"The Sapphires"
The girls are adorable, the music is great, and Chris O'Dowd is a goddamn movie star.

"On The Road"
Shaggy, uneven, and episodic, but somehow perfectly fitting as an adaptation of the Kerouac classic.

I like my comedy jet-black, and Ben Wheatley continues to prove himself capable of anything.

It may not be the same sort of adrenaline high as Oliver Stone's very best work, but the things it does well really stuck with me.

Even lesser Pixar can be magical.

"Katy Perry: Part Of Me 3D"
I had no opinion at all of Perry before the film, but this convinced me that I like her even if I still wouldn't buy a CD of her music.

I laughed. It's just that simple.

"The Dark Knight Rises"
The conclusion to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy is the messiest of the three films, but still includes some classic images and moments.

"Get The Gringo"
Mel Gibson vs. the most horrifying jail in movie history.

Gorgeous stop-motion animation with a smart message about looking past our perceptions of others.

Dark and uncomfortable, but shot through with surprising tenderness.

"Sleepwalk With Me"
Perhaps the best film ever made about what it feels like to try to carve out a career in stand-up comedy.

"The Campaign"
Oddly, not the most absurd political campaign we witnessed this year.

"The Bay"
Real-world fears make for surprisingly effective eco-horror.

There is grim fun to be had in this horror film about what an earthquake does to a group of partying friends in Chile.

"The Impossible"
Perhaps the single most effective film that I don't want to sit through a second time.  Could have also been called "Every Parent's Nightmare."

A guided tour of the inside of a very damaged mind.

Tim Burton never needs to write his autobiography now.

"Wreck-It Ralph"
Smart family animation about how we define ourselves and how others define us.

"The Ambassador"
The whole damn world is for sale.

"Rise Of The Guardians"
I've never thought of the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus as superheroes.  Evidently, I was wrong.

"Les Miserables"
Even Tom Hooper couldn't destroy the things that resonate in one of the most-viewed musicals of all time.

"Bad 25"
In 2012, it is nothing less than an act of bravery to offer up a positive look at Michael Jackson's legacy.

"Seeking A Friend For The End Of The World"
Just in case "Melancholia" wasn't funny enough for you.

"For A Good Time, Call…"
The most charming filthy movie of the year.

"Promised Land"
Super low-key, but "Good Will Frakking" actually works.

"Not Fade Away"
Far more gentle than I would have expected from David Chase.

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
No matter what my complaints, this is still a remarkable example of world-building on film, and a second viewing made that more clear.

"End Of Watch"
A David Ayer film in which the cops are actually good guys?  Amazing.

"Lords Of Salem"
It pains me to admit that Rob Zombie's actually getting better as a filmmaker, but "Lords" is full-blown creepy.

"The ABCs Of Death"
If you've only got two hours and want to know what Fantastic Fest feels like to attend, this is the perfect way to find out.

"Anna Karenina"
Stylish and oddly slight, this works as a sort of fevered rumination on the themes of the beloved novel.

Good clean fascist fun for the whole family.

"Much Ado About Nothing"
After you nail "The Avengers," evidently the next most logical thing to do is take a shot at Shakespeare.

"The Conspiracy"
Your found-footage horror film isn't paranoid if they're really after you.

"Miami Connection"
Because sometimes when you get everything wrong, it comes out oh-so-right.

"The Comedy"
This is what the endgame of irony looks like.

And with that, 2012 is done.  I look forward to a great 2013 here on the site and in dark theaters in LA, Park City, Cannes, Toronto, and especially my home away from home, Austin.  I hope all of you join me for another year of movies and conversation, and that I am able to do a better job in the future than I've done in the past.  I've got a few projects that I started that I need to finish in January, and we've got Sundance right around the corner.

It's going to be a busy year, and I appreciate each and every one of you who makes it worth the effort.
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A respected critic and commentator for fifteen years, Drew McWeeny helped create the online film community as "Moriarty" at Ain't It Cool News, and now proudly leads two budding Film Nerds in their ongoing movie education.