Making an ordered list of movies at the end of the year is a lot like playing a poker cash game. One’s perspective on particular movies relative to others ebbs and flows throughout the year depending on a slew of reasons that are both fair and unfair, and the only thing that really matters is where things stand when it’s all over. For example: I saw The Sessions twice. The first time I really liked it, and the second time I liked the performances more than the movie. I don’t know if it would have made this top ten list if I’d only watched it once, but it certainly would have been strongly considered. As it stands, it barely made the honorable mentions.

The following ten movies are the ones that have really stuck with me. They’re the ones that have gotten better with months or weeks of age and have separated themselves from the pack. Some of them will definitely be nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and others will not even be considered. Some of them you’ll probably agree with, and some of them will probably make you laugh and doubt my credibility. That’s okay. I’ve worked and reworked these ten movies over and over again, and at least for the moment, I think this is the best possible reflection of my own taste in what 2012 had to offer at the theater.

bad teacher
10) Life Of Pi
I’m not normally a huge fan of movies that cut back and forth between a character telling a story in the present and footage of the story itself in the past, but director Ang Lee’s Life Of Pi really gets all it can out of the format. Irrfan Khan’s adult Pi Patel has such a fascinating way with words and phrases that he’s actually a nice contrast to the visual marvel of the larger story. And oh what a visual marvel it is. From the animalistic and scary chaos of the sinking ship to the prolonged stand-off between young Pi and the Tiger, every single effect looks brilliant and every single camera angle is chosen with expert care.

Life Of Pi is one of the best-crafted movies of the year. How Lee was able to make a story largely about the tediousness of trying to survive at sea riveting is beyond me, but his well-balanced, engaging film is a testament to his own decision-making and the wonder of Yann Martel’s beloved book.

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