What follows is our version of the Oscars. Look, if Manohla and Tony can do it, why can’t the graduate students of the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s film and media and cultural studies programs do it, too? Using a preferential balloting system much less complicated than the one used by the Academy, I have spent the last month combining the often disparate tastes of my fellow graduate students into a series of lists that, in my humble opinion, do a pretty wonderful job of outlining what made 2017 another special year of cinema. In each category, you will first see a winner, then the runner-ups arranged in order of group preference, and finally a short blurb about the winning film, actor, director, writer, production designer, make-up artist, etc. Putting together this list was a truly insightful experience for me, and I hope reading it is insightful for you –– be sure to let us know in the comments below!

And, before we get this show officially started, many thanks to John Bennett, Tim Brayton, Brandon Colvin, Matt Connolly, Lilly Holman, Pauline Lampert, Jackie Land, Nick Laureano, Jacob Mertens, Austin Morris, Erica Moulton, Matt St. John, Nora Stone, Tom Welch, and Zach Zahos for participating in this year’s poll. I am so lucky to share the second floor of Vilas Communication Hall with such a brilliant collection of people. –– JJ BERSCH


Call Me By Your Name
Phantom Thread
Lady Bird
Faces Places
Ex Libris: The New York Public Library
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The Florida Project
Get Out
Personal Shopper
A Quiet Passion

It’s rare for a film to capture the romance of summer with such eroticism, ardor, and longing. Call Me by Your Name is simultaneously an idyllic vision of the exuberance and restraint of a blossoming relationship and the story of finding yourself through others. The film is anchored by Luca Guadagnino’s artful directing and the warm and lush cinematography of Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, but it’s the performances of Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer that push the film into the sublime. — TOM WELCH


Vicky Krieps, Phantom Thread
Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Cynthia Nixon, A Quiet Passion
Kristen Stewart, Personal Shopper
Adele Haenel, The Unknown Girl

What precisely is the nature of her game? From Alma’s initial stumble to her poisonous kiss-off, Vicky Krieps was easily the most exciting new screen presence of 2017. Phantom Thread relies heavily on misdirection, and though her more famous co-stars have ruled much of the conversation surrounding the film, the story’s gear shifts depend entirely upon Krieps’s ability to wax and wane; she breathes in her acceptance of Reynolds’s dinner invitation but bellows “It’s no business of ours what Mrs. Rose decides to do with her life but she can no longer behave like this and be dressed by the House of Woodcock.” If you want to have a staring contest with her, you will lose. — JJ BERSCH


Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
Robert Pattinson, Good Time
Harris Dickinson, Beach Rats

It’s not just about the peach, but it’s also definitely about the peach. Consider the way Chalamet puzzles over it like it’s a sexy, cavernous Rubik’s Cube, feeling its edges and then recklessly clawing his way in, tossing aside the pit and his spit, letting the juices run down his abdomen before shocking your Oscar-completionist aunt and uncle. Elio is filled with something he’s just learning to express, and now, so is the peach. When Oliver returns to America, Elio’s still learning — he’s moved from a peach to a fireplace, but the emotion is still principally physical. What’s a little overexposure in the press when you’ve already exposed this much? — JJ BERSCH


Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Jennifer Ehle, A Quiet Passion
Cate Blanchett, Thor: Ragnarok
Holly Hunter, The Big Sick

How do you make thinking entertaining? Funny? Ask Lesley Manville. Cyril, Manville’s Phantom Thread character, is a woman of few words. And yet the audience—if not always the characters around her—is often privy to her thoughts. This is no doubt due in part to the wealth of expressions Manville lends Cyril; a simple statement at the breakfast table comes only after careful deliberation, rendered for us on screen through seemingly dozens of changes in head position, brow level, and, as with any British legend, lip stiffness. — NICK LAUREANO


Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me By Your Name
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Armie Hammer, Call Me By Your Name
Adam Driver, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Lucas Hedges, Lady Bird

To be sure, that third-act monologue is a stunner. But watch again for the way Stuhlbarg plays an early scene with Hammer, in which he tests his protége’s etymological knowledge. Oliver’s youthful impetuousness attracts father and son alike in this scene, perhaps for different reasons, but perhaps also for the same reason. Without this early shading, those interactions with Chalamet late in the film would lack their melancholy punch. — AUSTIN MORRIS


Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Luca Guadagnino, Call Me By Your Name
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Agnes Varda and JR, Faces Places
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Killing of a Sacred Deer

Paul Thomas Anderson may have initially swung his way into the hearts of the American moviegoing public through sex, but with Phantom Thread, the noted auteur lays legitimate claim to being modern cinema’s greatest expresser of romance. While his art house Adam Sandler film Punch-Drunk Love sketched the early troubles of moving from one life to two, Phantom Thread revels in the uncomfortable but essential intermingling of a long-term partnership. The takeaway, here, is not necessarily new, but rarely has a treatise on marriage and power been delivered so intelligently and novelly. — JJ BERSCH


James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name
Michael Almereyda, Marjorie Prime
James Gray, The Lost City of Z
Sofia Coppola, The Beguiled
Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Immense credit should go to Ivory for adapting André Aciman’s engaging but circuitous prose—which conjures the tumult of horny adolescent Elio’s thoughts—into a gently observant script that finds space for other perspectives on Elio’s coming of age narrative. Ivory’s script has generosity for the film’s women, inventing new and empathetic scenes between scorned lover Marzia and Elio’s mother, as well as giving Oliver a startling reverie as his and Elio’s Roman holiday concludes. — AUSTIN MORRIS


Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Jordan Peele, Get Out
Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, The Big Sick
Noah Baumbach, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

It’s not always easy to write a work inspired by your own life, but Greta Gerwig manages to write a compelling narrative that also speaks to the complicated relationships between parents and children and beginning to stand on one’s own. Filled with ebullient dialogue and affecting conflict, Lady Bird‘s screenplay really delivers. — TOM WELCH


Faces Places
Ex Libris: The New York Public Library
Contemporary Color
Dawson City: Frozen Time
Strong Island


Faces Places
The Unknown Girl
The Other Side of Hope
Staying Vertical

If, like too many of us, you track the daily ebb and flow of Film Twitter hot takes, your impression of Faces Places is likely distorted: It’s twee, staged (“Jean-Luc!”), a forced marriage between octogenarian auteur Agnès Varda and 35-year-old photograffeur JR. Firsthand contact with the film, of course, dispels such lies. For one, this at-first unassuming travelogue across rural France intersects too often, and too jaggedly, with Varda’s own past and ultimate future to not be freighted with the weight of time and mortality. But above all, JR’s sensibility and aims align perfectly with Varda’s: Multimedia and democratic artists, they both envision a shared, better world, despite a lifetime of difference. — ZACH ZAHOS


The Lego Batman Movie
Loving Vincent
The Boss Baby
In This Corner of the World

With rapid-fire references and limitless silliness, The Lego Batman Movie uncovers a theme that rarely accompanies the most brooding of all superheroes: friendship. Trading The Lego Movie’s heavily brick-based humor for an onslaught of Gotham City in-jokes, this spinoff holds its own by daring to find the fun in Batman’s uneven history of on-screen appearances and his army of goofy adversaries. — MATT ST. JOHN


Sayombhu Mukdeeprom, Call Me By Your Name
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Ed Lachman, Wonderstruck
Darius Khondji, The Lost City of Z
Sean Price Williams, Good Time

“There’s not a straight line in any of these statues; they’re all curved, as if daring you to desire them.” Sayombhu Mukdeeprom takes these words, spoken by Mr. Perlman to Oliver, and runs with them, twisting his camera down the stairs, lingering on nature, unadorned but voluptuous nonetheless, patiently waiting for our young lovers to fully curl around somewhere in Northern Italy’s endless, winding roads. — JJ BERSCH


Dylan Tichenor, Phantom Thread
Jonathan Amos and Paul Machliss, Baby Driver
Affonso Goncalves, Wonderstruck
Walter Fassano, Call Me By Your Name
Frederick Wiseman, Ex Libris: The New York Public Library

Let’s take a second to appreciate how well Dylan Tichenor, editor of most of Paul Thomas Anderson’s films but also Zero Dark Thirty, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and The Royal Tenenbaums, can craft a sequence. In this film, he blesses us with both the Ballad of Barbara Rose, a propulsive slice of madness that tells us everything we need to know about our two lovers while despairing in the troubles of the sequence’s unwelcome dipsomaniac, and also the New Year’s Party, a sequence which provoked in me an indescribable emotional state of immense power. — JJ BERSCH


Jonny Greenwood, Phantom Thread
Daniel Lopatin, Good Time
Carter Burwell, Wonderstruck
Hans Zimmer, Dunkirk
Christopher Spelman, The Lost City of Z

Our best composer, composin’ again. Ditches the paranoiac rock of Inherent Vice for something more ornate and classical, though it retains Greenwood’s obsessions with cycles and release. “I’m not living / I’m just killing time / Your tiny hands / Your crazy kitten smile / Just don’t leave / Don’t leave” — JJ BERSCH


“Mystery of Love,” Call Me By Your Name
“Visions of Gideon,” Call Me By Your Name
“Remember Me,” Coco
“The Greatest Show,” The Greatest Showman
“Myron/Byron,” The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

“Futile Devices” might have more narrative significance, and it is hard to separate “Visions of Gideon” from the long take that accompanies it in the film, but “Mystery of Love” is such a perfect distillation of why the particular love story of Call Me By Your Name has moved so many people. The song continues the relatively spare arrangement style of Sufjan Stevens’s last album Carrie and Lowell, but the touch is lighter, the writing fonder; on “No Shade in the Shadow of the Cross,” Sufjan sighed, but here, he breathes. — JJ BERSCH


Richard King and Alex Gibson, Dunkirk
Matthew Wood and Ren Klyce, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Matthew Wood and Coya Elliot, Phantom Thread
Julian Slater, Baby Driver
Nia Hansen and Shannon Mills, Thor: Ragnarok

Every space is aurally evoked with great sensitivity to its role in the story: the wet echoes on a boat deck, the hollowed, muffled whispering inside a beached trawler, the roaring hum of a fighter plane. Cumulatively, they make one of the most sonically complete war movies in years. — TIM BRAYTON


Gregg Landaker, Gary A. Rizzo and Mark Weingarten, Dunkirk
Adrian Bell and John Midgley, Phantom Thread
David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Stuart Wilson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Julian Slater, Tim Cavagin and Mary H. Ellis, Baby Driver
Drew Kunin and Ryan Collison, Wonderstruck

It’s easy to find complaints that the mix buries dialogue under a chaotic bed of music and sound effects. True enough, but that’s exactly the point: not since Saving Private Ryan has a war movie so loudly, messily evoked the clattering hell of combat, beating the audience into submission along with the characters. — TIM BRAYTON


Mark Tildesley and Véronique Melery, Phantom Thread
Mark Friedberg and Debra Schutt, Wonderstruck
Dennis Gassner and Alessandra Querzola, Blade Runner 2049
Anne Ross and Amy Sliver, The Beguiled
Samuel Deshors, Muriel Chinal, Sandro Piccarozzi, and Violante Visconti di Modrone, Call Me By Your Name

There’s one shot in Phantom Thread—the most beautiful film of last year—that stands above the rest. It’s not at first blush a stunner; in it, two characters simply enter a restaurant. However, through the window behind them, we see a period-correct double-decker bus pass by. It’s production details like these that render the world of Phantom Thread so immersive. And it’s nice to see Paul Thomas Anderson toss money around. — NICK LAUREANO


Shay Lawrence and Dennis Liddiard, Thor: Ragnarok
Jon Henry Gordon and Paul Engelen, Phantom Thread
Jerry Decarlo, Michael Maddi, and Patricia Regan, Wonderstruck
Fabienne Adam, Evie Hamels, Michelle Van Brussel, and Frank Van Wolleghem, A Quiet Passion
Nana Fischer, The Lost City of Z

Chris Hemsworth’s new haircut deserves an award all its own, but cosmically cool eyeshadow and out-of-this-world warpaint give Thor: Ragnarok some of its most striking character designs (just try to look away from Cate Blanchett’s pure-evil eyes as dark goddess Hera). Dramatic physical transformations often dominate makeup and hairstyling awards, but this film boldly shows that just a streak of blue chin paint can make even Jeff Goldblum more memorable. — MATT ST. JOHN


Mark Bridges, Phantom Thread
Giulia Piersanti, Call Me By Your Name
Stacey Battat, The Beguiled
Mayes C. Rubeo, Thor: Ragnarok
Sonia Grande, The Lost City of Z

Though we grant this award to Mark Bridges, let us take a lesson from Phantom Thread and use this space to praise the Biddy’s, Nana’s, and Pippa’s, those women and men even further behind the scenes who actually bring the drawings of the genius man to life. — JJ BERSCH


Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Thor: Ragnarok
Blade Runner 2049
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Say what you will about the rest of the film (we happened to like it quite a bit), but, come on, this movie looks good. It’s not really much more complicated than that. Thank you for reading, and may our films be this excellent again this time next year. — JJ BERSCH


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