Inspired by seeing “Holy Motors” hier soir, here’s my list of the 19 most unusual films of 2012. (Hmm … 19 is certainly an unusual number to use, isn’t it?  Yes. Yes it is.)

By the way, every time I ranked these, I fiddled with the order, so I wouldn’t get too caught up what’s above or below another. The point is, if you want to see something different at the movies, here’s your guide …


Master
19) “The Master”
Would qualify for this list just for the naked salon scene alone. 

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Wonder
18) “To the Wonder”
Seen at the Toronto International Film Festival, Terrence Malick’s latest breaks the mold not only with its dialogue-light approach but also its almost complete disinterest in explaining the actions of its lead character.

* * *


Hobbit
17) “The Hobbit”
Faster than 48 frames per second, “Hobbit” carved out its own piece of idiosyncratic immortality.

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Django
16) “Django Unchained”
“Roots,” this wasn’t. No one other than Tarantino could make a movie set in the world of slavery like this.

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Ruby
15) “Ruby Sparks”
The title character might have been the most original female creation of the year in film, not the least bit because she so literally was a creation.  

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Rome
14) “To Rome With Love”
Alec Baldwin meets his youthful equivalent in an Italian alley (and it’s Jesse Eisenberg), Woody Allen stages shower opera, and we’re off to the races.

* * *


Safety2
13) “Safety Not Guaranteed”
Crazy story, crazy character, crazy finish, all with an indie spirit.

* * *


Pi
12) “Life of Pi”
Animals who might or might not have been what they seemed, combined with virtuouso visual imagery, qualify “Life of Pi” for distinctiveness.

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Anna
11) “Anna Karenina”
Very simply, director Joe Wright made a choice to deliver a film that was supremely stylized — in part. Love it or hate it, that’s off the beaten path. 

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Moonrise
10) “Moonrise Kingdom”
No surprise to find a Wes Anderson film on this list — once again, he created a world all his own.

* * *


Cosmo
9) “Cosmopolis”
Not since my prom night has a limousine been put to less productive use, but you can’t say “Cosmopolis” didn’t deliver on the bizarre.

* * *


Road
8) “On the Road”
Jack Kerouac’s book figured to be unconventional as a film. Oh, and it was.

* * *


Seven
7) “Seven Psychopaths”

Crackling and whip-smart, “Psychopaths” was also meta for the best of reasons, touching not only on the meaning of writing but the meaning of life.

* * *


Looper
6) “Looper”
Time travel will give any film a leg up on being different, but the third act involving the power of a young boy really elevated “Looper” into another level of radicalism, radicality and radness.

* * *


Samsara
5) “Samsara”
The dialogue-free documentary collects and connects the most diverse (and often disconcerting) set of images you’ll see this year.

* * *


Paperboy
4) “The Paperboy”

The film that is its own sketch comedy parody.

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Cloud
3) “Cloud Atlas”
Befitting its title, this one was all over the map. Strange in so many ways, from the storytelling to the makeup and visuals.

* * *


Beasts
2) “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

My favorite of this group, its setting and execution were wondrous and original, all to a meaningful purpose.

* * *


HM2
1) “Holy Motors”
As noted here, “Holy Motors” takes the cake for unusuality and mashes it all over its own face.

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