This was a terrific year for movies. I don't know that I have more to say about it as a whole than that, because 2012 was such a varied year in cinema, too. We saw procedurals, Zero Dark Thirty and Lincoln, that dug into the immense work behind known moments in history; movies about the movies, like Holy Motors and The Cabin in the Woods, and sensory creations like Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Master, with their very different protagonists who each seem, at times, tuned into a clearer sense of the universe. more »
The annals of filmmaking are filled with stories of people who managed to make movies against all odds, without money, without shooting permits, without proper professional equipment. This Is Not a Film, the 75-minute film directed by Iranian filmmaker Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb that made its debut at Cannes last spring and is now, thankfully, arriving in theaters Stateside, may be the ultimate achievement in stealth filmmaking, considering that Panahi is currently serving a six-year jail sentence and has been banned by the Iranian government from making films for 20 years. And yet somehow he has made a movie that found its way first to one of the world's major film festivals, and now to other parts of the world: This Is Not a Film is a small but extremely significant message in a bottle. That metaphor is almost literal: The picture made its way to Cannes via a USB drive -- which was smuggled in a cake.