Best in Film 2012

the_master_still_5_1As usual, I took great pains putting together my list celebrating the year’s achievements in film. I was lucky enough to catch up on almost everything I wanted to see before having to turn in my ballot this year but I’m sure there will be a few surprises I’ve yet to discover. I thought this was a particularly strong year in film, especially compared to 2011, but Muriel’s co-founder Steve Carlson  didn’t agree and made that a topic of debate. For me this was not only a great year for narrative filmmaking but also produced a particularly good group of documentaries that came at their subjects from different angles and made the most of their material. There were newcomers like Matthias Schoenarts and welcome surprises from actors like Joaquin Phoenix and Bradley Cooper. Marion Cotillard and Jessica Chastain continue to build their case as two of the best actresses working today. Philip Seymour Hoffman disappears into a role like no one else and Michael Fassbender’s unusual turn as an android modeled on Peter O’Toole’s performance in Lawrence of Arabia unfortunately got lost in the criticism of what Prometheus could have been. Quentin Tarantino and the cast of Django Unchained showed that movies don’t need to be historically accurate or politically correct to be great cinema.  I wish more people had seen Rust and Bone, Perfect Sense and Oslo, August 31 but there are always underseen underdogs. I was happy to see reaffirming contributions from some of my favorite writers and directors including Jacques Audiard, Katheryn Bigelow & Mark Boal, Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Joachim Trier & Eskil Vogt, Rian Johnson and Wes Anderson. With The Master, Paul Thomas Anderson has put himself into a unique group of writer/directors and deserves to be mentioned in any conversation about the best in either category.  They will be counting down the results for Best Feature-Length Film at the Muriel’s site over the next two days and anyone interested in my personal ballot (with a few categories extended past their official length) can find them below.

Best Feature-Length Film
(the best film- documentary, experimental, or fiction- over 70 minutes)

  1. Rust & Bone
  2. Zero Dark Thirty
  3. The Master
  4. Once Upon A Time In Anatolia
  5. Shut Up and Play the Hits
  6. Oslo, August 31
  7. Looper
  8. Django Unchained
  9. The Dark Knight Rises
  10. Silver Linings Playbook
  11. Marley
  12. Here
  13. Perfect Sense
  14. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
  15. Bones Brigade
  16. This Is 40
  17. Moonrise Kingdom
  18. Argo
  19. A Royal Affair
  20. Skyfall

Best Lead Performance, Male

  1. Joaquin Phoenix – The Master
  2. Matthias Shoenaerts – Rust & Bone
  3. Anders Danielson Lie – Oslo, August 31
  4. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Looper
  5. Ewan McGregor – Perfect Sense

Best Lead Performance, Female

  1. Marion Cotillard – Rust & Bone
  2. Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty
  3. Quvenzhané Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild
  4. Lubna Azabal – HERE
  5. Eva Green – Perfect Sense

Best Supporting Performance, Male

  1. Philip Seymour Hoffman – The Master
  2. Christoph Waltz – Django Unchained
  3. Michael Fassbender – Prometheus
  4. Tom Hardy – Dark Knight Rises
  5. Jason Clarke – Zero Dark Thirty

Best Supporting Performance, Female

  1. Amy Adams – The Master
  2. Jennifer Ehle – Zero Dark Thirty
  3. Emily Blunt – Looper
  4. Anne Hathaway – Dark Knight Rises
  5. Kara Hayward – Moonrise Kingdom

Best Direction

  1. Katheryn Bigelow – Zero Dark Thirty
  2. PTA – The Master
  3. Nuri Bilge Ceylan – Once Upon A Time In Anatolia
  4. Jacques Audiard – Rust & Bone
  5. Joachim Trier – Oslo, August 31
  6. Rian Johnson – Looper
  7. Christopher Nolan – The Dark Knight Rises

Best Screenplay (Original)

  1. The Master
  2. Looper
  3. Django Unchained
  4. Zero Dark Thirty
  5. Once Upon A Time In Anatolia
  6. This Is 40
  7. Moonrise Kingdom

Best Screenplay (Adapted)

  1. Rust & Bone
  2. Oslo, August 31
  3. Silver Linings Playbook
  4. Argo
  5. A Royal Affair

Best Cinematography

  1. The Master
  2. Once Upon A Time In Anatolia
  3. The Dark Knight
  4. Looper
  5. Moonrise Kingdom
  6. Perfect Sense

Best Editing

  1. Zero Dark Thirty
  2. The Dark Knight
  3. Shut Up and Play the Hits
  4. Marley
  5. Looper

Best Music
(original, adapted, or compiled)

  1. Shut Up and Play the Hits
  2. Marley
  3. Moonrise Kingdom
  4. The Master
  5. Bones Brigade


  1. Shut Up and Play the Hits
  2. Marley
  3. Jiro Dreams of Sushi
  4. Bones Brigade
  5. Only The Young

 Best Cinematic Breakthrough

  1. Joaquin Phoenix – The Master
  2. Matthias Shoenaerts – Rust & Bone
  3. Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Looper
  4. Quvenzhané Wallis – Beasts of the Southern Wild
  5. Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook

Best Body of Work
(a performer, filmmaker, or technician who made superior contributions to multiple films released in calendar year 2012)

  1. Marion Cotillard – Rust, Dark Knight, Little White Lies
  2. JGL – Looper, Dark Knight
  3. Matthias Shoenaerts – Rust & Bone, Bullhead
  4. Tom Hardy – Dark Knight, Lawless
  5. Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty, Lawless

Best Ensemble Performance

  1. The Master
  2. Once Upon A Time In Anatolia
  3. Django Unchained (minus QT)
  4. Silver Linings Playbook
  5. The Dark Knight

10th Anniversary Award, Best Feature Film 2002

  1. 25th Hour
  2. Morvern Callar
  3. City of God
  4. Hero
  5. Russian Ark

25th Anniversary Award, Best Feature Film 1987

  1. Wings of Desire
  2. Full Metal Jacket
  3. Wall Street
  4. The Last Emperor
  5. The Lost Boys

50th Anniversary Award, Best Feature Film 1962

  1. L’Eclisse
  2. My Life to Live
  3. The Trial of Joan of Arc
  4. Lolita
  5. Dr. No

Special Award: Best Film of the 1970s

  1. The Godfather
  2. The Godfather 2
  3. Apocalypse Now
  4. Star Wars
  5. Last Tango in Paris
  6. A Clockwork Orange
  7. Days of Heaven
  8. Rocky
  9. The Passenger
  10. Solaris
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