The Best Movies of 2012

February 1, 2013 by

2013 is shaping up to be an awesome year for movies (and video games, too), so after shaming the worst and most disappointing movies of last year, we’re naming the best movies of 2012. As we keep the clock rewound a bit longer, first we’ll briefly give you our reasons behind our picks for the 12 best movies of 2012 (half of which were also our most anticipated ones of the year), crown one of those top 5 staff-voted films (bolded in the list below) as MediaStinger’s Movie of the Year 2012 to follow last year’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and finally break down more of our favorites by category.

  • The Avengers
  • Cloud Atlas
  • The Dark Knight Rises
  • Django Unchained
  • Dredd
  • The Grey
  • Life of Pi
  • Looper
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower
  • Prometheus
  • The Raid: Redemption
  • Skyfall

Honorable Mentions: 21 Jump Street, Frankenweenie, John Carter, ParaNorman, Savages, Silver Linings Playbook, Sleepless Night, Wreck-It Ralph, Zero Dark Thirty

Aside from the Total Recall remake being our most disappointing movie of the year, 2012 was a stellar year for sci-fi. The Wachowski brothers’ siblings’ ambitious epic Cloud Atlas pioneered a masterful experience that wove six different stories from six different time periods all while employing the same actors and actresses throughout, many of whom are unrecognizable when playing characters of different races or opposite sexes. It’s a spectacle to behold and one that demands at least a second viewing.


Another mind-bending sci-fi flick that rewards multiple viewings is Looper, the cerebral thriller that features great performances across the board and one of the most unforgettable timeline-tweaking sequences in any time-travel movie. Prometheus also served up one of the most intense and unforgettable sequences of the year, but it was so much more than that. Ridley Scott’s revisiting of the genre he helped define and the beloved franchise he helped develop was an incendiary trip that dared to seek the biggest questions of humankind and tackled some of the deepest and most stressful themes of humanity. However, the polarizing journey left too many questions unanswered for some viewers.

Similarly, The Grey left audiences who stuck around for the entire credits taken with one of the year’s best stingers, leading to the most (hotly) discussed page on MediaStinger ever. And this was after a stirring survival story that would’ve already resonated profoundly with viewers who didn’t catch the short post-credits extra scene.


The Perks of Being a Wallflower gave us extraordinary acting that made this coming-of-age high school story feel truly authentic as it lived up to its cult classic source material. With a kick-ass premise, memorable villains, and heart-pounding non-stop action, The Raid: Redemption quickly became one of the best, if not the best, martial arts movie in years. Mix excellent acting and ultraviolent action and you get Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained. As is the case with nearly all of his films, the eclectic and engaging storytelling from the expert raconteur was complemented perfectly by a trio of supporting performances (from Christoph Waltz, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Samuel L. Jackson) that really made Tarantino’s movie shine.


Speaking of shining, as we make our way into discussing our top five movies of 2012, no movie shined brighter as a visually stunning 3D masterpiece than Life of Pi. In addition to showcasing possibly the least fake-looking CGI ever, the emotional journey left moviegoers with plenty to process and chew on, quite an accomplishment for a PG-rated film. The Avengers, the biggest box office blockbuster of the year and armed with the highest user-rated (ever) and best stinger of the year, didn’t disappoint anybody despite so much that could’ve gone wrong. The high-octane and humorous culmination of five prior Marvel films met, if not blew, expectations… and there’s still more to come.


Back again for over the 20th time was Bond, James Bond, who celebrated his 50th anniversary in grand fashion by blowing away critics with Skyfall. As the latest spy adventure in the longest running series in cinematic history, Skyfall shot down any lingering franchise fatigue by impressively reinvigorating and twisting 007 elements for the better again after Casino Royale had just done so six years before.

Also back again, after a 17-year absence, was Dredd. The return of Judge, Jury, and Executioner more than atoned for the sins of Sylvester Stallone’s pathetic mid-’90s turn. This bad-ass MFer of a movie became one of the year’s biggest and best surprises by immersing audiences with incredibly beautiful slow-mo 3D sequences and by rockin’ shamelessly brutal and gritty sci-fi action. It’s a crime travesty that Dredd bombed at the box office; chances are you missed it in theaters, so do the right thing and check it out on video if you haven’t already.


Dredd, the superhero movie we needed but didn’t deserve, could only be overshadowed by one other. The Dark Knight Rises didn’t just complete Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy reboot. It brought redemptive and gratifying closure to Bruce Wayne’s story arc, an incredible feat considering the three-quel followed one of the best sequels of all time in The Dark Knight. With gorgeous cinematography, elaborate heists, and pervasive thrills, The Dark Knight Rises was another instant classic in Nolan’s legendary résumé that retained what made the first two films masterpieces, all while tying in to them seamlessly and making his trilogy arguably the best one in cinematic history. It even inspired Sam Mendes’ direction in Skyfall. As our most anticipated movie of the year, it’s only appropriate that having met high expectations, The Dark Knight Rises is the MediaStinger Movie of the Year 2012.


Best 3D of the Year: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Avengers, Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Dredd, Finding Nemo, ParaNorman, Resident Evil: Retribution, Rise of the Guardians, Wrath of the Titans

Best Action-Adventure Movies of the Year: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Avengers, BattleshipThe Bourne Legacy, The Dark Knight Rises, Django Unchained, Dredd, The Grey, The Hunger Games, John Carter, Life of Pi, The Raid: Redemption, Resident Evil: Retribution, Safe, Savages, SkyfallSleepless Night, Snow White and the Huntsman

Best Animated Movies of the Year: Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax, Finding Nemo, Frankenweenie, Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, ParaNorman, Wreck-It Ralph

Best Comedies of the Year: 21 Jump Street, American ReunionBachelorette, The Dictator, The Five-Year Engagement, Jeff, Who Lives at Home, Moonrise Kingdom, Parental Guidance, Pitch Perfect, Project X, Seven PsychopathsSilver Linings Playbook, Ted, That’s My Boy, The Watch

Best Horror Movies of the Year: Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Sinister, The Woman in Black

Best Sci-Fi Movies of the Year: Battleship, Chronicle, Dredd, The Hunger Games, Looper, Prometheus

Best Surprises of the Year: Dredd, Hope Springs, Parental Guidance, Pitch PerfectPromised Land, Safe, Silver Linings Playbook, The Watch, The Woman in Black, Wreck-It Ralph

What do you think? We couldn’t watch every single movie released in 2012, so did we miss anything here? Let us know in the comments.

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