The Top 13 Movies of 2012

6 years ago by Nadya Vlassoff

The Avengers, Skyfall, Compliance and Django Unchained are among The Deadbolt’s Top 13 Movies of 2012

2012 was a good year for moviegoers everywhere as studios unveiled a schedule full of highly anticipated sequels, superheroes, indie gems, and surprise hits.

Although some movies in 2012 stirred up heated emotions and controversy, huge franchises like Batman, The Avengers, and James Bond broke box office records during the year.

Films like Argo and The Master earned critical acclaim while others like Django Unchained and Compliance sparked uncomfortable feelings and walkouts. Although movies like Life of Pi made us think about what it is to be human, others like Zero Dark Thirty showed us a different and gritty side of the human spirit in our real life battle against evil.

After much deliberation, we narrowed down our choices for The Deadbolt’s Top 13 Movies of 2012 … in no particular order.

Director Ang Lee’s Life of Pi hit theaters on November 21, 2012

Life of Pi

Based on the fantasy story by Yann Martel, Life of Pi gave fans a stunning display of CGI in support of a moving story about the delicate balance of life between humans and animals. Stuck at sea on a lifeboat, the young Pi must care for a tiger in order to keep himself alive. The two learn to coexist with each other in the ultimate tale of survival and compassion.

After years of development, which nearly had M. Night Shyamalan on board to helm the film, director Ang Lee took the reigns to finally bring the story to life on screen. We’re glad he did. Life of Pi was one of the best of 2012.

Les Miserables

On Christmas day, director Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables hit theatres for a brilliant showcase of music, storytelling, and cinematography. A month prior to release, Les Miserables received four Golden Globe nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Hugh Jackman, Best Supporting Actress for Anne Hathaway, and Best Original song.

Based on Victor Hugo’s classic 1862 novel of the same name, and adapted from the successful stage musical, Les Miserables featured an all-star cast that included Hugh Jackman, Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, and Helena Bonham Carter. It was definitely one of the year’s best films and should win big come Oscar time.

Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained – Photo: Columbia Pictures

Django Unchained

The latest from director Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained was an odd choice for a Christmas Day release given it’s subject matter. Despite the controversy surrounding Tarantino’s use of slavery in the film, Django struck a nerve with moviegoers to the tune of $15 million on opening day.

About a slave out for revenge while on the hunt for his wife, Django Unchained was bloody good ride into the Christmas sunset.

Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, Kerry Washington, and Samuel L. Jackson were brilliantly cast. Although not for the squeamish, Django Unchained proved to be the best Tarantino film since Pulp Fiction. Remember, the “D” is silent.

Silver Linings Playbook

One of the year’s hidden gems, Silver Linings Playbook was adapted by David O. Russell from Matthew Quick’s novel of the same name. About a Bi-polar man who puts the pieces of his life back together after being released from a mental hospital, Silver Linings Playbook was Bradley Cooper’s best role to date! And with stellar supporting roles by Robert DeNiro and Jennifer Lawrence, David O. Russell proved why he’s one of the best, most underrated writer/directors in Hollywood.

Silver Linings Playbook recently nabbed four Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, a Best Actress nod to Lawrence, and Best Screenplay. Not bad for a movie that people didn’t know about three months ago.

The Dark Knight Rises stormed into theaters on July 16, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

The final film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy was arguably the best. Picking up eight years after the death of Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight, the long awaited sequel delivered the goods.

When it was all said and done at the worldwide box office, The Dark Knight Rises did slightly better than The Dark Knight, with a global total of over $1 billion.

The end of The Dark Knight Rises will likely go down as one of the best in the history of superhero movies. A thrilling blend of action, intensity, and self-reflection, Nolan made audiences feel Batman’s tortured nature like never before. Adding to the awesomeness, Christian Bale saved the best for last in his final Batman film.

Moonrise Kingdom

A touching love story about an orphan and his pen pal, Moonrise Kingdom showcased all that’s good in the world when it comes to first loves and a belief in pure happiness. Struggling to remain in contact despite their parents, distance, and the foster care system, the film’s characters, Sam and Suzy, played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, proved that sometimes you need to fight for what you love when no one else will.

Directed by Wes Anderson from a story by Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom painted a beautiful cinematic picture that reminded us how life is really an adventure we create for ourselves.

Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman in director Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master

The Master

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, starring Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master was one of the best movies of the year that many people didn’t see.

Despite its controversial links to Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, which overshadowed the film leading up to release, The Master gave moviegoers a thought provoking story about a World War II veteran who meets the leader of a philosophical movement known as “The Cause” while struggling to re-enter normal life after his time in conflict.

Although The Master was shut out of the Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture, Paul Thomas Anderson delivered one of the year’s best films despite the lack of recognition from the industry.

It’ll be interesting to see if The Master gets a rightful nod at the Academy Awards.

The Avengers

Released in April of 2012, and directed by Joss Whedon, The Avengers took superhero ensemble films to a whole new level. For many fans, The Avengers is the best superhero movie of all time. Although comic book fans everywhere wondered whether The Dark Knight Rises could top the success of The Dark Knight, The Avengers stormed into theaters to beat both at the box office with a worldwide total of over $1.5 billion.

Marvel Studios set a new standard with The Avengers by proving that an ensemble movie could not only be done right but also serve as a launching pad for future stand alone movies with other characters. Because of The Avengers, fans may soon see Black Widow in her own movie along with a stand-alone film with Hawkeye.

The Avengers also served as the launching pad for the upcoming S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series. 2012 was a huge year at the movies due to the success of The Avengers.

Jessica Chastain stars in the Kathryn Bigelow directed Zero Dark Thirty about the hunt for Osma Bin Laden – Photo: Columbia Pictures

Zero Dark Thirty

Based on the true story behind the capture of Osama Bin Laden in May 2011, director Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty stirred up a lot of controversy. Although the film recently nabbed four Golden Globe nominations, including Best Director and Best Motion Picture-Drama, many critics took aim at Zero Dark Thirty for its all-too-real torture scene.

Politics and ethics aside, Zero Dark Thirty is one of the year’s best, most gripping movies that showcases the decade long manhunt to capture Osama Bin Laden and those who were involved. In the movie, Maya (Jessica Chastain) and her team of operatives tracked down one of the most infamous men in history amid a whirlwind of varied opinion on terrorism and justice.

Zero Dark Thirty may be uncomfortable for many given their political affiliantions, but it’s still one of the year’s best films.


One of the most controversial films of 2012, Compliance was another hidden gem of 2012 that was largely overshadowed by bigger productions. Inspired by shocking events in the workplace, however, Compliance was tough to watch.

Based on the true “strip search park call scam” in 2004, Compliance followed the story of a fast food chain manager (Ann Dowd) who was forced to conduct a strip search on her suspicious employee (Dreama Walker) by a caller claiming to be the police. Given the fact that the events really happened, Compliance is a movie you have to see to believe.

The film’s sensitive subject matter was based on over 70 cases of real events that happened to employees in similar situations. Directed by Craig Zobel, Compliance pushes you beyond your comfort zone to feel the uncomfortable drama that we don’t often experience in real life.

Ben Affleck directs and stars in Argo, about the Iran hostage crisis in 1979


After the success of Argo in 2012, there’s no denying that Ben Affleck is a great director.

Loosely based on the true story of CIA operative Tony Mendez, who led the rescue of six U.S. diplomats from Tehran during the Iran Hostage Crisis in 1979, Argo featured an all-star cast headed by Affleck that included Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman, Kyle Chandler, Clea Duvall, Tate Donovan, and more.

After directing two great films in Gone Baby Gone and The Town, Argo was Ben Affleck’s coming out party as a legitimate filmmaker.

Argo landed a whopping five Golden Globe nominations, including Best Director and Best Motion Picture-Drama. The bigger question is whether the Academy Awards will follow suit and give Ben Affleck the recognition he deserves for Argo.


The James Bond franchise turned 50 in 2012 with arguably the best Bond movie of all time in Skyfall. Although the return of Daniel Craig as the enigmatic MI6 spy was bittersweet given the drama surrounding Judi Dench’s “M”, Skyfall was simply amazing.

The 23rd Bond film silenced all critics who thought Bond couldn’t return to form after Quantum of Solace. In fact, Skyfall became the most financially successful Bond movie of all time.

Directed by Sam Mendes, Skyfall gave fans a closer look at Bond’s mysterious past. The film also gave fans one of the best Bond villains in Javier Bardem’ Raoul Silva, a former MI6 agent gone rogue, and the return of one of the best Bond cars in the history of the franchise.

Daniel Day Lewis stars as President Abrham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln


Although Liam Neeson was originally slated for the title role in Steven Spielberg’s historical masterpiece, Daniel Day Lewis was absolutely fantastic as the 16th President of the United States.

Set during the turbulent time of the Civil War, Lincoln gave moviegoers new insight into Abraham Lincoln, the man, and his personal life with wife Mary Todd, played by Sally Field. Spielberg’s Lincoln was nothing short of epic and amazing as the President fought to pass the Emancipation Proclamation in the House of Representatives.

Lincoln landed seven Golden Globe nominations and will go toe-to-toe with Les Miserables as the big movies at the Academy Awards.

What was your favorite movie of 2012?

What do you think?

Nadya Vlassoff

Nadya Vlassoff joined The Deadbolt in 2009 and currently serves as associate content director and contributing editor. A former writer for the boutique apparel and accessories blog, Nadya has interviewed and worked with a variety of top names in pop culture, fashion, entertainment and sports.