Once those ever-debatable Academy Award nominations are announced next month, you're likely to see a few movies receiving multiple nominations: specifically, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Life of Pi, and Les Misérables. All of which are strong, worthwhile films, each possessing individual traits that justify their critical acclaim and prestigious accolades. Be warned, though: None of those pictures will be found on our countdown of The 25 Best Movies of 2012.

So what does that mean, exactly? Complex is down on easily awards-lavished films? Not at all—the truth is actually quite optimistic. You see, 2012 was a marvelous year for cinema, offering an endless stream of excellent major studio releases and artsy independent fare. And when it came time to assemble our list of the year's best, the decision-making process hinged on a few simple questions. Which movies have stuck around in our minds the longest? Which ones will we frequently revisit? And, most importantly, which films excelled the most in their respective genres?

Here are the crown jewels of 2012's cinematic output, most of which won't win any statues or be able to overcome the likes of the extremely polished but narratively plodding Lincoln when it comes to most pundits' calendar assessments. And that's just fine. The past 12 months offered so much more than the dozen or so films that'll undoubtedly dominate the next couple of Oscar-dominated months.

Note: Limiting a year's tally of new movies to just 25 isn't easy. Too many good ones are ultimately left off. Thus, it feels necessary to list five superior movies that deserve praise here. Call them our Honorable Mentions: Lovely Molly, Take This Waltz, Safety Not Guaranteed, Sound of My Voice, and Chronicle.

Written by Matt Barone (@MBarone)