Top 25 Films of 2012: 15-11

I try to keep my mind as open as possible during the year, and as you start assembling a list like this you see there could be perceived slights. The fact of the matter is making this list was brutal. More than once I had to consider if I can stick to a previously made proclamation, more than once I jotted down additional titles to see if they could slide into the top 25.

15. ParaNorman

ParaNorman (2012, Focus Features)

Here’s a situation wherein I have to buck what my genre ranking would seem to dictate. This film ranks as #6 on the horror list but that is due to its handling and effectiveness of the horror elements within compared to “pure” horror films who aren’t splitting time, attempting to change tone and do multiple things. The completeness of emotional range and the things this tale does brings it up higher on this list than it goes on the horror list.

14. Killer Joe

Killer Joe (2011, LD Entertainment)

This film falls into a very particular niche of being dramatic, horrific, crime drama, neo-noir, batshit that falls into my wheelhouse because it all makes sense and works. You never knows what’s coming but everything that happens, as crazy as it is, makes sense, is effective and has a ton of impact. It’s filled with tremendous performances including those of Matthew McConaughey, Gina Gershon and Juno Temple, all the elements and performances are expertly handled by William Friedkin.

13. Holy Motors

Holy Motors (2012, Indomina)

This was perhaps the most impossible film to place, and another film that came to mind when writing my brief intro to this list. The fact of the matter is once I had seen and digested this film a bit I knew it had to make it on the list I knew I enjoyed watching it and eventually came to love it, but how to quantify where on this list it falls was beyond me. Because the list is so varied it ended up landing where it did just on intangible gut feeling and exemplifies that making the list and being considered among the best is what matters.

12. Skyfall

Skyfall (2012, MGM)

There are some films that are on this list where you can argue fanboydom and I couldn’t really give too much of a fight, but I am a casual Bond observer at best, and I absolutely love this installment. That alone was enough for me (obviously), but many of the die hards I know were also very impressed with this film. However, this film goes far beyond being just a great Bond film and nearly shed the Bond facade altogether at times. It’s sumptuously filmed and has set pieces that lend it surreal beauty, it takes an archetypal character and has his demons be as much an antagonist as his literal enemy, it takes symbolic placeholder characters and rounds them, and is yet another testament to John Logan‘s brilliance. I could give it even more accolades but suffice it to say it’s a franchise installment that has myself, and the faithful, clamoring for more.

11. The Avengers

The Avengers (2012, Disney/Paramount)

As mentioned above my list is pretty disparate, there are few titles that even come close to being apples to apples. The Avengers is one of the best times I had at the movies this year and upon release seemed like it was going to stand alone atop the loft superhero peak of this year, alas that was not to be. Again, it’s not really about a failing here (as each film dealt with a similar climactic plot device) but rather what else another superhero film did. Last year X-Men was up in this spot as top ranking. This year it’s second in the subgenre.