1. Stop Making Sense (1984, Jonathan Demme)
Any year I rewatch Stop Making Sense on a big screen, it’s the best movie I rewatched that year.

2. A Page of Madness (1926, Teinosuke Kinugasa)
With Alloy Orchestra in a theater full of disoriented patrons… The Lost World was fun, too.

3. Nosferatu (1922, F.W. Murnau)
Very good live band at the Alamo. I’m noticing that film/concert experiences are topping this list.

4. The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928, Carl Theodor Dreyer)
Filmstreams… with live music

5. Suspiria (1977, Dario Argento)
Fully restored with delirious color on a huge screen with a sold-out crowd.

6. Yi Yi (2000, Edward Yang)
7. The Manchurian Candidate (1962, John Frankenheimer)
8. Stalker (1979, Andrei Tarkovsky)
9. Blade Runner (1982, Ridley Scott)
All in their latest HD versions at home, my first time watching them since the VHS days.

10. Spirited Away (2001, Hayao Miyazaki)
Somehow I didn’t recognize this as a masterpiece when I first watched in theaters.

11. The Cabinet of Jan Svankmajer & Stille Nacht (1984-93, Brothers Quay)
Such tactile little films, HD makes a big difference.

12. Duelle and Noroit (1976, Jacques Rivette)
I’d seen these not so long ago, but they’re awesome.

13. Kill Bill (2003-04, Quentin Tarantino)
Also rewatched Grindhouse and most of Basterds.

14. The Love Witch (2016, Anna Biller)
At first look I wasn’t sure what to make of it, then I read Sicinski’s article a couple times and watched again as soon as it hit blu-ray – it’s incredible.

15. Idiocracy (2006, Mike Judge)
Just seemed like a particularly good year to give this another look.

0. World of Tomorrow 2 (2017, Don Hertzfeldt)

1. A Brief History of Princess X (2016, Gabriel Abrantes)
2. Sarah Winchester, opéra fantôme (2016, Bertrand Bonello)
3. Bring Me the Head of Tim Horton (2015, Guy Maddin & Evan Johnson & Galen Johnson)
4. Czech animations What The Eyes See (1968) and Strazce majaku (1987)
5. En levande själ (2014, Henry Moore Selder)
6. White Helmets (2016, Orlando Von Einsiedel)

7. The Northleach Horror (2016, David Cairns)
8. Spiral Jetty (2017, Ricky D’Ambrose)
9. As the Flames Rose (2012, Joao Rui Guerra da Mata)
10. Porter Springs 4 (1999, Henry Hills)
11. All Good Things (Chloe Domont) and One of the Roughs, a Kosmos (Carmine Grimaldi) from True/False
12. Moxon’s Mechanick Exercises and Secret History of the Dividing Line (David Gatten)

I’ve been thinking about Princess X since Spring and have visited the sculpture a dozen times. World of Tomorrow 2 just came out 24 hours ago. WoT2 should probably be #1, but that doesn’t seem fair so it gets the honorary #0 instead.

Even though I watched a ton of films in theaters, I managed to miss some major ones. I didn’t do a great job of tracking what premiered on video this year, although as someone rightly pointed out, nobody cares about this but me. And I’ve yet to explore the hundreds of year-end lists from all the critics and publications, so I’ll have more titles to add, but I’ll just put ’em on my master list and leave this post alone.

Missed in Theaters:

On the Beach at Night Alone (Hong Sang-soo)
The Trip to Spain (Michael Winterbottom)
Brawl in Cell Block 99 (S. Craig Zahler)
Blade of the Immortal (Takashi Miike)
After the Storm (Hirokazu Koreeda)
The Disaster Artist (James Franco)
Jackie and Neruda (Pablo Larraín)
The Breadwinner (Nora Twomey)
Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd)
The Salesman (Asghar Farhadi)
Ex Libris (Frederick Wiseman)
American Made (Doug Liman)
Mother! (Darren Aronofsky)
Columbus (Kogonada)

Missed on Video:

The Meyerowitz Stories (Noah Baumbach)
My Happy Family (Ektimishvili & Gross)
American Epic (Bernard MacMahon)
The Discovery (Charlie McDowell)
Casting JonBenet (Kitty Green)
Wormwood (Errol Morris)
Mudbound (Dee Rees)

Status Unknown:

Strangely Ordinary This Devotion (Leventhal & Wilson)
In This Corner of the World (Sunao Katabuchi)
Let The Corpses Tan (Cattet & Forzani)
Buster’s Mal Heart (Sarah Adina Smith)
Before We Vanish (Kiyoshi Kurosawa)
A Fantastic Woman (Sebastián Lelio)
First Reformed (Paul Schrader)
The Challenge (Yuri Ancarani)
Western (Valeska Grisebach)
Prototype (Blake Williams)
Zama (Lucrecia Martel)

Some 2017 movies for you will be 2018 movies for me, because I live in Nebraska… still looking forward to Phantom Thread, Call Me By Your Name, Faces Places, The Square, I Tonya, The Shape of Water, The Post, probably others.

Happy New Movie Year!

This year I fell behind on the blog, watched barely anything on the BLIGS list I made for myself, fell behind on the blog and caught up last-minute with some short and inadequate write-ups. But I also had a good SHOCKtober, went to an amazing film festival, created my own home film festival, and watched a record number of movies in theaters.


The Lists:

Favorite 2017 Movies
Favorite Recent Movies watched in 2017
Favorite Older Movies watched in 2017
Favorite Rewatches of 2017
Favorite Shorts of 2017
2017 Movies To Watch
Previous year lists


Some Movies Begun and Abandoned in 2017:

Porco Rosso
What Happened to Monday
Casting JonBenet
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Berlin: Symphony of a Great City
Soderbergh’s recut of 2001
Code Unknown
The New World (“first cut”)
The Sorrow and the Pity
Karl Marx City
War Horse

Of our original trio, Han Solo has died in part 7, Leia now leads the resistance with second-in-command Laura Dern and Han-like hotshot flyboy Poe (Oscar Isaac), and Luke is secluded on an island refusing to help would-be protege Rey (Daisy Ridley) because he lost control of his last protege Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). John Boyega (Attack the Block) apparently had a larger role jumpstarting the narrative in part 7 – here he’s paired with engineer/love interest Rose (Kelly Tran) trying to help the rickety remains of the resistance escape from Kylo and howling ham sandwich Domhnall Gleeson in their attack fleet. Benicio Del Toro is a smooth traitor to both sides, there are computer-animated characters who don’t quite work, appearances by Yoda, Chewbacca and the robots. I appreciated Rian Johnson’s commitment to filming it all in well-designed visual frames, and this would probably rival the Guardians of the Galaxy movies in rewatchability, but that doesn’t make me happy that Rian is committed to a decade of Star Wars instead of original stories.

I’d like to say I sought out an Israeli movie in New York during Hanukkah, but really I watched this because of the dance scene in David Ehrich’s top 25 video.

Neatly divided into three sections. In the first, an Israeli father (Lior Ashkenazi of Late Marriage and Footnote) and mother (Sarah Adler of Notre Musique and Jellyfish) are visited by military flunkies and told their only son has died during his military duty. This turns out to be a mistake, and the enraged dad insists the military immediately bring his son home to visit. In the second part, their son Jonathan is on assignment with a handful of others at a remote roadblock. We observe their bored routine, stopping and humiliating drivers before letting them through the little gate, then the morning after a horrible accident that kills four innocents, Jon is taken away to visit his family. In the final part some months later we learn the son died in a crash that morning, the parents have been separated, and they’re together for a few minutes hashing some things out.

Shot with such flair, artfully designed without being quirky or showoffy. The tension and despair on display is absolutely wrecking, but the film compensates with an abundance of humor (light and dark). Maoz’s second film after the acclaimed Lebanon, which I guess I need to check out. Played Venice this year with Human Flow, Ex Libris, Three Billboards and champion The Shape of Water.

Cute mouse Dinki runs away from her fake family (her “dad” is a guy wearing mouse ears and her “brother” is a dog) with a boy and her creepy girlfriend who hears murder-voices. Birdboy himself spends most of the movie a useless junkie, having nightmares and reminiscing about life with his late father in a lighthouse, but briefly he turns into a giant enraged bird-beast and kills all the dump rats who threaten his friends.

It doesn’t feel like an adult animation so much as a kids’ animation that has been isolated and deprived of light or hope for decades until all the happy furry creatures have turned to despair. Also featuring a living piggybank and living alarm clock, the opposite of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast trinkets, showing the cruel horrors we inflict on the objects that are just doing their jobs for us. Played with a short…

Decorado (2016, Alberto Vásquez)

From one of Birdboy‘s directors, a handful of truly awful animal-characters interact in short sketches, while one of them (the guy whose best friend is a ghost and is married to a robot-voiced woman whose secret admirer is a horrible monster) starts to realize that he’s in a Truman Show situation with artificial scenery. Some crude gags striving towards profundity, not quite making it.

Another magical drama about a refugee in hiding with a carefully balanced comic tone, this was inevitably going to be compared to Le Havre, my favorite movie of a few years back, and fall slightly short. But it’s nice to have more of refugee Khaled’s story in this one, as opposed to near-mute Idrissa in Le Havre, and the acknowledgement of the racism and xenophobia within the country’s citizens fueling the policies that are making it so difficult for him to gain asylum in Finland.

Syrian Khaled has bounced through ten countries on his way to Finland and is desperate to locate his one surviving relative, his sister Miriam, and bring her to a safer place. His Iraqi friend Mazdak offers communications help to look for the girl while Khaled finds work with Wikström (Leningrad Cowboy Sakari Kuosmanen), who has left his wife for reasons unknown and purchased a dumpy restaurant. Wikström and Khaled are given too little shared screen time for us to watch them bond (alongside a cute dog and three bedraggled employees who came with the building), but Wikström proves to be big-hearted, protecting his newest employee from the elements and the authorities.

Kaurismäki won best director in Berlin (A Fantastic Woman, Félicité, On the Beach at Night Alone). My moviegoing companions were surprised and appalled that Finland would not offer Khaled asylum and try to have him deported, but now that I’ve seen Stranger in Paradise, nothing is surprising. Others were dismayed by all the screen time given to amateur performances of rockabilly songs, but I preferred those to the half hour of backstory showing how Wikström came to run a restaurant. I recognized Kati Outinen (the wife in Le Havre) in one scene, and restaurant doorman Ilkka Koivula (probably also from Le Havre), but that apparently was not Carel Struycken as a bartender.

Traveling salesman/con-man Moses (Ryan O’Neal of Barry Lyndon, The Driver) stops by the Missouri funeral of “a friend” and takes charge of the deceased’s daughter (and possibly his own) Addie (Tatum O’Neal, Ryan’s daughter). She proves to be at least as good with the cons as Moses, and she claims he owes her money and threatens to turn him in, so they stick together through Kansas. Moses gets sidetracked shacking up with the pampered Trixie (Madeline Kahn) so Addie schemes with Trixie’s maid Imogene to break them up. The rest of the movie is small-time scams and gradual bonding, all extremely winning.

Tatum O’Neal won an oscar for this. John Hillerman of Chinatown plays a dual role, Moses wrestles Randy Quaid. P-Bog’s fourth-ish feature, between What’s Up, Doc? and Daisy Miller. Screenwriter Alvin Sargent started in the 1950’s and is still around, writing Spider-Man sequels.

Tatum with Imogene (PJ Johnson):

Madeline and Ryan with charming desk clerk Burton Gilliam: