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2017 Critics Poll: The Best Films and Performances According to Over 200 Critics

IndieWire's extensive year-end poll found overwhelming support for a handful of movies in major categories, but also singled out some of the less prominent titles worthy of celebration at the end of the year.

Clockwork from top left: “Get Out,” “Lady Bird,” “Bodied,” “Faces Places”

Bestof2017

In one of the densest fall movie seasons in recent memory, a movie that premiered in a secret slot way back at the Sundance Film Festival’s midnight section in January has remained at the center of the conversation all year. As Jordan Peele’s wild social thriller “Get Out” continues to gather awards buzz, it remains a top critical favorite, scoring enough support in IndieWire’s robust annual critics poll and landing in first place as the best movie of 2017.

More than 200 critics and journalists from around the world participated in the eleventh edition of the poll, making it the largest international critics survey of its kind. Participants included leading critics from IndieWire, Time magazine, Variety, and Entertainment Weekly, in addition to film-specific publications such as Cineaste, Cinema Scope and RogerEbert.com. They voted in a dozen categories, encompassing multiple winning films and performances released over the last 12 months, in addition to the best undistributed films and the best films opening next year. Each category included multiple fields, and the results were culled from weighted lists. The best film list asked critics to submit the 10 best films of the year, with the film listed in the number one slot receiving the most weight.

“Get Out” also topped the survey for best debut feature and best screenplay, but elsewhere, critics spread the love. Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age crowdpleaser “Lady Bird” also found support in multiple categories, winning best actress for Saoirse Ronan as the titular feisty teen, and best supporting actress for Laurie Metcalf as her mother. Paul Thomas Anderson scored best director, for his ‘50s-set romantic drama “Phantom Thread.”

Timothée Chalamet continued his breakout status by winning best actor for “Call Me By Your Name,” while Willem Dafoe’s indefatigable budget motel manager in “The Florida Project” topped best supporting actor. “Faces Places,” Agnes Varda and JR’s working-class tribute and rumination on creativity, won best documentary. And just a few days after it fell short of making the shortlist for the foreign language Oscar, Robin Campillo’s dramatization of French ACT UP activists “BPM (Beats Per Minute)” won best foreign language film.

Beanie Feldstein and Saoirse Ronan in "Lady Bird."

Beanie Feldstein and Saoirse Ronan in “Lady Bird”

A24

Few Hollywood productions found much support, with two major exceptions: Roger Deakins won best cinematography for his work on “Blade Runner 2049,” while Pixar’s “Coco” won best animated film.

Of course, all of these movies were lucky enough to have distributors that brought them to theaters or VOD over the past year. Not every festival gem has such luck. The best undistributed movie category asks critics to vote on 2017 titles that have yet to find homes. This year, no movie received more support in the poll than “Bodied,” Joseph Kahn’s hip hop satire about a white rapper who enters Toronto’s underground music scene. Despite its boisterous reception as the opening night selection of the Toronto International Film Festival’s Midnight Madness section, it has yet to land a U.S. release date.

Finally, critics were given the opportunity to single out movies that screened at festivals in 2017 but won’t hit theaters or VOD until next year. Among the dozens of titles offered up, none received more support than Lucrecia Martel’s “Zama.” The Argentine director’s enigmatic look at a Spanish diplomat roaming aimlessly through South America in the 19th century was adored by critics on the fall festival circuit and became the country’s Oscar submission, though it didn’t make the short list. Strand Releasing opens the movie next year.

As usual, the movies and performances that received the most votes in IndieWire’s poll only tell one part of the story that is the year in cinema. Head to the next page for a breakdown of the top films and performances in every category, and stay tuned for more from the poll this week, including comments on the past year from several participants.

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