The Year In Rewind: The Best Films Of 2017 You Didn't See

2017 might be done with us, but we’re not exactly done with it. In traditional Playlist form, it’s never quite clear if the world has moved on from the last year during the early days of January, but regardless, we seem to exhaust all possibilities examining, breaking down and parsing the previous year in film.

It might have been a shit show of a year, but movies and quality Peak TV provided us riches and escape. Sure, up-to-the-minute Twitter is going on about a vlogger who found a dead body, music videos with witchcraft, and creative ways to mock an idiot who’s probably going to blow us all up in a nuclear war, but some of you are not in media-saturated metropolitans and are likely still catching up with the past year. So, we’re here for you.

Yes, we’ve already made our Best Films Of The Year list, but there’s just so many cracks where good films fall into, are overlooked and or are simply forgotten. These films might not have been on our “best” list per se, but they’re all terrific, hidden, sometimes ignored little gems that you shouldn’t miss out on. So, yes, these are the best films of 2017 “you didn’t see,” which really means “you might not have seen,” so don’t get too offended. Regardless, to that poor soul in a town with with no arthouse to speak of and only VOD, iTunes, Netflix and other streaming outlets available for year-end catch-up, and wondering what other films they should catch up on? We made this recap list for you.

Click here for our full coverage of the best of 2017, including The Worst Films Of The YearBest TVBest Scores & SoundtracksBest Cinematography, PostersTrailersHorror, Action SequencesSex Scenes, our Best Films Of The YearUnderrated and Overrated Films of the Year, Breakout TalentsBest Animation, Best Documentaries and the 100 Most Anticipated Films Of 2018.

You might’ve heard all about Netflix’s original film releases last year like “Bright,” “Okja,” and “The Meyerowitz Stories (New And Collected).” However, there are a strong handful of others that fell off the radar. You probably didn’t even know that “Take The 10” starring Josh Peck and Tony Revolori even existed (don’t bother, it’s awful), or you might’ve flipped past “Tramps” on your way something else. Well, it’s time to correct that latter mistake. Adam Leon’s (“Gimme The Loot”) latest was part of small bidding war at TIFF in 2016 and with good reason. Led by rising stars Callum Turner (“Green Room,” “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald”) and Grace Van Patten (‘Meyerowitz’), the film tells a loose and breezy story of two New York teens who get caught up with some inept thugs in a low level scam. The premise hardly sounds like much, but Leon’s summery story is beautifully lived in and authentic, sauntering down the less filmed boroughs and suburbs of the Big Apple with confidence. Meanwhile, the romance at the core is by turns testy and awkward, but ultimately sweet and effortlessly sensitive. A true charmer, this a gem from a filmmaker we hope to hear more from soon. — Kevin Jagernauth [our full review]

While a movie about AIDS activism might sound like an unenjoyable, eat-your-vegetables type of experience, “BPM” is anything but; it’s daring, sexy, and full of the urgent vitality that comes with staring death in the face. Robin Campillo’s film, informed by his own experiences with ACT UP Paris, does not smooth out the rougher edges of 1990s French gay culture or of the confrontational style of activism that made ACT UP both notorious and more effective than its peers. “BPM” has a remarkably clear-eyed view of activism, recognizing that results can only come through disciplined collective action, yet its characters are still unforgettably complex and unique. A film that ranges from agony to ecstasy, with plenty of moments of everyday struggles in between, “BPM” is a shocking reminder of how alone the first AIDS victims were and how brave the members of ACT UP were to band together and fight for others while their own lives slipped away. — Joe Blessing [our full review]

playlist-feature-best-films-of-2017-you-didn't-seeLady Macbeth
Actress Florence Pugh made a small but nevertheless stunning debut in Carol Morley’s 2015 feature, “The Falling.” Her role was brief, but it made its mark and the remainder of the film was haunted by her memory. Regardless of how magnetic she was, nothing could prepare us for the meal she would make out of her latest feature, the agonizingly raw “Lady Macbeth” which grants Pugh a showcase so strong and willfully defiant in the face of what we’ve come to expect from high collar period pieces that there’s no real reason she shouldn’t be on short lists for awards. The rest of the film sits in her shadow a bit but her performance along with the dreary cinematography and the rebellion and lechery in the titular’s character description offers up something new, horrifically cold and more shocking than what you may have imagined. — Ally Johnson [our full review]

person-to-person-playlist-feature-best-films-of-2017-you-didn't-see“Person To Person”
Quietly released by Magnolia Pictures in the summer, director Dustin Guy Defa’s Sundance indie “Person To Person” is an aimless, shambling, and unkempt effort, at least by the standards of traditional storytelling. This is probably why the unfairly neglected movie has a negative score on Rotten Tomatoes. But its narrative wanderlust and shagginess is the point; it’s a movie more interested in the detours of people’s lives instead of their full journey. Shot entirely in 16mm and projecting the feel of a forgotten 1970s New York, this Woody Allen-esque vignette-driven film follows many disparate characters in Brooklyn and yet Defa doesn’t patronize the viewer by finding some contrived way to connect them all, instead binding them simply by the absurdity of unlikely circumstance and the collective struggle of everyday life. The film features names like Michael Cera, Tavi Gevinson, and Abbi Jacobson, but it’s the most unknown, non-professional actors like Bene Coopersmith, or newcomer George Sample III, that steal the movie with their heartfelt, beautiful loser charms (the movie is chalked with great character actors like Philip Baker Hall, Michaela Watkins, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., Ben Rosenfield, Eleonore Hendricks, Benny Safdie and Brian Tyree Henry). It’s an intimate, funny, loose and earnest picture and what radiates through its brown corduroy, burnt-orange and LP-frayed hues is the humanizing affection the storyteller has for his charismatic, oddball characters. — Rodrigo Perez