Top-10It is the best of times, it is the worst of times, and always, entertaining.

In a repeat of last year, half of the country is snowbound while the other half is dry as a bone. One half can go to the movies while the other half is getting their film list ready as soon as the roads are plowed. So goes the end of 2012.

I have found this year to be a year in which only a few films clearly rose to the top (Lincoln or Zero Dark Thirty), while others (Jack & Diane and The Master sank to the bottom.) The following are my Ten Best Films of 2012, with a few extras, and then comes the Ten Worst Films of 2012. Oscar nomination time is mid-January 2013, with the Academy Awards at the end of February 2013. My selections are listed in alphabetical order.

Anna Karenina (rated R)---a remake of Tolstoy's classic and this time it is set on a stage that goes on to a ballroom or a field or back to a stage. Keeps the audience on its toes as does the performance of Kiera Knightley as Anna (oh, that jewelry) and Jude Law as her husband, Karenin, who treats her like a pet until she decides enough is enough.

A Royal Affair (subtitled) (rated R)---Denmark film based on a true incident, in which Alice Vikander of "Anna Karenina" plays a Danish queen married to a husband who is mentally ill. The royal doctor (Mads Mikkelsen not playing a villainous role) comes to her aid and they slowly begin to reform the country.

Bully (rated R)---This documentary goes into the subject of bullying by interviewing several teenagers who are experiencing it in school. Also contains interviews of parents of teens who committed suicide from the effects of bullying. An eye-opener.

Farewell, My Queen (subtitled) (rated PG 13)---a French film about the incidents that led to the downfall of Marie Antoinette (Diane Krueger doing great French language). Story is told through Queen Marie's Reader who becomes a confidant of the Queen and sees just how little freedom female royalty has.

Hitchcock (rated PG 13)---Anthony Hopkins takes on the role of Alfred Hitchcock while Helen Mirren is his wife, Alma. This is the time when Hitchcock wants to make "Psycho" and has to go against opposition to make the film which became a classic. Scarlett Johansson takes the Janet Leigh role.

Les Miserables (rated PG 13)---always difficult to film a stage musical, but with almost three hours, it is accomplished here as the audience experiences pathos, woe, hatred, revolution, escape, love and the stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway doing their own singing. Encore.

Lincoln (rated PG 13)---probably the best film of the year and Daniel Day-Lewis immerses himself in the role of Abraham Lincoln so much so, it seems a portrait is walking. Sally Field is Mary Todd Lincoln and so many actors are in the movie, it is as though scripts were passed out on street corners. A Steven Spielberg production and an adventure in American history.

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (rated PG 13)---this film opened early in the year, yet, it is memorable for the unusual script and acting of Ewan McGregor (much better than in "The Impossible") as a man torn between love of humans and love of the fish in his work.

The Hobbit (rated PG 13)---and to think, in years to come, there are two more "Hobbit" movies to go! Peter Jackson is out-doing himself again. Martin Freeman has the lead as Bilbo, on a search in this prequel that is almost three hours long with many special effects.

Zero Dark Thirty (rated R)---Kathryn Bigelow puts her special hand on this movie that stars Jessica Chastain in the search for Osama Ben Laden. Torture, false leads, deception and always a goal no matter how long it takes. We will find you and take you out. Amen.

Extra: Comic book fans had two large productions this year and both had quality. The Dark Knight Rises (PG 13) with Christian Bale as Batman and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, had people holding their breath to see what comes next. Tom Hardy as the villain went nowhere, though. The Avengers (PG 13) had Thor, Iron Man and just about every other comic action figure fighting evil and you know? It worked, especially Thor and his hammer.

Extra: Who would have thought a movie about male strippers would tell a memorable story. Channing Tatum's Magic Mike (rated R) did just that. Tatum delivered a good performance as a man who was afraid of commitment, with Matthew McConaughey as the owner of the strip club.

Extra: Good films with smaller budgets and both turned out to be science fiction. Safety Not Guaranteed (rated PG 13) cost $750,000 with a story about a man who claims to have invented a time travel machine, while Chronicle ($12,000,000 and rated PG 13) was about teens who find something unusual in a field and it gives them special powers. Well acted. Special effects here equal those of films with budgets in the hundred million dollar category.

Guilty Pleasure: Premium Rush (rated PG 13) with Joseph Gordon-Levitt leading the pack in bicycle messengers and oh, that traffic. Sure beats the standard James Bond chase (sorry, Daniel Craig) .

Ten Worst

Now on to the Ten Worst Films of 2012, and there never is a scarcity here. We go from the soap opera Dark Shadows to teen angst to a tsunami. All in a day's work. My Ten Worst Films of 2012 are listed in alphabetical order.

Brave (rated PG)---an animated film in medieval times with a girl archer as a heroine. Red hair everywhere, but a thick plot for kids.

Dark Shadows (PG 13)---Johnny Depp tries to channel the ghost of the television soap opera, but the cast ends up in a swamp of revenge.

Jack & Diane (rated R)---this independent film introduced us to Riley Keogh, Elvis Presley's grand-daughter who is a fair actress, but in a story of teen angst with red herrings of horror that went nowhere. The film should have stayed on paper.

Life Of Pi (rated PG)---Director Ang Lee used 3 D as a weapon to get audiences into the mood of fantasy, shipwreck, lost at sea, a tiger, flying fish, carnivorous island and the audiences started looking at their watches saying, "Why? Why?"

Silver Linings Playbook (rated R)---I know, I know, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper star in this film. That aside, someone should have read the script to see that running down the street for exercise frequently does not a storyline make. Robert De Niro, as Bradley's father, isn't given much to do.

Taken 2 (rated R)---Liam Neeson had a hit with the first Taken, and a theme of kidnapping, then proving himself an action figure. Now, it's back to kidnapping as the theme and a rehash of the first film. Sigh.

Ted (rated R)---it must have looked good on paper, have Seth McFarland voice a rambunctious teddy bear whose "mind" is perpetually in the gutter. Ted is dead.

The Impossible (rated PG 13)---surviving a tsunami in Thailand gives us lots of camera work of people hanging onto branches or being swept underwater. This is the Perils of Pauline of the Pacific and acting is not required. Stars Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor.

The Master (rated R)---two actors, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix, try to convince us there is a script here. We know they can act, but The Master seems to have eluded the director and writer.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (rated PG 13)---acting is not required as long as you can stare at people. Dialogue is not a necessity and neither is coherence. Stars Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Vampires and werewolves, bon voyage.

Extra: Skyfall (rated PG 13)---Javier Bardem is one of the worst Bond villains. His hair color here detracts from his persona. Is Bond dead? Is Bond alive? However, Judi Dench does M with a flair and we have a new Q. As far as Daniel Craig? There isn't a train he wouldn't run on or a motorcycle he wouldn't ride wearing a permanently pressed suit.

Copyright 2012 Marie Asner

# # # # #
{module Possibly Related Articles - Also search our Legacy Site}