ScreenAnarchy's Best of 2012: The Greatest Movie of All Time (of 2012)

Contributor; Seattle, Washington
ScreenAnarchy's Best of 2012: The Greatest Movie of All Time (of 2012)

In 2012, the ScreenAnarchy family has grown even more global. With a line-up of contributors that stretches right around the planet, we've had the means to see a huge proportion of the new films that have emerged in the past 12 months from some of the world's most far-flung regions - and we want to tell you all about them! Whether they be the ones we love, the ones we hate, or all those that fall somewhere in between, we want to share. 

So enjoy ScreenAnarchy's Greatest Movie of All Time (of 2012)!


Todd Brown - Founder and editor

Looper (dir. Rian Johnson)

My expectations were sky high and Rian Johnson matched and beat them all with a fabulously well written, well acted and well executed film that proves you don't have to be boring to be smart, and that being smart doesn't mean you can't have soul. I won't spoil the shot for those who haven't seen it but the final sequence was just masterfully done, the coin dropping for the audience as far as what was going to happen just before it did so you got to feel both smart for being right and horrible for being right and leave the cinema with a big lump in your throat. I love this movie.

Jason Gorber Contributing Writer

Looper (dir. Rian Johnson)

After the dust settled, and I toyed with a love of docs like The Imposter, or lyrical films like Life of Pi or Moonrise Kingdom, it all came back to Looper. No other film came closer to that fine line for me, that magical moment when something is so close to slipping into failure, yet constantly surprises you by taking yet another turn that elevates the whole. On repeat viewing I find it holds up splendidly, and still find it deserving of praise.


Ryland Aldrich - Festivals Editor

Beasts of the Southern Wild (dir. Ben Zeitlin)

Benh Zeitlin's Beasts of the Southern Wild is my favorite film of 2012 and a whimsical tale that takes the audience on a beautiful, emotional ride (you can find my review here). Zeitlin and Dan Romer's score is probably the best of the year and the performances by first-timers Quevenzhané Wallis and Dwight Henry are remarkable. There has been plenty said about this film, suffice to say it completely worked for me, and I was swept away into Zeitlin's incredible world.


Kwenton Bellette - Contributing Writer

Zero Dark Thirty (dir. Kathryn Bigelow)

It is kind of impossible to pick one film, considering you cannot really compare a stop-motion animation with a post-war live-action fable. That said, the films that always enter my head upon hearing the words "best of 2012" are the festival eye-opener Berberian Sound Studio, for snapping me out of the non-genre deluge of films, Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty, which instantly reminds me of the near-perfect Zodiac, and the sublime period epic A Royal Affair. Each film brings with it minute obsessions that I have savored considerably and each has left me in a trance for days on end, permeating my daydreams and lingering in my restful dreams. These are the kinds of films that refuse to be ignored and must be submitted into this canon of amazing Cinema of 2012. Noticeably, each is about obsession, a topic that always interests me and a notion that brings humanity to its knees, as witnessed very differently in each of these incredible features.


Joshua Chaplinsky - Contributing Writer

Final Cut - Ladies and Gentlemen (dir. Gyorgy Palfi)

In my review earlier this year, I made the bold statement that Gyorgy Palfi's Final Cut - Ladies and Gentlemen might be the greatest film about film ever made. I stand by my hyperbole. If you disagree, then you at least have to admit it is the greatest film about film ever made this year. On top of that, it is my favorite film of the year. You know that childlike feeling of wonderment we so rarely experience these days because we've become so jaded? This film made me feel that - for 85 minutes. This film is pure love of Cinema.


Pierce Conran - Contributing Writer

Sleepless Night (dir. Jang Kun-jae)

Shuffling into a movie theater at 9am at the height of summer, I hardly expected the 65-minute no-budget Korean indie Sleepless Night to become my favorite film of the year but, as we prepare to ring in 2013, that's where things stand. Jang Kun-jae's film feels real in a way that would be impossible to fabricate: It pulsates with life. Outwardly simple and yet richly evocative, it achieves a balance of realism and poetry that touched me deeply, and continues to affect me long after I first saw it. Sporting a pair of sublimely naturalistic performances, Sleepless Night is about normal people and ordinary circumstances, yet it is electrifying. I am not married and children are probably a long way off but I can appreciate where these characters are coming from. I like them, I understand them, I feel like one of them, and, ultimately, I want the same thing they do: to be happy.


Peter Gutiérrez - Contributing Writer

Oslo, August 31st (dir. Joachim Trier)

In terms of inducing wonder and delight, no film that I saw in 2012 eclipsed Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom. Yes, for certain stretches Leos Carax's Holy Motors came close, and if you ask me again, after multiple viewings of both, I may be embarrassed to recall these assessments. Interestingly, though, neither of these films is the one I'd put on a pedestal - or, to be a bit more forthright, neither is one that I'd say really changed me. That would have to be Joachim Trier's Oslo, August 31st.

Yes, I know it screened at Cannes in 2011, and so plenty of people saw it prior to 2012, but for me this was the year's major work from those I had a chance to catch. In my personal canon of greats, you should know, is Bergman, Antonioni, Fellini, Dreyer - so that's where I'm coming from, and the kind of status I assign to Oslo, August 31st.

To start, I'd say that Anders Danielsen Lie's performance is heartbreaking, except that sounds too trite... "soul-breaking" is probably more accurate. Together, he and Trier reveal the thousand little moments that are accrued to reach a tipping point, the place where a human life gets pushed in an irrevocable direction. Yet Trier doesn't pummel us into submission. Instead, he constructs his film like a symphony: we hear a variety of melodies in the forefront while in the background, everpresent, are the low-pitched strings of anomie and despair. Most remarkably, while we certainly identify, often intensely, with the protagonist, we also see ourselves in those with whom he interacts, all his well-meaning but largely ineffectual friends and acquaintances.

This dimensionality is what makes the film a shattering experience. Its honesty in showing beauty and hope even in the fading light is what makes it a great work of tragedy.


Kurt Halfyard - Contributing Writer

The Master (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)

The Master was the fullest cinematic package of 2012. Too dense to even begin to unpack on a single viewing, it featured the best direction, the best performances (three of them, with Amy Adams being the most subtle, but hardly the least!), the best cinematography and one of the best musical scores. P. T. Anderson has fully left his Altman years behind him and is tilling rich new soil in the vein of one Stanley Kubrick. If there is one film that people will still be talking about 25 year from now, it is this one.

James Marsh - Asian Editor

The Master (dir. Paul Thomas Anderson)

The Master. No other film has provoked more debate about the language and medium of Cinema this year than Paul Thomas Anderson's epic portrait of masculinity in turmoil. Boasting sublime performances from Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, opulent imagery from Mihai Malaimare Jr., and an overwhelming aesthetic of filmmaking from a bygone era, The Master may not say much narratively, but speaks volumes about filmmaking - and film exhibition - at a time when the very fabric of the artform is in a perilous state of flux and irrevocable transition.


J Hurtado - Contributing Writer

Holy Motors (dir. Leos Carax)

Well, since I already listed Eega in a previous list, I'm going to go with my number two choice here, Holy Motors. As much as I adore this film, I'm ecstatic that I was not assigned to review it because my head would have exploded. I have no idea why I love this film the way I do, but it speaks to me on so many levels. Holy Motors is all things to all people, and when a decidedly avant garde film can get a release and reception like this one has, it's time to sit up and take notice. If you haven't seen it yet, find a way, it's an unforgettable experience.

Shelagh M. Rowan-Legg - Contributor

Holy Motors (dir. Leos Carax)

Bold. Brash. Sublime. Enigmatic. Pretentious. Boring. So many adjectives have been used to describe Carax's incredible opus, Holy Motors. I wouldn't necessarily disagree with some of the more negative ones (except boring), this film is a love letter to Cinema, especially European Cinema, and that of the more avant-garde leaning.

It's also the story of one man's daily masquerade; it is not that Monsieur Oscar is trying to find his own identity; rather that he has none, and each persona is one part of himself that he is allowed to let play. Is he God? An Angel? I lean more to him as some kind of Trickster (not necessarily an evil one). With his driver Céline as the angel who transports him to from one scenario to the next, the film is a kind of Parisian experimental version of Quantum Leap, though Oscar is not always making things right, but serving as catalyst, comforter, kidnapper, father figure, lover, killer. As ScreenAnarchy's Brian Clark said, this film is a breathe of fresh air, never asking or even wanting any kind of definition or analysis of its themes or subtext. Both joyful and melancholic, angry and sad, heartfelt and heartbroken, it's hard not to be in awe, or dream of having an accordion band following you around.

Ben Umstead - East Coast Editor

Holy Motors (dir. Leos Carax)

All right, dear readers, so how many of us picked Holy Motors? And with so much bright, shiny love for Leos Carax's film out there already, what is there left to say? I'd rather just go and watch the film again, then skip down the street in utter ecstasy, because as it is, Holy Motors is Holy Cinema. Holy Motors is hilarious. It is absurd and reflective. It is tragic, whimsical and sobering. It is the film that prompted me to call my parents minutes after I got out of the theater, ordering them to go and see it as soon as it was humanly possible, which was thankfully just a few weeks later. In the phone conversation that followed, my dad told me it was one of the best films he had ever seen and that Denis Levant reminded him of Charlie Chaplin. He then asked me if Levant's massive erection was real or just a prosthetic. "It was real, dad," I replied (it was real, wasn't it?). There's little doubt in my mind that Holy Motors is a movie we're going to be talking about for years; a defining work for this generation of "films", as the very notion of that word -- film -- is being transposed from its literal analog origins to its present day use as a nostalgic descriptor in the digital domain.

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Ard Vijn - Contributing Writer

The Avengers (dir. Joss Whedon)

Just about the only film which managed to either confirm or exceed all my hopes for it this year (apart from Dredd 3D) was The Avengers. When I started collecting comics decades ago I was fascinated by the whole conceopt that the superheroes basically shared the same universe and occasionally crossed over. For me, The Avengers totally captured the wild abandon and over-the-top antics of the huge hero pile-ups Marvel and DC construed in those days, each new incident being more epic and silly than the last. I left the cinema totally satisfied, a bit exhilarated even. Was it perfect? No, but then again to be honest, neither were the comics. Does it work as pulp entertainment? Oh hell yes, and then some.

This film scratched all the itches I had when I entered the cinema. I wanted a big and dumb spectacle and got it. And for the first time in years I wasn't being totally insulted at the same time. Loved it!

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