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Best Films of…

Alt Film Guide’s “Best Films of …” lists, which we’ll be updating and reposting in the coming weeks, consist of highly personal and highly eclectic suggestions of films, oftentimes lesser-known titles, you might want to check out – or avoid like the plague, depending on how you feel about our choices.

Now, those lists are a work in perpetual progress. In other words, in the future we’ll be adding new names and titles, whereas old ones will be removed as we continue to watch good, fantastic, and/or so-bad-they-are-a-must-see movies and performances. (Please scroll down to check out our – as yet mostly to-be-updated – annual “Best Films of…” lists.)

The “Best Films of …” categories are the following: Best Film (including director and screenwriters), Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Cinematography, and Best Music. At times, we’ll list Best Short Film and/or Best Song Score categories as well.

Another category, “Check These Out,” consists mostly of lesser-known movies that for whatever reason – e.g., less-than-stellar direction, screenplay, acting, or editing – weren’t included on our Best Film lists. Admittedly, some of the lesser efforts in the Best Film category could just as easily have been placed in the Check These Out category, while some of the better Check These Out efforts could just as easily have been included on the Best Film list. Once again, those “Best Films of…” lists haven’t been set in stone; and, really, there is no line clearly separating, say, “Really Good” from “Good,” or “Good” from “Above Average.”

For obvious reasons, those “Best Films of…” lists are not meant to be a complete compilation of great filmmaking – not even close. Instead, take them as just a few samples of movies Alt Film Guide contributors would recommend.

A few ‘Best Films of…’ notes

  • Listings are organized alphabetically.
  • Films are listed by year according to their initial release date – or festival screening date, if only shown at festivals – to the best of our knowledge. Thus, Michael Curtiz’s Casablanca is a 1942 release, the Katharine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy comedy Adam’s Rib a 1949 release, and Fernando Meirelles’ City of God a 2002 release even though those movies were nominated for Academy Awards in, respectively, 1943, 1950, and 2003 – the year they opened in the Los Angeles area. Exceptions to the aforementioned rule: Movies that saw the light of day, or rather, the darkness of a movie theater, years after they were made, e.g., Michael Roemer’s The Plot Against Harry (made in 1969, released in 1990). In such cases, they have been listed according to their production date.
  • Some East Asian names are alphabetized in reverse order (last name; first name), e.g., Gong Li (instead of Li Gong) and Zhang Yimou (instead of Yimou Zhang). Reason for this editorial choice: Gong Li is known around the world as Gong Li, not Li Gong, and that same rule applies to other East Asian film personalities.
  • Listed screenwriters are those credited for the final – original or adapted – screenplay; in other words, writers of the “original story” (at times indicating an original screenplay later revamped) have usually been omitted.
  • Needless to say, some of the movies found in the Best Film category succeeded because of a hands-on producer and/or a superb editor and/or great actors and/or a phenomenal visual-effects wizard and/or a great composer, etc. Even so, generally speaking when a movie fulfills its promise that’s chiefly the result of capable direction and/or solid screenwriting. And that’s why directors and screenwriters are listed in the Best Film category.
  • TV/cable feature films and miniseries may find their way into those “Best Films of…” lists.

Best Films lists (in the process of being updated)

List of contributors to the “Best Films of…” lists: James Bazen, Greta de Groat, Zac Gille, Steve Montgomery, Anna Robinson, André Soares.

Krzysztof Kieslowski’s Three Colors: Red / Trois couleurs: Rouge Irène Jacob image: Miramax.

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