As 2012 ends, the best films deserve acknowledgement, a tip of the hat. Here are the films I most admired in 2012, those that entertained as well as inspired, that offered insight as well as consummate cinematic experiences.
The title—The Ides of March—alludes to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar and its nefarious literal and figurative back stabbing in that political world. George Clooney's film of that title portends equally grim, venomous double-dealing. The good news is that it delivers as a dramatic, gripping morality tale echoing contemporary scandals in this adaptation of Beau Willimon's play Farragut North.
Jack Goes Boating takes a snapshot of four fairly ordinary, New York working-class people, warts and all. Clyde and Lucy have some history buried in their relationship which enters a precarious phase. Jack and Connie have just begun their involvement, cautiously, even fearfully. As imagined by first-time feature-film director Philip Seymour Hoffman, who also stars as Jack, most of the tension bubbles to the surface slowly, building in the viewer an impending sense of dread. Minimalist in its presentation with very little non-source music and a measured pace peppered with Jack's imagining his successes, Hoffman offers a profound character study.