Some of the commonly accepted definitions of Year are “a period of time equal to one year of the Gregorian calendar but beginning at a different time” and “the period of about 365 1/4 solar days required for one revolution of the Earth around the sun”. Neither completely serves my definition for the purpose of this list.
Instead of arbitrarily making a list out of the films I watched in any given calendar year, I prefer to list the films that were originally released in that given year, regardless of when it was watched. Now, IMDb lists over 12,000 films released in 2017 alone, so the list is released when I believe I achieved some sort of “critical mass”. It’s an arbitrary moment, just as the number 10 is an arbitrary quantity. I would love to be able to publish this list earlier, but film distributors have different ideas. Of course, this may make this list even more fluid it already is, as it’s entirely possible something I watch in 1, 2 or 10 years may be deserving of a slot.
Fifth about The Seventh’s Film-watching 2017, henceforth 2017 for short, was interesting, varied, full of quiet intensity (and, of course, boisterous, empty action). It was not chock-full of memorable films like it happens every once in a while, but there as a very good core of solid films. Enough, to the list. In no roughly no particular order (after the first 2 or 3 titles):
The list starts with a small cheat. Five Came Back was seen as a 3-episode series, even if it was also released as a single-piece as well. This mixes two favorite subjects, World War II and classic Hollywood, in a very informative and entertaining way. The five directors were interesting figures, and this is as good a chronicle as any as how the conflict changed people. The archival footage is top-notch.
There’s no denying how important and relevant, even today, Kathryn Bigelow’s film is. But the main reason it gets in this list is that this is white-knuckle, tense, muscular. Performances are very solid, enhancing the emotional engagement.
These three animations have wildly differing aesthetics, but they all share great, touching stories, some more in the realm of the fantastic than others but nevertheless all emotionally rewarding and full of humanity. Additionally, the animation in all 3 films is beautifully realized, confirming that there is space for all sorts of styles.
(Here I am cheating my own rules: your name. should be a 2016 film, but distributors released it here very late into 2017. The film is so good it deserves to be mentioned here.)
One of the best-shot films of the year, The Lost City of Z also presents a rich story and quite a few very strong characters, all well-defended by a fine-looking cast. It’s a quiet film that rewards (and how it does!) some patience with its pace.
Incredibly well-written film, with a powerful story without any simple answers, complex characters and a great cast in very fine shape reading the dialogue like there’s no tomorrow.
A rare sequel that doesn’t simply try to do the same as the original work, instead carving in some space for itself. Much like the original, it’s a detective story with (many) science-fiction elements, which enrich the experience and open up many interesting considerations. Visually incredible (in fact, a filmcraft marvel in all departments).
Two films that, story-wise, complement each other, and are very inspiring in profoundly dissimilar ways. Each film stands on its own, but both are enriched by the existence of the other.
Romance is in the air! These films, however, steer away from any normalcy; patience is advised and rewarded. Interesting characters and a flair for the visual also unite these two entirely unique films.
Not for nothing, but the fact that this film was completely put together, from page to release, in 9 months, is amazing. All would be for naught if the film wasn’t good: tight, entertaining, informative and culturally ultra-relevant.
Both of these films have at its center engaging real-life female characters (neither shies away from their grey, to say the least, nature); they are both very well-written, well-acted, highly energetic and entertaining.
Going against the grain of a number of recent documentaries, Faces Places is a solar, enchanting, entirely humane experience. And to top it off, the many installations are all quite amazing visually.
2017, as can be seen, came up with a list that is much tuned with reality than they usually are. Of course, there’s the staple of a few animation films (Animation, when done well, allows for a very emotional and deep look at the human race), but much more than in recent year, there was a clear bias towards real-life stories and documentaries. The world is in spiritual turmoil, so there’s no need to escape to fiction to have that looked at. Not that there wasn’t some fine escapism as well.
I’ll wrap this with an honorable mention to yet another not-quite-for-the-big-screen project, the episodic Wormwood. And because why not, other 3 films that almost were a part of it: Lady Bird, Wonderstruck, Wonder.
Let 2018 come. I hope I have a harder time coming up with just 10. Or 16. Or 20.
What about you? What were your favorite films of 2017? Post them below!