4. “Argo”: Seriously, when you were watching “Jersey Girl” or “Gigli,” did you have any idea that Ben Affleck could become a world-class director? But after impressive efforts in “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town,” Affleck has hit the bulls-eye with this mostly accurate real-life tale of the CIA’s successful extraction of six U.S. Embassy employees during the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979. Affleck plays the CIA agent who concocts and leads the far-fetched scheme to rescue the Americans.
5. “Silver Linings Playbook”: First, a disclaimer. This movie is about fellow Philadelphia Eagles fans, so I’m not sure how much that influenced where this film ended up on my list. It’s been a tough year for us Eagles fans, and this is the least I could do to ease the pain. Regardless, this is an excellent film in which Bradley Cooper sheds his “Hangover” burden to turn in a solid performance as a guy with issues who falls in love with a girl with issues. Robert De Niro plays a father with issues.
6. “Looper”: Time-travel movies never make it to anybody’s top 10 list, but this one was better than most. The thriller stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a hitman who kills mob targets sent back in time from 30 years in the future. It’s a good life, until the day that the target sent back is the assassin, played 30 years older by Bruce Willis, who actually acts instead of smirks his way through the role.
7. “Django Unchained”: I was not a big fan of Quentin Tarantino’s revisionist Nazi bloodfest “Inglorious Basterds,” but this revisionist slavery bloodfest is better, although it could easily have been cut by 30 minutes. Like every other movie opening this holiday season, it clocks in at the nearly three-hour mark.