The Alamo Drafthouse Staff Selects Their Top 10!

We're not done Top Ten-ing yet!

The Alamo Drafthouse Staff Selects Their Top 10!

Members of the Alamo Drafthouse team - including every theater location, Badass Digest, Fantastic Fest, Mondo, Fons PR and Drafthouse Films - each submitted their Top 10 films of 2012, which were then aggregated into one master list of universally adored cinema.

Every film had to be released in the calendar year of 2012, so certain festival faves didn’t make the list - but you’ll probably see them on next year’s Top 10! The only other caveat is that because of our obvious conflict of interest, we have excluded any and all 2012 Drafthouse Films titles (Bullhead, Klown, The Ambassador, Miami Connection) from consideration from our top ten list, despite the fact that they showed up on many of our individual lists.

“I always love reviewing the top 10s of the Alamo team and assembling our composite list,” says Alamo Drafthouse founder and CEO Tim League.  “Our personal tastes in new movies reflect our repertory programming tastes with heavy emphasis on smart genre film and a passion for all manner of unique storytelling. Judging by the depth and breadth of great movies, I think that 2012 will be remembered as one of the best movie years in recent history.”

Below are the ten films of 2012 voted on by the highest number of Alamo Drafthouse team members. Four of these films played at Fantastic Fest (Holy Motors, Looper, Cloud Atlas and Kill List), and three of them received their own Mondo poster (Looper, The Cabin in the Woods and Kill List). But what all of these films have in common is that they moved us, challenged us, inspired us and made us proud to work for a company that promotes a love of cinema as its highest priority.

10. Lincoln, directed by Steven Spielberg, written by Tony Kushner

“The thing that makes this the one of the best movies of the year and the thing that makes it one of the best entries in Steven Spielberg's prolific filmography have a lot to do with each other. The former is due to Daniel Day-Lewis' spiritual-like channeling of our 16th president and the latter is Spielberg getting out of the way of that performance. No over-the-top camerawork, forceful mise-en-scène or overbearing narrative cues; the focus is here is on the power of words in storytelling, politics and especially its delivery.” – Roger Tinch, Online and Digital Media

9. Kill List, directed by Ben Wheatley, written by Wheatley and Amy Jump

“Unnerving. Shocking. Perversely funny. Refreshingly disciplined. Fascinating characters. Naked old people. Everything a great ‘70s-era horror film dripped in paranoia should be, translated to a modern time of uncertainty. ‘Cogs in the wheel’ is all we are – in both the world at large and in Ben Wheatley's masterfully woven tale.” – Ryan Fons, Fons PR

8. Cloud Atlas, directed and written by Lana Wachowski, Tom Tykwer and Andy Wachowski

“Overwhelming, heart-pummeling, astonishing cinema. That one of the most technically ambitious films I’ve ever seen should knock the wind out of me with its sheer emotional force is a marvel unto itself – that the film should be wildly entertaining, too, is miraculous. Three hours lapsed as if mere moments, and when that gorgeous score played out over the end credits, I knew I had seen my favorite film of the year.” – Meredith Borders, Managing Editor

7. The Cabin in the Woods, directed by Drew Goddard, written by Goddard and Joss Whedon

“A meta-horror film that manages to entertain while raising questions about genre conventions and the audience's fascination with onscreen violence.” – Rodney Perkins, Fantastic Fest Programmer

6. Zero Dark Thirty, directed by Kathryn Bigelow, written by Mark Boal

“You never once feel manipulated or emotionally pushed in Bigelow’s wonderful docudrama.” – James Emanuel Shapiro, Drafthouse Films Chief Operating Officer 

"There's controversy surrounding Zero Dark Thirty, and that's a good thing. Kathryn Bigelow's film plunges us into the moral grey area of the War on Terror and it never offers us easy answers or trite homilies. What it gives us is the cold thrill of professionals doing the best work of their lives, the intellectual thrill of the sweep of history and the personal thrill of Jessica Chastain creating a rich, badass character out of smoke. Zero Dark Thirty is a Rorschach test that will force you to examine your own ideas about right and wrong, evil and justice. And it's damn exciting as it does that." – Devin Faraci, Badass Digest Editor-in-Chief

5. Looper, directed and written by Rian Johnson

“It isn’t a perfect time travel movie, because no such thing can ever exist (and if it did some scientist would use it to actually invent time travel, and then we’d all be fucked). But Looper had me incredibly invested in the action at a farmhouse, something that The Walking Dead Season Two made me think was impossible, and the questions it asked within the confines of a strong narrative made it the only movie of the year that sent me to a nearby coffee shop so I could have an active conversation about the topics raised, the story, the characters – everything about the film. A win on pretty much every level.” – Henri Mazza, Alamo Entertainment Executive Director

4. Moonrise Kingdom, directed by Wes Anderson, written by Anderson and Roman Coppola

“This might end up being one of my favorite films, period. It's certainly among my favorite romances ever. I could watch Moonrise Kingdom over and over again, and I doubt it would ever stop charming me. This is the most emotionally involved I became with a film this year. And as much as I like Looper, this contains the year's exemplary Bruce Willis performance.” – Evan Saathoff, Badass Digest News Editor

3. Holy Motors, directed and written by Leos Carax

Holy Motors is a film filled with so many sheer pleasures, countless charming, wonderful and titillating surprises, that to describe it in linear, descriptive terms would be to spoil the experience altogether. It is that rare breed of film, an art house title lauded by critics, adorned with festival awards and embraced by film programmers. Its beauty, sincerity and utterly playful unpredictability casts any false notion of foreign film pretentiousness aside. Holy Motors is in many ways the perfect fit for the Alamo Drafthouse - a brand new, smart, lovely film that audiences are drawn to magnetically. It amazes me that we were and, as of 12/22, still are, the only theater showing this film in Austin.” – Sam Prime, Drafthouse Programmer

2. The Master, directed and written by Paul Thomas Anderson

The Master manipulates, hypnotizes, and rattles around your brain long after watching the film. PTA is a rarity in the modern age of cinema – a true artist whose vision doesn’t crumble under the golden fist of studio power. Much like There Will Be Blood, this masterpiece will be embraced more as time passes by.” – Corey Wilson, Sponsorship Director

1. Django Unchained, directed and written by Quentin Tarantino

"Over the last twenty years Quentin Tarantino has developed into one of the greatest living filmmakers of his generation. He’s fine-tuned his writing, his sense of tension and pace and his ability to assemble truly impressive casts, and he’s consistently produced great film after great film. With Django Unchained, Tarantino’s take on the spaghetti western, the director has produced his most entertaining movie yet – without numbing his penchant for rabblerousing. Django is funny, endearing, provocative and a loving tribute to why Tarantino fell in love with cinema in the first place." - Robert Saucedo, Houston Market Programmer

Meredith Borders's photo About the Author: Meredith is the managing editor of Badass Digest, Fantastic Fest, The Alamo Drafthouse and Birth.Movies.Death. She's shorter than you might think.
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