From 'A(mour)' to 'Z(ero Dark Thirty)': the best films of 2012

From 'A(mour)' to 'Z(ero Dark Thirty)': the best films of 2012

A fantastic year of movies filters down to this

It's been said here and in the podcast a number of times, but I might as well offer it up once more for good measure: 2012 was a pretty good year for movies. I admired a lot. I may not have loved a ton but I certainly really, really liked a lot and my appreciation and respect for a number of the visions tossed out on to screens this year can't be overstated. Bravo to the filmmakers, truly.

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<p>Jessica Chastain in &quot;Zero&nbsp;Dark&nbsp;Thirty&quot;</p>

Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty"

Credit: Columbia Pictures

'Zero Dark Thirty,' 'The Master' win big with Chicago film critics

'Lincoln' wins yet another pair of awards for lead actor and adapted screenplay

Another swift turnaround from nominations, as the Chicaco Film Critics Association has joined the chorus of "Zero Dark Thirty" supporters. The film won five awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress. "The Master," meanwhile, won four, for Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography and Best Score. Check out the full list of winners below and keep track of the season via The Circuit.

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<p>&quot;Les Mis&eacute;rables&quot; will be opening while voters have ballots in hand. Could inevitable box office stories help push it along?</p>

"Les Misérables" will be opening while voters have ballots in hand. Could inevitable box office stories help push it along?

Credit: Universal Pictures

Off the Carpet: Ballots are out

As the Academy prepares to speak up, where are we now?

Normally this column would begin with something like, "Ballots have been mailed to Oscar voters today," but that begs reminding that for the first time ever, the Academy has adopted an electronic voting system in addition to paper ballots (for those who request them). How will that change the course of the season? Is chatter about glitches and lack of understanding just a facile talking point blown out of proportion? Maybe. The Academy has been very diligent in reminding its membership of the changes, so I think it'll be fine, but what is tangible in all of this is the landscape as a result of the first major nominations announcements of the season.

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<p>Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro in &quot;Silver Linings Playbook.&quot;</p>

Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro in "Silver Linings Playbook."

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'Silver Linings Playbook' rules the Satellite Awards

Five awards for the comedy, including Best Picture, Director, Actor and Actress

As I've said before, I don't know a lot about the International Press Academy, which quietly holds the Satellite Awards every year, but I've gathered this much: they really, really like "Silver Linings Playbook." At last night's ceremony, David O. Russell's pleasantly frayed romantic comedy won Best Picture, Director and Film Editing, as well as the top two acting prizes for stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

One of the few major categories it didn't scoop was Best Adapted Screenplay, which went to "Life of Pi" -- Ang Lee's FX-heavy meta-fable also won Best Cinematography, but oddly lost the Best Visual Effects award to "Flight." As their unusual slate of nominees already showed, the Satellites don't generally follow the herd: Javier Bardem took Best Supporting Actor, while two films, neither of them "Amour," tied in the foreign -language race. Still, even they couldn't resist Anne Hathaway in "Les Misérables," which, with two extra trophies for its aural elements, ended up the night's second-biggest winner. Full list of winners after the jump, with everything else at The Circuit..  

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<p>Richard Gere in &quot;Arbitrage.&quot;</p>

Richard Gere in "Arbitrage."

Credit: Roadside Attractions

Roundup: Richard Gere joins the Palm Springs honoree list

Also: Composing 'Skyfall,' and should we know the Oscar voting tallies?

Another day, another Palm Springs Film Festival honoree. (I totally missed the addition of Helen Mirren to the list last week, but I imagine even she can't keep up with the honorary awards she racks up these days.) The latest one is "Arbitrage" star Richard Gere, who'll receive the Chairman's Award -- following Bradley Cooper, he's the second actor tapped for a gong at this year's festival. After a slow start to the season that saw him miss out on an Indie Spirit nod, Gere has rallied a bit in the last week: this publicity-friendly Palm Springs honor consolidates a semi-unexpected Best Actor Golden Globe nod that saw his stock rise in a very crowded race -- where potential vote-splintering at the bottom end of the Oscar ballot, combined with distributor Roadside Attractions' campaign savvy, raises the possibility of a surprise entry. Could it be Gere? I'm increasingly tempted to go there. [PSIFF]

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'The Master,' Bigelow, Phoenix, Riva win San Francisco Film Critics Circle awards
Credit: Columbia Pictures

'The Master,' Bigelow, Phoenix, Riva win San Francisco Film Critics Circle awards

'Lincoln' wins for screenplay and supporting actor

The San Francisco Film Critics Circle has joined the game, and the bandwagon for Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master," handing the film Best Picture and Best Actor honors. Kathryn Bigelow won Best Director for "Zero Dark Thirty" while Emmanuelle Riva won Best Actress for "Amour." Check out the full list of winners below and keep track of the season at The Circuit.

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<p>Pedro Almodovar and Jean-Paul Gaultier at the former's Academy tribute on Thursday.</p>

Pedro Almodovar and Jean-Paul Gaultier at the former's Academy tribute on Thursday.

Credit: AP Photo/Joel Ryan

Stephen Frears, Jean-Paul Gaultier and others honor Pedro Almodóvar at Academy tribute

The two-time Oscar winner was toasted by AMPAS on Thursday in London

LONDON -- It scarcely needs to be stated that, in terms of professional arduousness, film journalism is not exactly coal-mining -- so I understand when our occasional complaints about the wearying nature of the circuit rankle with some readers. Too many festivals. Too many parties. Too many canapés. How your hearts must bleed.  

Still, the truth is that when attending such events becomes a key part of one's job -- and compared to my across-the-pond colleagues, it's a far smaller component of mine -- not everything is an unqualified pleasure. So when an invitation drops in your inbox that gets you even half as excited as a "Twilight"-bound tween, it must be for a rather special occasion. Such was the case when I was asked if I'd like to attend AMPAS's intimate tribute to one of our most essential living auteurs, Pedro Almodóvar, in London -- and that was before I knew Grace Jones and Kristin Scott Thomas were also on the guest list.

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<p>&quot;The Master&quot;</p>

"The Master"

Credit: The Weinstein Company

'The Master,' 'Ang Lee' win with Kansas City Film Critics Circle

Other prizes to 'Argo,' 'The Cabin in the Woods' and 'Amour'

The second-oldest critics group in the country (behind the NYFCC), the Kansas City Film Critics Circle, has announced its slate of 2012 winners. "The Master" took Best Picture while "Life of Pi" helmer Ang Lee won Best Director.  Daniel Day-Lewis and Jennifer Lawrence won top acting honors for "Lincoln" and "Silver Linings Playbook," respectively. Check out the full set of winners below and remember to keep track of the season at The Circuit.

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<p>Emayatzy Corinealdi in &quot;Middle of Nowhere.&quot;</p>

Emayatzy Corinealdi in "Middle of Nowhere."

Credit: AFFRM

African-American Film Critics hail 'Zero Dark Thirty,' 'Middle of Nowhere'

Ben Affleck takes Best Director, Denzel Washington is Best Actor

The African-American Film Critics' Association is an interesting group on the precursor circuit -- while not explicitly dedicated to promoting black cinema and artists in the manner of, say, the Image Awards, their selections invariably reflect their identity to some extent. This year, for example, four of their five acting winners -- Denzel Washington, Emayatzy Corinealdi, Nate Parker and Quvenzhané Wallis -- are African-American.

Meanwhile, though Kathryn Bigelow's "Zero Dark Thirty" scooped yet another Best Picture gong, the group's biggest winner was African-American writer-director Ava DuVernay's "Middle of Nowhere." The indie drama landed four awards for Best Actress, Screenplay, Independent Film and Music, as well as placing at #4 on their 10 Best list. Nice to see this strong film having a day in the sun, even if its dynamite pair of supporting actresses, Lorraine Toussaint and Edwina Findley, couldn't defeat the redoubtable Sally Field. Full list of winners after the jump, and keep up with the trophy trail so far at The Circuit.

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<p>Tommy Lee Jones in &quot;Lincoln.&quot;&nbsp;</p>

Tommy Lee Jones in "Lincoln." 

Credit: Touchstone Pictures

'Lincoln' leads Houston Film Critics nods

'Anna Karenina' nabs a nomination... as the year's worst

“I think with each year, we come out and stake our ground on the question of best film, and particularly with some of our out-of-the-box choices.” So says Houston Film Critics' Society president Josh Starnes, and while I admire the sentiment, I'm struggling to identify too many out-of-the-box picks in their 2012 nominations list -- led by "Lincoln," with eight nods. Save a Best Picture nomination for the contentious "Cloud Atlas," and arguably a supporting mention for Judi Dench in "Skyfall," this looks largely like a copy-paste of umpteen other groups' lists this season, with "Les Misérables" and "The Master" also doing well with six nods apiece.

More wilful is their Worst Film of 2012 category, where the critics have decided to give Joe Wright's ambitious "Anna Karenina" a kicking -- and it's not the only film on the list that I rather like. Anyway, check out the full slate after the jump, and everything else at The Circuit.

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