The BP Top Ten of 2017

This list was compiled from the individual top ten lists of Alexander, Josh, Craig, Jim, Aaron, Sarah, Rudie, Rita, Ian, Scott, Tyler, and David. Each film was weighted according to its placement on each individual list. As such, a film that appeared on only two writers’ lists could still wind up on the finalized list if it placed particularly high. Conversely, a film could conceivably be on everybody’s list, but not make the final list, due to low point value.Honorable Mentions: Blade Runner 2049, The Shape of Water10. Good Time

When I left the theater after seeing the Safdie Brothers’ Good Time, I didn’t expect it to be my personal pick for best film of the year. I was overwhelmed by the shadowy New York City crime film, certainly, but it just wasn’t something that occured to me. As I’ve been shuffling around my list over the last few weeks, however, it just kept rising. Good Time is a harrowing experience. I understand the most common complaint that it is just too tough to spend this time with the low-life criminal played by Robert Pattinson, I just happened to find him magnetic. As he slithers his way throughout the night, using and disposing any poor soul who comes in his way, I was pulled further down into those depths. The neon glow of the city is bizarre and unreal and completely enthralling. The Safdie Brothers bring incredible realism to this underground world, despite having a legitimate movie star in the leading role. Pattinson delivers my favorite male performance of the year, an unflinching and uncompromising one. He manages to be charismatic and cunning while equally distasteful. Good Time, ironic title and all, is a fascinating and difficult experience, challenging in its themes and characters, melancholic in its pace and design, and radically unsafe in every way. – AP

9. Call Me By Your Name

Director Luca Guadagnino sets his moving romance in a fleeting, Eden-like world in which every moment and action is saturated with sensual pleasure and barely contained emotion. Based on Andre Aciman’s thoroughly internal novel, Guadagnino’s greatest achievement lies in the way the inner lives of its characters – especially that of Timothee Chalamet’s Elio – remain vibrant and insistent despite being played out entirely on the actors’ faces and without the aid of voiceover. I can’t remember the last time a movie made me feel as intensely as this one. – RC

8. The Big Sick

Sometimes you just encounter a film at the right time and the right place where, without being able to cite anything tangible or relatable to other people, it ends up as the best you saw in a given year because your emotional response to it was so complete that you can’t watch the film without remembering the exact context surrounding its viewing. That’s The Big Sick for me. Sure, it’s been nominated for a boat load of end of the year awards, but aside from a few token awards that it’s won for being a comedy (always with a qualifier), The Big Sick isn’t being talked about in the same vein as Three Billboards or Call Me By Your Name or Get Out, which everyone seems to agree are the films that transcend their genre. And yet I loved it. So much. When I saw it, I was ready to have my heart warmed by a true story of a love that for cultural and medical reasons seemed like it was doomed to fail. I was ready to be blown away by the subtly complex performances of Holly Hunter and Ray Romano. I was ready to be impressed by a screenplay in which one of the protagonists disappears for basically half the film. I was ready for The Big Sick. I hope I’ll always be ready for such a genuine and emotionally uplifting story. – JR

7. Dunkirk

Dunkirk seems like the greatest achievement in directing for 2017 and maybe Nolan’s best work yet. On the surface, this story could be a boring but inspirational one – soldiers were trapped, then civilians came to rescue them. Almost no real fighting ever happened there. Nolan digs into every nook and cranny of the events to give us the full picture. The anxiety, the danger, the sacrifice, the risk, the looming unknown – all of it is expertly examined. And done so with technical expertise. From the structure, to the effects, to the music, to the framing, all of it shows a director at the height of his strength making concise decisions to get the most out of a story. When it finally lets up at the end of the third act, we realize how fast we’ve been driving for the last two hours. – JL

6. A Ghost Story

Rarely has such an intimate film attempted to address such epic existential themes as effectively as David Lowery’s A Ghost Story. Spending significant time with only two characters, C (Casey Affleck) and M (Rooney Mara), and featuring very little dialogue, A Ghost Story nonetheless tackles the enormity of time and raises questions about how long legacy and memory last by killing off C early on and having him return to his home as a sheet-wearing ghost where he imminently sees his lover move on, new tenants move in, and gradually, his house decay, collapse, and be replaced with industry. With so little dialogue, Lowery has to rely on sights and sounds to convey the nebulous concepts he’s trying to tackle and is aided in that task by the cinematography of Andrew Droz Palermo and the score of Daniel Hart, both of which lend an ethereal and intangible quality to the existential enigma being explored. A Ghost Story is a film that recognizes how easily our individual stories can be lost in the great ether that exists outside of our mortality, but focuses our attention on the individual meaning and significance that we create for ourselves. – JR

5. Personal Shopper

Personal Shopper was at the same time the most stimulating and confusing movie for me this year. There is so much going on, and I’m not sure I understand most of it. But every time I dig a little deeper, something else opens up. Assayas’ newest deals with death and spirituality in a way that would make Bergman proud. It beautifully explores identity; identity in the face of loss, identity by proxy, whether identity can be defined or redetermined by our surface details. Most of all, it suggests that the real world and the supernatural one are fused in a way that we don’t understand, and may never understand. – JL

4. Lady Bird

Lady Bird’s specialness isn’t found in its most inventive scenes but the most clichéd ones. A teen girl decides to ditch her popular friends to see her old best friend. An emotional drive to an airport. A gay teen admitting he’s afraid to come out. We may have seen such things a hundred times before but director Greta Gerwig clearly loves all her characters so the spark of humanity is never lost in those moments. This is seen most vividly in the relationship between Saoirse Ronan’s Lady Bird and her mother Marion. Both characters’ points of view are treated with sympathy and empathy, so every scene between them become some of the best-acted and moving scenes in cinema of the year. There are many films that try to remind older audience members how it feels to be young, albeit in a superficial way. This film reminds us of the real struggles of adolescence while at the same time providing great insight into the challenges parents face, often in silence. – IB

3. The Florida Project

The Florida Project is a display of poverty, empathy, compassion, love, and desire that never forgets that behind each forgotten child or marginalized family is a soulful being awash with joy and sadness. Brooklynn Prince—a seven year-old actress who gives one of the year’s most engrossing and actualized performances—anchors the film as the precocious Moonee, a child filled with wonder and curiosity imprisoned by the circumstances of her mother’s (played by the equally brilliant Bria Vinaite) poverty and a society that has overlooked them both. Like director Sean Baker’s 2015 film TangerineThe Florida Project frames itself around a loose narrative and lets the characters’ existence navigate the plot. Shot by Alexis Zabe, The Florida Project juxtaposes its depiction of extreme poverty with the cotton candy colored facade that oozes from the Disney Orlando properties and congeals in the surrounding areas. Baker and Zabe create a kaleidoscopic world that compliments Moonee’s precocious mirage of childhood wonder and optimism that extends beyond her present condition. As beautiful as the film is, the compassion at its core is what makes The Florida Project such a stunning work. There’s another version of The Florida Project, one that prioritizes how the audience should feel over how the characters do feel, a version that attempts to fix Moonee and her mother rather than allow them to be broken and still worthy of love and understanding. It is easy to see where a filmmaker without Baker’s grace and empathy could have created a version like that. I’m thankful that in a year dominated by ugliness and cynicism, we got Baker’s vision of humanity and benevolence instead. – CS

2. Get Out

Get Out was the most fun experience at the movie theater I had this year. I saw it first with a full audience and people had a lot of fun watching it together. But on subsequent viewings I got more and more out of the film each time I saw it. This was a fantastic directorial debut by Jordan Peele. Peele’s script is funny but pointed and exquisitely structured. He took the horror genre and put his own spin on it while also breaking free from some common troupes. Plus the film is beautiful to look at. Daniel Kaluuya gives his character Chris an interesting vibe. He is clearly uncomfortable and tries to fit in, but his head is always on a swivel. Alison Williams is convincing as the loving girlfriend Rose and makes her turn very eloquently. One of the stand out characters for me was LilRel Howery as Rod the best friend and TSA agent. Howery brings a lot of comedy to the film but also plays the stalwart friend and skeptic with equal measures. I also have to give a special call out to Betty Gabriel as Georgina. Gabriel has a small scene with Chris when they are upstairs that is bone chilling, but you don’t know why exactly. Peele fills the frame with her face and just lets you sits there and ponder why this woman is acting so strange and why she is so terrifying. Get Out rounds out the thread of fear that connected so many of the films on my list this year with Chris being afraid of not fitting in, then afraid that something bad is happening, and then being afraid that he will never escape. Get Out was as fun as it was scary and I can’t wait to see what Jordan Peele does next. – SB

1. Phantom Thread

Paul Thomas Anderson trades California for London, abandons some of the more unusual outbursts of his characters, but leaves behind none of the chaotic drama rocking his characters. It’s just largely beneath the surface. What does peak, in the escalating tension between a dressmaker (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his latest muse (Vicky Krieps), is the kind of unstoppable-force/immovable-object tension that Anderson has delighted in exploring over the last decade. He’s fascinated by relationships between people who in some way need each other, but can’t seem to reconcile. Lately, however, he seems most keen on the terms it would take for them to manage. – SN

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