AARON MESH, January-April
MATTHEW SINGER, April-September
REBECCA JACOBSON, October-December
1. Silver Linings Playbook
Silver Linings Playbook is many things: ropey-dopey romance, offbeat portrait of mental illness, sharp family drama, scrappy ode to eccentricity. But director David O. Russell, aided by magnificently honest (and honestly magnificent) performances from Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, makes it all work. From its stars' discussion of psychotropic drugs to its go-for-broke bizarro dance scene, it's one of the funniest and most deeply affecting films in years.
2. The Sessions
As a 38-year-old polio survivor who seeks to lose his virginity, John Hawkes turns in one of 2012's most arresting performances. The Sessions has received flak for pulling punches, but in neither gawking at nor glorifying sex, director Ben Lewin gives the power of physical intimacy its due.
In my short tenure, no film has frustrated me more than Lincoln. But it wriggled its stately, chiaroscuro way into my mind and has remained firmly lodged there since. Though waxy, it captures the most mesmerizing political wheeling and dealing I've seen on screen, and Daniel Day-Lewis' performance is something of genius.