8. "Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present"
There were a number of good documentaries in 2012, but "The Artist Is Present" haunted me for weeks. A must see for any artist no matter your age or experience.
A stunningly well made thriller whose screenplay delicately walks the line between mining laughs from its Hollywood origins to generating life and death tension during an improbable Tehran escape. Well done Mr. Affleck, well done.
6. "Keep the Lights On"
An impressive and moving drama centered on the ups and downs of a gay couple dealing with addiction in the first decade of the 20th century. Noteworthy for its historical accuracy and a top notch turn by Thure Lindhardt.
5. "Beasts of the Southern Wild"
The Sundance kid that could. A startling work from director Benh Zeitlin that has already cemented its name in independent film history.
4. "Cloud Atlas"
An epic and visionary tale from the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer that is far more ambitious than most of the films released this year. Incredibly moving, "Atlas" is the best ensemble work of the year and destined to be remembered longer than some of this year's more celebrated critical hits.
3. "Holy Motors"
Speaking of ambitious, Leos Carax's latest is a fantastical art film that isn't afraid to challenge moviegoers expectations of narrative cinema. It's a surreal day in the life of a man of many identities and centered by a jaw-dropping performance by Denis Lavant (who would earn an Oscar nod in a perfect world). And like "Cloud Atlas" or "The Artist is Present," you just can't get it out of your head.