The Movie Sleuth's Top 10 of 2012

I've been toiling over this list for the past several weeks. This has been one of the strangest years for cinema, making it extremely hard to come up with a list of the absolute best of the year. Some will wonder why we left The Dark Knight Rises off this list and others will celebrate at our decision to leave Nolan's latest off our top 10 rated films of 2012. Other films like Les Miserables were initially left off due to release dates. This year we've decided to rate these films based on creative effort, acting ability, directorial merit, and technological advancement.

So, here are our top 10 movies of 2012:

Runner Up: Killer Joe: I was extremely reluctant to place this film in the top 10, but I think the film will ultimately end up as a modern cult classic much like American Psycho. It is a hyper violent black comedy that features one of the most underrated actors of our generation, Emile Hirsch in one of the lead roles. For this alone, gets the runner up nod.

10. Prometheus: Although, the film had some room for improvement in the developmental department, it's a sci-fi film that never hesitates in it's thought provoking story line while questioning the creation of man and our existence. It also features some glorious effects shots.

9. The Hobbit: I came away from this film knowing that I had seen the future of 3D cinema. It is also a much grander, more fluid experience than Peter Jackson's previous Tolkien films. It is a definite reach to try and expand this to three films, but if they're all this good I'll be there munching away on over priced popcorn.

8. Lawless: Shia finally becomes an actor in this film. It's a breakaway performance that will define his future in dramatic cinema. It's a great crime film that brought back memories of Miller's Crossing and other period pieces. I've watched it again since seeing it in the theater and liked it just as much or possibly more.

7. Lincoln: While the movie moves at a snail's pace, it's a solid piece of historic film making that Spielberg can be proud of. Daniel Day Lewis once again shines in a role that out performs everyone this year. It would sit a bit higher on the list if the cheese factor had been a little bit lower.

6. End of Watch: This is how crime drama should be done. End of Watch is the first buddy cop movie in years to really push the envelope with die hard action sequences and mind numbing scenes based in reality. This film is hands down one of the best police films since Training Day.

5. Beasts of the Southern Wild: This is a beautiful coming of age tale that should definitely garner some serious Oscar buzz. For a child actor, Quvenzhane Wallis is well beyond her years. Her performance alone is enough to find a spot on this list.

4. The Sessions: A tale about a handicapped man's search for love and acceptance is a wonderful story that truly warmed my heart. Helen Hunt and John Hawkes are both brilliant in The Sessions. Some might be uncomfortable with the constant nudity. However, take the time to see the movie. It is one of the brightest and most thought provoking films of the year.

3. Les Miserables: Tom Hooper's cinematic version of Les Miserables is one of the best of the year with it's near perfect stage to screen adaptation. The film is an emotionally draining piece of cinema that captures the essence of these classic characters perfectly.

2. Django Unchained: Tarantino's return to the cinema is a hand crafted work of genius. Django Unchained is further proof of Tarantino's grasp of dialogue no matter what the time period. This is a story of redemption, bloodshed, and love against the backdrop of the racist south. If you like Tarantino films in general, see this one. You'll love it.

1.Cloud Atlas: No other film this year has had my mind moving this fast. The Wachowski's lastest film is a landmark achievement that should be studied for years to come. The intertwining of multiple stories over several different time periods is a huge task and they pull it off gloriously. Plus, the effects are nothing to balk at either. I wish this had done better at the box office but realize that big profits don't necessarily equal great film. See it.

edit: This list was altered after the release of Les Miserables. -CG