I’ve spent the past week going through my archives and building spreadsheets of reviews for all the media I cover. By the time I got through 2012, I realized what an amazing year it’s been for film. To make the cut for my Top 10 list for 2012, a film needs to score an 8/10 or higher; only one of those 8/10 films can get in at this point and I still haven’t seen Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, or Django Unchained.

Yet, there are a number of strong, inventive films from 2012 you might have missed for any number of reasons. Maybe they bombed at the box office due to a poor marketing campaign. Maybe they only did a one week qualifying release in New York and Los Angeles and spent the rest of the year shipping out screeners to critics and Academy members. Maybe it’s a genre of film you don’t typically seek out or a big budget blockbuster that you dismissed in summer movie season. Whatever the case, these 12 films deserve your attention.

As a quick note, this list purposely excludes the end of the year one week qualifying releases like Rust & Bone and Amour. Even if I do get to see them before 2013, they’re going to open in a more substantial way in the next few months.

1: The Devil’s Carnival

How You Missed It:

devilscarnivalscorpion 12 Great Films You Missed in 2012, Part 1The Devil’s Carnival decided to steal a page from the golden age of Hollywood and screen as a series of events. Darren Lynn Bousman toured the show throughout North America with large, immersive screenings. Cast members and circus performers showed up to interact with the crowd before the hour long film played. The ticket price was high for a film–$22 just to get in, significantly more for the full experience–and the lower price sold out quickly in most markets.

Why You Should See It:

Forget the nightmare of the previous Bousman/Terence Zdunich collaboration Repo: The Genetic Opera. The Devil’s Carnival is an old-fashioned musical with a dark edge. Three cosmic revenge stories pair recently deceased sinners with carnies and attractions that riff on Aesop’s Fables to create big music hall-styled song and dance numbers. The cast is great and the songs are strong and memorable. This is what horror musicals should be like.

Full Review