1. Une vie (A Woman’s Life, Stephane Brize, 2016)
  2. Manchester by the Sea (Kenneth Lonergan, 2016)
  3. Jackie (Pablo Larrain, 2016)
  4. O.J.: Made in America (Ezra Edelman, 2016)
  5. Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
  6. Fashionista (Simon Rumley, 2016)
  7. The Square (Ruben Ostlund, 2017)
  8. Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017)
  9. Nelyubov (Loveless, Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2017)
  10. Frantz (Francois Ozon, 2016)

What a dismal year for international cinema. Most of my selections are spillovers from 2016 and to be honest the bottom 5 would be lucky to make my top ten in most years.




Favourite films of 2017, in no particular order
Milla (Valérie Massadian, 2017)
Ourobouros (Basma Alsharif, 2017)
Cocote (Nelson Carlo De Los Santos Arias, 2017)
Meteorlar (Gürcan Keltek, 2017)
Good Luck (Ben Russell, 2017)
Qing ting zhi yan (Dragonfly Eyes, Xu Bing, 2017)
Mon Rot Fai (Railway Sleepers, Sompot Chidgasornpongse, 2017)
Le fort des fous (Narimane Mari, 2017)
24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami, 2017)
Good Time (Ben and Joshua Safdie, 2017)
Chauka Tell Us The Time (Behrouz Boochani, Arash Sarvestani, 2017)

Special mentions
I was lucky enough to see Der Traumhafte Weg (The Dreamed Path, Angela Schanelec, 2016) and Dao Khanong (By the Time It Gets Dark, Anocha Suwichakorngpong, 2016) again this year, in cinemas in Melbourne and Sydney respectively. The two would top my list for 2016 if I were to write it today, and the experience of seeing them again in a cinema cemented that – which I think is a testament to the space, and the value of films that reveal more lasting complexities with repeated viewings.




Perhaps the most surreally serene scene in cinema this year can be found in James Gray’s The Lost City of Z (2016), in which an explorer bumbling through an inhospitable jungle somehow encounters an opera.  What a microcosm for the good cinephile’s experience in 2017 — amidst a struggle to keep away the viruses carried by powerful liars and to dodge the slings & arrows brandished by savages, occasionally we go to the theatre and encounter something sublime, something numinous that reminds us why life is maybe worth sharing with our fellow humans.

My thirteen favorite new releases arranged in three themed categories and approximate order of impact and enjoyment:

Femmes Vitales
All This Panic (Jenny Gage, 2016)
Around the 18 minute mark of this unprecedentedly intimate yet expansive documentary, a teen girl expresses her lustful feelings for some dude who has rejected her advances.  Her tears contain more heartrending force than anything I saw all year that wasn’t the news.

A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016)
Emily Dickinson once wrote, “My worthiness is all my doubt, / His merit all my fear, / Contrasting which, my qualities / Do lowlier appear,” and now I am convinced she would have fit right in with the girls from All This Panic.

Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017)
The scene in which Diana realizes how far she can jump and climbs a wall — smashing a new path upward for herself  to reach & become the God Killer (big budget female filmmaker allegory alert!) — reminded me of that moment in The Incredibles (Brad Bird, 2004) when Dash realizes he is running on water.  The shock of overachievement, of having outdone oneself, is the essence of happiness, and the smiles on their faces say it all.  A superhero’s reach should exceed her grasp, or what’s a sense of wonder for?

Jia nian hua (Angels Wear White, Vivian Qu, 2017)
I thought of this movie again when I saw Saturday Night Live’s powerlessness anthem “Welcome To Hell.”

The Nightmares
mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)
Or, Requiem For A Baby.  How can a film so polished, purposeful, and precise evoke the sensation of calamitous moshing at a filthy punk rock concert?  Aronofsky, whose work often resembles the output of an architect or mathematician as much as that of a storyteller, loves his audience enough to challenge us; too many of us reject his efforts.

Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)
Cinema as perpetual crescendo, the half of an hourglass that never fills and yet always overflows.

Snow Steam Iron (Zack Snyder, 2017)
Were I a billionaire, I would give the most underappreciated American filmmaker alive half my checking account and ask him to please make, say, five original feature films for my personal viewing pleasure.  This Vero short proves he is capable of making dozens of new original masterpieces.

Good Time
 (Benny and Josh Safdie, 2017)
The grimy, thrilling new version of Of Mice And Men that no one wanted and no viewer will forget.

Happy Death Day (Christopher Landon, 2017)
The grimy, thrilling new version of Groundhog Day that no one wanted and this viewer, at least, will not forget.  Jason Blum’s production company has always been good at piquing my interest with snazzy trailers and then disappointing me with the actual movie; this (along with Split) is the rare Blumhouse feature that lives up to the vibe of its hilarious preview.

The Genre Delights
Sherlock (Rachel Talalay, Nick Hurran, Benjamin Caron)
These three mystery features (The Six ThatchersThe Lying Detective, and The Final Problem) happened to air on television, which is fortunate for me as I mash my dvr remote’s ‘rewind’ and ‘play/pause’ buttons down to a nub in an effort to fully understand all the brilliant twists and revelations.

Cuplicated (Craig Healy, 2017)
Comedians in comedies getting comedy.

Kimi no na wa (Your Name, Makoto Shinkai, 2016)
I choose to believe that when the boy gropes himself in the girl’s body, he is merely innocently attempting to secure his most vital organ as he remembers a passage from Laurence Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey — “When the heart flies out before the understanding, it saves the judgment a world of pains.”

Boyka: Undisputed (Todor Chapkanov, 2017)
Scott Adkins kicking people is poetry in motion.




Hand Film (Yvonne Rainer, 1966)
Love Sounds (Masha Tupitsyn, 2014)
Love Objects (Tom Chomont, 1971)
Paddington 2 (Paul King, 2017)
Appearances (Barbara Meter, 2000)
A Touch (Barbara Meter, 2008)
Rooksporen (Traces of Smoke, Frans van de Staak, 1992)
Sepio (Frans van de Staak, 1996)
Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, 2016)
Le Camion (The Lorry, Marguerite Duras, 1977)
L’homme atlantique (Marguerite Duras, 1981)
Agatha et les lectures illimitées (Agatha and the Limitless Readings, Marguerite Duras, 1981)
Les Enfants (The Children, Marguerite Duras, 1985)
(Danièle Huillet, Jean-Marie Straub, 1990)
Heis (chroniques) (Anaïs Volpé, 2016)
Visages, Villages (Faces, Places, Agnès Varda and JR, 2017)
Graffiti Bridge (Prince, 1990)
Disappear One (Silvia Maglioni, Graeme Thomson, 2015)
Die Macht der Gefühle (The Power of Emotion, Alexander Kluge, 1983)
Bless Their Little Hearts (Billy Woodberry, 1984)
Production Stills (Morgan Fisher, 1970)
Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer (Thom Andersen, Fay Andersen, Morgan Fischer, 1975)
What Did You Eat Today? Rose Lowder (Sandra Cross, William English, 2005)
The Last Angel of History (John Akomfrah, 1996)
The Gang’s All Here (Busby Berkeley, 1943)
L’Enfant Secret (Philippe Garrel, 1979)
L’arrière-saison (Philippe Grandrieux, 2007)
Readers (James Benning, 2017)

The Other Side of Hope

Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope, Aki Kaurismaki, 2017)



Favourite Films of the Year
1. Dao Khanong (By The Time It Gets Dark, Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2016)
2. Kaili Blues (Bi Gan, 2015)
3. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)
4. El Auge del Humano (The Human Surge, Eduardo Williams, 2016)
5. Geu-hu (The Day After, Hong Sang-Soo, 2017)
6. Jeannette, l’enfance de Jeanne d’Arc (Jeanette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc, Bruno Dumont, 2017)
7. Homo Sapiens (Nikolaus Geyrhalter, 2016)
8. A Fábrica de Nada (The Nothing Factory, Pedro Pinho, 2017)
9. Prototype 3D (Blake Williams, 2017)
10. Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2017)
11. Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017)
12. Scaffold (Kazik Radwanski, 2017)
13. Boi Neon (Neon Bull, Gabriel Mascaro, 2015)
14. Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope, Aki Kaurismaki, 2017)
15. Xiao cheng er yue (A Gentle Night, Qiu Yang, 2017)
16. Silence (Martin Scorsese, 2016)
17. mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)
18. Viejo Calavera (Dark Skull, Kiro Russo, 2016)
19. Malgré La Nuit (Despite the Night, Philippe Grandrieux, 2015)
20. The Hedonists (Jia Zhangke, 2016)
21. Austerlitz (Sergei Loznitsa, 2016)
22. Dawson City: Frozen Time (Bill Morrison, 2016)
23. O Ornitólogo (The Ornithologist, Joao Pedro Rodrigues, 2016)
24. Ku Qian (Bitter Money, Bing Wang, 2016)
25. Mimosas (Oliver Laxe, 2016)
26. Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
27. Ixcanul (Volcano, Jayro Bustamante, 2015)
28. Forushande (The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi, 2016)
29. Voyage à travers le cinéma français (My Journey Through French Cinema, Bertrand Tavernier, 2016)
30. Assassin´s Creed (Justin Kurzel, 2016)




Get out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)
Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017)
The Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017)
Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope, Aki Kaurismäki, 2017)
The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2017)
Silence (Martin Scorsese, 2016)
Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016
Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
Estiu 1993 (Summer 1993, Carla Simón, 2017)
A fábrica de nada (The Nothing Factory, Pedro Pinho, 2017)
Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2017)
Viejo Calavera (Dark skull, Kiro Russo, 2016)
Im lauf der zei (Kings of the Road, Win Wenders, 1976)
Panic in the streets (Elia Kazan, 1950)

I Am Not Your Negro

I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2017)



Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2017)
Dark River (Clio Bernard, 2017)
Novitiate (Margaret Betts, 2017)
Visages, villages (Faces Places) (Agnès Varda and JR, 2017)
Bacalaureat (Graduation, Cristian Mungiu, 2017)
Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2017)
Ta peau si lisse (A Skin So Soft, Denis Côté, 2017)
Dao khanong (By the Time it Gets Dark) (Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2016)
Beach Rats (Eliza Hittman, 2017)
Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd, 2017)

Though I’ve listed a few of my favourite feature length narrative films of 2017, I find myself going to the movies less and less, and becoming bored with narrative cinema and narrative in general, with the exception of all the great international films of the past, many of which are available in Blu-ray and/or streaming platforms. There is so much amazing work now being created and shared free online, much of it is personal filmmaking; in fact there is a blossoming of personal no-budget visual art online and the really exciting thing is that, thankfully, it has very little in common with mainstream Hollywood product, about which I have little to no interest.

I am sure I am not alone in that I spend far more time watching abstract films and short experimental videos than I do watching feature films; in part because I make experimental films, and in part because, to my mind, the most risk-taking visual artists don’t necessarily work in feature films; but instead work in video art and experimental filmmaking and newly emerging filmic art forms, such as gifs. Much new media is available free online on virtual platforms from the personal websites of visual artists to a plethora of sites (such as Vimeo) that offer online viewing communities for lovers of art films, new digital media, and experimental filmmaking.




This year has involved such a juggling of tasks: there has been my work in the School of Film and Television at Swinburne, one of the editors at Senses, a semi-regular radio gig and now heading the new Senses of Cinema podcast. So there’s been a lot of film happening in my life – but it doesn’t always mean I get to actually watch things in the cinema. I look with envy at some of the entries we have here: people who have managed to get to film festivals and retrospectives across the world. My list necessarily has to be a bit more constrained – there are so many things I just haven’t got to as yet. So with those qualifiers – here’s the best that I saw in 2017 in a fairly arbitrary order.

1. Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
I haven’t been a huge fan of his previous work, and I have to confess I wasn’t really convinced by the first half of the film, until the second half kicked in and it all slotted perfectly into place. That first half is completely setting up the emotional framework for the story, it’s like a soft acoustic version of the emotions that are being played upon here. And then in the second half it’s as if they plugged in the amps and everything is amplified – loud, desperate, overwhelming. And I’m also pleased The Psychedelic Furs finally got the recognition they deserve.

2. Visages, Villages (Faces, Places, Agnès Varda and JR, 2017)
Is it weird that I wept when she recreates the scene from Bande à part (Jean-Luc Godard, 1964) flying through the Louvre in a wheelchair, ecstatically identifying the grand masters that hang on the walls? JR’s joyous leaps and Godardian affect behind her are the perfect accoutrement to her vitality and her own history.

3. Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)
Nolan’s films can sometimes be incredibly overstuffed – they can become noodly and distracted, while at the same time serving up big epic blockbuster spectacle. Dunkirk hits a perfect middle ground: there’s smart, efficient character development, but a narrative that is focused and not overlong. I thought his juggling of timeframes in this was masterful: he really is a great combination of a broad appeal, popular cinema focused on spectacle, and intelligent integration of temporal/spatial play that keeps the spectator questioning, anticipating and hypothesising.

4. Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)
I would like to go on record that I have been a fan of KStew AND RPatz since I listened to their DVD commentary of Catherine Hardwicke’s actually pretty decent film Twilight (2008). They both demonstrated a self-awareness, and a charming good humour in the face of a film marketing tsunami that was really admirable. So the fact that Stewart has found herself making such interesting films as Personal Shopper seems only fair considering what she had to endure in the past. As a study of bereavement, this film – despite its ghostly narrative framework – gets the experience spot on.

5. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)
Lanthimos loves playing with ideas of emotional connection and emotional demonstration. And while his approach is to strip away emotion and present a largely affectless society (a style that Colin Farrell mines perfectly), he also identifies the right time to start to shift that style – and it means that when emotions actually register with the characters, it hits us as spectators like a freight train. Creepy, hilarious, moving. Not experiences we normally have at the same time – but this and Jordan Peele’s Get Out (2017) did exactly that.

6. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)
Young radicals fighting against the ills of society hang out and try on all the very trappings of the world they want to destroy. It’s perfect thematically, but it was Bonello’s use of space and sound that really won me over in this film.

7. Okja (Bong Joon-ho, 2017)
Tonally this is completely nuts – in fact a couple of films that I loved were like that this year. And I’m still unsure whether Jake Gyllenhaal’s work in this is a hilarious work of genius or the dumbest pile of look-at-me garbage I’ve ever seen. But what does work is that pig, and that kid, and those incredible action scenes, and its very careful skewering of both sides of the meat debate. Screw those wankers who want to bitch about Netflix. If it gets me films like Okja really promptly so I can join in the conversation, then I’m all for it. Theatrical release is of course preferable, but if a service democratises access to new and interesting cinema, and doesn’t require me to fly to France and book an expensive hotel room and wrangle an exclusive pass to a movie, then I approve.

8. 20th Century Women (Mike Mills, 2016)
I’m not sure what will happen to Mike Mills’ career now that he’s run out of parents to plunder, but I am glad this sits Annette Bening smack bang in the middle of this film where she can be reliably amazing.

9. Thor: Ragnorok (Taika Waititi, 2017)
The superhero film is basically a dead, bankrupt genre at this point, but how terrific that this film, along with James Mangold’s Logan (2017) both found something new to say with a clapped out, horrifyingly codified genre. Waititi’s sense of humour breaks the ‘if it’s minute 27 it’s time for banter’ approach for traditional superhero films. And normally by the end of these things I’m in an explosion coma – for this, I was actually – almost for the first time ever – actually invested. Only Waititi seems to get that these films are supposed to be goofy and ridiculous. Loved it to bits.

10. mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)
I loved how much people hated this, and I loved how much people loved it. I think it’s a sign of something truly exciting in cinema. There’s no question the film’s hold on all its allegories gets pretty wobbly, but the fact that every single person came out with their own take on this film is the very reason why films are exciting. No other film this year made me appreciate the power of film to mobilise people. mother! was a sign that Aronofsky was a misogynist but in other eyes a critic of misogyny. Its parable of the bible was so thumpingly obvious – unless you read it in a completely different way and didn’t see any of the religious elements in the film because you focused on global warming instead. If this movie was Babe the Pig, I just want to say “That’ll do.”

Honourable Mentions
Colossal (Nacho Vigalondo, 2016)
Nelyubov (Loveless, Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2017)
Five Came Back (Laurent Bouzereau, 2017)
Logan (James Mangold, 2017)
Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore (Macon Blair, 2017)




My best cinema experience in 2017 consists of films seen in large screens in my home country Paraguay and in Argentina, where I visit many times a year.

True film-events and the best festival only releases in Paraguay
A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016)
Love & Friendship (Whit Stillman, 2016)
45 Years (Andrew Haigh, 2015)
Marquis de Wavrin, du manoir à la jungle (Grace Winter & Luc Plantier, 2017)
Fai Bei Sogni (Sweet Dreams, Marco Bellocchio, 2016)
Fukushima, mon amour (Doris Dörrie, 2016)
La puerta abierta (The Open Door, Marina Seresesky, 2016)
Le fils de Jean (A Kid, Philippe Lioret, 2016)
Le nouveau (The New Kid, Rudi Rosenberg, 2015)

My favorite new films released commercially in Paraguay
Arrival (Denis Villeneuve, 2016)
Sully (Clint Eastwood, 2016)

My favorite new films seen in Argentina, mostly at Pantalla Pinamar, Buenos Aires International Film Festival and Mar del Plata International Film Festival
Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
El invierno (The Winter, Emiliano Torres, 2016)
Bacalaureat (Graduation, Cristian Mungiu, 2016)
Sing Street (John Carney, 2016)
The Carer (János Edelényi, 2016)
Ucitelka (The Teacher, Jan Hrebejk, 2016)
Jamais de la vie (The Night Watchman, Pierre Jolivet, 2016)
I, Daniel Blake (Ken Loach, 2016)
Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016)
Umi yori mo Mada Fukaku (After the Storm, Koreeda Hirokazu, 2016)
Busanhaeng (Train to Busan, Yeon Sang-ho, 2016)
L’avenir (Things to Come, Mia Hansen-Løve, 2016)
Wajib (Annemarie Jacir, 2017)
Chaco (Danièle Incalcaterra& Fausta Quattrini, 2017)
Una mujer fantástica (A Fantastic Woman, Sebastián Lelio, 2017)
La familia (Gustavo Rondón, 2017)
Last Flag Flying (Richard Linklater, 2017)
Lucky (John Carroll Lynch, 2017)
Taeksi Woonjunsa (A Taxi Driver, Jang Hun, 2017)
Good Time (Benny Safdie & Josh Safdie, 2017)

Guilty Pleasures
A Streetcat Named Bob (Roger Spottiswoode, 2016)
Thelma (Joachim Trier, 2017)
Brawl in Cell Block 99 (S. Craig Zahler, 2017)
Lowlife (Ryan Prows, 2017)

The best new films about films
Hitchcock / Truffaut (Kent Jones, 2015)
Acqua e Zucchero: Carlo Di Palma, i colori della vita (Water and Sugar: Carlo Di Palma, the Color of Life, Fariborz Kamkari, 2016)
Visages Villages (Faces, Places, Agnès Varda, 2016)
Barbara (Mathieu Amalric, 2017)

Retrospective delights: favorite re-viewings this year
10 Rillington Place (Richard Fleischer, 1971)
Cesar et Rosalie (Cesar and Rosalie, Claude Sautet, 1972)
Brute Force (Jules Dassin, 1947)
The Naked City (Jules Dassin, 1948)
Night and the City (Jules Dassin, 1950)
Du rififi chez les hommes (Rififi, Jules Dassin, 1955)
Celui qui doit mourir (He Who Must Die, Jules Dassin, 1957)
Eye in the Sky (Gavin Hood, 2015)
Un home et une femme (A Man and a Woman, Claude Lelouch, 1966)
Crónica de un niño solo (Chronicle of a Boy Alone, Leonardo Favio, 1965)
Camila (María Luisa Bemberg, 1984)
Blow-up (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1966)
Il vedovo (The Widower, Dino Risi, 1959)




This list is restricted to only 2017 films.

1. Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2017)
Lucrecia Martel’s long awaited cinematic return is a feast for the senses and brings a fresh perspective to the colonial life. Packed with delightful references to cinematic and literary characters ranging Godot to Kurtz to Aguirre and even the legendary Gabbar Singh. This is filmmaking of the highest order!

2. Lerd (A Man of Integrity, Mohammad Rasoulof, 2017)
Rasoulof cleverly uses a single man’s struggles to depict larger issues around corruption and politics in society. The film is set in Iran but the story is universal.

3. Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017)
A smart variation of a traditional Western film genre and illustrates the east as the promised land for riches instead. The guns may be absent but horses and masculinity aren’t.

4. Life and Nothing More (Antonio Méndez Esparza, 2017)
A remarkable and urgent film that gets at the core problems regarding racism in America. By using a single incident around a playground, the film shows the cycle of fear that leads to a violent reaction and subsequent excessive force by law officials.

5. Cocote (Nelson Carlo de Los Santos Arias, 2017)
A creative blend of fiction and documentary which effortlessly mixes different film stocks (colour, black and white) and contains different camera styles, including an immersive 360-degree pan. The end result is a scrumptious film that hails the arrival of an exciting new voice in international cinema!

6. Krotkaya (A Gentle Creature, Sergei Loznitsa, 2017)
Loznitsa brings a sharp documentary eye in depicting the prison system in Russian society while layering the work with Kafkaesque notes, satire and even opera.

7. Tesnota (Closeness, Kantemir Balagov, 2017)
Based on a true story, Balagov nicely uses a 4:3 aspect ratio to box the screen in thereby showing the closeness and tension among different ethnicities in the Caucasus city of Nalchik.

8. L’amant d’un jour (Lover for a Day, Philippe Garrel, 2017)
A lovely mix of French New Wave and contemporary sensibilities.

9. Toivon tuolla puolen (The Other Side of Hope, Aki Kaurismäki, 2017)
A timely film about finding compassion and hope in a hostile world.

10. A Fábrica de Nada (The Nothing Factory, Pedro Pinho, 2017)
Starts off as an absurd comedy, shifts gears to become a documentary and ends as a musical. The documentary portion of the film is brimming with ideas where the film looks at the end of capitalism and shutting down of factories across Europe. The film poses relevant questions about what work means in modern society.

Honourable mentions (alphabetical order)
Aqerat (Edmund Yeo, 2017)
Newton (Amit Masurkar, 2017)
Teströl és lélekröl (On Body and Soul,  Ildikó Enyedi, 2017)
Visages, Villages (Faces Places,  JR, Agnès Varda, 2017)
Wajib (Annemarie Jacir, 2017)




Jackie (Pablo Larraín, 2016)
My Cousin Rachel (Roger Michell, 2017)
A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2017)
Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)
Long Strange Trip (Amir Bar-Lev, 2017)
Happy End (Michael Haneke, 2017)
I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2017)
Twin Peaks: The Return (David Lynch, 2017)

Happy End

Happy End (Michael Haneke, 2017)



My Top Ten Films for 2017

I Am Not A Witch (Rungano Nyoni, 2017)
I Am Not A Witch is the debut feature by Zambian born Rungano Nyoni. It is an independent British film in English and French. Nyoni explores a modern tale torn between the modern world and tribal superstitions. It is a frightening unraveling of female passivity and innocence in a modern era set in a small Zambian community where colonial and western indoctrination creates confusion and uncertainty. I Am Not A Witch is a harrowing story, yet the magical realism via cinematography is allegorically impressionistic while the dooming consequences of Shula (Margaret Mulubwa) are devastating as it reflects a country caught in a social flux.

Lerd (A Man of Integrity, Mohammad Rasoulof, 2017)
A Man of Integrity is a double -edged sword as it exemplifies Mohammad Rasoulof’s right to express the dire situation he finds himself as a leading trail blazing director in his native land. His sixth feature film was shot clandestinely in the north of Iran. He has been on bail since 2010 and has recently had his passport confiscated and is now forbidden to leave the country. A Man of Integrity won the Un Certain Regard at Cannes this year for best film; a tense drama that explores the fight of one man’s right to live freely from the constraints of corruption and injustice. A man and his family moved to escape the malevolence of the bigger cities only to confront similar authoritarian corruption. A brave and confronting film that underhandedly exposes the hidden evils of a corrupt corporation and suppressing the voices of the smaller players.

Good Time (Ben and Josh Safdie, 2017)
Good Time boasts energy and frenzied action in a sequential mayhem of events, yet is more than just your average heist film. It travels through the New York cityscape with a fluid and zesty edge bound in a stereotypical yet cutting edge narrative that erupts on to the screen with a dynamic punch. Despite the disclaiming of provoking racial signifiers and within musical and pop cultural references, it does not deserve a revocation of its artistic license and freedom. Good Time does have a catastrophic outcome and reflects a verite style of action that gives the film freedom and energy.

20th Century Women (Mike Mills, 2017)
20th Century Women received an Australian release earlier this year. It caught my attention when l viewed it on a domestic flight from San Francisco to New York. Set in 1979, it is an era when feminism was coming into fruition and these women and their offspring were struggling with identity and reality. Dorothea Fields played by Annette Bening gives a powerful and understated performance as the lead. Mike Mills has shed light on a unique time in history with a fine use of drama and comedy to explore these nuanced characters and an innovative narrative use of historical montage. It was a ground -breaking film for me as it delved into uncharted territory both visually and thematically.

(Thomas Q. Napper, 2017)
Jawbone screened at the Melbourne British Film Festival in 2017. It’s a gritty and hard- edged portrayal of Johnny Harris (Jimmy McCabe) who has hit rock bottom yet finds refuge in his own childhood boxing club. Thomas Q. Napper draws a fine line between sports and drama delving into the bleakness and destitute life of Johnny, overshadowed by the seedy underbelly of the boxing circuit . Johnny despite the odds and his lack of dignity still manages to muster a fight that can save his life. It is the unique fusion of the pugilist’s lack of faith yet instinctive survival instincts that give this film its distinctive yet idiosyncratic flavour.

Wind River  (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)
Wind River is a disturbing tale that transcends the police procedural offering a sensitive but harsh tale of the sheer brutality and violence of the hidden class; North American Indian women. Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) is an animal tracker on a reservation in snowy Wyoming who accidentally stumbles onto a female dead body. Taylor Sheridan has managed to bring forth the need for justice and truth for the oppressed women of this region. It exemplifies the need to act. It is a poignant yet poetic film that states the truth.

Long Strange Trip (Amir Bar-Lev,2017)
Long Strange Trip is an epic four-hour rockumentary, exploring the thirty- year odyssey of the great pioneering rock band The Grateful Dead. It delves into the bands evolving presence as first to be seen, unseen footage unravels and demystifies an innovative and eclectic band who based themselves in the San Francisco Bay Area.  A story that needed to be told and the passion and zest of director Amir Bar-Lev is to be heralded. He is relentless in contextualising The Grateful Dead as a radically eclectic band during the counter culture movement in the mid sixties.

Lucky (John Carroll Lynch,2017)
Lucky is a humble and quirky gem of a film. It reflects a genuine rawness and provides a moving swansong performance by Harry Dean Stanton. A small town caught between a siesta and retro remoteness.  This debut film by Lynch sees him lurking on the edge of warped character development but stays on the linear as he offers the audience a genuine filmic impression on ageing and the fear of loneliness.

April’s Daughter (Michel Franco, 2017)
April’s Daughter is the first of the first to delve into the malfunctions of a dysfunctional family. Brazenly confronting entwined in an unconventional fictional story, it offers a breakdown of family values and questions the morality of these institutions.




New Releases
1. Twin Peaks: The Return (David Lynch, 2017)
2. A Quiet Passion (Terence Davies, 2016)
3. 120 battements par minute (BPM (Beats Per Minute), Robin Campillo, 2017)
4. Geu-hu (The Day After, Hong Sang-Soo, 2017)
5. Scaffold (Kazik Radwanski, 2017)
6. Visages, Villages (Faces Places, Agnès Varda and JR, 2017)
7. Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2017)
8. Ex Libris: New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman, 2017)
9. Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
10. Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
11. Un beau soleil intérieur (Let the Sunshine In, Claire Denis, 2017)
12. Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (On the Beach at Night Alone, Hong Sang-Soo, 2017)
13. Princess Cyd (Stephen Cone, 2017)
14. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (Noah Baumbach, 2017)
15. The Human Surge (Eduardo Williams, 2016)
16. Dao khanong (By the Time It Gets Dark, Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2016)
17.  Sanpo suru shinryakusha (Before We Vanish, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2017)
18. Jours de France (4 Days in France, Jérôme Reybaud, 2016)
19. Beach Rats (Eliza Hittman, 2017)
20. Wormwood (Errol Morris, 2017)

Repertory Discoveries (no particular order)
Zacharovannaya Desna (Enchanted Desna, Yuliya Solntseva, 1964)
Black Box (Stephen Cone, 2013)
Jinsei no onimotsu (Burden of Life, Heinosuke Gosho, 1935)
Road (1987) and Penda’s Fen (1974) (Alan Clarke)
U samogo sinego morya (By the Bluest of Seas, Boris Barnet, 1936)
Demain on déménage (Tomorrow We Move, Chantal Akerman, 2004)
Invasión (Hugo Santiago, 1969)
Water and Power (Pat O’Neill, 1989)
Ajantrik (Pathetic Fallacy, Ritwik Ghatak, 1958)
La hamaca paraguaya (Paraguayan Hammock, Paz Encina, 2006)

Favourite New York Repertory Series
Ernst Lubitsch; The Complete Frederick Wiseman (Film Forum)
The Non-Actor; Emotion Pictures: International Melodrama (Film Society of Lincoln Center)
Michelangelo Antonioni; Science Fiction (Museum of Modern Art)
Alan Clarke (Anthology Film Archives)
Stephen Cone (Museum of the Moving Image)
Philippe Garrel (Metrograph)




Top 10 (Eligibility: 2017 festival films in theatrical, festival, premiere DVD or VOD or streaming first release in the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand) listed alphabetically by title:

Baby Driver (Edgar Wright, 2017)
Part Walter Hill, part Quentin Tarantino, part Michael Mann, this story of the against the odds romance of Ansel Elgort and Lily James is embedded with one of the best soundtracks of the year.

Bankoko Naktys (Bangkok Nites, Katsuya Tomita, 2016)
An impressive Japanese themed Thailand set melange of big city prostitution and upcountry dreams, ghosts and death overlay an unorthodox love story.

Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017)
Surprisingly respectful of the 1982 film by Ridley Scott, Villeneuve’s sequel covers another quest for explanation of the differences between humans and machines – a teasing blend of sci-fi noir and philosophy.

Detroit (Kathryn Bigelow, 2017)
Bigelow gives us a tough and suspense filled tale set during the Detroit riots of 1967. Sentiment free and brutal in its depiction of racism and prejudice, it’s classic Hollywood cinema.

Grave (Raw Julia Ducournau, 2016)
French horror continues to push content boundaries. Ducournau’s cannibal tale is a wild blend of body extremities; political parable; magical gore and a Cronenbergian coming of age story.

I Tonya (Craig Gillespie, 2017)
Driven by a frenetic and feisty performance by Margot Robbie, Gillespie presents an ambiguous story from multiple faux documentary “interviews” and recreations.

Mugen no jûnin (Blade Of The Immortal, Takashi Miike, 2017)
An extraordinary and visceral saga (particularly in 3D) of an immortal Samurai’s determination to redeem himself by protecting a young girl.  Miike’s 100th film full of humour, grand guignol and spectacle.

Voyage à travers le cinéma français (My Journey Through French Cinema, Bertrand Tavenier, 2016)
Tavernier covers 30 years of French cinema (from the 40’s to the 70’s) particularly emphasising films by Melville Godard, Renoir, Duvivier and Sautet as well as actors like Jean Gabin and jazz composers like Miles Davies.  5 hours 15 minutes and it’s still not enough.

Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017)
Part Hitchcock (Vertigo, Rebecca), part Polanski (Cul De Sac), part Losey (The Servant), this strange love story features multiple twists and a great performance by Daniel Day-Lewis.

Wind River (Taylor Sheridan, 2017)
A fascinating crime drama set on a Wyoming Reservation tracking an investigation into the death of a young Indian woman.  Sheridan uses the landscape like Anthony Mann did in the 50’s.

Other titles that have excited or inspired me during the year include:

  1. Jackie (Pablo Larrain, 2016)
  2. Ghost In The Shell (Rupert Sanders, 2017)
  3. A Cure For Wellness (Gore Verbinski, 2017)
  4. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)
  5. Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)
  6. Happy End (Michael Haneke, 2017)
  7. Lady Macbeth (William Oldroyd, 2017)
  8. Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017)
  9. 78 / 52 (Alexander O’Philippe, 2017)
  10. Darkest Hour (Joe Wright, 2017)
  11. Brawl in Cell Block 99 (S. Craig Zahler, 2017)
  12. Kingsman – The Golden Circle (Matthew Vaughn, 2017)
  13. Only the Brave (Joseph Kosinski, 2017)
  14. Coco (Lee Unkrich, Adrian Molina, 2017)
  15. Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
  16. Live by Night (Ben Affleck, 2016)
  17. Logan (James Mangold, 2017)
  18. Resident Evil – Final Chapter (Paul W.S. Anderson, 2017)
  19. Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
  20. Guardians of the Galaxy – Vol 2 (James Gunn, 2017)
  21. Hounds of Love (Ben Young, 2017)
  22. Okja (Bong Joon-ho, 2017)
  23. Patti Cake$ (Geremy Jasper, 2017)
  24. War for the Planet of the Apes (Matt Reves, 2017)
  25. Logan Lucky (Steven Soderberg, 2017)
  26. American Assassin (Michael Cuesta, 2017)
  27. Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) (Noah Baumbach, 2017)
  28. Thor: Ragnarok (Taika Waititi, 2017)
  29. Molly’s Game (Aaron Sorkin, 2017)
  30. Justice League (Zack Snider, 2017)
  31. Freefire (Ben Wheatley, 2017)
  32. Boys in the Trees (Nicholas Verso, 2017)
  33. Alien Covenant (Ridley Scott, 2017)
  34. Una (Benedict Andrews, 2017)
  35. First They Killed My Father (Angelina Jolie, 2017)
  36. Hitman’s Bodyguard (Patrick Hughes, 2017)
  37. Spiderman – Homecoming (John Watts, 2017)
  38. Nelyubov (Loveless) Andrey Zuyangintsev, 2017)
  39. The Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017)




Top 10, but no order to be sure
Babylon(Keith Deligero, 2017)
Balangiga: Howling Wilderness (Khavn De La Cruz, 2017)
Alipato: The Very Brief Life of an Ember (Khavn De La Cruz, 2016)
Turn Left, Turn Right (Douglas Seok, 2016)
Pyo Chit Lin (My Darling, Tin Myint, 1950 [Restored 2017])
In Time To Come (Tan Pin Pin, 2017)
Twin Peaks (David Lynch, 2017)
Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
People Power Bombshell: The Diary of Vietnam Rose (John Torres, 2016)
Ang Ikaduhang Pagbalik (The Second Coming, Jeffrie Po, 2016)

Also, brief mention of two festivals of note this year.
First, The Binisaya Film Festival in Cebu, Philippines, operating on a shoestring budget under festival director Ara Chawdhury, curated 10 years of new Cebuano cinema, featuring the surge in Bisaya language filmmaking since 2007. Binisaya has been struggling for years to attain a kind of legitimacy in the eyes of the local population, and this year’s edition made great strides in that direction.

Second, Salamindanaw Asian Film Festival in General Santos City, Mindanao, Philippines, was easily one of the most impressive festival efforts of filmmaker, writer and curator Teng Mangansakan II. While the 2016 edition was impressively able to bring in guests like Chris Fujiwara for a young critics writing workshop, the 2017 edition had to contend with the newly implemented martial law in Mindanao. The political situation kept many investors and possible guests from attending, and yet the festival was easily one of the most inspiring and creative cultural event that was at once multidisciplinary while at the same time maintaining a fidelity to an expanded concept of cinema.




Top Ten, No Order

Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (Steve James, 2016)
The Illinois Parables (Deborah Stratman, 2016)
Logan Lucky (Steven Soderbergh, 2017)
Loveless (Andrey Zvyagintsev, 2017)
Marlina Si Pembunuh Dalam Empat Babak (Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts, Mouly Surya, 2017)
Nathan for You: Finding Frances (Nathan Fielder, 2017)
Oklahoma City (Barak Goodman, 2017)
The Prison in Twelve Landscapes (Ben Story, 2016)
Rat Film (Theo Anthony, 2016)
Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017)




This year has been full of surprises, but at the same time it feels like the stagnation of an overall sense of ‘not really making it’. It might feel personal, but at times it feels as if cinema isn’t worth it, that it doesn’t matter how much time I spend developing projects, reading criticism, writing it, making some experiments shooting, seeing films… I won’t ever be “good” at it. Only watching these films (and some others, it’s been a good year, contrary to what other people are saying), have I felt that this year wasn’t a wash in terms of this communication system and how it pertains to my life. These are the movies that I’ve enjoyed the most in a year that, from the outside, most could tell was successful for me (Locarno Critics Academy, programming gig at FicValdivia), but for me it was a demonstration that I gotta “get good”.

La Telenovela Errante (The Wandering Soap Opera, Raúl Ruiz, Valeria Sarmiento, 2017)
2. El mar la mar (J.P. Sniadecki, Joshua Bonnetta, 2017)
3. The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)
4. Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? (Travis Wilkerson, 2017)
5. Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)
6. Villages, Visages (Faces, Places, Agnès Varda, JR, 2017)
7. Okja (Bong Joon-ho, 2017)
8. Scaffold (Kazik Radwanski, 2017)
9. Geu-hu (The Day After, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)
10. La caméra de Claire (Claire’s Camera, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)


Personal Shopper

Personal Shopper (Oliver Assayas, 2017)



Like my hometown Melbourne, my new city Wellington has an amazing film culture, and I arrived in a strong year for New Zealand cinema. I found a home at the Wellington Film Society – particularly enjoying River of Grass (Kelly Reichardt, 1994) and Wim Wenders’ road movie trilogy – as well as seeing some great films in local cinemas and at the New Zealand International Film Festival.

Best New Zealand features
One Thousand Ropes (Tusi Tamasese, 2017)
Human Traces (Nic Gorman, 2017)
Waru (Briar Grace-Smith, Casey Kaa, Ainsley Gardiner, Katie Wolfe, Renae Maihi, Chelsea Cohen, Paula Jones, Awanui Simich-Pene, 2017)
The Inland Road (Jackie van Beek, 2017)

Best New Zealand documentaries
My Year with Helen (Gaylene Preston, 2017)
Pecking Order (Slavko Martinov, 2017)
Spookers (Florian Habicht, 2017)

Best film festival screenings (NZIFF/MIFF)
Visages, Villages (Faces Places, Agnès Varda, JR, 2017)
A Ghost Story (David Lowery, 2017)
We Don’t Need a Map (Warwick Thornton, 2017)
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)
Berlin Syndrome (Cate Shortland, 2017)

Best films seen in cinemas (and the great cinemas that screened them)
Grave (Raw, Julia Ducournau, 2016) – Roxy, Wellington
Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016) – Lighthouse Cuba, Wellington
Personal Shopper (Olivier Assayas, 2016) – Paramount, Wellington
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (James Gunn, 2017) – Embassy, Wellington
Una (Benedict Andrews, 2016) – The Kino, Melbourne
The Silent Eye (Amiel Courtin-Wilson, 2016) – Cinemona, MONA, Hobart
Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017) – State Cinema, Hobart

Netflix picks
Casting JonBenet (Kitty Green, 2017)
The Bad Batch (Ana Lily Amirpour, 2017)
Okja (Bong Joon-ho, 2017)




My list is a mixture of U.S. premieres and other world releases that are unlikely to receive theatrical releases and are included because why not. Hopefully I’ll be able to list Selvaraghavan’s Nenjam Marappathillai next year. As always, it’s all research.

  1. Baahubali 2: The Conclusion (S.S. Rajamouli, 2017)
  2. Kaatru Veliyidai (Mani Ratnam, 2017)
  3. The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2016)
  4. Karera ga honki de amu toki wa (Close-Knit, Naoko Ogigami, 2017)
  5. Hermia & Helena (Matías Piñeiro, 2016)
  6. Good Time (Safdie Brothers, 2017)
  7. Marjorie Prime (Michael Almereyda, 2017)
  8. Nocturama (Bertrand Bonello, 2016)
  9. La vendedora de fósforos (Alejo Moguillansky, 2017)
  10. Song to Song (Terrence Malick, 2017)

Honorable mentions
Detroit (Kathryn Bigelow, 2017)
Okja (Bong Joon-ho, 2017)
Coco (Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, 2017)
The Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017)
Visages, Villages (Faces, Places, Agnès Varda, 2017)
Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (On the Beach at Night Alone, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)




Jackie (Pablo Larrain, 2016)
Grave (Julia Ducournau, 2016)
Detroit (Kathryn Bigelow, 2017)
Logan Lucky (Steven Soderbergh, 2017)
The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2017)
Powidoki (Afterimage, Andrzej Wajda, 2016)
Battle of the Sexes (Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris, 2017)
Rodin (Jacques Doillon, 2017)
Dog Eat Dog (Paul Schrader, 2016)
C’est la vie! (Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, 2017)




Best new films
1. Happy End (Michael Haneke, 2017)
2. Hermia & Helena (Matías Piñeiro, 2016)
3. Sieranevada (Cristi Puiu, 2016)
4. La La Land (Damien Chazelle, 2016)
5. Beach Rats (Eliza Hittman, 2017)
6. Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (On the Beach at Night Alone, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)

A combination of miserly Australian distribution schedules and not enough time at MIFF (there’s never enough time) meant that I missed some of 2017’s most acclaimed films – Call Me by Your Name, Lady Bird and Zama, among many others. But there was still much to cherish from these past twelve months in cinemas: the claustrophobic realism of Sieranevada; all of the things that went right that shouldn’t have in La La Land; Hermia & Helena’s love of language and multiple exposure; the authentically grim depiction of teenage alpha life in Beach Rats; and Hong Sang-soo dropping in another delightful it-was-all-a-dream moment in On the Beach at Night Alone. But who knew that it would be Michael Haneke’s umpteenth riff on the banal evil of the bourgeoisie – this time played as unabashed comedy – that would most warm this cinephile’s cold heart? Perhaps we all need something to laugh at.

Best repertory screenings
1. Catherine de Heilbronn (Éric Rohmer, 1980) Melbourne Cinematheque
2. Perceval le Gallois (Perceval, Éric Rohmer, 1978) Melbourne Cinematheque
3. La dentelliére (The Lacemaker, Claude Goretta, 1977) Melbourne Cinematheque
4. Posetitel muzeya (Visitor of a Museum, Konstantin Lopushanskiy, 1989) The Astor

Melbourne Cinematheque had another excellent year, with two standout seasons: “Double Agent: The Period Films of Éric Rohmer” and “Playing with Contradiction: The Indomitable Isabelle Huppert”. While – like (I guess) many Rohmer fans – I tend to find myself most at home in his beach houses and Parisian apartment blocks, I was drawn to this presentation of his lesser-known historical films for two reasons: one was the pure joy of being able to enjoy his greatest work, Perceval, on the big screen; the other was the opportunity to finally be introduced to his feature-length television play Catherine de Heilbronn, a production that, in its grey set design and even starker minimalism, in many ways felt like the former film’s shadowy companion piece.

It was also exciting to see a series of screenings dedicated to the career of one of my favourite actors, Isabelle Huppert, the highlight of which was The Lacemaker, one of her earliest (and most emotionally impacting) lead roles. Huppert was also the focus of an excellent audiovisual talk at ACMI by Adrian Martin and Cristina Álvarez López in November, ‘I Furrow My Own Film: Isabelle Huppert as Screen Actor’ – an insightful analysis into this singular actor’s masterful use of gesture and body movement, and a useful rejoinder to those of us who still find it difficult to let go of our attachment to auteur theory.

Elsewhere, the Astor’s screening of Visitor of a Museum was a testing experience – two reels were water damaged, leading to rhythmic, near-unbearable distortions of sound and image, a further obstacle for what was already brave programming – but the film itself was a revelation: a narrative (like so many dreams) of post-apocalyptic landscapes and delayed gratification.

Best DVD releases
1. Metropolis: 90th Anniversary Edition (Eureka! Masters of Cinema)
2. Celine and Julie Go Boating (BFI)
3. Story of Sin (Arrow)
4. Eight Films by Jean Rouch (Icarus Films)
5. Stalker (Criterion Collection)
6. A Page of Madness / Portrait of a Young Man (Flicker Alley)

It was hard to decide which of 2017’s excellent slate of DVD and Blu-ray releases was the most notable: Arrow continued their splendid Walerian Borowczyk project with a gorgeous presentation of one of his strongest films, Story of Sin, throwing in several of his Polish shorts and a range of other special features for good measure; Criterion gave us the definitive Stalker; Icarus Films compiled most of Jean Rouch’s key works in an indispensable box set; Flicker Alley quietly gave Teinosuke Kinugasa’s A Page of Madness, perhaps the greatest of all early Japanese films, its first ever home-video release; while Adrian Martin’s engaging and informative commentary made the Blu-ray release of my most-cherished film, Celine and Julie Go Boating, a must-have. But it was Eureka!’s 90th anniversary edition of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, bringing together several versions of the film across three discs – including that most guilt-inducing of pleasures, Giorgio Moroder’s banging 1984 cut set to a playlist of ever-more-questionable pop tunes – along with numerous special features, that I was most thrilled to receive in the post.

You Were Never Really Here

You Were Never Really Here (Lynne Ramsay, 2017)



Twin Peaks: The Return (Showtime, David Lynch, 2017)
Jackie (Pablo Larrain, 2016)
20th Century Women (Mike Mills, 2016)
The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2016)
Acqua e Zucchero: Carlo Di Palma, i colori della vita (Water and Sugar: Carlo Di Palma, The Color of Life, Fariborz Kamkari, 2016)
Columbus (Kogonada, 2017)
Una Especie de Familia (A Sort of Family, Diego Lerman, 2017)
Jusqu’à la Garde (Custody, Xavier Legrand, 2017)
Blade Runner: 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017)
Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
Happy End (Michael Haneke, 2017)
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)

TV as Cinema
The Deuce (HBO, David Simon, 2017)
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu, Bruce Miller, 2017)
The Wizard of Lies
(HBO, Barry Levinson, 2017)

Runners-Up, Honourable Mentions and Not So Guilty Pleasures
 Neruda (Pablo Larrain, 2016)
Las Hijas de Abril (April’s Daughter, Michel Franco, 2017)
Wonder Wheel (Woody Allen, 2017)
You Were Not Here (Lynne Ramsay)
Beast (Michael Pearce, 2017)
Filmworker (Tony Zierra, 2017)
Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
How to Talk to Girls at Parties (John Cameron Mitchell, 2017)

Far Side of Paradise
Rules Don’t Apply (Warren Beatty, 2016)
Song to Song (Terrence Malick, 2017)
mother!  (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)

Fat City (John Huston, 1974)
The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)
Quand tu liras cette letter (When You Read This Letter, Jean-Pierre Melville, 1953)
Sorcerer (William Friedkin,1977)

Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)

Trainspotting 2 (Danny Boyle, 2017)
Alien: Covenant (Ridley Scott, 2017)
Murder on the Orient Express (Kenneth Branagh, 2017)

In the deeply fractured times in which I viewed the above films, the work that cut through the dissonance was that which always seemed personal, contradictory and poetic, whatever its respective flaws or weaknesses. While we understandably seek peace, love and understanding in the real world, we come to art for a complex of reasons which we may only recognize years after the fact. What year is this indeed. Or to put it another way, I don’t own a lot of Pat Boone albums, do you?




It’s been a strange year for cinema, hasn’t it? On one level we’ve witnessed unchartered successes for non-white, heterosexual, and male filmmakers and narratives: Jordan Peele’s allegorical horror film (of sorts) Get Out and Barry Jenkins’ moving and urgent drama Moonlight perhaps getting the most attention of the releases from African-American filmmakers in 2017, with Fences and Mudbound also garnering praise as well. It has also been a standout year for LGBT cinema, with a number of titles breaking into the mainstream cinemagoing public’s conscientious: the aforementioned Moonlight being a strong example, but also Beach Rats, God’s Own Country and Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name continuing their festival successes into their general theatrical releases.

On another level, however, following the allegations surrounding previouslyrespected film icons Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey, the film industry has shown that for all the progress the industry has been making in recent years in terms of opportunities and funding for under-represented groups – albeit slow and belated progress – there is clearly a lot more that needs to be addressed so that allegations such as those levelled at Weinstein, Spacey and any others are completely eradicated permanently.

The criteria I have used for eligibility is simple: I have only considered films which were released in the UK – the country I have spent the majority of the past 12 months – in 2017. This, then, has excluded a number of releases by some of my favourite filmmakers which I am very much anticipating the release of in the early parts of next year, of which were in fact released in the UK in the final months and I have not been able to enjoy them as yet. Such films include Faces Places, Zama, Happy End, Let The Sun Shine In, and the aforementioned Call Me By Your Name and God’s Own Country.

As well as these films, I would also like to give a special mention to a handful of other releases which, owing to my desire to keep my list to 10 titles, did not quite make the cut. Whilst writing this I cannot quite believe that the French cannibal film Raw did not feature higher, nor Kenneth Lonergan’s deeply moving Manchester By The Sea and the award-laden Toni Erdmann. Other special mentions must also be given to Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer (a film I much preferred to his previous, and equally-divisive output), David Lowery’s thoughtful and bravely-constructed A Ghost Story, and finally – perhaps disagreeably so to some of its admirers – Jordan Peele’s Get Out, which I felt was an entertaining yet inferior social commentary to similar of the past such as The Wicker Man, Funny Games and Kill List.

My top 10 films of 2017
mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)
Jackie (Pablo Larrain, 2016)
The Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017)
Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)
Elle (Paul Verhoeven, 2016)
Forushande (The Salesman, Asghar Farhadi, 2016)
The Lego Batman Movie (Chris McKay, 2017)
Good Time (Benny and Josh Safdie, 2017)
The Red Turtle
(Michael Dudok de Wit, 2016)




1. Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
Call Me by Your Name reads like a visual poem about love between two men partly not expecting to find themselves in this situation. With the story narrated against the backdrop of a Tuscan summer landscape, the scenery and the story develop in perfect harmony and the viewer is presented a timely tale about love, real heartache, and learning how to deal with loss.

2. Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins, 2017)
Released in a tumultuous year with regard to women’s plights and rights and where the “me too”movement grew increasingly strong, Jenkin’s movie offers a timely contribution to narratives portraying women as all the more able and independent. Perfectly portraying women as a gender to be reckoned with, the story presents us with a Wonder Woman (played by Gal Gadot) who leaves her safe mythological environment behind and enters a world of human chaos and war, where her rescuing abilities and good heart are sorely needed.

3. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (Angela Robinson, 2017)
Possible to analytically compare with Jenkin’s grand epic, fellow female filmmaker Angela Robinson’s narrative tells the story behind Wonder Woman as a cartoon character and becomes a refreshing and bold story of polyamorous love between the visual and narrative creator of Wonder Woman and his two leading ladies (his wife, and his open-minded female student).

4. Fortunata (Lucky, Sergio Castellito, 2017)
Yet another story in which the leading lady comes forth as a force to be reckoned with, Jasmine Trinca in Fortunata is resilient yet downtrodden and while having to face marital abuse and a marriage falling apart she falls in love and lust with another man and is also able to strengthen the much tested bond between her and her daughter in a film set against the backdrop of a dusty and hot Roman suburb.

5. Murder on the Orient Express (Kenneth Branagh, 2017)
Kenneth Branagh has done it again! Murder on the Orient Express is a captivating and thrilling film with a different twist and which offers a different take on Agatha Christie’s original, written, story. Perfectly narrated, with stunning scenery, and excellent performances by the group of main, all very well-known and celebrated main actors. A film not to be missed!

6. The Beguiled (Sofia Coppola, 2017)
The Beguiled, starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell in the lead roles, beguiles us with its rendition of collective female strength and wit and its tale about the collective against the individual. Developed against a stunning rural landscape, the movie contains a number of unexpected twist and turns and reads like a strangely beautiful thriller.

7. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)
Yet again starring Kidman and Farrell in the lead roles, The Killing of a Sacred Deer is a partly twisted tale about revenge partly gone wrong. It makes for uneasy watching and the film has various elements in common with The Lobster (by the same director, 2015). The film is different and refreshing, and creepingly discomforting to watch.

8. mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)
Starring the filmmaker’s then girlfriend Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role and multi award-winning Javier Bardem as her male counterpart, mother! draws us into a vortex of deceit and false perceptions, and although Aronofsky seems to be borrowing elements from, e.g., Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, he still manages to deliver a movie that has the audience at the edge of their seats from beginning to end.

9. Franz (François Ozon, 2017)
Beautifully narrated in monochrome colour tones, Franz captivates with its poetic pace, its sweet and partly impossible lovestory between a man and a woman and its parallel story of love between two men where the survivor becomes obsessed with the other man fallen in war to such an extent that he builds a narrative about them despite their very brief yet emotional encounter.

10. Tulip Fever (Justin Chadwick, August, 2017)
Indie romance Tulip Fever stars Swedish actress Alicia Vikander in the lead female role and in its portrayal of bargaining and speculating hype and power on the tulip market where the flower has become seen as a commodity, the picture of 17th century Amsterdam comes alive and with that we get a historical insight into an important period in history. The not always convincing love story is, in my view, secondary to the grander narrative of importance from a historical and cultural perspective.

Jeanette- The Childhood of Joan of Arc

Jeannette, l’enfance de Jeanne d’Arc (Jeanette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc, Bruno Dumont, 2017)



2017 doesn’t seem to loom as a vintage year.  Of my year’s best, I only saw four in commercial cinemas – and then on limited art house seasons.  But wonderful, innovative films are still being made. You just had to look a bit harder to find them.  Looking at my list, I note that four are by women – and I was not setting out to apply any reverse discrimination.  This is something to be celebrated. All that is needed is for their films to receive better distribution.  But with the evolution of streaming, downloads, long-form formats and more, perhaps the term “access” is going to be more relevant for all film makers.

In Commercial Cinemas
Réparer les vivants (Heal the Living, Katell Quillévéré, 2016)
Perhaps my top film of the year – poetic, humane, intelligently structured (even improving on its source novel), and philosophically and morally thought provoking.

I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck 2017)
With so many documentaries on so many worthy subjects, this stood out, not least for the imaginativeness of its approach.

Moonlight (Barry Jenkins, 2016)
Labels like Gay, African-American, Coming-of-Age, Rites of Passage are just too inadequate to grasp the richness and warmth of this film.

Les innocents (The Innocents, Anne Fontaine, 2016)
An awful story made with concern and compassion, and great cinematic control.

Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna
West Indies (Med Hondo 1979)
Hondo was my discovery of the year at Cinema Ritrovato. This film is dazzlingly colourful, inventively cinematic, and passionately opinionated and anti-colonialist.

Melbourne International Film Festival
Powidoki (Afterimage, Andrzej Wajda, 2016)
Wajda’s last film is in one way a summing up of a rich career, but so much more as it touches on creativity, state attempts to control art, and personal integrity.

Teströl és lélekröl (On Body and Soul,  Ildikó Enyedi, 2017)
Interest and warmth in her characters shines through this imaginatively structured and filmed Hungarian film.

Ucitelka (The Teacher, Jan Hrebejk, 2016)
Marvellously melodramatic, with a superbly manipulative protagonist, it becomes more than just a story from Czechoslovakia’s Communist era.

Colo (Terese Villaverde, 2017)
A quiet, thoughtfully composed work about a family under stress. Not a unique family, either – it could be anyone’s.

Una mujer fantástica (A Fantastic Woman, Sebastián Lelio, 2017)
At last, transgender stories are being tackled without sensationalism, just trust and love for the main characters. This has a forceful and moving performance (Daniela Vega) at its heart.

Visages, Villages (Faces, Places, Agnès Varda and JR, 2017)
Anything from Varda especially in her late 80s  is to be celebrated – even if not her best it’s so much richer than much else.

Marjorie Prime (Michael Almereyda, 2017)
Almereyda deserves to be better known (including his several Shakespeare films.)  This is so adventurous in such a restrained, warm way.

Outside the Categories
German Concentration Camp Factual Survey (Alfred Hitchcock, Sidney Bernstein, Baron Bernstein 1941)
The ‘official’ list of directors is possibly misleading, given the film’s history. It may not be ‘great cinema’ but it is an important example of film’s power to be a vitally necessary document. The DVD release is not easy watching, but it is exemplary.

A Requiem for Cambodia: Bangsokol  (Rithy Panh 2017)
A moving concert presentation, with two small orchestras, one Western style, the other using Khmer traditional instruments. Panh’s wide ‘scope screen (often split in three) was an integral part of a rare and emotional music and cinema event.




1. Zama (Lucrecia Martel, 2017)
2. 24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami, 2017)
3. Fang Xiuying (Mrs. Fang, Wang Bing, 2017)
4. Geu-hu (The Day After, Hong Sang-soo, 2017), Keul-le-eo-ui Ka-me-la (Claire’s Camera, Hong Sang-soo, 2017), Bamui haebyun-eoseo honja (On the Beach at Night Alone, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)
5. Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2017)
6. Fang hua (Youth, Feng Xiaogang, 2017)
7. Caniba (Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Verena Paravel, 2017)
8. 95 and 6 to Go (Kimi Takesue, 2016)
9. Girls Trip (Malcom D. Lee, 2017)
10. Qing ting zhi yan (Dragonfly Eyes, Xu Bing, 2017)
11. The Rider (Chloe Zhao, 2017)
12. Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
13. Quest (Jonathan Olshefski, 2017)
14. Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)
15. A Better Man (Attiya Khan, Lawrence Jackman, 2017)
16. Cocote (Nelson Carlo de los Santos Arias, 2017)
17. Western (Valeska Grisebach, 2017)
18. Milla (Valérie Massadian, 2017)
19. Malila: The Farewell Flower (Anucha Boonyawatana, 2017)
20. Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
21. Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017)

Lady Bird

Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017)

YUE HUANG (Senses of Cinema Patron)


Top recommendations
120 battements par minute (BPM, Robin Campillo, 2017)
Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve, 2017)
Coco (Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina, 2017)
Ex Libris: New York Public Library (Frederick Wiseman, 2017)
Foxtrot (Samuel Maoz, 2017)
Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
Geu-hu (The Day After, Hong Sang-soo, 2017)
Good Time (Benny Safdie and Josh Safdie, 2017)
Jia nian hua (Angels Wear White, Vivian Qu, 2017)
Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig, 2017)
Lean on Pete (Andrew Haigh, 2017)
Les quatre sœurs (Four Sisters, Claude Lanzmann, 2017)
L’insulte (The Insult, Ziad Zoueiri, 2017)
Logan Lucky (Steven Soderbergh, 2017)
The Death of Stalin (Armando Iannucci, 2017)
The Disaster Artist (James Franco, 2017)
The Florida Project (Sean Baker, 2017)
The Great Buddha + (Hsin-yao Huang, 2017)
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Martin McDonagh, 2017)
Visages, villages (Faces Places, Agnès Varda and JR, 2017)

Honorable mentions
Arthur Miller: Writer (Rebecca Miller, 2017)
Ava (Léa Mysius, 2017)
Baby Driver (Edgar Wright, 2017)
Call Me by Your Name (Luca Guadagnino, 2017)
Caniba (Lucien Castaing-Taylor / Verena Paravel, 2017)
Chemi Bednieri Ojakhi (My Happy Family, Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Groß, 2017)
Columbus (Kogonada, 2017)
Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan, 2017)
First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2017)
Jeannette, lenfance de Jeanne dArc (Jeannette: The Childhood of Joan of Arc, Bruno
Dumont, 2017)
Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond (Chris Smith, 2017)
L’amant d’un jour (Lover for a Day, Philippe Garrel, 2017)
Le Redoubtable (Michel Hazanavicius, 2017)
Los Versos del Olvido (Oblivion Verses, Alireza Khatami, 2017)
mother! (Darren Aronofsky, 2017)
Mudbound (Dee Rees, 2017)
Sanpo suru shinryakusha (Before We Vanish, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2017)
The Big Sick (Michael Showalter, 2017)
The Party (Sally Potter, 2017)
The Shape of Water (Guillermo del Toro, 2017)
The Testament (Amichai Greenberg, 2017)
Yozora wa itsudemo saikô mitsudo no aoiro da (Tokyo Night Sky Is Always the Densest Shade of Blue, Yûya Ishii, 2017)
Wonderstruck (Todd Haynes, 2017)

From previous year
Dao khanong (By the Time It Gets Dark, Anocha Suwichakornpong, 2016)
Le secret de la chambre noire (Daguerrotype, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2016)
Yao yao huang huang de renjian (Still Tomorrow, Jian Fan, 2016)

New restorations
Chikamatsu monogatari (The Crucified Lovers, Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954)
Lucía (Humberto Solás, 1968)
Offret (The Sacrifice, Andrei Tarkovsky, 1986)
Shabhaye Zayendeh-Rood (The Nights of Zayandeh-Rood, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, 1990)
Shitoyakana kedamono (Elegant Beast, Yuzo Kawashima, 1962)
Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)




17+ for 2017
Laissez bronzer les cadavres (Let the Corpses Tan, Hélène Cattet, Bruno Forzani, 2017)
Chaak daan juen ga (Shock Wave, Herman Yau, 2017) & Yuen Loeng Taa 77 Chi (77 Heartbreaks, Herman Yau, 2017) & Shi mian (The Sleep Curse, Herman Yau, 2017)
The Assignment (Walter Hill, 2016)
Invest in Failure (Notes on Film 06 C / Monologue 03) (Norbert Pfaffenbichler, 2017)
Hua li shang ban zu (Office, Johnnie To, 2015)
Detroit (Kathryn Bigelow, 2017)
Ron Goossens, Low Budget Stuntman (Steffen Haars, Flip Van der Kuil, 2017)
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Yorgos Lanthimos, 2017)
Tatort: Der rote Schatten (Dominik Graf, 2017) & Offene Wunde Deutscher Film (Dominik Graf, Johannes Sievert, 2017) & Philip Rosenthal – Der Unternehmer, der nicht an den Kapitalismus glaubte (Dominik Graf, Martin Gressman, 2017) & Am Abend alle Tage (Dominik Graf, 2016)
John Wick: Chapter 2 (Chad Stahelski, 2017) & Atomic Blonde (David Leitch, 2017)
Pengabdi Setan (Satan’s Slaves, Joko Anwar, 2017)
Dirty White Lies (Wolfgang Büld, 2017)
The Lost City of Z (James Gray, 2016)
Nippon koku vs Sennan ishiwata son (Sennan Asbestos Disaster, Hara Kazuo, 2017)
Abschied von den Eltern (Astrid Johanna Ofner, 2017)
Sully (Clint Eastwood, 2016)
Mei ren yu (The Mermaid, Stephen Chow, 2016) & Xi You Fu Yao Pian (Journey to the West:
The Demons Strike Back, Tsui Hark, 2017)
Return to Return to Nuke ‘Em High Aka Vol. 2 (Lloyd Kaufman, 2017)

Bonus track
Jean-Claude Van Johnson S01 (Peter Atencio, 2016/17)

The Treasure Trove
17xdouble trouble
The Road Back (original cut) (James Whale, 1937) & Die Nacht von Lissabon (Zbyňek Brynych, 1971)
Den vita sporten (The White Match, Roy Andersson, Kalle Boman, Lena Ewert, Staffan Hedqvist, Lennart Malmer, Jörgen Persson, Ingela Romare, Inge Roos, Axel Rudorf-Lohmann, Rudi Spee, Bo Widerberg, 1968) & Ormens väg på hälleberget (The Serpent’s Way, Bo Widerberg, 1986)
Figures de cire (The Man with Wax Faces, Maurice Tourneur, 1914) & Avec le sourire (With a Smile, Maurice Tourneur, 1936)
Omicron (Ugo Gregoretti, 1963) & Hanno cambiato faccia (They Have Changed Their Face, Corrado Farina, 1971)
Psychological Operations in Support of Unconventional Warfare (Kathryn Bigelow, 1975) & Set-Up (Kathryn Bigelow, 1978)
Slyší tě nepřítel (The Enemy Hear You, Zbyňek Brynych, 1951) & Smyk (Skid, Zbyňek Brynych, 1960)
Cielo sulla palude (Heaven Over the Marshes, Augusto Genina, 1949) & Maddalena (Augusto Genina, 1954)

Omnibus 21.7 The Last Moguls (Christopher Sykes, 1986) & Shooting Versace (Christopher Sykes, 1998)
Barabbas (Alf Sjöberg, 1953) & Chinmoku (Silence, Shinoda Masahiro, 1971)
Adventurous und Magick Häus (David Hartman, 2004/05) & Laser Fart (David Hartman, Dan Harmon, Rob Schrab, 2004/05)
Les amours de minuit (The Lovers of Midnight, Augusto Genina & Marc Allégret, 1931) & Lac aux dames (Ladies Lake, Marc Allégret, 1934)

Grave Torture (Joko Anwar, 2012) & The Conjuring (James Wan, 2013)
Winter Solstice (Hollis Frampton, 1968) & VideoFilm Review: Hollis Frampton (The Television Laboratory, 1981)
Not of This Earth (Roger Corman, 1957) & Not of This Earth (Jim Wynorski, 1988)
I Bury the Living (Albert Band, 1958) & Face of Fire (Albert Band, 1959)
Kawaita mizuumi (Dry Lake, Shinoda Masahiro, 1960) & There‘s Always Vanilla (George A. Romero, 1971)
The Challenge (Sidney Lumet, 1955) & General Electric Theater 3.18 The Martyr (Jacques Tourneur, 1955)

17xsingle tingle
SMPTE Color Television Test Film (Society of Motion Pictures and Television Engineers, 1966)
School‘s Out (Achim Bornhak, 1995)
Regrouping (Lizzie Borden, 1975)
235 000 000 (Uldis Brauns, 1967)
Zum Begriff des ‘kritischen Kommunismus’ bei Antonio Labriola (1843-1904) (Günter Peter Straschek, 1970)
Destination Unknown (Tay Garnett, 1933)

Spasite utopajuščego (Save the Drowning Man, Pavel Arsenov, 1967)
Operation Wien (Filmdokument IX) (Austria Wochenschau, 1957)
Tails (Paul Sharits, 1976)
Fala: The President‘s Dog (Gunther von Fritsch, 1943)
La guerra ed il sogno di Momi (The War and the Dream of Momi, Segundo de Chomón, Piero Fosco =Giovanni Pastrone, 1917)
Die Alm an der Grenze (Walter Janssen & Franz Antel, 1951)
Člen pravitel’stva (The Great Beginning, Aleksandr Zarchi, Iosif Chejfic1939)
ORG (long version) (Fernando Birri, 1967-78)
True Story (Robert Frank, 2004/08)
Tugoj uzel (original version) (The Tight Knot, Michail Švejcer, 1956)
Milan: les canotiers (Frères Lumière, 1897)

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