Now that we've survived the Mayan apocalypse, 'tis the season to make a list of movies to buy, rent, or download if you’re a renegade who plays by your own rules.
Yet, box office numbers don't mean everything. "Breakfast Club" debuted at No. 2, coming in behind "Breakin'", so it would seem pretty obvious that a film's quality isn't necessarily measured just in dollars.
Some of these films made it big, and others remained obscure, but we consider them to be six of the best movies from 2012.
Read the top box office list here.
6) "Cabin In the Wood"
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Horror is a genre that goes under-appreciated. In a sense, horror is its own worst enemy. Historically, scary movies are inexpensive to make and usually earn a profit, so they are green-lighted by producers even when they aren’t of the best quality. But “Cabin in the Woods” provided an exception to that standard.
Thanks to a script by king of the nerds, Joss Whedon, horror fans got to see a truly great horror parody, on par with “Shawn of the Dead.” The film takes jabs at horror conventions and clichés, pointing out character stereotyping and turning the usual standards inside out.
“Cabin in the Woods” won’t be nominated for any Oscars or Golden Globes, but the film was a lot of fun to watch. Few movies and TV shows that try pull off the meta genre can do it with as much grace as “Cabin;” This one will be remembered more often than some of the other recognized films of the year.
5) "21 Jump Street"
It’s hard to emphasize just how funny Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill are as a comedic duo, and how excellent “21 Jump Street” is. The loosely based remake of the 80’s TV series is arguably the funniest movies since “The Hangover.”
Imagining a “Jump Street” remake starring Hill and Tatum sounds frightening, but the magic that the two made on screen with directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller is superb. The story is new enough to make younger viewers interested and pays homage to the original for fans of the series with a surprise cameo.
Overall, this action-comedy is one of the biggest surprises of the year, and in the best way possible since expectations of a juvenile and cliché comedy made this hilarious film even better.
4) "Safety Not Guaranteed"
This indie flick didn’t make it into the mainstream, and only made $4 million during its theatrical run, according to Box Office Mojo. But “Safety Not Guaranteed” is an inventive and fun romantic comedy that was under-appreciated, since it has all the potential to become a cult classic over time on video.
Aubrey Plaza, of “Parks and Recreation” fame, plays a journalism intern who meets a bizarre man looking for a partner to time travel with. As she meets with him, she realizes that he’s not quite as crazy as he comes off, and the two enter a strange romance.
This low-budget movie is a little out there, but it never oversteps its boundaries and serves as a refreshing film. The cast plays their roles with expertise, and the script feels like a socially awkward rom-com.
3) "Moonrise Kingdom"
All of Wes Anderson’s work has built up to this film. The acclaimed director has solidified himself and his style, and “Moonrise Kingdom” takes all the best parts from his previous films to make what is clearly his best to date.
All of the usual cast members come back, along with child actors, Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward, as Sam and Suzy, respectively. The two kids, who are unconditionally in love, run away together in the most innocent love story to grace the big screen in recent memory. They are followed by Ed Norton, as a scout leader; Bruce Willis, as a police officer; and Frances McDormand and Bill Murray, as Suzy’s mom and dad.
It’s quirky, beautiful, and honest, the same words that have described Anderson’s other works. There is something delightful about the cartoon-style to this live-action film, and the charm doesn’t wear off, even after multiple viewings.
It would never cross your mind how much Joseph Gordon Levitt could look like Bruce Willis, but the two managed to sell themselves as the same character in this year’s time-travel action thriller. “Looper” was written and directed by Rian Johnson, and take elements from films like “The Terminator” and manages to make everything fresh.
Willis and Gordon-Levitt play Joe, an assassin of people who are sent back in time to be disposed of discreetly. When Willis, playing an older Joe, is sent back for Gordon-Levitt to kill, the old Joe escapes, and a chase ensues.
It isn’t a high-speed action film, though; It takes its time to develop who the young and old Joe are, respectively, and shows how time has changed the character, for better and for worse. “Looper” is about people realizing their purpose, and it makes the sentiment more exciting than anyone could expect.
1) "Zero Dark Thirty"
“Zero Dark Thirty” had reached levels of acclaim most films never even get while it was in limited release. It has been nominated for Best Picture for the 2013 Golden Globes and has already won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Film of 2012 award.
Kathryn Bigelow again has found her stride in a war movie drenched in reality. The film’s director won the coveted Best Picture and Best Director awards at the 82nd Annual Oscars for “The Hurt Locker.”
“Zero Dark Thirty,” a story about how the CIA tracked and ultimately killed Osama bin Laden, has been turned into an outstanding narrative that grabs you from the opening. The film uses audio from the 9/11 attacks to set the stage before moving to the aftermath, and ultimately, to the night in May 2011 when Seal Team 6 killed the figurehead of al-Qaida. The film builds slowly and methodically, leading to a suspense-action sequence that does justice to the verity of cinema.