Screen Invasion’s Best Movies of 2012

Honorable Mentions


Holy Motors

Theatrical review
Now playing in theaters

In Leos Carax’s first film in 13 years, Denis Lavant plays a businessman travelling around modern day Paris in the back of a sleek white limousine. He has nine assignments to complete before dawn, each of which sees him emerge from the vehicle as an entirely different character with a new look, personality and motivation. What is this businessman’s occupation? Why does he perform these tasks? What does it all mean? Whatever you believe Holy Motors to be, there’s one thing that’s undeniable: this nutty, perplexing and often miraculous film is unlike anything you’ve seen before. – Daniel Sarath

Ben Affleck and Bryan Cranston in Argo


Theatrical review
Now playing in theaters

Ben Affleck’s Argo admirably accomplishes a rare and notable film feat: it keeps the audience on the edge of their seats while teaching a history lesson. For most of us born after 1980, the tale of the “Canadian Caper” is not a familiar one—but Affleck’s detailed and thrilling dramatization is sure to linger in the minds of all who see it. Argo is well cast, well-paced, and well-played. And to all who still harbor doubts about Affleck’s directorial talent, I say (as they do in the film): “Argo f*ck yourself!” – Sarah Katz

Jessica Chastain in Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty

Now playing in theaters

Like many other action films, Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s Zero Dark Thirty has it all: intrigue, explosions, heroes, and villains. But the true strength of Zero Dark Thirty lies in its stark acknowledgment that the War on Terror is not like its predecessors—and its willingness to let the audience decide, scene-by-scene, who is the hero and who is the villain. Some call it “controversial” because it refuses to make hindsight-based political judgments. I call it “brave.” (Also, a note to the Academy: Jessica Chastain FTW.) – Sarah Katz

I really liked The Hurt Locker (I’m relieved it won the Oscar over Avatar), but Kathryn Bigelow wowed me even more with this film. Though we ultimately all knew the ending, few films have succeeded in creating such a strong, heart-pounding tense atmosphere, and despite a lengthy running time, it went by in a flash. Jessica Chastain has finally won me over as a fantastic actress after appearing in a million other movies over the last few years, and from here on out I will watch anything directed by Kathryn Bigelow. Take my money, woman director! – Daniel Johnson


Safety Not Guaranteed

Theatrical review
Now available on Amazon and iTunes

Safety Not Guaranteed was such a brilliant surprise for me. As much as I enjoy the performances of all the actors involved individually, I had no idea how they would work together. The chemistry between Aubrey Plaza and Mark Duplass was stunning and the dedication with which Duplass played Kenneth, the justice done to this character was beyond anything I have seen in a film. If not for the nostalgia-inducing merits of Moonrise Kindgdom, Safety Not Guaranteed would surely have won out as my number one film of the year. – Cat Edison

And the award for best performance of the year goes to Mark Duplass as a one-eared time-traveling pioneer in search of a companion. Perhaps the biggest surprise is that newcomer Derek Connolly’s decidedly indie script about defying convention unconventionally delivers a wholly conventional cinematic finale that elicits cheers and warms the heart. Like Elliot and E.T. taking flight or Luke firing his photon torpedoes into the Death Star exhaust port, this is warm-fuzzy movie magic. – Brian Rudloff



Theatrical review
Now available on Amazon and iTunes

This was an incredibly strong year in animation and in deciding which film stood at the top of that heap, I realized that Paranorman stands above them all. It tackling subjects such as mob mentality, accepting who you are, sibling relationships, and death all while paying homage to old horror films and not pandering for the children – it truly is a tonal balancing act that I still can’t believe they pulled off. Plus, the icing on the cake is the amazing score by Jon Brion. – Kristal Bailey


See the next page to find out how each writer voted

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The Author

Eric Ambler

Eric Ambler

Eric Ambler is a film critic and correspondent for Screen Invasion, as well as the founder of Ambler Amblog (http://ambleramblog.blogspot.com/). His parents named him after a Welsh spy novelist they found in a reference book. Someday he will get around to watching all the VHS tapes he bought at Goodwill.