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December 25, 2012

Slate: The 10 best movies of 2012

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

"The Turin Horse."

The self-proclaimed last film of Béla Tarr, the Hungarian director of such bleak masterpieces as "Sátántangó" and "Damnation," "The Turin Horse" begins with a sly red herring, suggesting the story will follow Friedrich Nietzsche on the day when he embraced an ill-treated horse in the public square, then went mad and fell silent for the rest of his life. Instead, we follow the mistreated horse back to its home — a miserable hovel where a peasant lives in isolation with his grown daughter, repeating the same futile gestures day after day as they slowly but surely starve. "The Turin Horse" is a movie Samuel Beckett might have imagined, a seamless blend of humor and despair.

"Zero Dark Thirty."

Kathryn Bigelow's controversial, pulse-pounding thriller about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, based on original reporting by screenwriter Mark Boal and starring the incandescent Jessica Chastain as a monomaniacal CIA operative, is maybe the only film this year that every American needs to see. Does it leave you certain how to feel about our country's prosecution of the war on terror or about the role of torture in the bin Laden manhunt? No, it leaves you drained, sweaty-palmed and morally queasy — sort of like the war on terror itself.

Runners-up:

"The Central Park Five"

"The Grey"

"Holy Motors"

"Rust and Bone"

"This Is Not A Film"

Stevens (@thehighsign) is Slate's film critic.

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