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YEAR IN FILM 2012: A look back at the superheroes and standouts of 2012 -- and a sly peek at 2013

Room 237 (slated for wide release in March 2013)

Though some of its opening-weekend hype was rightfully muted after the Colorado killings, The Dark Knight Rises — a visually stunning if thematically confusing (soooo, are you anti-Occupy, or what, Batman?) blockbuster — raked in over a billion dollars worldwide. Its haul was second only to another comic-book film, Marvel's The Avengers, as colorful and goofy as Rises was serious and moody. (Hey, there's room for both kinds of superheroes.) But Rises is supposedly Nolan's last Batman movie; there are already two Avengers-related movies slated for 2013, and only Odin knows how many Marvel will end up making. If the company's Amazing Spider-Man was a non-event (and how many people still think Tobey Maguire was in that?), it was a $750 million event, so the webslinger will return, whether you like it or not.

And in case you're plotting out your nerd-alert calendar for 2013 (as one does), there will be plenty to gnaw on: Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim, a giant-monster movie already inspiring geek squeals on Facebook and beyond; Man of Steel (another crack at Superman, with Michael Shannon as General Zod); Star Trek Into Darkness (with Benedict Cumberbatch maybe playing KHAAAAAN); more Hunger Games-ing and hobbits; another Die Hard movie (A Good Day to Die Hard) and The Fast and the Furious 6 (title upgrade: 6 Fast 6 Furious); and another stand-alone Wolverine movie.

Surely there will be pleasures to be had among the above. But as 2012 proved, the most rewarding films are almost always the ones you have to make an effort to see, whether it's planning a midnight date at a single-screen neighborhood theater, or keeping tabs on festivals — practically a weekly event in the Bay Area — to get the inside scoop on films making what might be their only local appearances. If you're lucky enough to live in a place that loves cinema as much as we do, you can practically curate your own festival. And why wouldn't you? Add ninjas if you dare.





1. Holy Motors (Leos Carax, France/Germany)

2. The Master (Paul Thomas Anderson, US)

3. Zero Dark Thirty (Kathryn Bigelow, US)

4. Room 237 (Rodney Ascher, US)

5. Beasts of the Southern Wild (Benh Zeitlin, US)

6. The Fourth Dimension (Aleksei Fedorchenko, Harmony Korine, and Jan Kwiecinski, Poland/US/Russia)

7. The Queen of Versailles (Lauren Greenfield, US/Netherlands/UK/Denmark)

8. Silver Linings Playbook (David O. Russell, US)

9. Miami Connection (Y.K. Kim and Woo-sang Park, US/Hong Kong, 1987)

10. Django Unchained (Quentin Tarantino, US)


Honorable mentions:


Last Days Here (Don Argott and Demian Fenton, US, 2011)

Argo (Ben Affleck, US)

Bernie (Richard Linklater, US, 2011)

The Flat (Arnon Goldfinger, Israel/Germany, 2011) The Imposter (Bart Layton, UK) The Cabin in the Woods (Drew Goddard, US, 2011) Lincoln (Steven Spielberg, US/India)

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