10 Best Movies (and 5 Worst) of 2012: Lisa Schwarzbaum's Picks
BEST 10. How to Survive a Plague
A rigorous, impassioned, and powerful-as-hell report on heroism and bravery during the darkest days of the AIDS epidemic.
BEST 9. The Loneliest Planet
A small, emotionally profound indie that works as a relationship study set against big, stark foreign mountains.
BEST 8. Skyfall
Dark, sleek, aware of mortality, and making way for the new — in other words, one of the best James Bond pics, ever.
BEST 7. Beasts of the Southern Wild
A wildly original, magic-tinged eco-fable, washed up on the shores of a post-Katrina world and starring the year's littlest acting phenom.
BEST 6. The Gatekeepers
This vitally important Israeli documentary is a feat, first of access (to former heads of the Israeli Secret Service) and second, of passionate and appropriately unsettling political commentary.
BEST 5. Argo
Not only a crackerjack thriller, but also improbably true — mostly!
BEST 4. Amour
The year's most exquisitely adult story, about loving and aging and dying.
BEST 3. The Master
The year's greatest cinematic enigma, personified in an electric duet between Joaquin Phoenix and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
BEST 2. Lincoln
A remarkable action movie: The action consists of a brilliant president engaged in the vital, messy work of American democracy.
BEST 1. Zero Dark Thirty
Filmmaking in towering command of a true search-and-destroy story, wired to be powerfully personal for each viewer.
NEXT: Lisa's picks for the worst movies of the year...
WORST 5. Trouble With the Curve
Tired ''Get off my lawn!'' growls from Clint Eastwood in an irredeemably derivative sports-redemption drama.
WORST 4. Butter
A rancid political comedy, self-righteous and smug, that backfires in pandering to its intended liberal audience.
WORST 3. Hyde Park on Hudson
Tacky, tittery conjecture about FDR's sex life, disguised as a tra-la-la Downton Abbey spin-off.
WORST 2. That's What She Said
The nadir of equal-opportunity femme raunch, featuring a stubborn vaginal yeast infection.
WORST 1. Hitchcock
A square, synthetic, and unconscionably doctored ''bio''-drama about one of cinema's most unsquare directors.