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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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4. Sister – A scrawny 14-year-old hustler (Kacey Mottet Klein) and his wayward older sister (Léa Seydoux) are the improbable survivalists in this beautifully acted Swiss drama, directed by Ursula Meier, which in flashes stands comparison with “The 400 Blows.”

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5. Photographic MemoryRoss McElwee has been documenting his life for decades and never more touchingly than in this film, in which he seeks out his errant son and attempts to reach back into his own past as a way to connect with his future.

6. The Secret World of Arrietty – This is a lyrical hand-drawn animated marvel, based on “The Borrowers” books, from Japan’s Studio Ghibli by way of Disney. Hiromasa Yonebayashi made his feature-film debut from a script co-written by his mentor Hayao
Miyazaki, whose deft genius is felt throughout.

7. Holy MotorsLeos Carax’s phantasmagoric joyride, with the shape-shifty Denis Lavant morphing into disguise after disguise, is arguably the year’s strangest movie. The strangeness casts a lingering, night-blooming spell.

8. The Gatekeepers – Six former leaders of Israel’s Shin Bet security force open up to director Dror Moreh and lay out in uncompromising, excruciating detail their country’s post-1967 history. Nothing else like it has come out of the Middle East.

9. The Invisible WarKirby Dick’s documentary brings a human face to this staggering statistic: The US military estimates that 1 in 5 women has been the target of sexual assault.

10. BernieRichard Linklater’s true-crime black comedy, about a model citizen who isn’t, is a true original featuring a daringly tricky performance by Jack Black.

Besides films favorably referred to in the intro, other notables include: “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Patang,” “A Cat in Paris,” “Room 237,” “The Loneliest Planet,” “Unforgivable,” and “Trishna.” Track these films down. They’re worth it.

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