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42 Directors Pick Their Favorite Movies of 2017, Including Denis Villeneuve, Guillermo del Toro, and More

Films by del Toro, Luca Guadagnino, Sean Baker, Edgar Wright and Villeneuve are on most top tens, but who made their lists? From Almodovar to Zobel, 42 top directors write about what they loved in 2017.

Peter Landesman (“Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House”)

Atomic Blonde (2017)Charlize Theron

“Atomic Blonde”

Jonathan Prime/Focus Features

My Favorite movie experiences of 2017.

“Phantom Thread”: I honestly don’t know what to feel about this film, except that I often think of it, weeks later. The moviemaking was so good I forgot to dislike the story. I rolled my eyes at the characters one minute, then stared at them jaw-dropped and mesmerized the next. The end left me queasy. I started to think it was a parody of itself, then realized it might have been a parody of me, or us.

“Blade Runner 2049”: This was, for me, the most complete cinematic experience of the year. I didn’t understand how Denis would move forward Ridley’s vast visual tapestry – one of the most influential characteristics of any single film of any time. The mood of our coming dystopia was familiar – in the best way – but the filmmakers populated it with updates that whispered their impending arrival in real life. Especially, virtual love, project sexuality. I loved its languid pace. The score carried me downriver. The thing took so much hubris, the bar Ridley had set so high, I have nothing but admiration for this film and loved every minute.

“Get Out”: A lot of this felt like an inside (and excellent) joke, from casting known progressive actors as Stepford honkie supremacists, to the Dave Chappelle-like mockery of caucasian dialect. But I got it, and it was smart, and of a moment, and I found myself laughing as a way of protecting myself from the digs the film made at almost every aspect of modern society.

“Baby Driver”: I’ve heard people taking issue with this film, and I wish I knew why. It was a joyful experience – I completely bought into the fairytale musical, the Sharks & Jets/Westside Story and Singin’ in the Rain glee of the story and its filmmaking. I often write to a soundtrack, but the idea of laying down soundtrack first and building a plot around that is smart. I loved the way Edgar shot Ansel Elgort and Lilly James and the chorus of baddies, and way he threw the camera around.

“Mudbound”: Strong cinematic portrait, a film of the south and its treacheries that Walker Evans might have shot.

“Atomic Blonde”: Man, did he shoot Charlize beautiful and badass. Plot whatever. I already forgot it. I’ll take the fight sequences – was that a 10-minute oner as Charlize took on body after body a la OLD BOY? And I’ll take the submergence of flesh in water and the icy loneliness of a killer-spy, killing and fighting to destroy another day.

“The Darkest Hour”: I wanted to resist this film, for its good humor and benign intentions. Then I realized it wasn’t taking on the near-death experience of standing up to Hitler’s apocalypse, as much as it was capturing the enigmatic mind of the Hitchcock of politicians. Joe’s camerawork was beautiful and whimsical, like the man itself.

“Dunkirk”: I’ve never seen a war film so devoid of blood and torn flesh, but so full of anxiety. To me this was a claustrophobic fever dream, almost a tone poem. I loved how few words of dialog there were. When men are facing death or about to die, what they can speak that can top what their eyes say to us?

“I, Tonya”: I got it. I had no idea why she did it. And now I do, completely. An ode to the glass ceiling trapping the white underclass. I kept thinking that if Tonya Harding had skated in Trump’s America, she’d have won the gold.

Adam Leon (“Gimme the Loot“)

Kyle Mooney in Brigsby Bear

“Brigsby Bear”

Courtesy of Sundance

My favorite movies released this year in random order (not including ones directed by/starring/produced by people I’m friendly with because feels weird and unfair to “rank” those):

“Phantom Thread”
“Brigsby Bear”
“Call Me by Your Name”
“Lady Bird”
“On the Beach at Night Alone”
“The Florida Project”
“The Last Jedi”
“The Beguiled”
“Personal Shopper”

Haifaa Al Mansour (“Mary Shelley,” “Wadjda”)

DF-18976 - Hugh Jackman stars as Logan/Wolverine in LOGAN. Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein.


Photo Credit: Ben Rothstein

10. “The Big Sick”: I love how much ground they are able to cover without being heavy handed. This is such a personal, sweet and emotional film, I was very touched by it. I left feeling very hopeful which is such a beautiful gift to get from a film.

9. “Wonder Woman”: I was unsure whether or not I would enjoy this “action movie,” but I was so inspired and excited by this film. I got very emotional watching the warrior women train for battle, mainly because it just seemed like such a normal thing for them to do. It made me realize how much things have actually changed. I am so grateful that my daughter has a film like this to reference as she grows and develops as a woman. So proud to see a woman making a film of this scale, and doing it better than anyone else!

8. “The Shape of Water”: Such a beautiful, magical film. I am so happy that there are stories like this being told.

7. “The Disaster Artist”: This is a great tribute to everyone who has ever aimed big and missed terribly. It reminds me of Into the Wild in many ways, as a person who has a vision for the way they want to live without necessarily having the tools to implement it. Great performances!

6. “Faces Places”: Such a sweet, simple film celebrating art and the affect it can have on a community.

5. “Logan”: Again, an action film I wasn’t sure about going into it, but it was a really great reimaginiation of what can be done within the super hero genre.

4. “The Last Men in Aleppo”: The most heartbreaking film of the year. Difficult to watch one that must be seen.

3. “Coco”: My kids loved it. Such a gentle and touching way to handle such a heavy subject. A wonderful, adventurous, magical piece of art.

2. “The Square”: Such a brilliant, hysterical film. I loved watching it. So many parallels between the fine art world and the independent film world!

1. “Get Out”: I feel very strongly that this was the best film of the year. It is so nice to see the box office reflect that as well. This film proves that an incredibly powerful, bold statement can be made within a riveting, imaginative and entertaining film. I feel like I have never seen anything like it, and was shocked and moved by it.

Alex Ross Perry (“Listen Up Philip”)


Courtesy of Warner Bros. Picture

1. “Dunkirk”: There’s a Calvin & Hobbes strip where Calvin’s dad puzzles him with how the inner point of a record and the outer point of the same record can travel different distances but make a full rotation in the same amount of time, even though the inner most part of the record and the outermost part are moving at the same speed. The final panel is Calvin, awake in the dead of night and tortured by the riddle. 25 years after reading it, I still can’t not think of this algebraic conundrum. “Dunkirk” is like that, but as a movie.

2. “Phantom Thread”

3. “Beach Rats”: As a rule, I do not include movies made by friends on my year end lists. Have to make an exception for Eliza.

4. “The Meyerowitz Stories”: I wonder if it is a coincidence that every movie on this list so far was shot on film.

5. “Blade Runner 2049”

6. “Lady Bird”

7. “Life and Death of Louis XIV”: The only foreign film on this list. I guess I don’t see as many as I would like. Also generally the ones I see have been so overhyped that I don’t quite like them as much as I feel like I am supposed to.

8. “The Beguiled”

9. “Lost City of Z”: That makes six out of ten shot on film.

10. “Donald Cried”

Nicolas Pesce (“The Eyes of My Mother”)

Twin Peaks The Return Naomi Watts Kyle MacLachlan

“Twin Peaks: The Return”

Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Honestly, my list could be “Twin Peaks” 1-10, but…

1. “Twin Peaks: The Return”
2. “Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond”
3. “The Killing Of A Sacred Deer”
4. “I, Tonya”
5. “Big Little Lies”
6. “I Don’t Feel At Home In This World Anymore”
7. “Gerald’s Game”
8. “Dunkirk”
9. “Split”
10. “Logan Lucky”

James Ponsoldt (“The Circle”)


TOP 10 (in no particular order)

“Faces Places”
“Get Out”
“Phantom Thread”
“A Ghost Story”
“Good Time”
“The Florida Project”
“Lady Bird”
“Call Me by Your Name”

“The Rider”: Although “The Rider” won’t be theatrically released until the spring of 2018, it’s the film I’m most excited to watch again on the big screen. Since seeing it a few months ago, I haven’t been able to shake it. The film is a meditation on physical and spiritual wounds, grief, and a slow healing process that can take a lifetime. “The Rider” is one of the greatest arguments for choosing life (over macho/narcissistic martyrdom) that I’ve ever seen. In letting go of old dreams, the protagonist of “The Rider” is reborn.

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