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2012: An artsy retrospective

Daily Arts gives you a whirlwind tour of this year’s best.

Published: Thursday, December 6, 2012

Updated: Thursday, December 6, 2012 08:12

2012 brought every type of film to the big screen, but no matter the genre or audience appeal, emotional, character-driven stories came to the forefront. The blockbusters weren’t simply mindless, and the dramas weren’t simply sentimental. A slew of films managed to achieve this impressive fusion.

“The Dark Knight Rises”

A stellar achievement as the third installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Delivering both a darker side of the Dark Knight and a gripping plot, this film deserves to top all cinematic best-of lists of the year.

“The Master”

Love it or hate it, Paul Thomas Anderson’s latest will stick in your head for weeks after you watch it. Stellar performances and a taut script that reveals a little more with each viewing make “The Master” as enigmatic as it is affecting — a genuine triumph from a director who is quickly establishing himself as one of the best of his generation.

“Silver Linings Playbook”

Despite his reputation behind the scenes, David O. Russell has consistently produced genre-blending, thought-provoking films. With the faux romantic comedy, “Silver Linings Playbook,” he managed to do it yet again, creating a humorous, powerful piece, supported by the acting talent of Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

“Lincoln”

Humble and honest in the face of the massive moral questions and the gritty political minutiae it depicts, “Lincoln” paints a refreshingly realistic picture of America’s most admired president. A soft-spoken and poignant performance from Daniel Day-Lewis perfectly complements the supporting cast in a film that is far more concerned with delving into the complexity of Lincoln’s character than glorifying it.

“Skyfall”

In the 23rd film of the Bond franchise, director Sam Mendes harkens back to the more “traditional” bond films of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Though many Bond fans were unimpressed by 2008’s rather generic “Quantum of Solace,” “Skyfall” brings Q, M and gadgets back to the forefront. Daniel Craig is at his sultry, brooding best here, as stories from both Bond’s and M’s past return to haunt them in what is one of the most personal Bond films yet. Adele’s exquisite “Skyfall” theme song isn’t half bad, either. 

“Moonrise Kingdom”

This quirky film from Wes Anderson is so different from its contemporaries both in style and plot that it would have been impossible to exclude it from this list. The tale of a 12-year-old boy and girl who run away together in 1965 manages to cover heavy themes like teenage loneliness and young love in an endearingly lighthearted manner. The offbeat humor and nostalgic setting are also refreshing, making “Moonrise Kingdom” one of the most delightfully charming movies of the year.

“The Avengers”

Combining the likes of Ironman, Captain America and the Hulk on screen seemed like an obvious formula for cinematic triumph, but with Joss Whedon at the helm, this summer’s “The Avengers” proved to be one of the most successful and enjoyable superhero flicks in history.

“Safety Not Guaranteed”

This cute sci-fi-romantic-comedy is filled with enough interesting plot developments and fully realized characters to make even the most cynical viewer smile. It proves that a well-written script, solid directing and a talented cast is all it takes to make a truly excellent movie.

“Cabin in the Woods”

The perfect blend of Whedon’s whimsical farce and self-aware horror tropes, this film delivered one of the most awesome scenes in history to involve creatures, elevators and a lot of blood.

“Argo”

The tense, edge-of-your seat thriller about the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis had viewers biting their nails and holding their breath the film’s two full hours. With a ludicrous plot based entirely upon historical events, actor-director-producer Ben Affleck couldn’t have dreamed up a better story, even if he tried. Indeed, when every single audience member lets out a collective sigh of relief during the credits, you know this movie has to be good.

 

Music

 

2012 has been a big year for smaller indie bands hitting the big time, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for other genres to make it onto our best albums of the year. Because including ten entries is only a humble attempt to try to cover the incredible music that has been released this year, it is important to remember that, while the obvious choices like Grizzly Bear and Mumford & Sons made it, we must also think of those that have been left out. With music ranging from the awesome thrash metal of Lamb of God, to the wacky absurdity of Grimes and the ethereal pop of Bat for Lashes, this year’s list should be endless thanks to the prolific creativity of musicians everywhere.

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