It was looking pretty grim there for a while. Sundance gave us Call Me by Your Name last January, but by the end of June, people whose job it is to speculate about what other films might be up for year-ends awards and critics' lists were weighing the chances of good genre entries like War for the Planet of the Apes, Get Out, Wonder Woman and Baby Driver — not normally the kind of stuff of which Oscar dreams are made.
Nor the did Cannes Film Festival in May yield much of potentially enduring value. Yes, there was a wonderful documentary, Agnes Varda and JR's Faces Places, and one mesmerizing out-of-the-blue entry in the Directors' Fortnight, The Florida Project, made by a director whose previous feature had cost little more than the cellphone camera it was made on. But where were the rest of the contenders?
The first one, Christopher Nolan's much-anticipated Dunkirk, flooded theaters in July and planted a flag for quality big-budget Hollywood fare. A few very good indies turned up but were not widely seen, including Columbus, Logan Lucky and Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer.
Finally, nine months in, the major early autumn festivals once again signaled that all was not lost after all, and enough very-good-to-excellent films have emerged since September to have made 2017 a pretty decent year after all. As the Patriots showed in the last Super Bowl, if you score enough points in the final quarter (and overtime), you win.
Here were the ten best films of 2017. — by Todd McCarthy