This list is not my favorite new releases of the year; instead, it is the best of the content I watched since this time last year. It also does not include films that I saw in the theater. In addition, this list is in alphabetical order because agonizing over a precise order would take out all the fun.
After the Wedding – a 2006 Danish film, nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the Oscars:
To save the failing orphanage he runs in India, Danish transplant Jacob Petersen returns to his homeland to meet a self-indulgent businessman named Jørgen who’s offered a generous donation — and represents everything the noble-minded Jacob abhors.
Biutiful – a 2010 film from Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu, nominated for Best Actor (Javier Bardem) and Best Foreign Language Film at the Academy Awards:
Diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, Uxbal — a divorced father raising two children — is determined to atone for his life as a black marketeer in this engrossing character study that unfolds in the slums of Barcelona, Spain.
Breaking Bad: Season 4 - this series has been renewed for a fifth and final season.
Emmy winner Bryan Cranston stars as Walter White, a high school science teacher who learns that he has terminal lung cancer and teams with a former student to manufacture and sell high-quality crystal meth to secure his family’s future
Buffy the Vampire Slayer - In early 2012, I started watching this Joss Wedon cult classic, which ran from 1997-2003, and I’m currently in the early episodes of Season 6:
Despite her desire to live a normal life at Sunnydale High, tough-as-nails teenager Buffy Summers fulfills her mystical calling as a Slayer to protect humankind from vampires, demons and other supernatural creatures- with some help from her friends.
Lilyhammer: Season 1 - a Netflix-original, Norwegian-American television series. Think “Sopranos meets Oslo.” This series has been renewed for a second season.
After he testifies against a Mafia boss, ex-gangster Frank Tagliano enters the witness protection program and asks to be sent to Norway. Despite the peaceful surroundings, it’s not long before Frank strays from the straight and narrow.
Interviews and archival footage help illuminate the career of an influential public figure whose willingness to take on big industry earned him a reputation as both a working-class hero and a public pariah.
The Secret Circle - this series was not renewed for a second season due to the high production costs.
Based on the popular novel series of the same name for young adults, this supernatural drama series centers around Cassie Blake, a shy 16-year-old who discovers, after an abrupt move to a new town, that she comes from a long line of witches.
Tomboy - a 2011 French drama with incredible child acting (a rarity):
Uncomfortable living as a girl, 10-year-old Laure decides to spend her childhood as Michael. When Michael’s family moves to rural France, the child wins friends and comes to understand the complexities of gender.
In the wake of a zombie apocalypse that desolates the world as we know it, a group of survivors led by police officer Rick Grimes holds on to the hope of humanity by banding together to wage a never-ending fight for their own survival.
You Can Count on Me - a 2000 film written and directed by Kenneth Lonergan that was nominated for Best Actress (Laura Linney) and Best Original Screenplay.
Single mother Samantha Prescott is already preoccupied with raising her son, who’s become sullen — and curious about his missing father — when her wayward brother appears on the scene to borrow money … and instantly bonds with the boy.
What are some of your favorite streaming videos from Netflix or a similar source from this past year?
What should I add to my queue for 2012?
Also, if you find yourself regularly searching for quality streaming content, the podcast Filmspitting SVU will keep your streaming queue overflowing: “Filmspotting: Streaming Video Unit is a bi-weekly podcast hosted by Alison Willmore and Matt Singer focusing on the world of online movies.”
I welcome your feedback and suggestions in the comments section.
Other “Best of 2012″ Lists
The Rev. Dr. Carl Gregg is a trained spiritual director, a D.Min. graduate of San Francisco Theological Seminary, and the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Frederick, Maryland. Follow him on Facebook (facebook.com/carlgregg) and Twitter (@carlgregg) .
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