1. Your Sister's Sister
Iris and Hannah are sisters. Iris, played by Emily Blunt, inexplicably has a British accent while her sister Hannah, played by Rosemarie DeWitt, does not. The filmmakers don't bother to explain it away until well into the movie, and that's part of why I loved Your Sister's Sister. You believe these people are sisters by the way they're talking to each other: in bed, at the breakfast table, in their pajamas. You believe Jack, played by Mark Duplass -- who's had an incredible year, by the way -- is Iris' best friend. This movie was a warm blanket. I loved the woodsy cabin setting, and the dialogue was perfection.
2. Friends With Kids
As a huge fan of Kissing Jessica Stein (also written, acted, and directed by Jennifer Westfeldt), I couldn't wait for this movie. I loved it so much that I bought it for my sister, who has three kids. Laugh-out-loud dialogue, a all-star cast, and a killer last line.
3. The Sessions
Even the tiniest of moments shared between these two main characters brought me to tears. Helen Hunt is fabulous as Cheryl, the sex surrogate, though prepare yourself to forgive a botched Boston accent. John Hawkes gives a mightily physical performance, twisting his body and voice into that of Mark O'Brien, the love-seeking man paralyzed by polio. This movie wins my "Most Tears of 2012" award.
How these events happened in real life, I still don't know. But I was gnawing my hand off the whole time even though history told me how it ended.
5. Moonrise Kingdom
I tend to watch Wes Anderson films whether they're good or bad, because at the end of the day -- plot or no plot -- they're beautiful to watch. Moonrise Kingdom has the strongest plot I've seen in a Wes Anderson movie since The Royal Tenenbaums. I rooted for these two quirky children in love, and as always, I loved Anderson's music choices.
EDIT (1/9/2012): I've seen Life of Pi and Rust and Bone since making this list. Life of Pi doesn't make my favorite list, but Rust and Bone is a movie that still has me thinking about its characters. Loved it.
*Notable 2012 movies I saw but excluded: Lincoln, Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, Take This Waltz, The Master, Silver Linings Playbook, Bernie
*Notable 2012 movies I haven't seen (and therefore weren't considered): Life of Pi, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, Rust and Bone