Every year since 2011, IndieWire senior film critic David Ehrlich has compiled his favorite 25 films of the year into an artful video countdown. It’s a curation nightmare, the kind of thing that can only be properly attempted by someone who’s spent most of the past year giving up precious hours of his lives to watch movies and report on the industry. Last year, Ehrlich spoke to The Verge about his process, which involves seeing hundreds of films as part of his day job, then gathering footage year-round in his spare time. Little has changed about his process since 2011. “This is the only video project I make, so I always feel like I’m starting from scratch — and I run into the same technical headaches every year, like an idiot,” he tells The Verge via email.
His 2017 list is a mashup of fun action films like Baby Driver, poignant coming-of-age films like Lady Bird and Call Me By Your Name, and the evergreen commentary of Get Out. Ehrlich may agonize over every cut in his video, but his goal is to act as a spotlight. “The purpose of these videos is really just to point people toward movies they might have missed, and to get everyone excited about the film medium as a whole, and so really I’d just encourage everyone to seek out these titles,” Ehrlich says. “Some, like Foxtrot and A Fantastic Woman, won’t get full releases until early next year, but do yourself a favor and keep them on your radar.”
Ehrlich’s writeup on IndieWire comes with a brief reflection on the past year. “At a time when every day felt like a week, and every week felt like a year, watching a movie felt like a dangerous proposition; you had no idea what the world was going to look like when you walked out of the theater two hours later.” When asked about how real-life events may have affected his current tastes, he says he’s too close to movies to properly examine how the times have changed what he enjoys.
“For the third year in a row, my favorite film is a restrained and remarkably tender queer love story, so… Trump can’t take that away from me, I guess,” he says. “I’d imagine that I’m more keyed-in to films about hope, and films about marginalized people, but I don’t know if that’s reflected in this list, which is honestly biased toward things that make for a fun edit. Ai Weiwei’s Human Flow, for example, struck me deeply, but I struggled to work images of desperate immigrants into this piece.”
Ehrlich wants to better represent those groups and ideas in future videos, but it’s not his only critical takeaway from his list. “We all know that Lady Bird should be higher,” he says. “But nobody’s perfect.”