The Best and Worst Movies of 2012

  • Publish Date: January 7, 2013
  • Comments: ↓ 4 user comments

Limited releases

Breakdown of 2012 Limited Releases (Min. 7 Reviews)
Good (Metascore ≥ 61) 208 films
Mixed (40-60) 161 films
Bad (≤ 39) 52 films
Average Metascore 58.6

The list of the year's best-reviewed limited release films (i.e., movies screening at fewer than 600 theaters in the U.S.) was once again dominated by imports and documentaries (or, in several cases, imported documentaries). The only American-made dramatic film to crack the top 10 was the Southern fable Beasts of the Southern Wild 86, which features a remarkable performance from six-year-old star Quvenzhané Wallis.

At the top of the chart—with the second-highest Metascore among all films released in 2012—is Amour 92, a French-language drama from Austrian director Michael Haneke, who has a history of either wowing (The White Ribbon 82) or confounding (Funny Games 41) critics. Here, he's firmly in the former category, and his drama about an elderly married couple dealing with an illness is expected to earn an Oscar nomination or two, including a potential one for star Emmanuelle Riva. Also of note on the list below is This Is Not a Film 90, one of only three 2012 releases to score 90 or higher. This Iranian documentary was shot surreptitiously by directors Jafar Panahi and Mojtaba Mirtahmasb while Panahi was under house arrest (and banned from making films), and then smuggled out of the country on a flash drive hidden inside a cake.

Not every smaller film in 2012 managed to impress critics, however. In fact, the percentage of limited releases receiving positive reviews dropped to 49% last year, the third straight year that percentage has declined (it had been 52% in 2011, 54% in 2010, and 58% in 2009).

The Best Limited Releases of 2012
  Title Genre(s) Netflix Metascore Users
1 AmourForeign, Drama + Queue 928.0
2 This Is Not a FilmForeign, Documentary + Queue 905.6
3 The GatekeepersForeign, Documentary + Queue 87n/a
4 How to Survive a PlagueDocumentary + Queue 878.6
5 BarbaraForeign, Drama + Queue 878.0
6 ElenaForeign, Drama + Queue 877.0
7 The Kid with a BikeForeign, Drama + Queue 877.6
8 Gregory Crewdson: Brief EncountersDocumentary + Queue 86n/a
9 Beasts of the Southern WildDrama, Fantasy + Queue 867.4
10 The Waiting RoomDocumentary + Queue 84n/a
11 Holy MotorsForeign, Drama + Queue 847.8
12 Oslo, August 31stForeign, Drama + Queue 847.6
13 Monsieur LazharForeign, Drama + Queue 837.3
14 The Day He ArrivesForeign, Drama + Queue 83n/a
15 The FlatForeign, Documentary + Queue 83n/a
16 Side by SideDocumentary + Queue 838.6
17 The Deep Blue SeaDrama + Queue 826.2
18 In the FamilyDrama + Queue 826.4
19 TabuForeign, Drama + Queue 82n/a
20 FootnoteForeign, Drama + Queue 825.6
21 MarleyMusic, Documentary + Queue 829.0
22 Under African SkiesMusic, Documentary + Queue 82n/a
23 Once Upon a Time in AnatoliaForeign, Drama + Queue 827.4
24 SisterForeign, Drama + Queue 81n/a
25 TchoupitoulasDocumentary + Queue 81n/a

Only movies with seven or more reviews released between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012 were considered. Re-releases are excluded. A limited release film is one that screens at fewer than 600 theaters. The Metascore is a weighted average of scores from top professional critics, on a scale from 0 (bad) to 100 (good). Although scores have been rounded to the nearest whole number, movies are ranked prior to rounding. User scores represent an average of scores assigned by Metacritic.com site visitors on a scale from 0 (bad) to 10 (good). All scores in this article are from January 6, 2013.

The year's worst-reviewed film had a tortuous path to the big screen. The Tortured, an Erika Christensen-starring thriller about a couple who captures and tortures the serial killer who captured and tortured their son, was filmed in 2009 and debuted at FrightFest in 2010 before finally securing a general theatrical release this year in a handful of theaters. It's so bad that Rex Reed's review is actually the best one it received. The Kate Hudson-Gael García Bernal rom-com A Little Bit of Heaven also finished with a lower Metascore than any wide release film this year.

The Worst Limited Releases of 2012
  Title Genre(s) Metascore Users
1 The Tortured Horror, Thriller95.4
2 A Little Bit of Heaven Rom-com142.0
3 Excuse Me for LivingComedy17n/a
4 After Fall, WinterDrama19n/a
5 Assassin's BulletAction, Thriller20n/a
6 Smiley Horror202.7
7 30 Beats Rom-com20n/a
8 SupercapitalistThriller22n/a
9 That's What She SaidComedy22n/a
10 Beneath the DarknessHorror, Thriller224.5

What are your favorites?

What are your picks for the best or worst movies of 2012? Let us know in the comments section below.

Comments (4)

  • FearDZ  

    Zero Dark Thirty was a propaganda movie.
    As its based on Mark Owen's work ignoring the pakistan media reports..

  • rgp11  

    @dvjhdvjhfbh then what the fnck do you watch? The Hunger Games

  • dvjhdvjhfbh  

    This list shows why I hardly watch movies anymore. Looper, Dark Knight Rises, Avengers, and Lincoln? None of them were all that good. I hate to be Negative Nelly but what has happened to Hollywood?

  • Regal4point1  

    Beasts of the Southern Wild

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