Written and Directed by Michel Hazanavicius
Set in the era when silent pictures gave way to sound, The Artist is positively Chaplinesque: It serves up slapstick, sentiment and a happy ending snatched from the jaws of tragedy. We dare you to name another comedy that so patiently builds its entire narrative toward a single last-second joke. We Also Loved: 50/50, Bridesmaids, Midnight in Paris, and Tower Heist.
Directed by Clint Eastwood
When we first meet J. Edgar Hoover, Bolshevik terrorists are bombing U.S. cities. By film’s end, Richard Nixon is beginning his presidency. In between, Eastwood and company starkly portray not only how the world changes in the span of a lifetime, but how a single life can define those changes. We Also Loved: The Help, The Iron Lady and Midnight in Paris.
Foreign Language Film
“Okay, we’re half-breeds,” the Arab-French woman tells her French-Greek-Jewish lover. “We should go forth and multiply. The day there’s nothing but half-breeds, there’ll be peace.” Writer-director Michel Leclerc’s tale of unlikely love between a 50-something conservative man and a young liberal woman does not merely address the bridging of generational and cultural divides; it also envisions the likely future face of Europe — and, possibly, the world. We Also Loved: 80 Days, In Darkness, Queen to Play and The Skin I Live In.
Directed by Richard Press
When Press told the 82-year-old Cunningham he’d make the perfect subject for a documentary, Press recalls, “Bill thought it was the most ridiculous idea imaginable.” Thank goodness Press prevailed — this portrait of a genius, living alone in a cluttered Manhattan apartment and photographing street fashions for The New York Times from his bicycle, is a tribute not only to a man but to individualists of every age. We Also Loved: Hot Coffee, The Interrupters, Project Nim and Undefeated.
He gunned us down in Goodfellas and led us through corridors of madness in Shutter Island. But nothing prepared us for the marvels of Hugo, the director’s magical fantasy about an orphan who lives in the walls of a 1930s-era Paris train station. Seldom has a child’s-eye view of life’s wonders and worries been so lushly, lovingly rendered. Scorsese’s first-time use of 3-D technology transforms the screen into the most spectacular pop-up book you’ve ever seen.
Grownup Love Story
The Iron Lady
They toddle about the quiet house after dark, playfully jabbing each other’s hot buttons, recalling fond memories, fretting about the future. As Margaret Thatcher and her husband, Denis, Streep and Broadbent embody our hopes for old love: comfortable, affectionate, and undying—even beyond death. We Also Loved: Emily Watson and Peter Mullan, War Horse; Jodie Foster and Mel Gibson, The Beaver; and Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer, J. Edgar.
Readers’ Choice Award 2012
The story of a black maid in 1960s Mississippi and her unlikely friendship with a privileged young white woman was the overwhelming selection in an online poll of AARP the Magazine readers. Depicting an era that lives in the memory of all but the youngest boomers, The Help reminds us all of how far America has progressed in the past half-century … and of the brave, nameless millions who helped bring change about.