Over the break: best winter films

Jimmy Lichtenwalter – Features Writer |

2012 was a year for great films, and they kept people talking into early 2013. Here are last year’s top three movies: 

3. “Silver Linings Playbook” 

David O. Russell’s newest effort is a return to his earlier work. Funny and melancholy in equal measures, the film tells the tale of Pat, a man trying to put his life back together after a violent altercation sent him to a mental institution. After he is released into the care of his quirky parents, Pat soon strikes up a bizarre friendship with a woman named Tiffany who is dealing with problems of her own. 

With “Playbook” Russell again delves into the dynamics of working class families. His script finds the right balance between drama and comedy, yet doesn’t shy away from the darkness of the story. Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence both give outstanding performances as Pat and Tiffany. 

At its heart, “Silver Linings Playbook” is a movie about real people grappling with real issues. 

2. “Django Unchained”

If there were anybody Quentin Tarantino could be compared to, it would probably be Andy Warhol. But any comparison would diminish the ingenuity and creativity of Tarantino’s work. He is truly a one-of-a-kind artist and “Django Unchained” only solidifies this sentiment. 

A western set in the Deep South before the Civil War, “Django Unchained” is a revenge film (much like “Inglourious Basterds”) about a freed slave-turned-bounty-hunter and his quest to free his wife from captivity. As is the usual for Tarantino, the film is bold and bloody, and the dialogue between his characters crackles with wit and humor. 

1. “Zero Dark Thirty”

Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal follow up their award-winning war film “The Hurt Locker” with this intensive look at the hunt and assassination of Osama bin Laden. 

While it clocks in at an almost three hour run time, “Zero Dark Thirty” doesn’t feel nearly that long. It is the most fascinating and tense film of the year, despite its lack of large set-pieces and conventional action.  In fact, most of the film is composed of people looking at computer monitors and extended conversations. 

Despite this, “Zero Dark Thirty” makes the mundane incredibly interesting. Bigelow and Boal aren’t interested in simply singing the praises of the United States and revealing bin Laden’s demise; this meditative look at the famed manhunt poses many questions about the cost of revenge and what our country does in the name of freedom.

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