This is the fourth official list in my “Top 5 Discoveries of 2012” series. To see my music list, click here. To see my television list, click here. To see my books list, click here. To better appreciate my approach to making these lists, please read the brief introduction to this series (posted here).
I watch a lot of movies. But for all the movies I watch, fairly few of them are seen in the theater. I see about a dozen movies in the theater per calendar year, and yet I probably watch an average of 3 to 4 movies per week. That makes it hard for me to narrow down my top five selections for the year, even if I include movies that were released prior to 2012. To give myself just a little bit of leeway, I’ve decided to post two movie lists. My first list—this one—will be only of movies that were released in 2012. In a forthcoming list, I will present my top five movies watched in 2012 but that were released in a previous year.
I feel I should mention that I have not seen several popular and/or critically acclaimed 2012 films. I’m eager to see Django Unchained, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Les Miserables, all of which are still in theaters. Because I see so few films in theaters, most of the 2012 films I’ve seen were released earlier in the year. Add to that the fact that I don’t have an overly convenient way of looking back at what movies I watched during 2012. Taking these things into account, my list of top five discoveries in 2012 movies should be taken as less than definitive.
5. The Amazing Spider-Man
3. The Hunger Games
a previous entry, wherein I concluded that God would indeed watch R-rated movies of this caliber. I mention this again here because it speaks to how good of a film Argo really is. It says something when a film leaves you wanting to discuss not so much the technical aspects of filmmaking, but the nature of humanity. Argo couldn’t have done this nearly so effectively if it were not technically brilliant, and yet that is overshadowed by the story itself. As a reminder, Argo is based on actual events surrounding the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-81. The best films achieve this—they are so excellently crafted that the inherently fabricated nature of the medium that is film becomes completely transparent, and all that we are left to see and remember and ponder are the people whose stories get told. This is true even when those stories are fictional, but of course, when the movie is based on actual events, it is all the more poignant. If I had one 2012 film that I could force everyone to watch, it would be Argo.