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The Best Films of 2017, According to the Indie Film Community

We asked a range of influencers in the independent film world to share the very best of 2017.

Bestof2017

Every year, IndieWire looks beyond the countless top 10 lists written by critics to widen the field. We turn to friends and colleagues in the independent film community — programmers, distributors, publicists, and others — to give them the opportunity to share their favorite films and other media from the past 12 months.

We also invited them to share their resolutions and anticipated events for 2018, should they feel so moved. Here are the results, along with plenty of titles more than worthy of further attention.

Cameron Bailey, Artistic Director, Toronto International Film Festival

With typically brilliant compression, Jane Campion called these recent months of reversal a “fairytale time” for women in the industry. At the Cannes Film Festival, I watched all six hours of her “Top of the Lake,” Season 2. Like everything else that hit deep enough to make this year-end list, Campion’s series, and her words, turned 2017’s reeling chaos into a tight coil of metaphor. Metaphor did work this year.

1. “Get Out”
2. “Top of the Lake,” Season 2
3. “Lady Bird”
4. “The Shape of Water”
5. “mother!”
6. “Mudbound”
7. “Dunkirk”
8. “Zama”
9. “Faces Places”
10. “Sweet Country”

“Zama”

Michael Barker, Co-President, Sony Pictures Classics

“We bring our entire histories when we watch a movie — our childhood reveries, our adolescence yearnings and adult reservations.” —Manohla Dargis NYT 12/10/2017

2017. Really rough. Grappling the incomprehensible by reading “Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire,” by Kurt Anderson and revisiting Luis Buñuel. Seen “Phantom of Liberty” lately? We are living in a Buñuel movie, my friends. Endured 2017 by finding salvation in movies (and plays and books).

Best movies I saw this year (Sony Pictures Classics movies exempted per usual):

1. Jean Renoir’s “The Crime of Monsieur Lange” (1935)
Sexual harassment in the workplace, income disparity, exploitation of the artist as a human being. That’s right, over 80 years ago Jean Renoir saw Donald Trump and Harvey Weinstein coming. Finally available as it should be seen (thank you Film Forum and Quad), one of the great films of all time.

2. Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s “The Vietnam War”
The War and Peace of documentaries. 80 eloquent characters. A humbling experience. Our lives started to unravel here.

3. “Phantom Thread”
Our best living filmmaker, Paul Thomas Anderson, rises to the occasion once again. A complicated modern romance with the sensibility of a 19th century English novel. Lesley Manville and Vicky Krieps in the best written female characters of the year. The film is dedicated to Jonathan Demme (whose death cast a pallor over the entire year).

4. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
“Peace and purpose,” Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher). It’s taken me forty years to finally see the light. This is what big Hollywood studio movies are supposed to be: impressive set pieces, fortune cookie philosophy bordering on the profound (i. e. anger destroys as embodied by an intense amazing Adam Driver), and the best western this side of Budd Boetticher. Thank you, Rian Johnson and Kathy Kennedy.

5. “The Unknown Girl”
The Dardenne brothers are remarkable. Again. Neorealism masking a thrilling murder mystery.

6. “The Shape of Water”/”Wonderstruck”/”Downsizing”
From three of our finest auteurs, superior flights of imagination on technology and our total failure at verbal communication. These are technically incredible toy puzzles: Guillermo del Toro’s humane pop culture bear hug, Todd Haynes’ visually stunning, lyrical love poem to New York City (give Ed Lachman his Oscar already!), and Alexander Payne’s take no prisoners satire. Alexander Payne, now there’s a guy who knows his Buñuel.

7. Dee Rees’ “Mudbound”
Fresh Southern voices and Southern stories, powerfully told. I often revisit sections of this movie on Netflix and the depth of detail pours over me making the experience more moving than ever.

8. “The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)”
Noah Baumbach, never better. These are people I know — so real, so messed up, so funny. Adam Sandler, Dustin Hoffman and Candice Bergen are just tremendous.

9. “Fargo” Season 3
Solid. Every season better than the one before. Carrie Coons, wow. One of Michael Stuhlbarg’s five (!) terrific performances this year.

10. “Arthur Miller: Writer”
Alternate title: Rebecca Miller: Force of Nature.

Beth BarrettArtistic Director, Seattle International Film Festival

2017, a year that story — who tells them, and who hears them — was front and center. These are in no particular order.

“Call Me by Your Name”
“I, Tonya”
“Get Out”
“Lady Macbeth”
“Gook”
“Lady Bird”
“Jane”
“Faces Places”
“Beach Rats”
“The OA”

Resolution for 2018: keep hearing those stories…

“Wormwood”

Tom Bernard, Co-President, Sony Pictures Classics

1. “Wormwood,” Errol Morris
2. “The Vietnam War,” Ken Burns and Lynn Novick
3. “Call Me by Your Name,” Luca Guadagnino
4. “Phantom Thread,” Paul Thomas Anderson
5. “Icarus,” Bryan Fogel
6. “Get Out,” Jordan Peele
7. “The Florida Project,” Sean Baker
8. “The Other Side of Hope,” Aki Kaurismaki
9. “The Divine Order (Die Gottiche Ordnug),” Petra Volpe
10. “Ingrid Goes West,” Matt Spicer

Bob Berney, Head of Marketing & Distribution, Amazon Studios

I’ve excluded the films I’ve worked on this year, even though many would be in my top 10! In alphabetical:

“Call Me by Your Name”
“Carne y Arena”
“Dunkirk”
“Get Out”
“Lady Bird”
“Phantom Thread”
“The Shape of Water”
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
“Twin Peaks: The Return”
“Wormwood”

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