Best human-interest documentary of 2012



Counting down to our Year in Review issue, we present our picks in a variety of genres, wrapping up on December 27 with the year's worst movies.

This time tomorrow: the year's best comedy.

Fake It So Real
  • Fake It So Real
Fake It So Real Robert Greene’s often hilarious documentary about amateur wrestlers in suburban North Carolina reminded me of golden-era Jonathan Demme in its laid-back vibe and affection for all-American eccentrics. Few people went to see it during its weeklong run at Facets in April, probably because the summary led viewers to believe it was just about wrestling. That was their loss, as Fake It is above all a crowd-pleaser. A portrait of goofy regional cultural thriving in spite of economic recession, the movie would have made a great double bill with Magic Mike, one of the biggest hits of the summer. —Ben Sachs

Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet
  • Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet
Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet In the mid-‘80s, Jason Becker was a metal guitar player on the cusp of becoming a megastar when he was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease at just 20-years-old. His guitar playing days are effectively over—the disease has ravaged his body, leaving him unable to speak, bound to a wheelchair, and strapped to an iron lung— but he remains as prolific as ever, thanks to an advanced computer system that allows him to write entire songs using only his eyes and the notes in his head. The film itself is run-of-the-mill, but the story is the sort of inspiring, tear-jerky ode I can’t help but appreciate. —Drew Hunt

Searching for Sugar Man
  • Searching for Sugar Man
Searching for Sugar Man I’ve been listening to the soundtrack for this nonstop, and the story it accompanies onscreen is fascinating. Mexican-American folk rocker Sixto Rodriguez released two superlative LPs in the early 70s before his career fizzled out; two decades later he became a cult hero in South Africa and made a triumphant return to the stage. Filmmaker Malik Bendjelloul constructs this as a mystery story, revealing that in the intervening years Rodriguez returned to his native Detroit, earned a philosophy degree, ran for city council, and ultimately turned to demolition work. His comeback reminds you that art can simmer for years before a new audience brings it to a boil. —J.R. Jones

Add a comment