So I've still not seen quite as much as I'd have liked to see - in particular I've not yet managed to see any of the prominent foreign language films from last year - but I'm still happy with my overall list.
Darren Aronofsky's film tops my list with its brilliant intensity. Following a fantastically desperate performance from Jennifer Lawrence almost entirely with medium close-ups, this film paints a compelling and crystal-clear allegory - if only any two people could agree which of the many possible allegories it is. This is a film that people will still be talking about decades down the line.
Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villeneuve is a director it has been a pleasure to watch mature over the past few years, and he turns in another spectacular film this year. Exquisitely shot and scored, Blade Runner 2049 delves back into the world Ridley Scott created for a compelling exploration of what it means to be alive and what it means to have consciousness.
The Shape of Water
Guillermo del Toro turns in another fantastical masterpiece, this time about the barriers that love transcends. A fable about a great love and a monster that seeks to destroy it, The Shape of Water demonstrates the love del Toro has for life and the boundless enthusiasm he has for his monsters and for cinema.
An unconventional love story, Phantom Thread is crafted with the care and precision we've come to expect from Paul Thomas Anderson. It's exquisite in its performances, and in its depth exploring the difficulties of being in a relationship with someone of strong will and what it takes to break into their routine. This negotiation between its leads over how much each will bend the other to their will is an extreme version of what happens in every relationship, and it's a brilliant last note for Daniel Day-Lewis to retire on.
Greta Gerwig's first time solo in the director's chair gives us one of the finest films of the year in this coming-of-age tale of a young girl looking to go beyond the mundane life she's always known. If this is where Gerwig starts, I can't wait to see where she'll go from here.
Call Me By Your Name
Summer romances seem so eternal, yet so ephemeral. Those idyllic days and nights passed with a lover are the sweetest treasure, and Luca Guadagnino's adaptation captures that beauty and that feeling.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Last Jedi
If Rian Johnson's film is not the finest entry in the franchise, then it's very close indeed. Where JJ Abrams paid homage to the past and brought our nostalgia for the original trilogy to the surface, Johnson reminds us that the past is past and we must make our peace with it and put it to rest if we are truly to move into the future.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The first Guardians took a bunch of broken, abandoned, and lost people and showed them how to put together a family. James Gunn's followup tears them back apart and asks what being a family truly means.
I keep thinking I should bump this up the list (and I already have once), but this is where it is for now. Get Out is another debut on this list - from Jordan Peele - and exquisitely shatters the myth many well-meaning white liberals have created for themselves about their own social consciousness.
The Florida Project
Filtering the plight of poverty through the boundless excitement and wonder of a small child, Sean Baker's film is a powerful call for empathy for the most vulnerable among us. This is another one that should maybe be higher on my list; I only just recently saw it and I keep finding myself thinking about it.
Personal Shopper is Kristen Stewart's second work with Olivier Assayas, and demonstrates just what a great actress she is when given good material to work with.
The Lost City of Z came out too early in the year to get much awards attention but should not be overlooked, particularly for its great cinematography.
Atomic Blonde pairs the high-octane action we're accustomed to in modern spy films with the le Carré-esque ideas about how much it sucks to be a spy, giving us one of the best and most brutal one-take action sequences in film history.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a bit of a mess with a screenplay that could have used a couple more passes, but still delivers a magnificent spectacle. Its Big Market sequence in particular shows us something we have never seen before.
Logan Lucky, in addition to its deep compassion for subjects other films would mock ruthlessly, has the best Game of Thrones joke I've seen yet.
Downsizing takes a great, truly intriguing concept and throws it out the window to ask if Matt Damon can learn to love.
Life.... don't talk to me about Life
So Eternal Weekend was great as always, and as always I'm sad to see it end.
But I wanted to say on a personal note that I had a number of people this weekend, upon being officially introduced for the first time, tell me that they remembered me from TMD and respected my contributions as a level-headed member of the community. And that's something that means a whole lot to me. I've often felt like I was just a hanger-on because of my physical distance from everyone and my lack of results, so to know that my contributions over the years have been noticed and valued is very touching.
So to those of you who told me that this weekend and those of you who might feel the same but haven't said so for whatever reason, I thank you.
The following note has been added to the announcement.
Editor's Note: We’re aware of the proximity of the next B&R window to Eternal Weekend, which is why we’ve chosen to make necessary Vintage changes in this window. We don’t currently anticipate more changes to Vintage with the next B&R window, but in the event that they are needed we’ll have a solution for communicating changes in a way that respects the preparation of Eternal Weekend players.
Not a bad round of nominees, but with a couple glaring omissions. Annette Bening should probably be in Best Actress and the omission of "Drive It Like You Stole It" from Sing Street in Best Song is painful.
Also, apparently it's ok to be Mel Gibson in Hollywood again, as Hacksaw Ridge got a handful of nominations.
I have to say I'm particularly pleased with the Writing branch of the Academy, as both Screenplay categories pretty much nailed it (bearing in mind I haven't seen Lion or Fences).
Well I didn't get to see Silence or Fences but I still managed to change my Top 10 anyway. So here it is:
A simply stunning study of a poor young black man discovering his sexuality. Set in three stages, we see Chiron as a child, adolescent, and young adult and the three parts reflect and comment upon each other culminating in a final moment that carries the weight of all that came before it. Simply spectacular filmmaking.
2. Hail, Caesar!
The Coens are back with another masterpiece, this time a farce that explores questions of faith and good works; whether art has importance and meaning that justifies dedicating one's life to it. It's a very funny movie, but has at its center a heartfelt performance from Josh Brolin as a studio head tormented by his conscience.
3. La La Land
A delightful homage to the Hollywood musicals of old. Wonderful songs, a charismatic romantic pair, and a joyous attitude as two people struggle to follow their dreams.
Brilliant science fiction film about the importance of communicating with The Other - whether it be actual aliens or just the people across the street.
5. O.J.: Made In America
Technically counts as a film since it had an Oscar-qualifying run in New York. Still a phenomenal, detailed examination of not just the O.J. murder trial, but also the decades of history and racial strife that led up to it and turned it into what it was.
6. Manchester By The Sea
Sometimes grief is not something that is easy to let go, and Kenneth Lonergan's intimate script quietly observes a man with incredible pain in his heart struggling to deal with even more.
7. A Monster Calls
I saw this one just last night, and it left me a blubbering mess. I was on the verge of openly sobbing for basically the entire last half hour. It's another phenomenal exploration of grief, but this time a current, ongoing grief instead of one coming from the past.
8. Everybody Wants Some!!
A spiritual sequel to Dazed and Confused, Richard Linklater's latest film sees a freshman arrive at college and start to explore what kind of person he can be.
Ok, so this is a third film about grief - 2016, huh? - but this one follows Jackie Kennedy closely as she struggles to cope with her husband's death and forge his legacy in the days immediately following his assassination. Natalie Portman turns in another stellar performance and I really hope there isn't anyone left out there who thinks she's not a great actress.
10. I Am Not Your Negro
Another of the three big documentaries on race for the year (with the O.J. doc above and Ava DuVernay's 13th on Netflix), I Am Not Your Negro uses the words of great African-American scholar James Baldwin to explain the pain and oppression felt by the black community in America and how it so easily curdles into rage. Samuel L. Jackson reads Baldwin's words, narrating in a soft and quiet mode that still carries an incredible amount of power. If I could, I would make every white person in America watch these three docs.
I'll be posting mine in another week or so because I'm hoping I'll be able to catch Silence next weekend and one or both of Fences and Hidden Figures as well. This was definitely a year where there were lots of good movies, but you generally had to stray from the local multiplex to find them. So many blockbusters were varying degrees of terrible or flawed. Both DC comics films, the Independence Day movie, Warcraft (which is a more complicated case than just being bad), X-Men Apocalypse and more just failed on many levels.
But if you ventured out for independent cinema, you found gems like Moonlight, Loving, Jackie, The VVitch, or Hell or High Water. There was also a trilogy of phenomenal documentaries on race in O.J.: Made In America, 13th, and I Am Not Your Negro. Swiss Army Man is the sweetest movie you will ever see about a farting corpse, and Sing Street will remind you why you wanted to start a band in high school.
So if anyone tells you the movies were bad this year or any year, they're probably just not looking in the right place. Seek a good movie, and you will find it.
But @Smmenen, you can give Nocturnal Animals a pass :P. It has good performances and a pretty aesthetic, but left me feeling cold and wondering what the point of it all was.
This set was always going to be unimpressive because of the reserved list. There's just too many cards that we want to see reprints of that they won't let themselves reprint.
That said, it's even less impressive than it could have been. Where's Misdirection and Rishadan Port? Where's Mana Drain? Where are the Portal tutors? There's a bunch of really obvious includes that they left out. The only reasonable explanation for it I can think of is they wanted to save them for a second set down the line.