10. “Ingrid Goes West”
If not the greatest film of 2017, it’s among the most valuable reflections of Instagram’s dominion over our lives. In an apt update on “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” Aubrey Plaza’s heroine changes her home, hair and personality not to assume another person’s identity, but to cannibalize her frenemy’s Insta followers. The trouble with these modern times is that we can’t even while away our days watching movies anymore — we must waste them looking at our phones instead.
9. “Lady Macbeth”
Skillfully directed by William Oldroyd from a screenplay by Alice Birch, “Lady Macbeth” is reminiscent of Andrea Arnold’s recent version of “Wuthering Heights,” with a trapped woman at the center and cloud-choked English moors all around. In this withering but gorgeous isolation, Florence Pugh delivers a face-melting performance as a woman who responds to her bondage by burning through a husband, a father-in-law and a lover. Playing a mute servant, Naomi Ackie is tremendous as our co-witness to the dark goings-on.
Pixar does its finest world-building ever in “Coco”—the Land of the Dead is a marigold-drenched wonderland in which the skeletal spirits of your ancestors sing, dance and make art. It’s also happy news that, even without flesh, the dead can still drink tequila. When you (re)watch the film, remember to bring a box of tissues to the theater with you — as one character says, speaking to the afterlife or the best Pixar films: “This place runs on memories.”
7. “Dawson City: Frozen Time”
In this superlative documentary, Bill Morrison provides a meditative mélange of photographs, documentary footage, silent films and early talkies from Dawson City, a turn-of-the-century gold rush town in the Yukon that was the end of the line for thousands of reels of early movies. The doc includes amazing nuggets, like the reason Jack London turned back for home before reaching Dawson City (scurvy) and the origin of the Trump family fortune (brothels). By the end, you almost can’t imagine cinema history without this small town — if not for the future moguls who intersected there, we might never have had the chance to watch “Snatched,” 2017’s worst film.
6. “Wind River”
Writer/director Taylor Sheridan is among the best at leading us to the dark places in our society and this trip to the Wind River Indian reservation is no different. As a young man (and potential murder suspect) on the rez explains: “I wanna fight the whole world.” Despite the bracing violence in the film, it’s fascinating to watch Jeremy Renner’s tracker Cory as he moves from hunting mountain lions that prey on livestock to hunting death itself.
5. “Good Time”
Josh and Ben Safdie direct what is, for a few minutes at least, a straightforward picture about two brothers, Connie (Robert Pattinson, very good) and Nick (Ben Safdie, extraordinary) bumbling through a bank heist. From there straight through the end, the plot goes spectacularly off the rails — the hilarious, truly inconceivable twists are so uproarious that you run the risk of peeing your pants from the sheer giddiness. Future filmmakers must take notes on how to craft a proper thriller that never comes up for a breath.