The Best Films of 2017

Honorable Mentions: War for the Planet of the Apes (Matt Reeves), Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas), The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola)

10. The Meyerowitz Stories (New & Selected), Noah Baumbach
9. Alien: Covenant, Ridley Scott
8. Call Me By Your Name, Luca Guadagnino
7. Phantom Thread, Paul Thomas Anderson
6. Wonder Wheel, Woody Allen
5. Logan Lucky, Steven Soderbergh
4. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, James Gunn
3. The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro
2. Song to Song, Terrence Malick
1. A Ghost Story, David Lowery

Though I was skeptical going in (to the point where without the encouragement of my significant other I may never have hit the play button), "A Ghost Story" instantly became an all-time favorite that I had to immediately return to multiple times. It joins the likes of "Vanilla Sky" and "Young Adult" in a very specific family of cinema I can watch with the thought, "Was this made just for me, with my opaque, sometimes bizarre sensibilities in mind?" Simply searching for screencaps to use here that accurately represent the rounded 1:33:1 aspect ratio, I have put myself in desperate longing to visit it again (and, probably, again). Without preaching for a second, Lowery utilizes a would-be whimsical concept to present a comprehensively calculated and affectingly applicable penetration of our mortal attempts to comprehend and accept impermanence and how it connects with our perception of the ever-changing world's grander place in existence. Of course the whole is strung to a bittersweet romantic artery we can live in as its private moments feel as intensely real as struggling to balance the weight and momentum of a cheap rolling suitcase on an uneven sidewalk, or grief-eating an entire pie.

"Song to Song" clears the ultra-high bar of being the best Malick has been since coming to dwell on the sharper edges of the man-made world ("To the Wonder", "Knight of Cups") from his formerly preferred natural subject matter ("The New World", "The Tree of Life"), making for yet another true masterwork in the auteur's mighty canon of flowing, meditative, dream-like cinema. My comical reaction to first viewing it was, "Okay, Terry did it. They can stop trying to make other movies now." As with most of the multimedia poet's works, one can easily get lost in "Song to Song" at any time, and emerge fuller than before. Plus Michael Fassbender impersonates a dolphin, so.

"The Shape of Water" is del Toro at the peak of his impassioned abilities, combining his love of practical monsters with that of classic Hollywood storytelling.

Commercially homogenized as Marvel's ongoing serial may be, "Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2" improves greatly upon its predecessor with an intriguing conflict, a winning ensemble, and enviable verve, feeling more like a modern "Star Trek" than superhero fare (or actual modern "Star Trek", for that matter).

"Logan Lucky" rises above its potential as a working class "Ocean's Eleven" through an effective protagonist, Soderbergh's arithmetically precise cinematography, and Adam Driver being at his dopey prime.

"Wonder Wheel" combines several different versions of Allen for a superbly entertaining murder board of relationships that feels at home behind the very bests the storied filmmaker has given us.

"Phantom Thread" may be Paul Thomas Anderson's least inspiring film yet, but such a statement reveals little when considering PTA's absolutely monumental filmography that does not contain a single less than excellent feature.

"Call Me By Your Name" lends a European aesthetic to an English language romance, and would feel just right in a double feature with, for example, a Rohmer, accompanied by a bottle or two of Tuscan rosso.

Teetering on the strength of Michael Fassbender's David, "Alien: Covenant" leans back toward its franchise's more crowd-pleasing origins without wholly compromising the bolder narrative promises of Scott's "Prometheus".

Baumbach is extremely hit and miss with me, but with this undoubtable hit the characters of "The Meyerowitz Stories" feel more tangible by the film's climax than do many people in our day-to-day lives.

Complete 2017 list on Letterboxd (rankings subject to change).