Top 12 favorites, 1001 Movies favorites, notable first-time viewings, and a list of 2017 movies I did not get a chance to see yet. Past reviews: 2016, 2015, 2014.
Earlier in the year, I obsessively compiled information about the availability of the 1969 Woodstock audio and video recordings. In the latter half of the year, I participated in a Blu-ray.com survey of the Top 100 Movies of All Time. This got me looking back at early cinema before 1920 and I realized that it might be useful for people to be able to watch a clip from each year as embedded YouTube videos with context on how film history developed since the 1880s. Hence the new 10 Years 10 Films section of this site and the mention of Arrival of a Train below.
Viewing tip: Check out GoWatchIt to see what services you can use to watch a title (Netflix, iTunes, Prime, HBO, etc.)
Top 12 of 2017
The best movies I saw that came out this year (in Louisville, Kentucky)
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Both this and the new Blade Runner have so much fanboy baggage that I will refrain from commenting.
- Blade Runner 2049
- Wind River – A chilling murder mystery set on a Wyoming reservation, inspired by true events.
- The Big Sick – Kumail Nanjiani plays himself in this romcom, with shared writing credits by his wife Emily V. Gordon.
- Loving Vincent – Reportedly the first feature film entirely animated with oil paintings, primarily in the style of Van Gogh. That alone was awesome to see, but the story itself, investigating Van Gogh’s death, was also fascinating. The Speed Cinema has been selling this out since October.
- Gerald’s Game – A Neflix original, based on the Stephen King novel. Most eviscerating horror movie of the year. (I had high expectations for Get Out, but it fell flat imo.)
- Wonder Woman – Like most of the comic book movies, it was a little too long and the ending was ridiculous, but a thrilling movie otherwise.
- Lost in London – This is on my list primarily for the fascination-factor: The first film broadcast live to theaters, via Fathom Events on January 19th. Woody Harrelson wrote and directed this tale about a night in 2002 when he was arrested in Soho.
- Maudie – Biopic of Nova Scotian painter, Maud Lewis.
- The Eagle Huntress (2016) – Documentary about a charismatic 13-year-old Mongolian girl and her Golden Eagle.
- I Am Not Your Negro (2016) – Documentary based on James Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, Remember This House, reminiscing on his relationship with civil rights leaders and American history.
- Things to Come (Fr. L’avenir, 2016) – Isabelle Huppert plays a middle-aged philosophy professor whose life is going through a series of separations.
1001 Movies favorites
From the annually-updated 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die books, which I’ve been working through since 2013. 47 more this year, for a total of 457.
- Several of these I liked so much that they were added to my Top 100 Movies of All Time: Run Lola Run (95), Moonlight (76), Intolerance (50), Hiroshima mon amour (41), and 13th (27)
- Rewatched M this year from the 2011 restoration on Blu-ray. After seeing it along with first-time, highly enjoyable viewings of Vampyr, Freaks, and Dracula, I’m concluding that 1931-1932 were some creepy years, at least in the West – and I have yet to watch James Whale’s Frankenstein.
- Also recommended: Black Orpheus, Jaws (which I had somehow never seen before), Tokyo Olympiad
Notable first-time viewings
As with the 1001 Movies section above, these could be from any year.
- The Diary of a Teenage Girl (2015) – This was not as well marketed as this year’s Lady Bird, but I definitely enjoyed it more with its use of cartoons and a daring plot.
- Mustang (2015) – The story of five young girls, first-time director Deniz Gamze Ergüven said that her motivation to make the film was to uncover what it’s like to be a girl or a woman in Turkey.
- 45 Years (2015) – Charlotte Rampling was nominated for an Oscar in this emotional tale of a couple preparing for their 45th wedding anniversary.
- Night Will Fall (2014) – Combat photographers and an all-star British production team, including Alfred Hitchcock, worked on this 1945 documentary about Nazi concentration camps, but the project was shelved for almost 70 years.
- The Look of Silence (2014) – The followup to the 2012 documentary, The Act of Killing, gets even more personal as an anonymous man confronts the people who killed his brother in the 1965-1966 Indonesian genocide.
- The Dance of Reality (2014) – Jodorowsky returns to directing with this semi-autobiographical tale of growing up in Chile.
- Nowhere in Africa (2001) – Oscar winner for best foreign film based on the life in Kenya of a German-Jewish family that immigrated in 1938 to escape persecution in Nazi Germany.
- Jazz on a Summer’s Day (1959) – A visual and musical piece of art, documenting the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival with performances from Mahalia Jackson, Louis Armstrong, and Chuck Berry, to name a few.
- La Cage aux folles (1978) – Nominated for several Academy Awards, this story of gay night club owners was also remade as The Birdcage in 1996.
- Onibaba (literally Demon Hag, 1964) – Two Japanese women team up to kill soldiers and steal their possessions.
- Black Roots (1970) – An artfully-arranged room full of African American folk and blues musicians telling their stories.
- Arrival of a Train (L’arrivée d’un train en gare de la Ciotat, 1896) – This is well known as one of the first motion pictures from French cinema pioneers, Auguste and Louis Lumière. In 2015, nearly their entire catalog was restored in crystal clear 4K. YouTube has a copy in 720p:
Want to see
- A Fantastic Woman
- Beach Rats
Call Me By Your Name Coco Endless Poetry
- Human Flow
Jane [Goodall documentary] Lucky Mary and the Witch’s Flower Megan Leavey
Raw (Fr. Grave)
- The Breadwinner
- The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson
The Florida Project Thor: Ragnarok
1 I’m including November and December 2016 in the 1001 Movies count this year, so the numbers will be a little higher with two extra months.
2 The version of Tokyo Olympiad that I watched was not the one recently restored in the massive new 32-disc 100 Years of Olympic Films box set from The Criterion Collection – I’m accepting donations to buy it 😉