Voters went all in with Get Out—the number one title on our readers’ poll for the films of 2017, surpassing Lady Bird by a healthy margin. As usual, there was much love shared with the critics’ list, including past cover-story films Faces Places (#15) and Good Time (#3). But the biggest of big-screen experiences tended to command special attention for readers: Dunkirk (#5), Blade Runner 2049 (#7), mother! (#13), alongside crowd-pleasers The Shape of Water (#11) and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (#12). For each ballot, a first-place choice was allotted 20 points, 19 for second, and so on.

This year, in celebration of the power of the communal theatrical experience, we have started asking voters to name their favorite art-house theaters. Below, you can read comments by readers on the top films and more—and see which cinemas keep you coming back for more. (You can check out our open directory of U.S. art-house theaters here—and make sure your beloved local carries Film Comment!)

get out

1. Get Out Jordan Peele, USA

Get Out is one of the most important movies ever about racism in the U.S., and the male Afro-American experience, in particular. Due to its amazing box-office earnings a new market for smart, socially conscious horror has emerged.

Devan Ahluwalia, Berlin, Germany
Favorite Art-House Theater: Wolf Kino (Wolf Cinema)

Get Out is basically a modern classic that is near-perfect, and Jordan Peele pulled the wool off of the sheer chaos of today’s society. Peele was already a brilliant comedian, now he is a brilliant director. I really can’t wait to see what other tricks he has up his sleeve.

David Hollingsworth, Fayetteville, NC
Favorite Art-House Theater: Cameo

A strong film that works both as entertainment and social commentary. Jordan Peele builds suspense like Hitchcock.

John Cochrane, Chandler, AZ

lady bird

2. Lady Bird Greta Gerwig, USA

Lady Bird is such an exquisite film. Being able to relate so strongly to both the mother and the daughter, I sobbed and sobbed through the last half-hour of this film.

Steven Hess, Hackensack, NJ
Favorite Art-House Theater: Film Society of Lincoln Center

The specificity and insularity of Greta Gerwig’s retelling of the details of her own unremarkable youth allows this movie to paradoxically become a genuinely universal coming-of-age movie, relatable and dear to anyone in the world, regardless of their background.

Nikita Lavretski, Minsk, Belarus
Favorite Art-House Theater: Pobeda (currently under reconstruction)

good time

3. Good Time Josh and Benny Safdie, USA

Robert Pattinson running around Adventureland in Good Time is the most Long Island thing ever. He is now an honorary Long Islander in my book—hope he likes Billy Joel and BEC sandwiches.

Helen Lezcano, Hicksville, NY
Favorite Art-House Theater: Walter Reade

Good Time is a searing indictment of white privilege wrapped in a candy-coated genre-movie shell. The Safdies nailed every aspect of the production, from the frenetic visuals to the transformative central performance by Robert Pattinson—which sees him shape-shift convincingly from a British pretty boy into a total New York scumbag. There’s a lot of fascinating stuff going on with race in this film, from the initial heist scene where Pattinson’s character Connie and his brother don literal black face masks, to the brutal beating Connie delivers to the Somali security guard in the amusement park. The fact that none of this felt outrageous within the context of the film, and actually felt extremely realistic, speaks volumes about how depraved America’s entrenched racial logic has become. Good Time is a sustained portrayal of a world where a white man’s victims are systematically mistaken for being the criminals themselves. Sound familiar?

Brian Ehrenpreis, New York, NY
Favorite Art-House Theater: Spectacle

the florida project

4. The Florida Project Sean Baker, USA

The Florida Project is the first body of work that has ever made me shut the actual hell up. It opened up cavities in my heart that I did not know were there. I am truly honored to be alive at the same time as Sean Baker, who I think can see more colors than anyone else on this planet.

Kelsey Rose

A bright red Slurpee of a movie. The credits give special thanks to Hal Roach and Spanky from Our Gang, and that’s exactly the right lens for watching The Florida Project. It’s Little Rascals for the Great Recession, with Brazilian tourists taking the place of jeweled elites, Bobby (the motel manager) taking the place of the mansion butler, donated waffles standing in for boiled shoes. Sean Baker isn’t trying to wring tears out of some hardscrabble reality, he’s making a Depression-era comedy in the shadow of America’s second great economic collapse.

Will Bareford, Brooklyn, NY
Favorite Art-House Theater: Metrograph

An empathetic and heartbreaking portrait of the outliers of society often overlooked by film and ignored in life. Sean Baker directs his story with authenticity and not an ounce of sentimentality. It has the feel of a documentary. Many of the performances are by first-time non-actors that are so raw and honest. Willem Dafoe gives one of his finest and unexpected performances. Six-year-old Brooklynn Prince as Moonee ripped my heart apart. I was so emotionally invested in the outcome of her character. The powerful ending was heart-wrenching. Yes, I cried, friends. It brought back memories of the great Luis Buñuel film Los Olvidados.

George Zaver, Los Angeles, CA
Favorite Art-House Theater: Landmark Theatres


5. Dunkirk Christopher Nolan, UK

I am not, generally, a huge Nolan fan. And after seeing Dunkirk once I wasn’t quite sure what I thought. Immaculately crafted, yes. Certainly overwhelming. But were the intersecting time lines gimmicky? Was the movie subtle or (as I think Nolan’s movies often are) more politically senseless or banal? But as time has passed, the movie has lingered with me, and after seeing it again I’ve come to think of it as a genuine achievement.

Cosmo Houck, Davis, CA
Favorite Art-House Theater: The Tower Theater in Sacramento

call me by your name

6. Call Me by Your Name Luca Guadagnino, Italy/France

Call Me by Your Name is not only the best film of the year, but one of the best films I’ve ever seen.

Ryan Shearin, New York, NY
Favorite Art-House Theaters: Metrograph, QuadFilm Society of Lincoln Center

I’m still crying to the first notes of  “Visions of Gideon” and Timothée Chalamet’s voice, the thought of those contiguous rooms, dusty mattresses, peaches, the word “later”…

Pedro Vaz Simoes, Edinburgh, Scotland
Favorite Art-House Theaters: Cinemateca Portuguesa in Lisbon & Filmhouse in Edinburgh

Blade Runner 2049

7. Blade Runner 2049 Denis Villeneuve, USA

Blade Runner 2049 is pretty much my favorite movie of all time.

Billy Hernandez, Albert Lea, MN

phantom thread

8. Phantom Thread Paul Thomas Anderson, USA

In Phantom Thread, it is interesting to observe the evolution of a director like Paul Thomas Anderson from vigorous and pathetic male characters to strong and dynamic female characters.

Abel Borba Pereira, Portugal

In a year full of great performances, leave it to Paul Thomas Anderson to create a film that has three acting tour de forces that are a master class in restraint. Daniel Day-Lewis can go big at times, but in this film he underplays scenes with such acumen that it drew me into the character in ways I’d never seen from him before.

Ryan Bates, Los Angeles, CA
Favorite Art-House Theater: ArcLight Hollywood

Phantom Thread is the one of the most wonderfully kinky movies of all time.

Sean Milligan, Rochester Hills, MI
Favorite Art-House Theater: The Maple Theater in Bloomfield

a ghost story

9. A Ghost Story David Lowery, USA

A Ghost Story contains many stories: that of Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara’s characters and their grief, that of those who pass through the house, and the story of human life and existence. The very best films of this century contain multitudes. Movies like There Will Be Blood, Boyhood, The Tree of Life, Melancholia, and Synecdoche, New York tell the stories of their characters, but also ask big questions about humanity and our place in the universe. A Ghost Story is a worthy addition to that 21st-century canon.

Renan Borelli, Brooklyn, NY
Favorite Art-House Theater: Metrograph

A Ghost Story set its own pace and takes you to an unexpected place—a profound place, where you open your eyes to the tragedies and beauty in life.

Sonia Campbell, Tucson, AZ

It was an overall mediocre year for movies except for the splendid and original A Ghost Story, which is one for the ages.

George Wu, New York, NY
Favorite Art-House Theater: Walter Reade

Personal Shopper

10. Personal Shopper Olivier Assayas, France

Personal Shopper is mesmerizing, particularly because of Kristen Stewart’s performance, and Assayas should be lauded for realizing her potential.

Alan Hoffman, Chicago, IL
Favorite Art-House Theater: Music Box Theatre

the shape of water

11. The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro, USA

A modern fairy tale. I was on an emotional roller coaster through this whole film. From wonder to disgust to inspired and back again. The production design is amazing as usual for del Toro and has one of my favorite screenplays of the year. It is able to be serious while at the same time incredibly exaggerated. Also, Sally Hawkins is the MVP.

Luke Gil

What a concept! What a tribute to cinema! What a beautiful film!

John Cochrane, Chandler, AZ

three billboards outside ebbing, missouri

12. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Martin McDonagh, USA

Mildred Hayes (Frances McDormand) is a character who will not be denied. Martin McDonagh, as always, goes way over the top—but why not? Nothing much makes complete sense these days.

Jack Ryan, York, PA
Favorite Art-House Theater: Small Star Art House

Three Billboards is a subtle response to Trump’s America in its indictment of small-minded violence and its recognition of a person’s capacity to be both compassionate and cruel at once. The film has its yin and its yang vis-à-vis the conclusion it reaches about its subject: Three Billboards is grim, misanthropic (if not quite nihilistic), and cautionary.

Marcus Rinehart, Los Angeles, CA
Favorite Art-House Theater: the New Beverly


13. mother! Darren Aronofsky, USA

I can see why mother! passed many people, not to mention critics, by. But it was by far the most pleasurable experience in film this year—what a hoot and deeply affecting.

Ivar Zeile, Denver, CO
Favorite Art-House Theaters: Sie FilmCenter and Mayan Theater

the lost city of z

14. The Lost City of Z James Gray, USA

James Gray is a classicist, in the truest sense of the word, and his Lost City of Z is one of the best-directed films released this year. It is exactly the type of big Hollywood film that they don’t make anymore and I am genuinely baffled by the lack of critical attention it has received. There is something aggressively unfashionable about Gray’s filmmaking, which I think could contribute to this dismissal. It is a supreme irony then that The Lost City of Z is at its very core essentially about a man with an ideology out of step with his time. Gray is interested in melodrama in an age of irony, and it’s a testament to his seriousness of purpose that he is able to pull off something this sublime on such a massive scale.

Brian Ehrenpreis, New York, NY
Favorite Art-House Theater: Spectacle

One thing I’ll give The Lost City of Z: I sat there the whole time thinking, “Well, he’s not going to match the last shot of The Immigrant,” and then the wily son of a gun went and did.

John Strelow, Los Angeles, CA
Favorite Art-House Theater: The Nuart

faces places

15. Faces Places Agnès Varda & JR, France

I usually expect good things from Agnès Varda, but even I was taken aback by how much I enjoyed this film. The grinding, demoralizing state of the world of the past two years was likely a factor, because Varda’s warm, moving humanism felt like a much-needed tonic. Even when discussing mortality or her own ailments, it was wonderful to see how sunny she could be in an amusing and profound way without being the least bit cloying or smarmy. The film also has the most breathtaking shots I’ve seen all year, without the use of any visual FX, complex gimmickry, or rigging. I barely knew who JR was before the film—these two are truly kindred spirits. And I forgot that Varda had crowdfunded the film—it’s a reflection of her generosity that she listed her many donors in the opening credits.

Mitchell Wu, Brooklyn, NY
Favorite Art-House Theater: BFI Southbank in London

Faces Places will stand the test of time as a heartwarming portrait of humanity.

Mike VanQuickenborne, Anacortes, WA
Favorite Art-House Theater: Concrete Theatre

a quiet passion

16. A Quiet Passion Terence Davies, UK/Belgium

It was pleasant to learn that the life of Emily Dickinson wasn’t all cloistered misery and madness as she’s so often one-dimensionally depicted in biographical blurbs. For viewers of a certain age, Sex and the City will always be part of Cynthia Nixon’s genetic makeup, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While the fictional New York lawyer and the real-life legendary poet are separated by decades and cultures nearly unrecognizable from one another, there’s a shared sense of wit and feminine cheekiness shared by the two. The family dynamics provide a low-key dramatic cornerstone for this muted portrait of a fitful life (the title is terrifically apt) in which an opinionated and outspoken woman rails against (but within) a system in which the deck is stacked against her, all while having her hands mentally tied behind her back. Thankfully women today aren’t subjected to any societal limitations of any kind, in any way anymore… Right? RIGHT?

Brett Scieszka, Glendale, CA
Favorite Art-House Theater: Film Forum

the square

17. The Square Ruben Östlund, Sweden/Germany/France/Denmark

The Square is history’s prettiest episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

John Strelow, Los Angeles, CA
Favorite Art-House Theater: The Nuart

The Killing of a Sacred Deer

18. The Killing of a Sacred Deer Yorgos Lanthimos, Ireland/UK/USA

A brilliant exercise in complete pants-shitting uncomfortableness. From the cinematography and production design that harkens back to The Shining to the purposefully disjointed performance, there is never a moment that allows you stay relaxed. And there are some cheeky moments of pitch-black humor that shine through as well. It’s not like any film I’ve seen this year and it’s not for everyone, but if you like being uncomfortable… then give it a watch.

Luke Gil


19. Mudbound Dee Rees, USA

On paper there’s a lot stacked against this one. Quick rundown: 1) Based on a novel. 2) Set in Jim Crow Mississippi with contrasting black and white families at the center. 3) Partially focusing on the societal upheaval and personal demons brought back by veterans returning from the Great War. By all accounts this should be bullshit Oscar bait directed by a middle-aged British guy just coming off another period-picture tearjerker about a star-crossed Italian chick in love with an Arabic dude, and the French Foreign Legion is involved in some way. The good news is that Dee Rees directed the movie instead. Visually appealing and necessarily gritty, with a great feeling for coaxing the best out of its actors, Mudbound tenuously holds a hopeful candle for the future of mainstream American cinema.

Brett Scieszka, Glendale, CA
Favorite Art-House Theater: Film Forum

baby driver

20. Baby Driver Edgar Wright, USA/UK

Baby Driver is my #1 because it’s the most fun I’ve had jammin’ in a theater this year!

Felix Rodriguez, Tampa, FL
Favorite Art-House Theater: Enzian Theater in Maitland

Beyond the Top 20

atomic blonde

Atomic Blonde David Leitch, Germany/Sweden/USA

Atomic Blonde is the hottest James Bond movie ever!

Clark D. Schaefer, Marina Del Rey, CA
Favorite Art-House Theater: Laemmle Theatre


Nocturama Bertrand Bonello, France

My top film couldn’t be any other than Nocturama, given the way it deals with not-quite-current events, but current themes. Bonello uses images we recognize to create impact without being manipulative. In the Trump era, we need films like these to remind us that capitalism isn’t all good and young people, no matter how naïve their intentions may be, must act to create a world they feel is just.

Diogo Lucena Vale, New York, NY
Favorite Art-House Theater: Film Society of Lincoln Center

the other side of hope

The Other Side of Hope Aki Kaurismäki, Finland/Germany

In troubled times, thank heavens for Aki Kaurismäki’s determination to tell a positive and compassionate story of migration, without sacrificing his signature deadpan humor.

Alan Boshier, Sheffield, U.K.
Favorite Art-House Theater: The Showroom

Song to Song Terrence Malick, USA

When I remember that 99 percent of critics attempted to hold back cinema itself with their dismissals of Song to Song, I feel disgusted. But when I remember that Song to Song exists, its indescribable beauty (aesthetically, morally, etc.) overwhelms me with joy.

Collin Brinkmann, Waukesha, WI
Favorite Art-House Theater: Landmark Oriental in Milwaukee

Split M. Night Shyamalan, USA

Split is a truly original superhero(villain) movie that expresses an often unspoken tenet of our times (that victimhood = power) in genuinely mythic terms.

Jonathan Hastings, West Lebanon, NH
Favorite Art-House Theater: The Nugget in Hanover

General Comments

Alienation and home not meaning what it once did seemed to be a running theme this year.

Major McKeithen, Chicago, IL
Favorite Art-House Theater: Music Box Theatre

The highest-grossing films of 2017 include a live-action remake of an animated movie, the fifth movie in a franchise based on an amusement-park ride, the sixth movie in a franchise based on a toy, the eighth movie in a franchise based on cars, and countless movies based on comic books (including sequels, a reboot, and a spin-off based on a toy). Like a vulture, Hollywood strips its ideas of their creative meat, saving the bones upon which to fashion a franchise. And then it’s only a matter of time before they’re milked dry.

Matthew Mousseau, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Favorite Art-House Theater: Princess Cinema

The crisis of expression as the main source of inspiration for cinema in 2017. Why not?

Iuliia Glushneva, Montreal, Canada
Favorite Art-House Theater: Dom Kino (House of Cinema) in Krasnoyarsk, Russia 

This is the year of overrated films for extra-cinematic reasons at the expense of great films. Strangely, the awards circuit has shown better appreciation of cinematic quality than the critics’ polls. Critics need to stop “celebrating” films for what they represent and start critiquing how well they are as works of art. Criticism and activism should not be confused, because when they are it diminishes the value of both.

Burak Turkgulu, Washington, D.C.
Favorite Art-House Theater: Landmark Theatres E Street Cinema 

Too many films this year with the words “wonder,” “logan,” and “lucky.”

Christopher Wilson, Nampa, ID
Favorite Art-House Theater: The Flicks in Boise

Michael Fassbender, I love you but your movies are bringing me down.

Ricardo Nuno Oliveira, Lisbon, Portugal
Favorite Art-House Theater: Cinemateca Portuguesa

Moments, scenes, and performances from 2017 that are stuck in my head: Mathieu Amalric as the biological father of the son of Joseph; a perplexed Daniel Day-Lewis at the bottom of the stairs in Phantom Thread; Agnès Varda’s anguished face when she realizes that JLG is not à la maison; the unrelenting rain in part one of In the Fade; Josef Hader as Stefan Zweig, looking inscrutably through the car window at his adopted Brazil; the weather as unyielding adversary in God’s Own Country; Janusz Kaminski’s remarkable manipulation of light in every scene of The Post;  Kaurismäki’s extraordinary blocking in The Other Side of Hope; the devastating final sequence of The Florida Project; and Geena Davis, an actor to whom I haven’t given much thought since 1988, in Marjorie Prime.

David Reynolds, Toronto
Favorite Art-House Theater: Cinema Lumiere (1969-1986)