Mash-Ups, 'Moonrise,' And 'Miami' Connections: Jen Yamato's Top 10 Movie Moments of 2012

Top 10 2012 Movies

You can have your Top 10 lists stuffed with cold and corny prestige pics and all those “respectable” “films” headed for Oscar gold, but when I think back on 2012 I remember the movies that wrapped themselves around my heart and brain like a warm blanket made of light and sound and kick-ass jammin' electric guitars and made me feel excited to be alive, dammit!

(I can also pinpoint with a wistful pang the precise moment when Tyler Perry broke my heart. Still love you, TP.)

These are the films, big and small, ambitious and soulful, heart-rending and bone-crunching, about lovers, fighters, time-travelers, masters, closet-dwellers, hermaphrodite basketball players and friends (forever) that made my year at the movies. Join me in celebrating these magical movie moments and let's hope 2013 delivers even more awesomeness.

10. Moonrise Kingdom
Look, I’m not a robot. Wes Anderson’s nostalgic dip into childhood love pitched its twee kid romance tent in my heart and has stayed there all through the summer, fall, and winter. “What kind of bird are YOU?”

9. Looper
That perfect song at the end of Rian Johnson’s contemplative pic about selflessness and love disguised as a sci-fi time travel movie kills me every time. Also (SEMI SPOILER) the Rainmaker shot of Garret Dillahunt at the end is one of the most perversely beautiful images I’ve seen all year.

8. The Final Member at Fantastic Fest
Three men share a penis obsession that anchors this deftly executed, wry and surprisingly poignant documentary — but the delicate, deep-fried veal testicle served up mid-movie by the demented folks at Fantastic Fest made for a truly inspired moviegoing experience. (It tasted... squishy.) Next time I’ll probably pass on the snacks.

7. Pitch Perfect
A movie pretty much made for me. Bonus points for bringing Blackstreet back. Side note: I once totally attempted a riff-off in real life, and that shit is hard.

6. The Raid
Another movie pretty much made for me. Neck-on-doorway = action kill of the year.

5. The Master
Joaquin Phoenix’s feral turn as the scary, mesmerizing alternate-universe Ed Grimley fever dream demon of a man exploded for me the moment he raged against that prison cell toilet and I realized I was watching something rare, so elementally beyond performance, that I actually felt bad. For the toilet.

4. Holy Motors
Speaking of performance: Nothing this year blew my mind as wholly as Leos Carax’s wonderfully whimsical film about film, art, and the incredible range of emotion within Denis Lavant’s play-doh landscape of a face. Not even…

3. Miami Connection
To know the magical alchemy of tae kwon do, friendship, biker ninjas, and ‘80s rock ‘n’ roll that is Miami Connection is to love it. After my third viewing, Grand Master Y. K. Kim told me my spirit animal was a tiger. Take that, stupid cocaine!

2. Trapped in the Closet Forever
2012 was the year that R. Kelly answered everyone’s prayers and promised that Trapped in the Closet will never, ever, ever end. Since I had the honor of watching Chapters 1-22 (i.e. the first saga i.e. the best of the urban hip-hopera dramarama) screened theatrically, and since it was one of the most transcendent evenings I’ve spent listening to Kells in the dark with a bunch of strangers in my entire life, and since screw you guys this is my list, it makes my Top 10. I mean, Chuck was there for goodness sake, and even if he didn’t explain what The Package is he spent the night belting out all of his lines from the aisles. That is, when he wasn’t dancing and singing along with the rest of us. What I’m trying to say is, Trapped in the Closet is magic. It’s R. Kelly’s Cloud Atlas AND his The Klumps all at once.

1. Boys Will Be Boys
How do I do justice to this Kickstarter project in words? I can’t. Suffice to say the short film about “about a Bisexual Down Low NCAA Basketball Player, who impregnates his secret Gay Friend, a Rare Reproducing Hermaphrodite” has an actually ballsy if f***ing bizarre premise and is the single best internet movie discovery of the year that nobody discovered, and in failing to Kickstart it we’ve only failed ourselves.

Eternal thanks to @JimJarmuschHair and @Nickrob for championing the best video of 2012. Consider it a gift to Homo Sapiens.

Wind down 2012 with more Top 10 lists and leave your favorite films of the year in the comments below!

Amy Nicholson's / Top 10 of 2012 / Written In Haiku

The Masters: Movieline Critic Alison Willmore's Top 10 Films of 2012

They Turn Us On, Dammit! Movieline Critic Alison Willmore's Top 10 Overlooked Gems of 2012

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  • Jake says:

    What the hell? How have I never heard of Miami Connection?!?!? That looks incredible. Great list Jen.

  • Great post Jen!

    "No Diggity" was my personal fav cameo in the list. Although I dont know how a group of white kids came across another group of white kids and one black girl to then have a west-side story style A Capella battle, but yes this very much seems like a movie right up your alley.

  • Joss says:

    Hi Jen,

    Quick question: When will The Dark Knight Rises hit the 70's on Rotten Tomatoes like you said it would? I'm looking right now and it's sitting at 87%. It also made AFI's 10 best films of the year list. And critics like Kenneth Turan and Richard Corliss have been raving about it for months. And it made $1.1 billion, earning an "A" Cinemascore from movie goers.

    I'm really becoming concerned that you don't know what you're talking about. Please reassure me.

    Your friend,


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