2012 Top Ten Movies!

Posted in Uncategorized by CulturalMining.com on January 26, 2013

Hi, this is Daniel Garber at the Movies for culturalmining.com and CIUT 89.5 FM, looking at high-brow and low-brow movies, indie, cult, foreign, festival, documentary, genre and mainstream films, helping you see movies with good taste, movies that taste good, and how to tell the difference.


At the end of every year movie critics are supposed to choose ten movies as the best of the year. Why 10? I think it’s because we live in a decimal culture, with ten fingers and toes, decades, ten dollar bills, and a decimal-based number system.

And what are the criteria? I haven’t a clue. It can’t just be well made movies and it can’t just be enjoyable movies… it has to be some combination of the two. I guess they also have to have played in this city, at least at a film festival… and I suppose for me to call it one the best films of the year, it has to be something I’ve already reviewed.

Keep in mind, I don’t agree with a lot of the fans or critics. John Carter is considered the year’s biggest flop, but I quite enjoyed it. Similarly, I liked Lawless and Hysteria which also got largely poor reviews. But the ones I chose as my top ten are all movies with a good and interesting story, fine acting, and in some way emotionally moving – in short, a movie that stuck in my head long after I saw it. I see a couple hundred movies a year, so the ones that keep coming back must have something to them.

OK, with no further ado, let me present my top ten movie list for 2012:


A devastating drama about an elderly couple who vow to avoid all hospitals and live at their lives in their apartment no matter what. As the wife gradually loses her grip, the husband has to decide what to do.


This is a dark retelling of the Snow White story, but it’s set in Seville in the 1920′s, and she’s the daughter of a bullfighter and a flamenco dancer. The evil Queen is a nouveau riche nurse. When she loses her memory she is adopted by a travelling band of little people and becomes a toreadora. Silent, in B&W.

Cabin in the Woods

The most meta of all meta horror movies, about a bunch of University friends drive out to a cabin in the woods. They have to fight scary monsters even as they’re watched in a laboratory by technicians in white coats.

Holy Motors

An absurdist comedy about a day in the life of a man who takes on various personalities as he is driven around in a white stretch limo.

In the Family

A slow-moving drama about a man who struggles to get back custody of his young son after his common-law husband dies. It’s a long movie and visually plain – the camera never moves – but it carries an emotional wallop that makes up for that.

Kon Tiki

It’s after WWII and Norwegian ethnographer Thor Heyerdahl wants to test his theories about Polynesia – that the natives there came not from Asia but from South America. He gets some friends together and they ties some logs together with rope and set off for the South Pacific. The movie follows the adventurers across an ocean, their encounters with glowing creatures, dangerous sharks, and wales, all beneath their balsa wood raft and moved by Tiki himself, the god’s image painted on the canvas sail. Based on a true story, this is a fantastic Norwegian epic.

Rust and Bone

A drama about the relationship between a Belgian drifter/boxer who’s a single Dad and a French Orca trainer at Marineland. I loved this movie.


A child soldier in Central Africa tries to get back to her village when she’s troubled by visions of the dead.

Simon and the Oaks

This is a sweeping historical drama about two families in Sweden around WWII.

Stories We Tell

Dir: Sarah Polley

Sarah Polley’s wild, blonde actress mother Diane died when she was a child, so she was raised by her kindly, stiff-upper-lip dad, Michael. So to find out more about her past and that of her mother, she enlists her brothers, sisters, family friends and relations to tell their versions of their past, and illustrates it all with found Super-8 footage from her dad’s collection. This is an amazing family story told by an unreliable narrator and with lots of misleading half-truths, myths, lies and legends.

Honourable mentions:

Spring Breakers

Lawrence Anyways

The Hunt


John Carter




The Raid: Redemption

Project X

The Secret World of Arriety


Dark Horse


Queen of Versailles

Guilty of Romance

And many others…

Amour opens next week, and keep your eye out for a new silent movie series starting at the Projection Booth. This is Daniel Garber at the Movies, each Friday morning on CIUT 89.5 FM and on my website, culturalmining.com

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