The 25 Best Films of 2012

12/17/2012 5:00 AM |


15. Once Upon a Time in Anatolia
Nuri Bilge Ceylan
As a murder investigation proceeds through the night, the inevitable deviations from, and lulls in, the routine afford a view onto the heavy human condition. Writer-director Ceylan, regarded as Turkish cinema’s MVP, had seemed to be on a diminishing-returns career path, but Anatolia arrived in early January only to cast a long shadow over an entire calendar year’s worth of releases. Benjamin Mercer


14. Deep Blue Sea
Terence Davies
The director slowly takes us through the unraveling of a marriage and an affair, bringing wonderful cinematic flourish to a portrayal of tightly wound 1950s Britain. Rachel Weisz is a marvel as Hester, vividly capturing the turmoil that befalls her when she leaves a devoted husband for an exciting but unavailable lover. Tomas Hachard


13. Lincoln
Steven Spielberg
This policy-oriented look into the political machinations that led to passage of the 13th Amendment is one of Steven Spielberg’s most focused and Fordian films, supported by a gloriously wordy, exploratory screenplay by Tony Kushner and fine work from an ensemble cast all working at the tops of their games. Dan Callahan


11 (tie). Abendland
Nikolaus Geyrhalter
The Austrian chronicler gives us an addictive, HD nightscape of Europe at work, from security guards to mental-health hotline operators to webcam porn actors to protesters and their riot police. A portrait emerges of a cordial, ever-fascinating civilization catered to and controlled to within an inch of its life—think Richard Scarry meets Harun Farocki. Nicolas Rapold


11 (tie). Killer Joe
William Friedkin
This neo-noir take on Double Indemnity, adapted from a play by Tracy Letts, does to the trailer park what Blue Velvet did to the suburbs. The plot takes the American nuclear family down a notch (or three) with a bumbling father-son duo who plan to murder the family’s estranged matriarch; they hire a corrupt detective/contract killer (Matthew McConaughey, in the best performance of his career), offering the underage daughter as a retainer. Heavy-handed in its more obvious points but delightfully subversive in its finer ones, this is an ugly, acerbic little film that will keep you simultaneously enthralled and appalled. Daniel Loria

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