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The best films of 2012

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I was heartened by the growing spate of fine socially and politically conscious documentaries this year, films like “The Invisible War,” about rape in the military; “The Central Park Five”; “Chasing Ice”; “Under African Skies”; “Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry”; and “The Gatekeepers,” about Shin Bet, Israel’s secret security service. (It opens in February for a regular run.) These films do far more than recap events: They reframe them, and in some cases – as with “The Invisible War” – have led to much-needed legislation.

I also appreciated the personal memoir documentaries such as “This Is Not a Film” and “Photographic Memory,” welcome respites from all those docs centered on competitions (although the chess-tournament film “Brooklyn Castle” was exceptional).

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