The Best Films of 2017

An explanation about these two lists. You may notice that one overlaps the other. The world premieres list includes only movies that were first seen anywhere in the world in 2017, in festivals, commercial release or some other type of exhibition. The U.S./Los Angeles list is, as usual, a record of how the U.S. is a laggard in screening many significant world premieres. What this means is that, as usual, U.S. film festivals are much slower than festivals in other parts of the world to screen important, essential movies. So while these (overlapping ) lists may include a lot of news for readers—in the form of movies you may not have heard of, let alone seen—they actually reflect an old story.

On two personal notes: One, since my festival travels were more limited this year than in 2016, it means that I missed seeing several acclaimed movies on the festival circuit. I’ll mention a few here, some of which will soon be looked at in more depth here at Film Journey: “In the Intense Now” (Joao Moreira Salles); “Xun Ma/Taming the Horse” (Tao Gu); “Fighting Through the Night” (Sylvain L’Esperance); “Sakhisona” (Prantik Basu); “A Feeling Greater Than Love” (Mary Jirmanus Saba); “Corpo Electrico/Body Electric” (Marcelo Caetano); “Chaque our best one porte/Every Wall is a Door” (Elitza Gueorguieva); “Playing Men” (Matjaz Ivanisin); “In Praise of Nothing” (Boris Mitić); “Luz Obscura” (Susana de Sousa Dias); “66KINOS” (Philipp Hartmann); “Zhi fan ye Mao/Life After Life” (Zhang Hanyi); “Señorita Maria: La falda de la montana/Miss Maria, Skirting the Mountain” (Ruben Mendoza). According to my research, few if any of these have yet to play at North American festivals after screening at major festivals outside North America and scoring highly in the widest and best poll of international critics and filmmakers, La Internacional Cinefila, organized annually by Argentine critic/programmer Roger Koza.

Two, 2017 marked a busy year for me as programmer and organizer alongside Los Angeles-based critic/programmer Jordan Cronk with both the monthly (and more) film series, Acropolis Cinema (founded by Jordan in 2016) and the inaugural year of Locarno in Los Angeles Film Festival, co-organized with the assistance of Locarno Festival. My U.S. premieres list reflects a significant amount of the screenings in these projects, including my number two, Dane Komljen’s “All the Cities of the North” (shown at Locarno in Los Angeles) and Cristi Puiu’s “Sieranevada” (shown at Acropolis).

And one more to mention, that belongs on the above group of important festival movies yet to be seen, and to screen next Tuesday January 9 at Acropolis (Downtown Independent, 251 S. Main St., Los Angeles): Neil Baloufa’s “Occidental,” which premiered last year in Berlinale. Hope to see you there.

World Premieres

1 TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN (David Lynch, dir.; Mark Frost/Lynch, wr.)

2 DUNKIRK (Christopher Nolan, dir.-wr.)

3 ZAMA (Lucretia Martel, dir.-wr.)

4 WESTERN (Valeska Grisebach, dir.-wr.)

5 GOOD TIME (Josh and Bennie Safdie, dir.-wr.)

6 LA TELENOVELA ERRANTE (Raul Ruiz, dir.; Pia Rey/Ruiz-wr.

7 3 /4 (Ilian Metev, dir.; Betina Ip/Metev, wr.)

8 GOOD LUCK (Ben Russell, dir.)

9 BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 (S. Craig Zahler, dir.-wr.)

10 PROTOTYPE (Blake Williams, dir.)

11 PHANTOM THREAD (Paul Thomas Anderson, dir.-wr.)

12 THE DISASTER ARTIST (James Franco, dir.; Scott Neustadter/Michael Weber, wr.)

13 PURGE THIS LAND (Lee Anne Schmitt, dir.-wr.)

14 EL MAR LA MAR (Joshua Bonnetta/J.P. Sniadecki, dir.)

15 DRIFT (Helena Wittmann, dir.-wr.)

16 THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (Martin McDonagh, dir.-wr.)

17 ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT ALONE (Hong Sang-soo, dir-wr.)

18 READERS (James Benning, dir.)

19 EX LIBRIS: THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY (Frederick Wiseman, dir.)

20 THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE (Aki Kaurismaki, dir.-wr.)

21 LIFE AND NOTHING MORE (Antonio Mendez Esparza, dir.-wr.)

22 BARONESA (Juliana Antunes, dir.)

23 MILLA (Valerie Massadian, dir.-wr.)

24 JEANNETTE, THE CHILDHOOD OF JOAN OF ARC (Bruno Dumont, dir.-wr.)

25 DISTANT CONSTELLATION (Shevaun Mizrahi, dir.)

26 THE NOTHING FACTORY (Pedro Pinho, dir.; Leonor Noivo/Luisa Homem/Pinho/Tiago Hespanha, wr.)

27 FREE AND EASY (Jung Geng, dir.; Liu Bing, Feng Yuhua, wr.)

28 A GENTLE CREATURE (Sergei Loznitsa, dir.-wr.)

29 TONSLER PARK (Kevin Jerome Everson, dir.)

30 AMERICAN MADE (Doug Liman, dir.; Gary Spinelli, wr.)

31 A SKIN SO SOFT (Denis Cote, dir.)

32 HAVE A NICE DAY (Liu Jian, dir.-wr.)

33 LUCKY (John Carroll Lynch, dir.; Logan Sparks/Drago Sumonja, wr.)

U.S. Premieres

1 TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN (David Lynch, dir.; Mark Frost/Lynch, wr.)

2 ALL THE CITIES OF THE NORTH (Dane Komljen, dir.-wr.)

3 DUNKIRK (Christopher Nolan, dir.-wr.)

4 SIERANEVADA (Cristi Puiu, dir.-wr.)

5 ZAMA (Lucretia Martel, dir.-wr.)

6 WESTERN (Valeska Grisebach, dir.-wr.)

7 GOOD TIME (Josh and Bennie Safdie, dir.-wr.)

8 THE HUMAN SURGE (Eduardo Williams, dir.-wr.)

9 KEKSZAKALLU (Gastón Solnicki, dir.-wr.)

10 HERMIA & HELENA (Matías Piñeiro, dir.-wr.)

11 NOCTURAMA (Bertrand Bonnello, dir.-wr.)

12 LA TELENOVELA ERRANTE (Raul Ruiz, dir.; Pia Rey/Ruiz-wr.)

13 TEMPESTAD (Tatiana Huezo, dir.)

14 GOOD LUCK (Ben Russell, dir.)

15 BRAWL IN CELL BLOCK 99 (S. Craig Zahler, dir.-wr.)

16 PROTOTYPE (Blake Williams, dir.)

17 PHANTOM THREAD (Paul Thomas Anderson, dir.-wr.)

18 THE DEATH OF LOUIS XIV (Albert Serra, dir.-wr.)

19 THE DISASTER ARTIST (James Franco, dir.; Scott Neustadter/Michael Weber, wr.)

20 PURGE THIS LAND (Lee Anne Schmitt, dir.-wr.)

21 EL MAR LA MAR (Joshua Bonnetta/J.P. Sniadecki, dir.)

22 THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI (Martin McDonagh, dir.-wr.)

23 ON THE BEACH AT NIGHT ALONE (Hong Sang-soo, dir-wr.)

24 EX LIBRIS: THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY (Frederick Wiseman, dir.)

25 THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE (Aki Kaurismaki, dir.-wr.)

26 LIFE AND NOTHING MORE (Antonio Mendez Esparza, dir.-wr.)

27 THE WIND KNOWS THAT I’M COMING HOME (Jose Luis Torres Leiva, dir-wr.)

28 MILLA (Valerie Massadian, dir.-wr.)

29 FALL/SPRING EQUINOX (James Benning, dir.)

30 LA NOCHE (Edgardo Castro, dir.-wr.)

31 THE DAZZLING LIGHT OF SUNSET (Salome Jashi, dir.)

32 RAT FILM (Theo Anthony, dir.-wr.)

33 SCARRED HEARTS (Radu Jude, dir.-wr.)

34 THE NOTHING FACTORY (Pedro Pinho, dir.; Leonor Noivo/Luisa Homem/Pinho/Tiago Hespanha, wr.)

35 FREE AND EASY (Jung Geng, dir.; Liu Bing, Feng Yuhua, wr.)

36 A GENTLE CREATURE (Sergei Loznitsa, dir.-wr.)

37 TONSLER PARK (Kevin Jerome Everson, dir.)

38 TODO LO DEMAS (Natalia Almada, dir.-wr.)

39 AMERICAN MADE (Doug Liman, dir.; Gary Spinelli, wr.)

40 LADY MACBETH (William Oldroyd, dir.; Alice Birch, wr.)

41 LUCKY (John Carroll Lynch, dir.; Logan Sparks/Drago Sumonja, wr.)

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