Best films of 2012

21:11, Dec 12 2012

It's time to name my 10 favourite films of 2012.

I'm naming 10 films because we have 10 fingers and so the number seems significant to us.

The only rule is that a film must have had a genuine theatrical release this year, so festival films don't count. Sadly, that excludes the magnificent Cabin in the Woods.

Also, some of these films were released in 2011 in most other countries, so they look odd on this list. I refer you to my earlier rant on this.

For the first time in many years there is not a Pixar film or a winter blockbuster in my top 10 of the year. Pixar's Brave was entertaining but not the masterpiece we have come to expect every year from the studio. Perhaps we have been spoilt year after year with the likes of WALL-E, Up and Ratatouille.

The blockbuster season felt a little overblown and tired to me this year. Dark Knight Rises and Avengers were both entertaining, but felt a bit lumpen, obligatory and sluggish. For me, the best action movie I saw this year was Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol. It was fun, refreshing and thrilling. But, sadly, that film was released in New Zealand at the end of last year and so it can't feature in my list.


So, anyway, here goes:


Attack the block

Film of the year. An immaculate low-budget sci-fi that borrows perfect amounts of John Carpenter, Walter Hill, Goonies, Ghoulies and Gremlins to create an original classic. Joe Cornish is a debut director to watch. Funny, thrilling and visually inventive. Loved it.

The Artist

It seems this film came out last year because it made a big splash around the world in 2011. Easy to forget this cuddly gem. It was gorgeous.

The Descendants

George Clooney delivers a beautifully vulnerable performance as a character trying to hold his family and his family legacy together in this moving, understated and perfect little film. I feel that this was a little overlooked.

The Grey

Stunning Herzogian survival drama that stares into the abyss and then punches a wolf right in the face. Do movies get any better?

A sucker punch of a film that promises Taken-style absurdity, but delivers something like a 1970s existential survival drama. Special.

We need to talk about Kevin

A gruelling and disturbing psychological thriller with more than a touch of Nicholas Roeg. Powerful, bleak and unblinking with an incredible central performance from Tilda Swinton. I have never seen a better argument for not having children.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Great cast, gripping plot, tight direction and stunning production design. It smelled of overstewed tea, wet wool, pipe tobacco, paranoia and moral compromise. What a movie.

Margin call

I wrote about this one and the next the other week. A great cast flexing their actor muscles with a script worthy of David Mamet.


A thrill ride where you don't know where the next plot turn will take you. A genuinely plucky hero who just keeps on fighting. It had me gasping aloud in surprise and excitement. I know that sounds corny, but honestly.


It's an instant classic. True to the Bond heritage, yet modern at the same time. Classy, thoughtful, interesting and damn entertaining. Made me proud to be a Pom.

Moonrise Kingdom

It was good to see Wes Anderson back on form with a surprisingly touching story from a director better known for his quirky hipsterisms than his warm sincerity.

Honorable mentions

21 Jump Street, Good for nothing, Coriolanus, Hope Springs, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (US), Killing Them Softly, Shame, John Carter and Frankenweenie.

So, there you go. What do you think of my choices? What's your top 10 of 2012? Should Dark Knight Rises have made the cut?

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