Every year, I keep a running list of the best movies I’ve seen this year. I usually end up with a Top Ten and another 5-15 mentions. Here’s last year’s list.
To get on my year-end list, a movie has to be one that thrills me while I’m watching it and one that I’m still thinking about a couple of days later.
Truman: how people say goodbye. This emotionally powerful Spanish dramedy had a brief US theatrical run. It’s now streaming on Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.
The Big Sick: the best American movie of the year and the best romantic comedy in years. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll fall in love.
The Post: a riveting thriller important history and an astonishingly insightful personal portrait. of Katharine Graham by Meryl Streep’s revelatory performance is one of her very best. Also see my notes on historical figures in The Post.
The Shape of Water: an operatic romance (and it’s inter-species). This is a beautiful movie an epic romance from that most imaginative of filmmakers, writer-director Guillermo del Toro. Between del Toro’s filmmaking genius and Sally Hawkins’ performance, The Shape of Water may become the most-remembered film of 2017.
Wind River: another masterpiece from Taylor Sheridan. Smart, layered and intelligent, Wind River is another success from one of America’s fastest-rising filmmakers. Wind River can be streamed from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.
Dunkirk: personal, spectacular and thrilling. White knuckle intensity in this filmmaking marvel. It can be streamed from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.
Coco: the splendor of authenticity. Emotionally moving, culturally authentic and visually stunning, Coco is splendid in every way.
Phantom Thread: rapturous and witty. Starring Daniel Day-Lewis, this is Paul Thomas Anderson’s story of a strong-willed man and two equally strong-willed women.
I, Tonya: we can laugh, but we must not judge. This is a marvelously entertaining movie, filled with wicked wit and sympathetic social comment.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: a powerful combination of raw emotion and dark hilarity.. Woody Harrelson, in his greatest performance, leads a superb cast through heartbreak and grim belly laughs.
Lady Bird: an entirely fresh high school coming of age story. Saoirse Ronan stars in Greta Gerwig’s brilliant debut as a writer-director.
The Florida Project: the exuberance of children and the need to protect them. This is Sean Baker’s remarkably authentic and evocative glimpse into the lives of children in poverty.
The Founder: money grubbing visionary. Michael Keaton stars in this biopic of fast food magnate Ray Kroc. You can watch it on DVD from Netflix and Redbox or stream it from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.
Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer: big deals are not for little men. This superb character study is probably Richard Gere’s best career performance. Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer is available on DVD from Netflix and to stream from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.
Lucky: Harry Dean Stanton and the meaning of life. Harry Dean Stanton’s last film, Lucky is a vivid portrait of a singular character (reportedly not dissimilar to Harry Dean himself). It’s also a meditation on life and the end of life and how you can control how you live.
The Sense of an Ending: you can’t revisit the past and guarantee closure. This British indie drama is a showcase for its star, Jim Broadbent. It’s available to stream from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.
I try not to tease you with movies that you can’t find, but I need to acknowledge two sure-fire crowd-pleasers from this year’s Cinequest: Quality Problems and For Grace. Both films are emotionally authentic, intelligent and funny, but neither has distribution so far. I will feature them if and when they become available on video.
And here’s a special mention. It’s not on my list, but The Lost City of Z deserves credit for reviving the genre of the historical adventure epic, with all the spectacle of a swashbuckler, while braiding in modern sensitivities and a psychological portrait. The Lost City of Z is available on DVD from Netflix and Redbox and to stream from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.