Year end Top 10 best lists are about as arbitrary as anything can possibly be, which is why I often dread having to make one — especially in a year like 2017, which produced such a variety of terrific and wildly different kinds of movies. Of course, this year has also been marked by much upheaval in the movie business, from the sexual harassment scandals that have already taken a toll on the independent film scene to the recently announced merger of giants Disney and 20th Century Fox, which also promises to effect major changes in the years to come.
Fox, for instance, accounts for no less than four films across their divisions on my Top 10 best list this year, of which we reveal No. 10-No. 6 today followed by the Top 5 on Friday. What Fox will look like under Disney’s purview is anyone’s guess, but for a traditionalist like me change isn’t always good if it plays with the kind of quality (and quantity) that particular studio has turned out in a banner year for their deserving awards contenders.
On top of everything else there continues to be the emergence of Netflix and Amazon on the movie distribution scene. Although none of their films ultimately made my Top 10, The Big Sick among those from Amazon, and Mudbound and Our Souls at Night (featuring a wonderful reteaming of Jane Fonda and Robert Redford) among those from Netflix, would be worthy in any other year when I didn’t have to make such gut-wrenching distinctions. On the other hand, the Netflix effect of limited, almost non-existent theatrical distribution is disturbing to someone who believes movies are meant to be seen on the big screen, at least in their initial release. With a rumored 80 films on tap for next year, however, Netflix may really be pushing the boundaries, as well as the sheer numbers, of movies to be considered on future best-of lists. The times they are a changin’, but lets hope filmmakers with vision and heart always have a place at the table.
All of that white noise aside, what it ultimately comes down to are the movies themselves. I find when it comes time to compile these year-end lists there are certain criteria I take into account: What movies stayed with me, made me think, created conversation, moved me, or carried on the grand tradition of great filmmaking with no compromise to the existing pressures of just simply getting made in the first place? As I discover in infinite interviews with filmmakers, just getting your vision on the screen, much less financed and released, is often an unending and almost impossible process, so I salute so many who not only did it but did it in unforgettable ways in 2017.
There are lots of movies I would love to have included — many I liked equally as well — but this Top 10 list is comprised of the films still rolling around in my head for one reason or another. I could easily do a second list of movies that are worthy simply because they offered some very talented actors the opportunity of a lifetime to deliver unforgettable performances. On this list I would include Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour, Richard Gere in one of the best roles of his career as Norman, Diane Kruger magnificent in In the Fade, Annette Bening and Jamie Bell equally great in for Film Stars Don’t Die In Liverpool, as are both Michelle Williams and Christopher Plummer (in a last-minute miracle of a save) in All The Money In The World, Timothee Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name, James Franco directing himself to a career best in The Disaster Artist, Margot Robbie and Allison Janney in I, Tonya, and Daniel Day-Lewis in what he says is his farewell in The Phantom Thread (say it ain’t so). However, forced to make the list, I forge ahead with 10 that entertained, enlightened, dared, charmed, warned, innovated, dazzled, triumphed and/or made movie magic in 2017.
Click on the link above for Part 1 of my list. On Friday come back for the top five, and the film I name as No. 1.