit. The film uses it to put three opposing forces at odds with each other – young Joe, older Joe and a child who will grow up to be a monster. What makes the film so enjoyable is that you are never quite sure who to side with. There aren’t any easy answers in this one, which makes it a really suspenseful and thrilling head trip.

2. Flight
I’m honestly surprised that this film didn’t resonate with a larger audience. I haven’t been a fan of Robert Zemeckis’ recent CGI films, but I thought in his return to live action, he put together a great film with a thoughtful and authentic take on heroism and alcoholism. My only guess is that people went into this film expecting something completely different from what they got. Still, Denzel Washington’s performance is fantastic, the film has one of the best airplane crashes in cinematic history and, to me, the whole thing is a really solid redemption story that doesn’t feel overly Hollywoodized.

1. Zero Dark Thirty
Kathryn Bigelow’s follow up to The Hurt Locker doesn’t disappoint. Her take on the 10-year hunt for Osama bin Laden avoids the pitfall Ben Affleck fell into when making Argo of rewriting history to make it feel bigger and more cinematic. She never glamorizes the operation or tells her audience how to feel, which is refreshing. Plus, it’s just a damn fine movie, filled with suspense, action and tragedy.

Written by Joel Murphy. If you enjoy his reviews, he also writes a weekly pop culture column called Murphy’s Law, which you can find here. You can contact Joel at

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