The 10 Best Films You Didn't See In 2012


National averages suggest that most Americans watch three movies a year in theaters. Unfortunately, that means a lot of great films never end up getting seen. In 2012, there were plenty of quality releases that missed out on the big crowds. If you're wondering what, exactly, you should've seen this year but didn't, we're here to fill you in.
The following is a list of movies that, for whatever reason, just didn't get the attention or large-scale critical appreciation they deserved. However, each are very much worth your time.

1: 'Cosmopolis' (David Cronenberg)
There seemed to be a little juice behind Canadian director David Cronenberg's latest effort, a wonderfully meandering adaptation of Dom DeLillo's novel of the same name that charts a single, seemingly endless limousine ride. For one, the film premiered at Cannes, to mostly ecstatic audiences (full disclosure: I was in one of them), and for another, Cronenberg loaded his bizarre contraption with a secret weapon: Robert Pattinson. As a disaffected billionaire, Pattinson showed unheard of gravitas and wit, both of which were sorely missing during his five-movie tenure as sparkly vampire Edward in the "Twilight" movies. But not even his handsome or borderline hieroglyphic face, could get people to come out to "Cosmopolis." Granted, the movie is pretty weird. But it's also tremendously rewarding -- it works its hooks into you and, months after seeing it, I still can't stop thinking about it. It's also part of 2012's great limousine ride double feature, along with Leos Carax's equally strange "Holy Motors." The mini-bar optional.
2: 'Your Sister's Sister' (Lynn Shelton)

Easily the highlight of this year's Tribeca Film Festival, "Your Sister's Sister" is a micro-budgeted indie comedy that sounds really boring, but is, in fact, one of the most surprisingly delightful films of 2012. The plot concerns Jack (played by Mark Duplass), a twenty-something loser who goes to his brother's ex-girlfriend's cabin in the woods to hang out and get himself together. While there, he accidentally runs into his brother's ex-girlfriend's lesbian sister (Rosemarie DeWitt) and, eventually, the ex-girlfriend herself (the endlessly fetching Emily Blunt). A comedy of errors, sexual misjudgments, and hurt feelings follow, and it ends with an honest-to-goodness cliffhanger, a rarity in films in general, but even scarcer in indie romantic comedies.

3: 'Detention' (Joseph Kahn)
While critics (and select audiences) were falling over themselves to praise Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard's splat-stick genre deconstruction "Cabin in the Woods," another movie, just as sneakily subversive and giddily fun, was released under the radar and appreciated by almost no one. That film was Joseph Kahn's candy-colored slasher send-up "Detention." A film that feels genuinely ahead of its time, it involves a serial killer, time travel, misplaced nineties nostalgia, an almost uncomfortable level of self-awareness, and on screen graphics and text that make "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" seem like the paradigm of stylistic subtlety. In short: it's bananas. It's also totally brilliant. Kahn not only perfectly mimics the speech patterns and behavior of today's teens, but the whole movie feels like it's been processed by their texting, Tweeting, multi-tasking brains. It's the kind of film that is so overwhelmingly odd that the second it's over, you want to start it all again. A cult following now seems to be brewing, just in the few months it's been on home video, which should be aided by the fact that one of its stars/co-producers, Josh Hutcherson, has become an overnight teen idol. (Although, that didn't help "Cosmopolis.")

4: 'Side by Side' (Christopher Kenneally)

Documentaries are already at a disadvantage, but a documentary about the changing face of cinema and the debate caused by the industry's wholesale shift to digital photography is just crippling. Most see it as esoteric and hard to navigate, even though recognizable directors like Martin Scorsese and James Cameron are interviewed and producer Keanu Reeves narrates and hosts. No matter. "Side by Side" is one of the most vital documentaries of the year, not just because it's chronicling a seismic change in the way movies are made, distributed, and presented, but because it is an easy metaphor for the grander technological shifts in society, away from the tactile and into the more nebulously ethereal. Keanu turns out to be a surprisingly fun and informative host, laying out the history of film (as in celluloid) and talking with a wide range of directors that also include Steven Soderbergh, Christopher Nolan and David Lynch. Both sides of the debate are presented passionately, and while the writing seems to be on the wall, it doesn't change the romanticism and power of film. It'll always be our first love.

5: 'Bernie (Richard Linkleter)

Bafflingly under-appreciated, "Bernie" reteamed comedy juggernaut Jack Black with his "School of Rock" director, Richard Linklater, for a pitch-black true crime tale set in a Podunk Texas town with more rumors than rattlesnakes. Shirley Maclaine co-starred in this snappy little comedy, as an elderly wench befriended by the town's kindly mortician (Black). Of course, given that this is a true story, something altogether darker transpires, and it's a testament to Linklater's tonal tightrope walking that you never stop giggling. As a director, he is observant and nonjudgmental, utilizing a kind of Greek Chorus of actual Texans (some from the town where the crime took place), to give their two cents on the events of the movie. Despite its miniscule budget, it was a wildly commercial, easily accessible film, and might be the performance of Jack Black's career. (Matthew McConaughey, continuing his unparalleled 2012 winning streak, also has a small role.) It's nothing short of delightful; a Texas-shaped treat.