This site was created to fulfill a personal objective: keeping track of movies to catch up on in a given year. As a guide, I combined the annual best-of lists from four venerable publications to produce a list that roughly enumerates the most notable films of each year.
Three of these publications — Cinema Scope, Film Comment, and Sight & Sound — poll many critics to determine their rankings. Including The New York Times admittedly gives extra emphasis to the individual taste of their chief critics, Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott, but for better or worse the Times retains an outsize influence in American film culture, and their selections tend to add more studio fare that doesn’t show up in other sources. Some lists are quite lengthy and entail myriad runners up, so are abridged to only the top choices. I’ve noted if each film was included in select film festivals: Berlin, Cannes, Locarno, New York, Sundance, Telluride, and Toronto. The basket of publications and festivals is subjective; I may add more in the future, but these ones seemed like a good place to start.
There are some thorny data questions that I haven’t dwelt on too hard here. This site is developed from an American standpoint, so for sorting purposes a film will generally be categorized in the year of its US theatrical release (if it doesn’t appear on any lists from that year, it will be sorted in the year of its festival premiere.) Some films will shift to the following year as they gain a US release and appear on more recent lists. And until someone comes up with a definitive guideline for how director nationality, shooting location(s), and financing should be weighed to determine exactly how a film’s “country” is defined, I’ve deferred to whatever collection/order of countries appears most commonly in festival catalogs and reviews.
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