It was such a strong year at the movies in 2012 that even coming up with a Top 5 list of honorable mentions was brutal. Nonetheless, here's my list:
1. "Django Unchained": Quentin Tarantino's sensational Western and ode to revenge flicks is a bloody -- and bloody entertaining -- epic. Certain to raise tempers and eyebrows, the provocative and brazen film finds unshackled slave Django (Jamie Foxx) and a bounty hunter (Christoph Waltz, excellent as usual) taking to the road to find most-wanted baddies and Django's wife. Samuel L. Jackson, as a too-loyal slave, and Leonardo DiCaprio, as a sicko plantation owner, are outstanding in one of Tarantino's strongest films.
2. "Lincoln": Tony Kushner's rich, intricate
3. "The Perks of Being a Wallflower": There have been numerous cherished depictions of what high school was like, but none quite as emotionally complex and resonant as this gem. Siblings (Emma Watson and Ezra Miller) welcome a socially awkward but sweet teen (Logan Lerman) into their unpopular fold. First-time director Stephen Chbosky adapts his
4. "The Impossible": Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor deliver two of their strongest performances in Juan Antonio Bayona's ("The Orphanage") harrowing but transcendent drama chronicling one family's ordeal during the 2004 tsunami in Thailand. But it's really newcomer Tom Holland, playing their characters' son, who steals the film with a searing, heartfelt performance -- one of the year's best.
5. "The Waiting Room": What is life really like in an overburdened emergency room? Watch Bay Area director Peter Nicks' compelling fly-on-the-wall documentary focusing on the comings and goings at Oakland's Highland Hospital. A topical subject, a necessary film.