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The best films of 2012

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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).

The year’s most controversial movie is Kathryn Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty.” I find myself among the lonely dissenters on this one. Certainly this film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden is smashingly directed, but its torture scenes, and their consequences, are calculatedly deficient in any political context. It’s a timorous movie posing as a courageous one. At least “Argo,” flimsy but enjoyable, didn’t pretend to be some kind of new-style political docudrama.

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