Our countdown of the greatest motion pictures available to you in the cinema that were released this year...
Is there any industry that's thrived this year as much as that of film and cinema? I'd wager your answer here should be 'No'. As such, we've had plenty of fantastic new motion picture instalments in 2012, ranging from superheroes to realistic terrorist schemes to great journeys across distant fantasy lands, and the future continues to look brighter and brighter even into 2013. Let's keep the focus here and now, though. Today, we're counting down the Top 20 Best Films Of 2012, and to mix things up a little, I've first compiled entries #20-#11 into a mini-list to show you which entries of film didn't quite make the Top 10, then focused more time on the big shortlist itself to highlight 2012's overall greatest films. Right, then- it's time. Here's our guide to (in my personal opinion as a critic) the Top 20 Best Films Of 2012...
#20: Ted; #19: Wrath Of The Titans; #18: Taken 2; #17: 21 Jump Street; #16: Dark Shadows; #15: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2; #14: Men In Black III; #13: Looper; #12: The Hunger Games; #11: Life Of Pi
TOP 10 BEST FILMS OF 2012
10. THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN- The prospects for this reboot of the Webbed Wonder's filmic adventures weren't looking bright when the project was announced. Thankfully, The Amazing Spider-Man revels in the quality chemistry of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone as its leads, on top of a strong origins narrative that sets up some intriguing arc strands for the sure-to-be brilliant trilogy to come!
9. ROCK OF AGES- I loved the West End musical Rock Of Ages, so my interest in the film version was peaked from the outset. Tom Cruise gives his best performance yet, the flick retains the best classic rock songs from the musical, and indeed new stars like Diego Bonata and Julianne Hough do a fantastic job of balancing the Glee riffing melodrama with the legendary hits that make this such a compelling watch.
8. THE CABIN IN THE WOODS- As an initial confession, I'm not a big fan of where the horror genre is currently at- much of its instalments have become far too predictable. That said, The Cabin In The Woods is a brilliant, innovative take on modern horror, blending well-placed comedy with Joss Whedon's cunning sense of wit and thrills. It's a world that I would love to enter again- prequel, anyone?
7. WAR HORSE- It's no wonder that this one made it onto Oscar lists earlier in the year. War Horse remains an incredible piece of cinema, supported both by beautiful direction once again from Steven Spielberg, perhaps the best film soundtrack of the year and brilliant performances from so many up-and-coming British stars, making this a Brit cult classic of pure merit.
6. THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY- I hope most of you get the chance to catch the first film in the Hobbit trilogy this Christmas, because it really does mark a staggering return to form for Peter Jackson. From Martin Freeman's defining performance of his lifetime to the amazing special effects, from the masterfully envisioned 'Riddles In The Dark' sequence to the thrilling climax, An Unexpected Journey is every bit of the success that the Tolkien family could have wanted, truly beginning to do justice to perhaps the greatest children's novel of all-time.
5. THE MUPPETS- How do you go from only liking The Muppets Christmas Carol to naming Jim Henson's latest puppet film one of the best of 2012? That's the thought transition I've made this past year, and The Muppets richly deserves its place on this list. Its parodies of film tropes, uplifting songs and star-studded cast line-up truly make it a significantly innovative comedy, another gem from Disney that won't soon be forgotten by film-goers.
4. AVENGERS ASSEMBLE- There were so many places where this could have gone wrong. Thank goodness, then, that Joss Whedon helmed Avengers Assemble, making it the best Marvel superhero movie ever and a cracking standalone instalment in cinema to boot. Everyone involved clearly wanted to pay off the hopes and dreams of fans of the Phase One franchise in full, and they've done that in high measure, getting us psyched up 100% for what's to come now for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
3. SKYFALL- As someone who wasn't a massive fan of Quantum Of Solace, my skepticism for Sam Mendes' resurrection of the Bond franchise for its 50th Anniversary of the movie series was pretty high. Skyfall couldn't have proved me wrong with much more vigour, though, providing us with an incredibly realistic and emotional storyline that dared to be different, taking many established series topes and tossing them aside in favour of telling a masterful tale through beautiful performances and amazing direction.
2. ARGO- If you'd have told me that I would name Argo the runner-up in our Best Film race for 2012, I'd probably have answered "What the heck is Argo?" Few had heard of this project until a month before release, yet now this surefire Oscar contender is known worldwide, and rightly so, because this realistic depiction of an inspiring triumph of human hope over terror is one of 2012's defining movies.
1. THE DARK KNIGHT RISES- In the end, from the moment I saw The Dark Knight Rises and had it rock my world, I had a suspicion it just might never be topped this year. That's most certainly remained the case, seeing as the final entry in the Batman trilogy boasts stunning performances from Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and so many other cinematic greats and a masterful and cunning narrative that skilfully culminates the story of Bruce Wayne. Above all, there's incredible direction from Nolan that helps to solidify the Dark Knight trilogy as...well, the greatest film trilogy since The Lord Of The Rings. Yep, I said it, and don't you half agree when you think about it? Time to get rewatching before Justice League hits in 2015 and gives us an all new take on the Caped Crusader- yet I have a feeling this incarnation can never truly be bettered.