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Kyle Smith (Twitter: @rkylesmith) is critic-at-large for National Review, theater critic for The New Criterion and the author of the novels Love Monkey and A Christmas Caroline. Type a title in the box above to locate a review.

Buy Love Monkey for $4! "Hilarious"--Maslin, NY Times. "Exceedingly readable and wickedly funny romantic comedy"--S.F. Chronicle. "Loud and brash, a helluva lot of fun"--Entertainment Weekly. "Engaging romp, laugh-out-loud funny"-CNN. "Shrewd, self-deprecating, oh-so-witty. Smith's ruthless humor knows no bounds"--NPR

Buy A Christmas Caroline for $10! "for those who prefer their sentimentality seasoned with a dash of cynical wit. A quick, enjoyable read...straight out of Devil Wears Prada"--The Wall Street Journal

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    Ten Best Movies of 2012 (Art-House Division)

    By Kyle | January 1, 2013

    I already posted my list of my favorite mainstream movies of the year.

    10. Compliance. I hated sitting through this movie, which is a highly accurate dramatization of a real-life crime that happened when a prank phone caller posing as a police officer terrorized a fast-food place using nothing more than the power of his words over the phone. But I can’t deny this film’s power. Humanity has rarely looked so bleak. If you don’t want to kick a hole in your screen after watching it…’re not me.

    9. Not Fade Away. David Chase’s rookie effort as a filmmaker travels well-trodden ground — it’s the story of a kid growing up in 1960s New Jersey and trying to do something creative while escaping both the Vietnam War and his overbearing old-school dad — but Chase and his terrific cast make it shine.

    8. Jeff, Who Lives at Home. Jason Segel and Ed Helms star in a dramedy that at first struck me as routine Hollywood sneering at middle America, but as the movie goes on it becomes an intriguingly well-designed story with a strangely magical ending.

    7. Friends with Kids. Formulaic sitcom movie about a couple of buddies who decide to have a kid together while remaining platonic. Results are pretty predictable, but the script is arch and witty, the characters are nicely realized and the performances are tops.

    6. Beware of Mr. Baker. Terrific documentary by a journalist who went searching for Ginger Baker, the Cream drummer who personified every hope and fear you have about rock’s wild men, yet somehow survived to tell the tale.

    5. The Deep Blue Sea. Director Terence Davies’ operatic style gives a throbbing urgency to this postwar soap opera about a woman (Rachel Weisz) trapped in a loveless marriage and resorting to an equally doomed affair with a soldier (Tom Hiddleston).

    4. Monsieur Lazhar. Canadian French-language picture neatly illustrates how political correctness can destroy a good teacher.

    3. The Ambassador. Mads Brugger, who has Sacha Baron Cohen’s gift for improvisation, went to the Central African Republic to buy himself an ambassadorship and expose the amazing levels of corruption that prevail in Africa. Degree of difficulty/danger in this doc is amazing.

    2. Bernie. Richard Linklater’s whydunnit about an amiable Texan undertaker turned murderer is really a fond consideration of the quirks of the filmmaker’s native Texas, and as the title character Jack Black is one of the most lovable killers ever put on screen.

    1. Amour. Michael Haneke’s stark, unblinking look at aging and death features a towering performance by Emmanuelle Riva as a woman who has suffered a debilitating stroke and, with what’s left of her will, wishes not to go on living. Harsh but true.

    Topics: Movies | 11 Comments »

    11 Responses to “Ten Best Movies of 2012 (Art-House Division)”

    1. Maurice Says:
      January 2nd, 2013 at 8:25 am

      Thanks for including “The Deep Blue Sea” – it’s my second favorite of the year. My number 1 is “Les Mis”. (It may be another month before I catch up with some of the late 2012 releases).

    2. JimmyC Says:
      January 3rd, 2013 at 2:03 pm

      This is the first I’d heard about “Monsieur Lazhar”- I’ll have to check it out. I’m reminded of another French-Canadian film, “The Barbarian Invasions” which, in its own way, was probably the most devastating critique of big government socialism I’ve ever seen. Sometimes conservative films come from the most unexpected places.

    3. Kyle Says:
      January 3rd, 2013 at 3:12 pm

      yeah, that was a pretty amazing takedown of socialized meds.

    4. Kyle Says:
      January 3rd, 2013 at 3:14 pm

      My review of Monsieur Lazhar:

    5. Union Jack Says:
      January 3rd, 2013 at 4:15 pm

      herr haneke = (talented) sadist

      plays his masochistic bougie ‘sophisicated’ audience for fools

      and admits doing it

      and they keep coming back for more

      nice work if u can get it

      tho funny games was…funny — the german one anyway

      white ribbon pretty radical

    6. Obama bin Biden Says:
      January 4th, 2013 at 10:15 pm

      Deep Blue Sea- a Renny Harlin remake?

    7. CHNYCREALTY Says:
      January 7th, 2013 at 12:29 pm

      Shame on you …

      No, just kidding.

      But Friends with Kids?!?!

      It was so smarmy I wanted to vomit. I despised both leads and frankly, I think Jessica Westfeldt has no star quality, certaintly not now in her 40s. She’s that annoying rich middle-aged woman who thinks the world is stupid for not being in love with her. Kissing Jessica Stein was her wheelhouse until we were forced to believe that guy was infatuated with her, but Heather Juergensen carried that film – she has star quality.

      I guess unappealing people portraying themselves as superior to the simple minded or meretrious masses around them is obnoxious. Better are appealing people who don’t realize their stuck with losers around them and are far more humble than they should be … like George Baily and Mary Bailey.

      Donna Reed had star quality. Put her and Jimmy Stewart in this movie and maybe.


      Well, you are generally great and that Iron Man II review is still a masterpiece.

    8. CHNYCREALTY Says:
      January 7th, 2013 at 12:31 pm

      Friends with Kids is an “art-house” movie?!?! Ugh! It was bad 1:45 hour sit-com that made Three’s Company look like genius.

    9. CHNYCREALTY Says:
      January 7th, 2013 at 1:26 pm

      It was a Westfeldt vanity production in which she basically proclaimed how wonderful she was and how the stupid world won’t recognize her greatness; not an art-house movie.

    10. John Delaney Says:
      January 8th, 2013 at 8:55 pm

      Kyle, wanna post a “10 Worst Films of 2012” for fun? I’d love to read it, and based on your comments to your colleague in the Post, it wouldn’t be too hard for you to find a few films to rank as the worst of the year.

    11. Kyle Says:
      January 11th, 2013 at 3:47 pm

      @John Delaney:
      1. Rock of Ages
      2. Rock of Ages
      3. Rock of Ages…