If I knew what was good for me, I’d make a 2018 resolution to chill out on these over-elaborate year-end lists that have annually stuffed my Decembers with a round-the-clock obsession to leave no stone unturned. This is my fourth list, and if you’ve been following since the beginning - (if such a gesture were at all feasible I’d buy you some kind of iced-cream cone) you’d know that I like to switch up the format of these best-of presentations.
Like Todd Haynes’ Wonderstruck teaches, a museum is nothing if not a collection of hand selected treasures, assembled by a curator eager to bear his soul via personal relics. Remember when a film was a cartridge or disc you could hold in your hand? As Mark Frost notes, “Good literature is a mirror through which we see ourselves more clearly”.
You could say I take these things so seriously, because as Rob Gordon might add, a list isn’t unlike a self-portrait. In that spirit, here is a list of 2017 works that brought me great joy. These are the films and shows that made me say, ‘hell yes’... That is truth, that is beauty, that is fucking hilarious, that is some baadasss shit, that is what I am talking about.
Spinning off from last year, my best-of list crosses all screens which I have come to enjoy breaking down into five categories: Documentary, Rockumentary, Cult, Television, and... I don’t know, General Fiction. I’ve expanded Rockumentary to include, not just docs about music, but all levels of artistry, from films about filmmaking to works of performance art and beyond. Cult - aka Midnight aka Pulp - does not just refer to the horror genre, but anything with edge that would compliment a late night screen.
The final ten slides are where you’ll find my ‘official’ Top 10 Works of 2017 list. This list contains two selections from each of the aforementioned five categories. The screen-spanning titles are ranked by my level of reverence. In the squares leading up to said Top 10, I’ll provide five up-runners for each category, listed alphabetically, which should help clarify my labels.
Before we get started, here is a list of 15 films that vied for best-of positions, and (not that much) earlier in the year, held them. They are works scattered from all categories (three from each) that I nevertheless cannot recommend enough. So, like a mathhole, with three ‘contenders’ + five ‘runners up’ + two ‘best-ofs’, what I’m essentially providing is five separate Top 10s in five distinct categories, scattered recklessly for my amusement. To quote a resolution from earlier this year, and one I’ve surely proclaimed on this day for the past four-15 years, “next year, so help me, I won’t get so worked up about screens”…. NOT. Onwards….
Cult: Raw, Thor: Ragnarok, Tragedy Girls
Rock/Perf Art: Clive Davis: The Soundtrack Of Our Lives, I Called Him Morgan, Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond
TV: Easy, Feud, Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later
Doc: City of Ghosts, The Road Movie, Tokyo Idols
Mainstream Narrative: The Florida Project, A Ghost Story, T2 Trainspotting