The two couldn’t be more different. One is an action film designed to capture the biggest possible audience, the other, a French art-house allegory not likely to excite many outside the critic circle. But Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises, his closing installment of his cape crusader trilogy, and Leo Carax’s Holy Motors, an unorthodox road film about an actor who gives himself over to his career and craft so much so that he is unable to maintain an authentic self, were the two best films of 2012 and mark TB Journal’s first ever tie for Best Picture .
Knight and Motors are just two of 170 films I viewed in 2012, a fairly lackluster year. Naming them both “best picture” was not a decision that came easily. When I first saw Knight in July, I thought it was the film to beat in the year-end showdown. That assessment went unchallenged until Holy Motors made its début at the New York Film Festival in October. Months later, with a slew of Holiday releases and praised (even over-praised) critics favorites, Knight and Motors continued to resonate, ranking above other solid films by Michael Haneke, Steven Spielberg and Paul Thomas Anderson. And after a nearly three-month, internal debate over which one should take my top spot, I decided to stop choosing between two equally beautiful, but unlike things, and called it a draw. Here are my choices for the best and worst of 2012.
What were the three major critics groups smoking when they all chose Zero Dark Thirty as Best Picture? A good, but by no means extraordinary, picture. Also can’t understand all the raves for Argo and Silver Lining Playbook (Cuckoo’s Nest meets Dirty Dancing).
Mr. Day-Lewis continues to set himself apart from just about every other actor on the planet with his dazzling Lincoln incarnation. It makes Ms. Steep’s Thatcher look like a Saturday Night Live skit.
Also disappointing were Les Misérables, The Hobbit, and The Impossible and Hitchcock.