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Impressed, Yes, but Socks Still Firmly On

It was a good year for movies – but was it great?

By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Jan. 4, 2013

<i>Holy Motors</i>
Holy Motors

Ever have one of those years – a year in which few of the films you saw really grabbed you and shook you senseless? Is it me or the movies, you wonder?

At last check, my neurasthenia seems no worse than usual, yet here I am struggling to come up with a list of films to include in my Top 10. Most years, my problems arise from the need to whittle the list down to a measly 10 titles. This year, however, I would be thankful for that problem. This year my trouble has been coming up with enough movies I felt worthy of including on a Top 10 list, though I readily admit there are several eligible films that remain to be seen due to issues of time and availability.

Of course, Top 10 rankings are relative to the entire pool of candidates, but still, I feel that everything on the list should have, in a manner of speaking, knocked my socks off. And I regret to report that my socks are still on, though I still have high hopes to lose them in 2013.

Most years, my No. 1 movie emerges instantly upon seeing it: I know this is the film that all others will have to surpass. Whether it is Pan's Labyrinth, A Prophet, There Will Be Blood, or Synecdoche, New York, I know from the get-go that it is my favorite film of the year and that only something better can knock it off its perch. In a way, it becomes an organizing principle that helps everything else fall into place.

I was gobsmacked by the brashness of Holy Motors, and that's what finally propelled it into the No. 1 spot on my list this year. Obviously, my colleague Kimberley Jones felt similarly, which is why Holy Motors has emerged as the Austin Chronicle combined film critics' choice for best film of the year.

Austin Chronicle Top Films of 2012

1) Holy Motors (17)

2) Polisse (13)

3) Zero Dark Thirty (12)

4) Cloud Atlas (11)

5) The Master (9)

6) Beasts of the Southern Wild (8)

7) Lincoln (7)

8) Celeste & Jesse Forever (6: tie)

Argo (6: tie)

10) Moonrise Kingdom (5: tie)

Amour (5: tie)

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