All week our writers will debate: Which was the greatest film year of the past half century. Click here for a complete list of our essays.

I’m here today to argue that 2012 was the greatest year in cinema. I know  you’re thinking: is she insane?  How will she even begin to argue such a ridiculous theory? Sure, 2012 didn't  bring us Vertigo or Citizen Kane or Chinatown or whatever, but it WAS the year Spring Breakers came out, so I think it’s time you showed some respect.


Just kidding, just kidding, calm down. The truth is, it really was the best year in cinema and here is why: Jennifer Lawrence. 2012 was the year J-Law rose to superstardom and showed the world how insanely talented she is in two very different but equally special films: Silver Linings Playbook and Hunger Games, the coolest dystopian film of our generation, and a creative, deceivingly intelligent commentary on the wealth inequality issues that plague us today.

Yes, I really do believe that Hunger Games was an epic accomplishment worthy of the history books, but the truth is if Silver Linings Playbook had been the only movie released in 2012, it still would have been the best year in cinema. Silver Linings Playbook changed the game and set the bar for screenwriting (as well as acting) much higher. It was the first film made during my adult life that inspired me to write and create, as well as move me to my very soul. This romance centered around two characters suffering from mental illness was not just a great film but also a powerful step forward for the anti-stigma movement. Mental illness is a real infliction, and those who suffer from it do not deserve to be judged any more than those who suffer from physical illnesses. Moreover, they deserve love and happiness, just like anyone else. Silver Linings Playbook explored the possibilities of what can happen when you learn to love yourself.

Now, if I have yet to convince you that 2012 was the greatest year in film, please direct your attention to Ruby Sparks, written by the wildly talented Zoe Kazan, who also starred in it. This film is literally unlike anything you’ve ever seen or will see. It is a one-of-a-kind gem about a novelist who writes a character that comes to life. Everything he writes about her become true. Each moment in this film is detailed and alive and aware, an eye-opening story that tackles imagination, creation, and relationships. Ruby Sparks goes down in history as one of the best movies of all time thanks to its innovative style and incomparably raw emotion.


On a final note, 2012 was the year of Wreck it Ralph, one of these special movies made for kids that adults can love and appreciate too. Wreck it Ralph was an animation masterpiece with advanced and sophisticated lessons in morality and being true to yourself. Having nothing to do with Ruby Sparks whatsoever, Ralph and Ruby share a similar message. In Ruby Sparks, there is one line that always spoke to me: "Sometimes, Ruby wasn't good at life." Ruby isn't always good at life, but she is an incredible, precious human being. In Wreck it Ralph, we see characters who are inherently "glitchy", and learn that ultimately, that is something to celebrate. In case you forgot, this was also one of the main messages in Silver Linings Playbook!

So, to summarize, 2012 was the greatest year in film because:

  1. Jennifer Lawrence
  2. Zoe Kazan
  3. Astute and artful commentary on important social topics.
  4. Wreck it Ralph
  5. Encouragement to be true to yourself

On the basis of three great films, 2012 will live forever.

Now is the part where you can tell me all the reasons why I’m wrong (or right!!!).


Other pieces in this series:

1973 by Brian Formo

1974 by Daniel Fienberg

1977 by Louis Virtel

1980 by Richard Rushfield

1982 by Alan Sepinwall

1988 by Drew McWeeny

1995 by Jane Hu

1998 by Michael Oates Palmer

1999 by Kris Tapley

2001 by Chris Eggertsen

2012 by Zara Lisbon