The Top 10 Films Of 2012

8. Looper

Rian Johnson’s Looper does not just represent science-fiction at its smart and provocative best, but marks a stirring evolution in what storytellers can achieve when exploring the human element of grand, culturally ingrained futuristic concepts. Time travel has rarely been put to such good use as it is here, employed not as a vehicle for action or mind-bending plot mechanics, but to ask some vast ethical questions about how personality and identity are forged through time.

The film is, of course, an aesthetic marvel on all fronts, and what action beats there are play absolutely marvelously, but Johnson puts character and theme front and center at all times; the top-notch cast – headlined by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, and Emily Blunt – matches or surpasses the best efforts of their respective careers, while the audience is continually led to states of moral and emotional turmoil. Few films this year, regardless of genre, asked this much of their audience, or gave as much back in turn.

Looper is not currently playing in theatres, but is scheduled for release on DVD and Blu-Ray December 31st.

7. Lincoln

A period drama about America’s greatest President, directed by the legendary Steven Spielberg and starring the incomparable Daniel Day-Lewis? I must admit that the entire affair sounded far too good to be true, but then I saw the movie, and it surpassed my wildest expectations. The key participant here is actually screenwriter Tony Kushner, whose smart and involving writing immerses us in Lincoln’s world during one of the most crucial months of his Presidency, cutting straight to the heart of what made this man a historically great leader, and crafting countless other fascinating characters in the process. Spielberg’s direction is subtle and measured, restrained but not stagey, as some have suggested, while Day-Lewis crafts one of the year’s great cinematic icons as the title character. His Lincoln is a thoroughly complex, endlessly compelling man, a figure so entrancing that listening to him speak is an edge-of-your-seat experience.

Yet the film’s greatest accomplishment may be its remarkable ability to place these crucial events in a larger historical context, offering a powerful reminder of how far America has come and how far yet we have still to travel. Just as President Lincoln and his allies did so long ago, we too stand on the shores of history, and it is positively life affirming to be so powerfully reminded that those shores can, indeed, be transcended in the most meaningful of ways.

Lincoln is currently playing in theatres nationwide.

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