In 2017 I watched 72 new releases, mostly in movie theaters (I am a junkie) and while there were a few films I really hated, mostly I saw a lot of films I really enjoyed. I discovered a love for documentary cinema (I saw fourteen documentaries this year!). I watched 32 new release films directed by women (with my total new-to-me directed by women clocking in at 79 this year; more on that when I do my year-end review tomorrow). For the second year in a row my favorite film of the year was not directed by a woman, but as per tradition it was also a queer romance. I am pretty easy to please. As a final reminder, I am not a fan of the term best. Film is an art that allows the viewer to bring themselves in conversation with it, and therefore what each person sees in a film will be different from what anyone else sees. This is a list of favorites and why these films resonated so with me. There are some spoilers, so beware.
Lately I’ve become more and more frustrated with the various “best ever” lists that have been released because they rarely feature films by women, or if they do it’s usually one or two films. I think this is more a reflection of those who are polled for these kinds of lists, as well as a compounding of history on itself. For so long films by men have made up the bulk of the film canon and I think people are afraid to add new films to these revered lists. I also think many people haven’t seen very many films by women, or if they have it’s always the same handful of films. In an attempt to create a better, more inclusive list of great films by women, I polled over 500 critics, filmmakers, bloggers, historians, professors and casual film viewers, asking them to tell me what films directed (or co-directed) by women are essential viewing. Some people only responded with as little as five votes, others submitted hundreds of films. In the end, I received over 7,000 votes for 1,100+ different films. After tallying up this data, with ties factored in, I then had a list of 103 essential films directed by women.
Aileen: Sometimes I think everybody just thinks I’m this bad shitty fucking person, and all I’m fucking tryin’ to do is survive, you know?
Thomas: I know.
Thomas: I know exactly. I know what you do for a living. It doesn’t bother me. I know you didn’t dial it up on a goddamn telephone. That’s where you landed. That’s what you had to do. What you’re feeling right now is just guilt, over something you had absolutely no control over. You know how many of us came back from the war? And almost killed ourselves because we felt exactly the same thing you do, right now.
Thomas: Yeah. And they’ll never get it. They don’t get it now, they never got it then, and they sure as hell won’t get fucking circumstance!
Aileen: Fuck, man, circumstance, that’s exactly it, that’s exactly it. You know it’s like I feel like I never even had a fucking choice.
Thomas: You never did! But you gotta live. You gotta live.
Aileen: That’s it. Okay.