‘Faces Places’ Voted the Best Documentary of 2017 in 5th Annual Nonfics Year-End Poll

100 nonfiction releases ranked by critics and pros.

This year didn’t seem to have a frontrunner for best documentary of 2017, but it makes sense which film has topped our annual poll of critics, filmmakers, and other documentary industry folk. It’s a work that won awards at Cannes and the Toronto International Film Festival, and it has been named the top nonfiction feature of the year by a number of major critics groups, including those in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles.

We had a smaller voter turnout this year, with only 30 individuals submitting lists, some of which consisted of only one title or just a handful. From them, 100 features, shorts, and series are recognized among the ballots, more than half so scattered about with single mentions that there are many ties down the ranks. In the end, Agnes Varda and JR’s Faces Places came out with the most points based on the compiled lists.

Considering all four of the past poll winners went on to be nominated for the Oscar, there’s a good chance Faces Places will follow suit. Perhaps it will even win the Academy Award like last year’s poll topper O.J.: Made in America or 2014 favorite Citizenfour. Speaking of Oscar contenders, I want to note that I Am Not Your Negro was named by three participants due to the confusion of its release. So it’s here in spirit in addition to being on last year’s list.

Joining Faces Places below are 99 other docs released in the U.S. in 2017, ranked based on the poll voting (the number in parenthesis is their final point value). Also you can find a short list of unreleased films to hopefully look forward to if distribution eventually comes for them. And be sure to check out all the contributors’ individual lists here.

1. Faces Places (241)
2. Jane (199)
3. Dawson City: Frozen Time (193)
4. Ex Libris: The New York Public Library (181)
5. Kedi (177)
6. The Work (176)
7. Casting JonBenet (124)
8. Strong Island (112)
9. Whose Streets? (110)
10. Rat Film (107)

11. LA 92 (100)
12. Dina (99)
13. Risk (98)
14. (tie) Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond — Featuring a Very Special, Contractually Obligated Mention of Tony Clifton (90)
Quest (90)
16. Step (86)
17. Abacus: Small Enough to Jail (75)
18. (tie) Human Flow (74)
Last Men in Aleppo (74)
20. The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography (73)

‘City of Ghosts’

21. I Called Him Morgan (67)
22. One of Us (65)
23. City of Ghosts (57)
24. School Life, aka In Loco Parentis (53)
25. In Transit (51)
26. Starless Dreams (50)
27. (tie) All This Panic (47)
Icarus (47)
28. (tie) Karl Marx City (42)
Voyeur (42)

31. (tie) All These Sleepless Nights (37)
Wormwood (37)
33. Chasing Coral (36)
34. (tie) David Lynch: The Art Life (33)
Get Me Roger Stone (33)
Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (33)
The Reagan Show (33)
38. Machines (32)
Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World (32)
40. Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982–1992 (31)

‘Becoming Cary Grant’

41. Motherland (30)
42. 78/52: Hitchcock’s Shower Scene (29)
43. Bobbi Jene (25)
44. Oklahoma City (23)
45. The Force (22)
46. (tie) Becoming Cary Grant (20)
The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson (20)
Escapes (20)
May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers (20)
Mommy Dead and Dearest (20)

‘Charlottesville: Race and Terror’

51. (tie) 24×36: A Movie About Movie Posters (19)
Blue Planet II (19)
Brillo Box (3 ¢ off) (19)
Long Strange Trip (19)
Ta’ang (19)
56. (tie) Birth of a Movement (18)
Charlottesville: Race and Terror (18)
A Gray State (18)
Spielberg (18)
60. (tie) Brimstone & Glory (17)
Manifesto (17)

‘Alive and Kicking’

62. (tie) Five Came Back (16)
I Am Another You (16)
Long Time Running (16)
My Scientology Movie (16)
Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton (16)
Trophy (16)
68. (tie) 32 Pills: My Sister’s Suicide (15)
Alive and Kicking (15)
LoveTrue (15)
Saving Capitalism (15)
Uncertain (15)
The Wrong Light (15)

‘Contemporary Color’

74. (tie) Behemoth (14)
Heroin(e) (14)
Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press (14)
Tokyo Idols (14)
An Uncertain Future (14)
79. (tie) Bang! The Bert Berns Story (13)
Contemporary Color (13)
Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower (13)
Obit (13)
Tempestad (13)
Trumped: Inside the Greatest Political Upset of All Time (13)
85. (tie) The Bomb (12)
Citizen Jane: Battle for the City (12)
I Am Heath Ledger (12)
The Rape of Recy Taylor (12)


89. (tie) 11/8/16 (11)
Bill Nye: Science Guy (11)
Haunters: The Art of the Scare (11)
The Last Laugh (11)
Supergirl (11)
The War Show (11)
95. (tie) The Challenge (10)
Fish Story (10)
Forever Pure (10)
The Rabbit Hunt (10)
99. Bright Lights: Starring Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (3)
100. Growing Up Coy (1)

‘The Cage Fighter’

The following 21 titles mentioned on individual lists or given a special mention have not yet officially been released in the U.S.:

A Better Man
Bunch of Kunst
The Cage Fighter
California Dreams
The Cinema Travellers
Cocaine Prison
The Dead Nation
Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun?
Eldorado XXI
In the Waves
Let There Be Light
Maison du Bonheur
Naila and the Uprising
Of Sheep and Men
A River Below
A Skin So Soft
The Venerable W.
Vigilante: The Incredible True Story of Curtis Sliwa
and the Guardian Angels
The Workers Cup

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