PRINT December 2017


Amy Taubin

1 SPOOR (Agnieszka Holland with Kasia Adamik) A primeval forest in Poland is the battleground for the no-holds-barred struggle of a woman who risks everything to protect the creatures that live there from a corrupt, death-dealing, patriarchal status quo. The greatest film by a world cinema master.

Agnieszka Holland with Kasia Adamik, Spoor, 2017, 2K video, color, sound, 128 minutes. Priest Szelest (Marcin Basak) and altar boy (Szymon Kontyka).

2 QUEST (Jonathan Olshefski) A remarkably intimate portrait of the Rainey family of North Philadelphia, who welcomed Olshefski and his camera into their home over ten years with a kindness and generosity of spirit that make the documentary a unique gift to audiences.

Jonathan Olshefski, Quest, 2017, digital video, color, sound, 105 minutes. Isaiah Rainey.

3 GET OUT (Jordan Peele) Racism and the history of slavery—America’s foundational horror story—are front and center in this stunning pop-culture movie. Brilliantly written and directed, Peele’s debut feature was not only a critics’ darling, it grossed over $200 million at the box office worldwide.

4 TOP OF THE LAKE: CHINA GIRL (Jane Campion) Like the original cable series, the sequel brims over with maternal desire, a rarity in depictions of determined professional women.

Top of the Lake: China Girl, 2017, still from a TV show on SundanceTV. Episode 3. Mary (Alice Englert).

5 BEATRIZ AT DINNER (Miguel Arteta) Collaborating with screenwriter Mike White, Arteta has made a film that is neither comedy nor tragedy, because both are incommensurate with the insight of the Antigone-like heroine (played with grief-stricken defiance by Salma Hayek): that we have all collaborated in the destruction of the planet.

6 FACES PLACES (Agnès Varda and JR) At age eighty-eight, Varda once again does a tour de France, this time in cahoots with much younger activist photographer JR. Joyous, poignant, and, inevitably, a memento mori.

Agnès Varda and JR, Faces Places, 2017, HD video, color, sound, 89 minutes. JR and Agnès Varda.

7 TONY CONRAD: COMPLETELY IN THE PRESENT (Tyler Hubby) Conrad’s antic presence enlivens a documentary that is essential viewing for anyone involved in the interpenetration of music and visual art throughout the second half of the twentieth century, right up to our web-enveloped moment in the twenty-first.

8 OKJA (Bong Joon-ho) Defying genre, Bong’s tender and audacious depiction of the love between a young girl and her companion animal—a hippo-size pig— turns into an exposé of factory farming as capitalism at its most brutal.

Bong Joon-ho, Okja, 2017, 4K video, color, sound, 118 minutes. Mija (Ahn Seo-hyun).

9 EN EL SÉPTIMO DÍA (Jim McKay) An intimate character study of an undocumented Mexican man who works long hours, six days a week, in an upscale Brooklyn restaurant and on Sunday plays fútbol in Sunset Park. The cast—almost all first-time movie actors—is superb, and McKay’s return to no-budget New York indie filmmaking a joy.

Jim McKay, En el séptimo día (On the Seventh Day), 2017, 2K video, color, sound, 92 minutes. José (Fernando Cardona).

10 TWIN PEAKS: THE RETURN, PART 8 (David Lynch) This episode contains small-screen fiction’s most terrifying image. Nuclear fission is the Rosetta stone for the Lynch oeuvre; once the atom splits, three Coopers are elementary.

Twin Peaks: The Return, 2017, still from a TV show on Showtime. Part 8.

A contributing editor of Artforum and Film Comment and the author of Taxi Driver (BFI, 2000), Amy Taubin has served on the selection committee of the New York Film Festival since 2012.