I’m not a fan of “top tens” because they are living, breathing, ever-changing organisms, but I’ll play along and share a current snapshot of my own personal favorites from 2017. My year-end lists can range from only three films to 15 or 20 because there is a subconscious bar that has to be reached. For a “best” label, a film has to either confirm or illuminate something I’ve always suspected about human nature and/or get under my skin like the irritant that results in the creation of a pearl. Above all, either show me something I haven’t seen or, show me something I’m familiar with through a new pair of eyes.
These are pretty much in descending order – I don’t know about you, but when I see a list in reverse, countdown order I always cut-to-the-chase and scroll down to see numero uno right away. You’ll never have to blame your carpel tunnel on me. Just a quick aside – I just noticed that four of my directors this year are women.
1 Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino)
Guadagnino’s trilogy wrap – the first two being I am Love and A Bigger Splash, both of which made it to near the top of my lists in their resp. years – is by far my hands-down top film of the year. Simplicity reigns.
2 The Square (Ruben Östlund)
I love the way Östlund’s mind works. Would love to share a couple beers with him and dish on some sacred cows.
3 Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson)
The Number One most important American director working today. He will never tell you what you want to hear, but what you should hear, and has been doing it for 20 years without missing a step.
4 Testről és lélekről (On Body and Soul) (Ildikó Enyedi)
A tough slog, but brilliant – just don’t watch it on a “down” day unless you have a thing for crippling shyness and abattoirs.
5 Mudbound (Dee Rees)
Is this the first epic directed by a woman? And photographed by a woman? And co-written by a woman? We need more, more, more.
6 The Florida Project (Sean Baker)
A new force in filmmaking. He could direct the phone book and make it worth watching.
7 Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan)
Nolan adapts his fractured storytelling to a real event and succeeds in throwing us headlong into it.
8 Good Time (Safdie Brothers)
Tight narrative, always surprising. Contains one of the best and most overlooked performances of the year – Benny Safdie. I’m still amazed.
9 Beach Rats (Eliza Hittman)
Gorgeous to look at, beautifully designed with a challenging premise as presented by a fresh voice. What more could one ask for?
10 Loving Vincent (Dorota Kobiela & Hugh Welchman)
Maybe it was the weed, but watching this was a “high” point of 2017. Spending time within Van Gogh’s work is a dream – visually stunning.