And the greatest cinematic achievement of 2017 was: Showtime’s “Twin Peaks: The Return.”
Awash in all the visual and aural possibilities of filmed entertainment, David Lynch’s 18-episode sequel to his 1990s TV series was the ultimate, uncompromising display of personal obsession and totally tuned-in to the dream nature of the whole filmic endeavor.
Yes, I know “Twin Peaks” wasn’t a movie (and no, I have no idea what it was supposed to be about). At this point in the evolution of watching pictures that move, though, it’s clearly the strongest evidence yet that the barrier between big- and small-screen ambition has atomized beyond repair.
Still, this is a movie list, so I’m keeping “Peaks” off of it. And 2017 was a great year for movies anyway. Many bad “blockbusters” failed, of course, but that was a good thing since they were, well, bad. Great art, terrific characters, unique personal expressions and, wonder of wonders, original ideas were everywhere to be seen, however, so much so that a top 10 list (or, in my case, a lucky 13) seems a woefully inadequate way to sum up the year in cinema.
But I went ahead and made one. Consider it a Best of the Best kind of thing, and reward yourself by looking beyond it.
1. Get Out: Jordan Peele’s debut feature was a constantly inventive surprise, an unnerving, unguessable horror thriller with a totally fresh take on racial politics. Dumping the usual movie liberal pieties into the Sunken Place, Peele made the concept of black paranoia both a universally palpable and psychologically specific, individual thing. And he was funny as hell about it, self-satirizing (Lil Rel for Best Supporting Actor! And head of the TSA!) without undercutting the project’s energizing anger or commitment to making even the most woke viewers rethink what they thought they knew.
2. A Quiet Passion: Filmed in Belgium and looking like it was shot by Vermeer, Terence Davies’ Emily Dickinson biopic persuasively…