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Script Doctor Eric

This “Best of 2012” list is a part of the Great Movie Challenge of 2012.  For all of the “Best of” lists, please see the post: All the Best Movies of 2012 Lists. -Eric

Best Movies of 2012


Brian Lee, MFA 


01 ONCE UPON A TIME IN ANATOLIA – Murder mystery as tone poem in the Turkish countryside, incredibly nuanced commentary on characters’ lives.

02 HOLY MOTORS – Leos Carax and Denis Lavant team up again in a wonderfully bizarre, almost indescribable flight of fancy.

03 THIS IS NOT A FILM – Deconstructs narrative and reality as well as highlighting the state of Iranian cinema.

04 AMOUR – Unflinching look at aging and death, powerful performances from Trintignant and Riva.

05 MASTER, THE – Perfectly captures the strangeness of the post-WWII era and the emotional struggle between two twisted men.

06 JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI – Both inpsiring and depressing, what complete commitment looks like.

07 56 UP – The latest installment in what Ebert called “the most noble use of film,” this is real humanity in the age of “reality” shows.

08 DAMSELS IN DISTRESS – I’d been waiting for years for the next Whit Stillman film, he didn’t disappoint.

09 MOONRISE KINGDOM – Childhood is the perfect subject for Anderson.

10 5 BROKEN CAMERAS – The Israeli/Palestinian conflict is so compelling almost any documentary would be near the top of my list.

11 INTO THE ABYSS – Herzog stares death in the eye, again.

12 OSLO 31, AUGUST – Graceful deptiction of a day in the life of a recovering addict.

13 BULLHEAD – If Scorcese made a gangster movie about the illicit bovine hormone trade in rural Belgium.

14 GERHARD RICHTER PAINTING – At times opaque, it was an interesting look at an artist showing some vulnerability in front of the camera.

15 HAYWIRE – For me, the perfect action film, long takes, no shakey camera, awesome stunts, Gina Carano is a superstar.

16 DJANGO UNCHAINED – QT has got the revenge flick down pat.

17 TURIN HORSE – Bleak and nearly silent, this was almost unbearable but in a good way.

18 ZERO DARK THIRTY – Tense and understated, I still questioned the verisimilitude of much of this film.

19 SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK – Although I wasn’t excited by the subject matter or the trailer, I correctly put my faith in David O. Russell.

20 TAKE THIS WALTZ – Emotionally wrenching, Sarah Polley is very talented.

21 HEADHUNTERS – Clever and amusing, why are Scandinavians so good at thrillers these days?

22 AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY – More about Ai WeiWei the activist than the Ai WeiWei the artist, my favorite parts were when he had to talk about his child out of wedlock.

23 PATIENCE: AFTER SEBALD – A meditation on one of my favorite writers, it is a mimetic journey through his book, The Rings of Saturn.

24 KLOWN – Raunchy Danish equivalent of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

25 2 DAYS IN NEW YORK – Julie Delpy is so funny as a writer, director, and actor. This follow-up to 2 Days in Paris had a much more hopeful outloook.

26 HELL AND BACK AGAIN – I first saw footage from this on a Frontline about Afghanistan. An all too familiar story about a veteran adjusting back home.

27 KID WITH A BIKE, THE – Dardennes brothers have never missed the mark. They show what families can be at their best and worst.

28 QUEEN OF VERSAILLES – Funny and ironic look at capitalistic excess during the Great Recession.

29 TURN ME ON, DAMMIT! – This Norwegian movie was like a female Superbad, more naturalistic but just as funny.

30 CHRONICLE – This is the last “found footage” movie I will tolerate. Still, the core of the movie was the relationships between the three protagonists.

31 LOCKOUT – I love a sarcastic, quipping Guy Pearce, especially if he’s on a space fortress.

32 AVENGERS – Ridiculous plot but Whedon has just the right touch for superhero movies that don’t take themselves seriously.


33 BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD – I don’t know. The racial politics of this made me squirm a bit. But it’s lyrical in the vein of Malick.

34 HUNGER GAMES, THE – Much better than I thought it would be. The only things holding it back were the source material and the frenetic editing.

35 CABIN IN THE WOODS, THE – It’s really clever and funny but kind of just thew it away in the end.

36 DARK KNIGHT RISING – We don’t need any more of these.

37 SLEEPWALK WITH ME – Birbiglia is funny. Lauren Ambrose is so good. But I’d heard so much of this material before the movie underwhelmed me.

38 FRIENDS WITH KIDS – It starts out great but ends up so conventionally I couldn’t shake the feeling it could have been much better.

39 21 JUMP STREET – Probably one of the best tv show adaptations I’ve seen in a long time.

40 MAGIC MIKE – Matthew McConaughey is gross.

41 PINA – I wish there was more of Pina Bausch’s productions and less of the weird staring head interviews.

42 FLIGHT – Denzel plays a great drunk. But I could only roll my eyes when I realized what was going to happen in the climactic scene.

43 TIM & ERIC’S BILLION DOLLAR MOVIE – This stuff is better suited for television but their genius still shines through.

44 COMEDY, THE – Talk about depressing. I almost don’t see the point of this movie yet I still felt like it captured some slice of real life.

45 GOD BLESS AMERICA – A bit too on the nose but funny.

46 LOOPER – I expected more from Rian Johnson. This world just didn’t make sense to me. It’s a cool concept though and I love Jeff Daniels as a crime boss.


47 HUNTER, THE – So slow for no reason. A lot of indie movie tropes here.

48 HOBBIT, THE: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY – Not painful to watch but probably unnecessary.

49 TED – Mildly amusing jokes.

50 WANDERLUST – White people problems.

51 DICTATOR, THE – There were some really funny scenes in here. The parts in between were lackluster.

52 FIVE-YEAR ENGAGEMENT, THE – White people problems.

53 THIS MUST BE THE PLACE – I could not get past Sean Penn’s make up and voice.

54 HOW MUCH DOES YOUR BUILDING WEIGH, MR. FOSTER? – Despite the beautiful shots of buildings, this movie bordered on hagiography and so I feel I learned nothing.


55 AMAZING SPIDERMAN, THE – Completely unnecessary and filmmaking by rote.

56 JOHN CARTER – The movie tried to pack too much into it. It didn’t feel epic, just busy.

57 FRONT LINE, THE – Koreans have also gotten good at making stylish action movies that have no resemblance to reality.

58 TOTAL RECALL – The CGI views of the city were awesome.

59 RAID, THE: REDEMPTION – I am a big fan of B-movie action but the gore and fighting in this got to be so repetitive.

60 WATCH, THE – So many people I like are involved in this movie but sometimes the whole is worse than the sum of its parts.

61 VIRAL FACTOR, THE – Cheesy and dumb.

62 PROMETHEUS – All the characters were irrational and unbelievable, there was no narrative logic. What was left was a kind of a cool premise.

63 SKYFALL – James Bond outruns and outfoxes an explosion by running into a side tunnel. Lots of cliches. Bardem’s haircut was perfect.

64 GREY, THE – The camera work was fun to watch. The emotional component was contrived.


65 LAWLESS – Shia Lebouf bad. Tom Hardy wasted. Jessica Chastain also wasted.

66 SNOW WHITE AND THE HUNTSMAN – Flashy, stylish but hollow.

67 MAN WITH THE IRON FIST – RZA really disappointed me. I know classic kung fu movies make no sense storywise but we’ve seen too many well done wuxia movies by now.

68 RED TAILS – Lucas really screwed up his chance at making a great war movie with an all black cast. Tuskegee Airmen deserve a better movie.

69 SAFE HOUSE – Another dull rogue secret agent movie.

70 PROJECT X – Let’s party dudes. We’re douchebags.

71 BATTLESHIP – They really got some details about the navy right and a lot of details about the world and reality wrong.

72 RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION – This is the Paul Anderson that is always at the bottom of my list.

73 ONE FOR THE MONEY – Why is Katherine Heigl so bad at choosing roles. And acting?

74 THIS MEANS WAR – White people problems combined with another dull rogue secret agent movie.

75 WHAT TO EXPECT WHEN YOU’RE EXPECTING – What to expect when you’re expecting a really terrible movie.

At least you didn’t see This Means War in the theater.  Seriously. -Eric

Related posts:

  1. Best Movies of 2012 by Zac Sanford
  2. Best Movies of 2012 by Phillip Mottaz
  3. Best Movies of 2012 by Jim Crose
  4. Best Movies of 2012 by Patrick Short