“We live in an age in which articles are written daily on the need for ‘checking out’ of online culture, so that we may disconnect from the bombardment of grotesqueries that keep us in an emotional tailspin,” writes Chuck Bowen, introducing Slant’s list of the “25 Best Films of 2017.” “Both coincidentally and by pop-cultural osmosis, many of the year’s best films ask how deeply we may be permitted to check out and how far we should risk and extend ourselves for the prospect of personal and social rehabilitation.”
Slant’s contributors revisit these top twenty-five films, and each of their ballots as well as another twenty-five titles, bringing the list to a full fifty, can be found at the House Next Door. Here’s Christopher Gray on the film voted up to the #1 slot: “Imagine a version of Rebecca staged with the offbeat majesty of Barry Lyndon and you’ve just begun to limn the uncanny, gorgeously sustained tenor of Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson’s film about a megalomaniacal, self-obsessed artist and the women who love him unconditionally.”
More On the Best Films 2017
“It’s true every year,” writes the New Yorker’s Richard Brody, “but all the more conspicuous now, that any list of the year’s best movies has gaps—of the movies, performances, and other creations that are missing because they are unrealized, unrealized because the women (and, yes, also some men) who were working their way up to directing, producing, or other notable activities in the world of movies, who were already acting or writing or fulfilling other creative positions, had their careers derailed when they were threatened, intimidated, silenced, or otherwise detached from the industry by powerful men abusing their power for their own pleasure and advantage.” His #1 is Get Out: “In his horror comedy, [Jordan] Peele uses familiar devices to convey philosophically rich and politically potent ideas about the state of race relations in America.”
“As alphabetical fate would have it, the film at the top of my list is perhaps (with wiggle room for mind-changing) my single favorite of the year,” writes Slate’s Dana Stevens. BPM (Beats per Minute), “Robin Campillo’s chronicle of the early days of the ACT UP movement is a feat of filmmaking, profoundly moving and inspiring without ever for a second being schmaltzy. True to its title, this movie pulses with life, sex, humor, and cinematic invention. It’s also an astute and honest exploration of the power and the perils of collective action, at a time when the world acutely needs a manual.”
#1 for the Washington Post’s Ann Hornaday is Mudbound: “Dee Rees’s adaptation of Hillary Jordan’s novel possesses the sprawl, scope, texture and detail of fine literature, and the ambition and technical chops of such classics as The Best Years of Our Lives and The Grapes of Wrath. A big, quintessentially American movie full of exquisitely composed shots and indelible performances, this is the kind of movie ‘they’ don’t make anymore, until she does.”
“I keep seeing surprising, moving, adventurous, necessary movies, about immediately urgent matters as well as other matters that aren’t so urgent,” writes K. Austin Collins at the Ringer. “Movies don’t need to be sold to us as what we need right now, or ever, to be relevant as art, but it’s true that this form of relevance is the way our culture is currently swinging, and it’s doubly true that art should strive to be about the world in which it exists. But that requirement can mean anything. What made the best movies I saw this year—movies like Get Out, or a tiny prison documentary called The Work—so urgent wasn’t that they appealed to our immediate political needs in an explicit way, but that they appealed, first and foremost, to our humanity: our personhood, desires, identities, history, and so on.” Tied at #1 on his list of ten are Josh and Benny Safdie’s Good Time and Bill Morrison’s Dawson City: Frozen Time.
Makoto Shinkai’s Your Name, “with its out-there body-swapping-and-supernatural-comet premise, is stranger and more intimate than a love story, and has truly profound ideas about the places we live and the experiences we grow up with being visceral things that live in our bodies,” writes Emily Yoshida about her top pick at Vulture. “But it’s also a full-throated Teen Movie, with an ecstatic J-Rock score to match, and all the starry-eyed longing the genre allows.”
In Newcity, Ray Pride has eight top fives: Best U.S. Films, Foreign Films, Documentaries, Directors, Screenplays, Scores, Cinematographers, and Overlooked.
At the Playlist, Jessica Kiang writes about the best cinematography of the year in the form of a list of twenty cinematographer’s names accompanied by appreciations of their work. At #1 is Darius Khondji, recognized here for his work on James Gray’s The Lost City of Z. “Not only does it represent a leap on even from their beautiful last collaboration, The Immigrant, it is also just one of two exceptionally well-shot 2017 films (the other being Bong Joon-ho’s Okja) he has under his belt after a slightly fallow period making bad Woody Allen movies look better than they deserved.”
For the Notebook, Adrian Curry writes about the best movie posters of 2017.
For the New York Times Magazine, A. O. Scott and Wesley Morris write and, in an accompanying video, talk about this year’s best performances. The links from these actors’ names here will take you to films directed by Floria Sigismondi spotlighting each performer for about a minute or so; there’s also an accompanying photo gallery. “Horror Show” is the theme of the collection because, well, it’s 2017.
- Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out
- Nicole Kidman in The Beguiled and The Killing of a Sacred Deer
- Tiffany Haddish in Girls Trip
- Jake Gyllenhaal in Stronger
- Daniela Vega in A Fantastic Woman
- Brooklynn Prince in The Florida Project
- Timothée Chalamet in Call Me by Your Name
- Andy Serkis in War for the Planet of the Apes
- Cynthia Nixon in A Quiet Passion
- Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird
In a separate piece for the New York Times, Wesley Morris writes about more of his favorite performances of the year, whether they happened on Broadway, television, the movies, or during a game.
Time’s Stephanie Zacharek writes up a list of the “Top 10 Movie Performances of 2017” and, in the #1 slot, we find Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird: “Beneath all that free radical exasperation, her face is radiant, open and alive.”
Ronan’s #2 on David Edelstein’s list at Vulture. His #1 is Timothée Chalamet: “You’ll remember his name. . . . In a movie of surfaces—sparkling water, the smooth flesh of teenagers, male and female—he conveys not just Elio’s sexual longing but his aching to be released from his own nebulous identity.”
Back to Slant, where we find another annotated list of twenty-five, the “Best TV Shows of 2017.” The third and final season of The Leftovers lands at #1. Julia Selinger: “Originally consumed with the ‘why’ of it all, the series became increasingly interested in the ‘what now?’ As a result, season three is boldly ambiguous and irresolute.”
“Television in 2017 is defined less by a single trait than by a constant redefinition of what ‘television’ can mean,” writes Alison Herman at the Ringer. “Such grand pronouncements typically conjure up images of Jude Law’s surreal Young Pope [her #1] or David Lynch’s brain-bending continuation of Twin Peaks [#2]. It’s true that those shows are more formally audacious than Big Little Lies [#5], which is ultimately an open-and-shut murder mystery told in clever flashbacks and lyrical cutaways. Yet Big Little Lies offers a more accessible kind of pleasure than either, with a more readily applicable lesson for the many peers aiming to replicate its triumphs: Our appetite for people we like doing things we like watching hasn’t dimmed.”
And HBO knows it. As Maria Elena Fernandez reports at Vulture, Season 2 is officially on, with Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman returning and Andrea Arnold directing every episode.
Also . . .
“No less than eight of our top ten albums of 2017 were made by black artists or women.” Slant again. Sam C. Mac introduces the magazine’s list of “25 Best Albums of 2017.” Contributors to the A.V. Club pick twenty, and here are their ballots. More from American Songwriter, the Quietus, and Stereogum.
Dan Wagstaff has selected his “Notable Book Covers of 2017.”
And here’s an odd set of lists from Gizmodo UK to make of what you will:
- “The Most Critically Divisive Films According to Data”
- “Data Reveals the Films Where Critics and Audiences Disagree Most”
- “Which Film Critics Are the Most Contrarian? We Used Data to Find Out”
The American Film Institute’s announced the winners of its AFI Awards. The movies of the year, in alphabetical order:
- The Big Sick
- Call Me by Your Name
- The Florida Project
- Get Out
- Lady Bird
- The Post
- The Shape of Water
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
- Wonder Woman
The TV programs of the year:
- Big Little Lies
- The Crown
- Feud: Bette and Joan
- Game of Thrones
- The Good Place
- The Handmaid’s Tale
- Master of None
- Stranger Things 2
- This Is Us
And a special award goes to Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s The Vietnam War.
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has narrowed the race for the Best Documentary Oscar down to fifteen titles, selected ten Documentary Short Subject contenders, and named twenty films that are now in the running in the Visual Effects category.
The Broadcast Film Critics Association and the Broadcast Television Journalists Association have announced the nominees for the twenty-third Annual Critics’ Choice Awards. Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water leads the films with fourteen nominations, and tied way behind in the #2 slot with eight nominations each are Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name, Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, and Steven Spielberg’s The Post.
The Writers Guild of America, East (WGAE) and the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) have announced the nominations for the awards it presents jointly, albeit in separate ceremonies, one in New York, the other in Los Angeles, both on February 11.
For news and items of interest throughout the day, every day, follow @CriterionDaily.