Our 6 Favorite Films of the 2012 New York Film Festival

By  · Published on October 20th, 2012

This year’s New York Film Festival ended on Sunday night with the world premiere of Robert Zemeckis’s Flight, a big Hollywood movie that many saw as too mainstream a selection for the event. But it’s apparently decent enough to currently have a very high rating on Rotten Tomatoes – our own Jack Giroux gave it a “B” in his review from the fest – so it’s not like they closed things out with Alex Cross. Other big movies that some didn’t see as fitting were opening night film Life of Pi (review)and the “secretly” screened debut of Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln (review).

However, for the most part the 2012 programming was the typical New York cinephile’s dream smorgasbord of highbrow indies and foreign films. And these seemed to mainly meet the approval of our two primary critics covering them, Daniel Walber and Caitlin Hughes (both of whom are new additions to the FSR team and did an excellent job). And all together, our 22 reviews of NYFF features averaged mainly in the range of “B” to “B+” grades. And the only thing to get less than a “C” was Brian De Palma’s Passion, to which Caitlin gave a “D.”

We weren’t only interested in new works, either. Caitlin had some fun with the anniversary screening of The Princess Bride, while Daniel had requested that one of his picks of the fest be an older film: “If I can say the new (Dolce and Gabbana funded) restoration of Satyricon that made its international premiere in the festival’s Masterworks program, then that.”

Caitlin also wrote two non-review features, one on the bromance quality of Hyde Park on Hudson and another comparing Passion to Showgirls. Daniel, meanwhile, also covered the shorts programs, splitting his thoughts into roundups on films involving solitude and films celebrating art and artists.

See the three (new) favorites named by each of the critics, as well as their final thoughts on the fest, after the jump.


  1. Beyond the Hills (review)
  2. Ginger and Rosa (review)
  3. No (review)

“For me, the 50th New York Film Festival was one long conversation. Life of Pi’s lush 3D cinematography beckons comparison with The Master’s 70mm and a debate between the past and future of the art. I found myself babbling time and again about the Oscar for foreign film and if challenging works like Our Children, Caesar Must Die and Beyond the Hills could make it (and how the rules should really be changed). After watching Ginger and Rosa, Not Fade Away and Something in the Air, everyone seemed itching to talk about nostalgia for the 1960s and what makes a period coming-of-age film succeed. Moviegoers, the talented and clever bunch of attending critics, and the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s ebullient staff alike always had something interesting to say, even if it meant my trying to awkwardly defend that “B-” I gave Lincoln. Film culture is alive and well, at least on 65th Street.”


  1. Amour (review)
  2. Like Someone in Love (review)
  3. Frances Ha (review at the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s blog)

“For the duration of NYFF 2012, I pretty much watched movies, wrote about them, and ate popcorn for dinner. Since these are three of my favorite activities, it was a good few weeks.

“This year’s slate was good on the whole, though I do wish that it wasn’t as commercial. The opening and closing night films, for example – Life of Pi and Flight – will hit cineplexes within the next few months, and didn’t meet my expectations. Nevertheless, NYFF brought forth a good variety of films, with directors and talent showing up to many of the screenings.

“My favorite sighting was more random, however – I had the unique privilege of sitting behind Michael Shannon during the press screening of Amour. Between bouts of my public crying, I took respite in watching him watch the movie, as he sat in a near-fetal position. Thankfully, he held it together (crying-wise).”

For our complete coverage of the 2012 New York Film Festival, reviews and features, click here.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.