I didn’t have time to watch a lot of movies in the past year, so to be clear this is not an exhaustive list. These are just some films you should check out of if you haven’t had the chance yet.

In no particular order…

SAVE THE DATE
I saw this at Sundance last year and thought the film was an entertaining light-hearted portrayal of falling out of love with someone and in love with someone else. I appreciated the film’s generally optimistic ending after having seen countless films of similar ilk end with either unearned ambiguity or just plain cynicism.


BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
A film that forces you to really be an active viewer, the relationship between the father and the daughter alone put a smile on my face. It also made me think about my family, and I’m a sucker for any movie that can make me do that.


WE ARE LEGION: THE STORY OF THE HACKTIVISTS
Anonymous is one of the most fascinating groups around. They’ll be in history books. Or whatever replaces history books.


ARGO
Although there’s nothing really too defining or “auteurish” about Ben Affleck’s directing style, I liked his Gone Baby Gone, and in Argo it’s pretty clear he possesses an ever-growing mastery of his craft. Drama, humor, tension and odd tonal shifts = my kind of movie. The supporting cast was spot-on as well.


THE MASTER
Honestly, this movie was pretty boring, and I’ve never been the biggest P.T. Anderson fan. But Joaquin Phoenix’s performance alone kept me waiting to see what was going to happen next in a film without much of a traditional plot.


SKYFALL
I hadn’t seen any of the newer Bond movies until this one, so it was good to see a 007 who fights a lot with his fists. And his fighting wasn’t the I-know-30-styles-of-martial-arts type fighing; it was just plain brawling, which, even if less effective, is arguably more manly. And Javier Bardem is again awesome as a bad guy. I wonder who’d win in a diabolical showdown: Silva or Friendo from No Country for Old Men?

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THE AVENGERS
It’s crazy to think that Iron Man is only 5’8″.


GIVE UP TOMORROW
A powerful film about a great injustice in the Philippines. I had a visceral reaction during and after watching it, and I was sincerely moved by the directing duo’s storytelling skills and sheer dedication to the cause.


I AM A GHOST
My friend (and NFS member) H.P. Mendoza directed this film. I’m not a horror film or scary movie guy, but I loved the simplicity of his filmmaking in this one. He squeezed a truly rich, compelling narrative out of a single location and seemingly a minimal number of setups.


KILLING THEM SOFTLY
F*ck CinemaScore. Marketed incorrectly as a gangster movie, this film is full of great performances and long darkly funny conversations. I wasn’t so into Brad Pitt’s blatantly preachy final scene in the bar, but everything else before that was pure enjoyment for me.

**Two films I wish I’d seen in 2012: In the Family and Zero Dark Thirty.

What’s on your list?

Patrick is a filmmaker and Golden State Warriors fan living in Los Angeles. He’s also Co-Founder of the National Film Society. Follow him on Twitter: @PatrickEpino.