Another year, another list, though once again I’ve opted for the general-purpose “favorite films” and shied away from “best.” Just another hobbyhorse of mine, arguably, except theoretically it’s possible for someone to compile a list of allegedly best films without actually, well, liking—and you can construct that whatever way you choose—any of them. No necessary overlap there, which is something to be avoided at all costs … since if personal whimsicality isn’t the better part what these annual indulgences are for (as opposed to rankings pretending to oracular “objectivity,” an impersonal divining on history’s behalf), then why should we even bother? Because, simply put, it feels good to reconvene the spirits of the titles, like incantatory objects or pleasures familiarly reawakened, in the glossolalic roll of phonemes and syllables: “a e i u o, voyelles“—that kind of talismanic enchantment. And we want to pass it on, as a minimal form of transport, so that others can have these experiences too, if only for the primitive reassurance of a basic community shared. But not too much reassurance, obviously, since we like our “separateness” as well, the differences that supposedly define our individual ways of seeing and enjoying. Which, of course, are mostly illusory—just look at the incestuous lists on IndieWire, everyone blabbing on about the same narrow clutch of films, me too for that matter—but let’s leave it at that for now …

There’s also the plain, bald fact that I haven’t seen enough—of the IndieWire top 50 to play here in 2007, I’ve managed to blow off 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, Michael Clayton, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, Lake of Fire, and No End in Sight … also, a bit farther down the list, Juno. What can best possibly mean with a database so constricted? Or so provincial, since who among us ever sees more than a fraction of what Bollywood has to offer—or hot spots like Romania or South Korea or Thailand, or even unhot spots like, let’s say, Uruguay and (for me anyway) the Philippines? Under the circumstances, “best” seems a little presumptuous, don’t you think? But favorites, of course, is safe—assuming I know my own mind or, more to the point, my own autonomic responses. Just like Whistler’s monkey …

         1. INLAND EMPIRE, David Lynch, USA
         2. SILENT LIGHT, Carlos Reygadas, Mexico/Netherlands
         3. TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER, Wisit Sasanatieng, Thailand
         4. MARGOT AT THE WEDDING, Noah Baumbach, USA
         5. LOS MUERTOS, Lisandro Alonso, Argentina
         6. COLOSSAL YOUTH, Pedro Costa, Portugal
         7. THE MAN FROM LONDON, Bela Tarr, Hungary/France
         8. FLANDERS, Bruno Dumont, France
         9. THE TASTE OF TEA, Katsuhito Ishii, Japan
        10. I’M NOT THERE, Todd Haynes, USA
              BRAND UPON THE BRAIN!, Guy Maddin, Canada

        12. THE WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY, Ken Loach, UK/Ireland
        13. I DON’T WANT TO SLEEP ALONE, Tsai Ming-liang, Malaysia/France
        14. THE UNTOUCHABLE, Benoit Jacquot, France
        15. THE SAVAGES, Tamara Jenkins, USA
        16. PRIVATE FEARS IN PUBLIC PLACES, Alain Resnais, France
        17. GOLDEN DOOR, Emanuele Crialese, Italy/France
        18. SOUTHLAND TALES, Richard Kelly, USA
        19. TEN CANOES, Rolf de Heer, Australia
        20. SUNSHINE, Danny Boyle, UK
               OFFSIDE, Jafar Panahi, Iran

        22. THE DARJEELING LIMITED, Wes Anderson, USA
        23. EASTERN PROMISES, David Cronenberg, Canada/UK
        24. BLACK BOOK, Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands
        25. THE AERIAL, Esteban Sapir, Argentina
        26. HOT FUZZ, Edgar Wright, UK
        27. RESCUE DAWN, Werner Herzog, USA
        28. IN THE PIT, Juan Carlos Rulfo, Mexico
        29. PINE FLAT, Sharon Lockhart, USA
        30. RED ROAD, Andrea Arnold, UK