More than 200 critics and journalists from around the world participated in the 11th annual IndieWire Critics 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.
Click here for the full results of this year’s IndieWire Critics Poll, and go through the gallery for the top 50 films voted as this year’s very best.
Matt Spicer’s Sundance-winning debut is elevated by two dynamite lead performances from Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen. Spicer’s script is sharp, specific, and subversive in its mission to break open the heart of the ego-driven social media generation.
“Step” tells a story that highlights the intertwining values of hope and education, and never loses sight of the idea that much more lies ahead. This intimate look at a Baltimore female step group is one of the year’s great crowd-pleasers.
After years of collaborating with Jeremy Saulnier, actor Macon Blair stepped behind the camera for this killer debut. Part “Green Room” and part “Raising Arizona,” the movie featured a knockout lead performance from indie stalwart Melanie Lynskey, who received a Gotham Award nomination for her work.
Nacho Vigalondo’s inventive spin on the monster movie features a game Anne Hathaway and a plot that never stops surprising you. The movie presents its narrative like a ridiculous gamble and keeps pulling it off, somehow managing to justify its existence.
“Battle of the Sexes” is a broad and entertaining crowd-pleaser with a warm and immediately believable Emma Stone in the lead role.
“Krisha” director Trey Edward Shults’ sophomore film confirms his visionary approach to tense family drama — this time, within the confines of a post-apocalyptic thriller.
Hittman’s follow up to “It Felt Like Love” shows evidence of a true artistic vision coming together. Both eerie and exciting, “Beach Rats” excels on the strengths of Hittman’s vision and Harris Dickinson’s breakout lead performance.
"Mama" director Andrés Muschietti perfectly balanced horror and humor in his adaptation of the classic Stephen King novel. The film expertly captured the childhood vibe of “The Goonies” and “Stand By Me” while channeling the horrific thrills of contemporary horror classics like “The Conjuring.”
“Girls Trip” nails laugh after laugh on such a non-stop basis that you may forget to stop breathing. All hail the comedic genius of Tiffany Haddish, one of the biggest breakout performers of 2017.
Gary Oldman makes Joe Wright’s “Darkest Hour” as rousing and ferocious as Winston Churchill himself. It’s an electric chamber piece that couldn’t more perfectly complement “Dunkirk” if Christopher Nolan wrote it.
M. Night Shyamalan returned in a big way with “Split,” which reignited his skill for pulling off holy-crap-I-never-saw-that-coming twist narratives. Credit must be given to James McAvoy, who refuses to turn his character suffering from split personality disorder into a cardboard movie villain.
Stephen Cone’s finely tuned portrait of a teenage girl and her estranged aunt is both bathed in summertime nostalgia and boldly of its time.
Makoto Shinkai’s anime stunner “Your Name” marries the delicate beauty of Hayao Miyazaki with the workaday wistfulness of Yasujirō Ozu.
Japanese auteur Hirokazu Kore-eda churns out masterpieces so casually that it can be easy to take them for granted, but “After the Storm” is worth celebrating. The movie is full of characters so real and full of life that it feels as though could fly to Japan and visit them.
Christian Bale delivers a powerhouse performance in his reunion with “Out of the Furnace” director Scott Cooper. The two create one of the bloodiest Westerns in film history with “Hostiles,” which follows Bale’s Army captain as he struggles to bring a dying Cheyenne war chief and his family back to their tribal lands.
As big, effects-driven Hollywood spectacles go, you can’t do much better than “War for the Planet of the Apes.” The technological wizardry and first-rate storytelling combine into a bracing action-adventure that concludes the best science fiction trilogy since the original trio of “Star Wars” movies.
If Grumpy Cat is the blockbuster franchise of cat videos, “Kedi” is the “Citizen Kane” of the genre. Though technically a sophisticated, artful documentary from Turkish filmmaker Ceyda Torun, “Kedi” will automatically find devout fans among anyone who delights at all things feline.
“Beatriz at Dinner” is an engaging drama about characters from vastly different sociopolitical backgrounds facing their differences. Salma Hayek impresses as a Mexican immigrant confronting an avaricious hotel mogul (John Lithgow). The film handles its incendiary material with a gentle touch, and the result provokes strong ideas about the clash of values in modern America.
“The Beguiled” is a fun potboiler that doesn’t find Sofia Coppola leaving her comfort zone so much as redecorating it with a fresh layer of soft-core scuzz. The film is the mustiest and most conventionally entertaining film of Coppola’s brilliant career.
“Hell or High Water” writer Taylor Sheridan steps behind the camera for this visceral directorial debut, featuring knockout lead performances from Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner.
After not-so-memorable “Finding Nemo” and “Cars” sequels, “Coco” packs the kind of emotional punch that reminds you why you should never take Pixar for granted.
Steven Soderbergh returned from retirement in top form with this silly and soulful heist comedy. The ensemble cast, including Adam Driver and Channing Tatum, is what indie film heaven is made of.
The story of a lower-class father attempting to raise his young son doesn’t sound like groundbreaking material, but “Menashe” puts that bittersweet formula into an exciting new context. This Yiddish-spoken drama finds universal emotion in an unlikely place.
Superhero cinema said goodbye to one of its most iconic characters in a Western that will forever enshrine Hugh Jackman in Marvel history. Jackman, in his best performance, saved the best “X-Men” movie for last.
Rian Johnson gives new hope to the sprawling franchise by balancing off the spectacle with a fresh bag of tricks. It’s the most satisfying “Star Wars” movie in decades.
“Song to Song” is as gorgeous and meandering as any recent Terrence Malick movie, but the way his wayward characters eventually arrive at a new beginning makes it feel all the more urgent and unique for his usual bag of tricks.
Bong Joon Ho’s Netflix-produced sixth feature went full “E.T.” as the director pulled off a savvy political satire and a breezy action-adventure, often at the same time.
French director Julia Ducournau’s provocative feature debut finds a young girl discovering her carnal desires, and it allows the director to tear down the walls of a genre so often identified with male filmmakers. “Raw” is David Cronenberg body horror built on feminism.
Kumai Nanjiani and wife Emily V. Gordon co-wrote this touching portrait of the cultural clash that threatened their relationship, and in doing so they delivered one of the great crowd-pleasers of 2017.
The Gal Gadot-starring Patty Jenkins feature blends humor, heart, and one hell of a heroine to give the DCEU its best outing yet.
Leave it to French New Wave icon Jean-Pierre Léaud and the singular charms of filmmaker Albert Serra to turn a film about a man succumbing to his final resting place into one of the most riveting offerings of the year.
“The Disaster Artist” rarely works on just one level: There’s meta humor, self-referential gags, and human reverence paid to the earnest pursuit of a Hollywood dream.
Lauded video essayist Kogonada turns his attention to a visually stunning feature that is as good for the eyes as it is for the heart. The film’s visual flair expands its deep emotional nuance, delivered with care by two of the year’s best performances thanks to John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson.
Edgar Wright’s most ambitious work to date is a wildly successful romantic heist comedy, propelled from scene to scene with a lively soundtrack that elevates its slick chase scenes into a realm that develops its own satisfying beat.
Denis Villeneuve goes beyond the call of duty in “Blade Runner 2049,” delivering a lush, often mind-blowing refurbishing of the original sci-fi aesthetic that delves into its complex epistemological themes just as much as it resurrects an enduring spectacle.
Exhuming one of the most sordid cultural stories of the ’90s, Margot Robbie lands the lead role of a lifetime."I, Tonya" will make you care about Tonya Harding for the first time in a long time. Moreover, "I, Tonya" will make you sympathize with Tonya Harding for the first time.
Dee Rees enters the big leagues with her sweeping period epic “Mudbound.” Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell anchor this powerful tale of two families in post-war Mississippi.
Darren Aronofsky’s “mother!” is a rich and audacious cinematic allegory that ranks as his most daring film to date. Come for the house that bleeds; stay for the reflections on parenthood and the difficulty of living with fame.
Robert Pattinson gives the performance of his career in the Safdie brothers’ astonishing New York thriller “Good Time.” The comparisons to Robert De Niro in “Taxi Driver” are well justified.
David Lowery delivered the best film of his career with “A Ghost Story.” It’s a soul-searching drama in which powerful revelations emerge less from a satisfying destination than from the beautiful struggle involved in getting there.
There’s topical, there’s timely, and then there’s “The Post,” which feels less like a historical thriller set in 1971 than it does an exhilarating caricature of the year 2017. “The Post” is the most vital work Steven Spielberg work since “Munich.”
Martin McDonagh has crafted the ultimate bait and switch, a film that carries its weary nihilism with a surprisingly light touch, an affectation later dropped in favor of an unexpected message of grace. Which is to say that not only is “Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri” the director’s most accomplished film yet, it’s also his most compassionate.
“Personal Shopper” is a cinephile’s idea of a horror movie, their headiest ingredients elevated to an abstract plane. The slick camerawork, slow-burn tension and mysterious circumstances have less to do with shock value than the interior processes behind it. Above all, this is a character study about alienation.
The rapturous “Call Me by Your Name” nearly rates alongside recent LGBT phenomenons “Carol” and “Moonlight,” matching the artistry and empathy with which those new masterworks untangled the repressive desire of same-sex attraction.
“The Shape of Water” is not just one of Guillermo del Toro’s most stunningly successful works, it's also a powerful vision of a creative master feeling totally, joyously free.
“The Florida Project” is the rare film that actually sees the world through the optimistic eyes of a young child. The drama cements Baker’s status as one of the most innovative American directors working today. He’s an essential advocate for the stories this country often doesn’t get to see.
Paul Thomas Anderson crafts an absorbing period piece seemingly focused on the obsessions of a successful man, but it’s really about his opposite, played with breakout ferocity by Vickey Krieps.
“Dunkirk” is a bloodless but profoundly unnerving assault on the senses, a spectacle that searches for order in the midst of chaos. It’s a monumental war epic that ranks as Christopher Nolan’s finest achievement to date.
Greta Gerwig’s semi-biographical riff on her Sacramento upbringing elevates it’s traditional coming-of-age story to a new wavelength beaming with wit and insight. Anchored by Saoirse Ronan in a spunky lead role that registers as her very best, the movie confirms that Gerwig’s plucky screen presence translates into a richly confident filmmaking voice.
Writer-director Jordan Peele catapulted beyond his sketch-comedy roots for a category-defining work about race and privilege in American society that moviegoers had never truly wrestled with before.