It's that time of year where everyone is making their lists and checking them twice. Not just Santa, but every film critic – from the film editor of the Walla Walla Picayune and Register to the tween who runs ILikeMoviesSoMuchICouldPuke.tumblr.com – who feels the need to express his or her opinions about the Top 10 Movies of 2012. Everyone thinks they have the final word on taste, but so few of them agree with one another. With the entries on these lists landing all over the place, how do we determine what the best flicks are? Well, we ask every damn critic and figure out where they agree. Yes, this is the Ultimate Top 10 Movies of 2012 List comprised only using lists other critics made.
I took 53 different lists from sources as varied as the New York Times to MySpace (yes, they apparently have someone writing for that treasure trove of embarrassing high school pictures we can't figure out how to take down) and tallied them all up. For each list, the top movie got 10 points, the second best movie got nine points, and so on down the line. For wimps who just listed their top movies alphabetically, each film got three points, because I'm not rewarding those jerks who can't make up their minds. All those points were added up, and those with the highest points win! Well, I included everyone, so there aren't any real losers except for those that didn't make the list at all.
Only lists for movies in general were included, so there's no genre fare like the 10 Best Action Movies, the 5 Scariest Horror Movies, or The 11 Best Joseph Gordon-Levitt Movies That Came Out in August. If there were more than 10 movies on any list, movies 10-20 (or 10-33 if you're the slideshow-happy Huffington Post) were ignored. If you can't narrow it down to 10, then you're just doing the world a disservice. And I only included lists that were actually, you know, a list. Yes, David Denby of The New Yorker, I get that you're so much smarter than the rest of us that you can't be bothered to enumerate your enormous insight into the annual state of the cinema, but reading the whole damn article was just not conducive for my little experiment.
Without further ado, here are the Scientifically Indisputable Top 10 Movies of 2012
1. Zero Dark Thirty: 291
2. The Master: 202
3. Argo: 170
4. Amour: 152
5. Beasts of the Southern Wild: 132
6. Lincoln: 156
7. Moonrise Kingdom: 152
8. Silver Linings Playbook: 109
9. Holy Motors: 104
10. The Dark Knight Rises: 74
Most of these weren't surprises. Zero Dark Thirty was on practically every list I surveyed. For every list Amour or Holy Motors wasn't on, it was in the top spot on another list, thus driving these obscurities up the rankings. The only surprise in the Top 10, really, is The Dark Knight Rises, which jumped into the final slot thanks to prominent placement on several lists, including ones that seemed to favor those that were commercially successful rather than the critics' darlings.
The surprises were really in the films that didn't do better. I was shocked that early favorites like The Sessions didn't get more attention, and documentaries like Queen of Versailles or How to Survive a Plague didn't fare better. Many lists filled their final slot with either a documentary or a foreign film to let the reader know how cultured they are and don't just like popcorn munchers. Either that, or it's a kid's movie to show just how wide and varied their idea of quality is, going beyond weird indies that people lie about seeing at cocktail parties. The most popular cartoons were ParaNorman and Frankenweenie. The latter only got a score of nine but it was probably on as many lists as anything else. The 10th spot doesn't do anyone any favors.
Here are the rest of the movies I found on my adventure.
This Is Not a Film: 70
Life of Pi: 71
The Avengers: 63
Django Unchained: 56
Cabin in the Woods: 35
The Lonliest Planet: 35
Les Miz: 33
Perks of Being a Wall Flower: 28
The Deep Blue Sea: 26
Anna Karenina: 25
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia: 22
Killing Them Softly: 21
Searching for Sugar Man: 20
Rust and Bone: 19
21 Jump Street: 18
The Gatekeepers: 17
The Hunger Games: 17
Magic Mike: 17
Oslo, August 31: 17
Seven Psychopaths: 16
The Grey: 15
End of Watch: 14
How to Survive a Plauge: 13
The Imposter: 13
Cloud Atlas: 11
The Kid with a Bike: 11
Pitch Perfect: 11
The Raid: Redemption: 11
The Turin Horse: 11
The Impossible: 10
Killer Joe: 10
The Amazing Spider-Man: 9
The House I Live In: 9
Not Fade Away: 9
Jeff Who Lives at Home: 8
Queen of Versailles: 8
Sound of My Voice: 8
Waiting Room: 8
Your Sister's Sister: 8
Dark Horse: 7
Monsieur Lazhar: 7
Oki's Movie: 7
Room 237: 7
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2: 7
Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present: 6
Middle of Nowhere: 6
Miss Bala: 6
Take This Waltz: 6
Ai Wei Wei: 5
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey: 4
In the Family: 4
Invisible War: 4
Wreck It Ralph: 4
5 Broken Cameras: 3
Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: 3
The Dust Bowl: 3
Goodbye First Love: 3
It's Such a Wonderful Day: 3
John Carter: 3 (stupid Houston Press)
Safety Not Guaranteed: 3
A Simple Life: 3
The Color Wheel: 2
Keep the Lights On: 2
Neighboring Sounds: 2
West of Memphis: 2
Wuthering Heights: 2
Friends with Kids: 1
Premium Rush: 1
Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning: 1
Sources (some outlets like AP, New York Times, and EW had more than one list): New York Magazine, LA Times, E! Online, Guardian, Screen Crush, Access Hollywood, Cinema Blend, Time, Village Voice, BuzzFeed, Atlantic Wire, AP, MTV, New Yorker, SF Gate, Brietbart, The Atlantic, Guyism, EW, AV Club, Time Out NY, Film Comment, Arizona Republic, New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Next Movie, The Movie Minute, NY Post, Slant, HitFix, IndieWire, Total Film, Rolling Stone, AARP, Movieline, San Jose Mercury News, IndieWire, AFI, New Jersey Star Ledger, MySpace, Boston Phoenix, Time Out Chicago: Times Two, Houston Press
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Looks like people were ready for more Middle-earth action.
As if anyone is truly surprised, the second installment of the The Lord of the Rings trilogy dominated the box office this weekend with its continuing tale about some good-hearted Hobbits who want to destroy an evil Ring, while a bunch of nasty Middle-earth denizens try and stop them.
Over the three-day weekend, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers took in a whopping $61.5 million*, towering over the number two spot captured by the new Sandra Bullock/Hugh Grant film Two Weeks Notice. The romantic comedy only managed to take in about a quarter of The Two Towers' haul at $14.4 million.
Other openers this week included another epic saga, Gangs of New York, which came in fourth with $9.1 million and the animated The Wild Thornberrys Movie, which opened strong at number six with a respectable $6.1 million.
THE TOP TEN
New Line Cinema's PG-13 rated The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers opened with an amazing three-day weekend total, ESTIMATED at $61.5 million at 3,6 22 theaters ($16, 980 per theater) and also taking in almost half of the weekend's box office (46.4 percent). Since its Wednesday, Dec. 18, opening, the film has brought in an ESTIMATED $101.5 million in total over five days.
Directed by Peter Jackson, it stars Viggo Mortensen, Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Orlando Bloom and Liv Tyler.
The middle part to J.R.R. Tolkien's literary fantasy epic clearly surpassed its predecessor by nearly 25 percent. On the same weekend last year, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, which also opened on the Wednesday before Christmas, took in $47.2 million in three days. The film went on to pull in $94 million after its first five days, eventually grossing $313 million in North America and about $550 million overseas, according to Variety.
The Two Towers also posted the second highest domestic Wednesday opening ever, with a healthy $26 million, behind 1999's Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace at $28.5 million, according to New Line. Fellowship of the Ring was the previous holder of the December one-day record, opening with $18.2 million.
"We are pleased and astounded," New Line distribution president David Tuckerman told Variety of The Two Towers performance.
Warner Bros.' PG-13 rated romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice opened in second place with an ESTIMATED $14.4 million at 2,755 theaters ($5, 229 per theater).
Directed by Marc Lawrence, it stars Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant.
This romantic comedy about a corporate lawyer's love/hate relationship with her boss is Bullock's second best opening in the last five films she has made. Her best opening was this summer's Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, which opened with a strong $16.1 million and went on to gross $69.5 million domestically. Bullock's top film Miss Congeniality opened to the smaller tune of $10 million in December 2000 but grossed $106.8 million domestically, proving the comedic actress has the star power to open films strong--and keep them that way.
The third spot belonged to Sony Pictures' Maid in Manhattan, this season's other romantic comedy, which opened last weekend at number one. Falling 41 percent, it still managed to rake in an ESTIMATED $11 million at 2,866 theaters (+28 theaters; $3,838 per theater). It's cume to date is approximately $35.5 million.
Directed by Wayne Wang, it stars Jennifer Lopez and Ralph Fiennes.
Guess a historical period piece about 1860s New York can't beat Hobbits or romance. Miramax's highly anticipated R-rated Gangs of New York opened with a less-than-exciting ESTIMATED $9.1 million at 1,504 theaters ($6,064 per theater). Still, with the film's recent slate of Golden Globe nominations, the momentum should give Gangs a fair amount of shelf life.
Directed by Martin Scorsese, it stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Daniel Day-Lewis and Cameron Diaz.
20th Century Fox's drum showstopper PG-13 rated Drumline continued to boom at number five with an ESTIMATED $7.6 million (-40%) at 1,837 theaters ($4,137 per theater). The little-film-that-could about an underdog high school band opened at No. 3 last week and has so far gained a respectable $22.8 million.
Directed by Charles Stone, it stars Nick Cannon, Zoe Saldana and Orlando Jones.
Another new flick on the block this weekend was Paramount Pictures' PG-rated The Wild Thornberrys Movie, which opened in sixth place with an ESTIMATED $6.1 million at 3,012 theaters ($2,025 per theater).
Based on the hit Nickelodeon TV show, the animated film about a family of wildlife documentary filmmakers, is directed by Cathy Malkasian and Jeff McGrath and includes the vocal talents of Lacey Chabert, Tim Curry, Rupert Everett, Lynn Redgrave and Marisa Tomei.
Chortling in at number seven is Disney's PG-13 rated The Hot Chick, taking in an ESTIMATED $4.5 million at 2,217 theaters ($2,030 per theater). Dropping 39 percent, the body-switching comedy bowed last week in fifth place and has made approximately $13.7 million thus far.
Directed by Tom Brady, it stars Rob Schneider, Anna Faris and Rachel McAdams.
Warner Bros. PG-rated Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets dropped a couple of notches to No. 8 with an ESTIMATED $4.45 million (-30%) at 2,750 theaters (-275 theaters; $1,620 per theater). The second movie about our fab boy wizard and his adventures at Hogwarts has managed to eke out approximately $228.9 million in its six weeks at the box office. Not too shabby.
Directed by Chris Columbus, the film stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Kenneth Branagh, Jason Isaacs, Richard Harris, Robbie Coltrane and Maggie Smith.
The once-popular franchise seems to have lost its steam. Paramount Pictures PG-13 rated Star Trek: Nemesis continued its disappointing run, slipping from its bow at second place last weekend to ninth with an ESTIMATED $4.4 million (-76%) at 2,711 theaters ($1,623 per theater). Its cume is approximately $26.4 million.
Directed by Stuart Baird, it stars Patrick Stewart, Brent Spiner, Tom Hardy, Ron Perlman, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn, Gates McFadden and Marina Sirtis.
Tenth place belongs to Bond, James Bond. MGM's megahit, PG-13 rated Die Another Day, continued reaping the rewards with an ESTIMATED $4 million, dropping 49 percent at 2,075 theaters (-1,302 theaters; $1,928 per theater). One of the highest-grossing Bond films ever, its taken in approximately $138.4 million so far.
Directed by Lee Tamahori, it stars Pierce Brosnan, Halle Berry, Rosamund Pike, Toby Stephens and Rick Yune.
Three of the higher-profile independent films of the season opened in limited theaters this weekend, including Denzel Washington's Antwone Fisher, Spike Lee's 25th Hour and Narc starring Ray Liotta.
Fox Searchlight's PG-13 rated Antwone Fisher opened Thursday in 15 theaters at an ESTIMATED $217,500 ($14,500 per theater). The film, about a man struggles to come to terms with his abusive childhood, is directed by the Oscar-winning Washington, who also stars along with newcomer Derek Luke. Fisher will open wide Jan. 1.
Buena Vista's R-rated 25th Hour also opened Thursday in 5 theaters and took in an ESTIMATED $109,811 ($21, 962 per theater). The intense drama focuses on a drug dealer's last 24 hours before he goes to prison and how he chooses to spend it. Directed by Spike Lee, it stars Edward Norton, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Barry Pepper, Rosario Dawson and Brian Cox. The film opens wide Jan. 10.
Paramount's Narc opened in 6 theaters Friday, making an ESTIMATED $66,000 ($11,000 per theater). The gritty drama stars Ray Liotta and Jason Patric as two undercover narcotics detectives after a cop killer.
The top 12 films this weekend earned $132 million, up 46.4 percent from last weekend.
This time last year, New Line's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was number one at the box office with $47.2 million, while Warner Bros. Ocean's Eleven came in second with $14.7 million and Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius third with $13.8 million.
*All estimates as reported by Exhibitor Relations, Inc.