Thank god for movies. It’s not a new sentiment or a particularly original one, but in the trying times of the year past, it’s one I came to over and over again. Whether the film is a distraction, a balm of relief, an irritant that inflames a spiritual reaction, or in the best cases, an actual bit of healing, cinema has always offered a means of transportation, empathy, and unhindered emotion that we rarely allow ourselves once the lights come back up. The magic between a movie and its audience is a powerful, personal thing; it takes you around the world, it plants you in another’s shoes, if only for a few hours.
Around this time of year, my movie watching always kicks into high gear, binge-watching film after film in preparation for year-end lists and nominations. Most of them are surprises, many of which I put off because they weren’t “my type of thing”, or indies that slipped under the radar until the best-of list parade. It’s always a time that affirms my deep love of cinema, but again, this year felt especially poignant. This year, seeing through the eyes of others felt especially important. Empathizing with impossible situations and allowing the darkest, wildest fantasies felt especially important.
Fortunately, 2017’s cinematic offerings were up to the task. This was a good year for movies. Making a top ten list is always a tricky task, but in a year like this one, it becomes nearly impossible. Ten? Just ten?! In a year so rich with diverse, inspiring, horrifying, beautiful, hideous tales, ten doesn’t even measure half of the films that had a profound effect on me.
But ten it is, and so I’ve put together a list of the films that hit me the hardest and moved me the farthest. Every critic has their own approach to putting together their year-end list — do you look for the “Best” movies of the year? The ones that made the most impact in the zeitgeist? I don’t believe in a best movie and DGAF about the zeitgeist, so I always look for the movies I can’t shake. The ones that keep me up at night. Don’t worry much about the ranking (though god knows, I fret and fret and fret), it’s something I do because I’m asked to. Just know I went back and forth on the top spot endlessly, alternating between #1 and #2. I’ll almost certainly have changed my mind again by the time this list goes live. Both films have a very dear place in my heart, and that’s what really matters — not the order or the metrics, just know that these are ten films I love very dearly.
Finally, before we proceed, my List of Shame (aka the movies I haven’t seen yet): BPM, Hostiles, A Quiet Passion, God’s Own Country, Lady Macbeth, Foxtrot. I atone for these sins, movie gods.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, ten films that really did it to me in 2017.