The best films of 2012
Monitor film critic Peter Rainer remembers some of the gems he saw over the past year and those films that weren't worth his time.
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Terrific performances often graced not-so-terrific movies. Jennifer Lawrence is a wonderment in the overrated, annoyingly nutsoid “Silver Linings Playbook,” in which a highly disturbed man who has beaten someone to a pulp is somehow made to seem as benign as a goofball in a Judd Apatow comedy. I loved Christopher Walken in “A Late Quartet,” Marion Cotillard in “Rust and Bone,” and John Hawkes and Helen Hunt in “The Sessions” – all movies about grave physical infirmity and with a slightly higher-than-usual suds quotient.Skip to next paragraph
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I’m also glad to see some attention being paid by Hollywood to characters over the age of 27. Quaint as they are, movies like “Hope Springs,” “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” and “Quartet” (a limited run starts Dec. 28) at least acknowledge the fact that people who haven’t the slightest idea how to work an iPhone are still worth making a movie about. The most acclaimed movie about aging this year came from France, Michael Haneke’s “Amour,” which I found more morbid than moving.
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But enough back talk. Here’s my 10 Best list, plus some additional worthies:
1. The Master – Paul Thomas Anderson’s movie, loosely suggested by the early career of L. Ron Hubbard, was not an audience favorite, but it’s the most adventurous and disturbing and emotionally complex movie I saw all year, with a performance by Joaquin Phoenix that is almost prehensile in its power to hold the screen.
2. This Is Not a Film – The great Iranian director Jafar Panahi, under house arrest and forbidden by the authorities to make movies, crafted, with the help of Mojtaba Mirtahmasb, this clandestine video essay that heartbreakingly expresses both his loss and his indomitability.
3. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia – A Turkish police procedural about the search for a buried body in desolate Anatolia slowly, inevitably, becomes a meditation on the nature of love and loss and violence and truth. Writer-director Nuri Bilge Ceylan maintains a rapt, unwavering gaze.