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The 10 Most-Read Slant Articles of 2017

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The 10 Most-Read Slant Articles of 2017

Warner Bros.

The 10 Most-Read Slant Articles of 2017

Determining Slant’s most popular articles of the year wasn’t easy. What’s the best measurement of what our readers are most interested in? Time spent on a page isn’t a reliable metric, as evidenced by the leader in that race: page two of the search results for “Visconti.” The articles with the most comments merely reflected the rabidity of a particular fanbase’s obsession with aggregated scores. Ultimately, the ratio between unique and absolute pageviews was relatively consistent, so we opted for the latter. Some of the results took us by surprise: An average star rating led to our most-read—err, looked at—article of the year. And our most popular TV recap was for a mid-season episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race (maybe it was the inclusion of the word “Kardashian” in the title, fodder for my long-ignored suggestion that Slant would be better off covering celebrity gossip). In the end, though, this list comprises most of what we do best: incisive critique of film, TV, and music, awards soothsaying, and—with one of our three-week-old 2017 lists eking its way into the Top 10—listology. Hell, maybe in the next 24 hours, this one will make the cut too. Now that would be meta! Alexa Camp
 

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2017

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Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2017

Cohen Media Group

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2017

From Chuck Bowen’s introduction to Slant Magazine’s Top 25 Films of 2017: “Cinema is an art of collaborative effort that speaks implicitly and often explicitly of the values of community, which often seemed in short supply this year. We live in an age in which articles are written daily on the need for “checking out” of online culture, so that we may disconnect from the bombardment of grotesqueries that keep us in an emotional tailspin. Both coincidentally and by pop-cultural osmosis, many of the year’s best films ask how deeply we may be permitted to check out and how far we should risk and extend ourselves for the prospect of personal and social rehabilitation.” Click here to read the feature and see if your favorite films of the year made our list. And see below for a list of the films that just missed making it onto our list, followed by our contributors’ individual ballots.

Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

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Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Every Pixar Movie, Ranked from Worst to Best

Many of Pixar’s best films capture something truly elemental about the experience of being a child. Toy Story evoked the enduring emotional bond we have with our childhood toys. Monsters, Inc. played on our primal fear of the unknown. Inside Out gave voice to our bewildering tangle of emotions. And now Coco explores a similarly resonant theme: the tension between our family traditions and our burgeoning sense of personal identity. But the film embraces cultural specificity in a way that no other Pixar production has before, combining the studio’s customary emotional directness with a deep dive into a great nation’s art, music, history, and customs. On the occasion of the film’s release, join us in revisiting the Pixar canon, ranked from worst to best. Keith Watson
 

The Films of Christopher Nolan Ranked

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The Films of Christopher Nolan Ranked
The Films of Christopher Nolan Ranked

There’s an engimatic quality to the role of Christopher Nolan in the current filmmaking landscape, and one that stands apart from the fact that his films so often court ambiguity with explicit intent. From the Russian-nesting-doll antics of Inception to the magicians-as-filmmakers commentary of The Prestige, Nolan’s ambition within the realm of big-budget, broad audience spectacle is comparable to the likes of few. Among those, James Cameron comes to mind, and now Nolan joins the Avatar director with his own film about interplanetary travel, the logical next step for a filmmaker so concerned with world-building, literal and otherwise. Looking back at his work thus far, what emerges—apart from his obsession with identity, reality, community, and obsession itself—is an artist who, heedless of his own shortcomings, is intent on challenging himself, a quality that salvages and even inverts a great many of his otherwise pedestrian choices. One suspects that this is an artist still in his pupa stage, and one is also fearful that the near-unanimous praise heaped upon his work since his breakout hit, Memento, will only serve to keep him there. To wit, his latest film, Dunkirk, employs the kind of chronology-bending antics that epitomize Memento and Inception. Rob Humanick
 

The 15 Best Whitney Houston Singles

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The 15 Best Whitney Houston Singles
The 15 Best Whitney Houston Singles

On August 25, Whitney: Can I Be Me will make its TV premiere on Showtime. Nick Broomfield’s documentary focuses largely on Whitney Houston’s tumultuous private life, and at one point a member of the singer’s inner circle suggests that the whitewashed image that was crafted for Houston by her handlers was, in part, responsible for her inevitable self-destruction. It’s no secret that Houston was largely an A&R creation, a traditional vocalist who emerged in the era of Michael Jackson and Madonna, two self-empowered artists who took 360-degree creative control of their careers.

The Films of Sofia Coppola Ranked

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The Films of Sofia Coppola Ranked

Focus Features

The Films of Sofia Coppola Ranked

There’s a routine of complaints traditionally leveled at Sofia Coppola. Beyond the faux pas of being born rich, she’s been drawn as more of a choreographer of tableaux than a storyteller. Critics have bemoaned her visions of character interiority signaled by dreamy music cues and symmetrical framing over wordy dialogues or dredged-up performances from her stars, who are inevitably blonde and beautiful. Particularly since Lost in Translation’s reverse-xenophobia meet-cute, Coppola has alternated between accusations of flaunting her privilege and hosannas for being honest about it.

But if The Virgin Suicides, Marie Antoinette, and (perhaps more debatably) Somewhere girded themselves against these considerations by putting their own haute-bourgeois blinkeredness front and center, the terrain is far murkier in Coppola’s The Beguiled. This is a filmmaker obsessed with feminine beauty and ephemeral tragedy of time’s passage—so just how boilerplate is her Civil War-era chamber piece supposed to be?

The 10 Best Shark Movies of All Time

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The 10 Best Shark Movies of All Time

Dimension Films

The 10 Best Shark Movies of All Time

Let’s not fool ourselves: There’s only one truly great film with a killer shark at its center. And that’s not likely to change anytime soon, or until we see a film about Katy Perry’s Super Bowl XLIX halftime performance, or one about those mysterious sharks that live inside that active underwater volcano in the Solomon Islands (and that are being investigated by robots!). This week marks the release of 47 Meters Down, the story of two sisters (played by Mandy Moore and Claire Holt) who get into a shark cage off the coast of a Mexican beach and subsequently find themselves having to contemplate if swimming toward a limited-edition vinyl copy of Radiohead’s The Bends is worth it if it means avoiding being eaten alive by a school of sharks. [Editor’s Note: The bends, also known as divers’ disease, is a condition that occurs in scuba divers or at high altitude when dissolved gasses come out of solution in bubbles and can affect any body area, including the heart and brain. Also, Radiohead’s album is pretty great.] Before catching up with the adventures of these two white girls who put way too much trust in two hot Mexican dudes and shark-watcher extraordinaire Matthew Modine, join us in revisiting some of the more impressive appearances in cinematic history. Alexa Camp

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2016 Numbers #25-#50 and Individual Ballots

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Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2016

Paramount Pictures

Slant’s Top 25 Films of 2016

From Clayton Dillard’s introduction to Slant Magazine’s Top 25 Films of 2016: “Celebrating great art amid the transition to political catastrophe can feel like, to paraphrase the title of poet Ocean Vuong’s recent collection, a moonlit sky with exit wounds. But the phlegm of post-truths shouldn’t get caught in our throats, let alone our eyes and ears, because films from across the globe continue to present a portrait of resilience in the face of international turmoil.” Click here to read the feature and see if your favorite films of the year made our list. And see below for a list of the films that just missed making it onto our list, followed by our contributors’ individual ballots.

The Films of Pedro Almodóvar Ranked

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The Films of Pedro Almodóvar Ranked
The Films of Pedro Almodóvar Ranked

Finding the crux of a Pedro Almodóvar film is not unlike asking how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. In each case, the supposed science of the issue at hand is often short-circuited by impatience. Lest the comparison seem too glib, Almodóvar’s entire filmography is, to varying degrees, about the performance of taste, where characters often relate to one another not through their minds, but through their fingers, eyes, and teeth. Sweet tooths are more than a matter of dental hygiene; they’re a means of defining personal placement within the broader spectrum of vivid characters and self-serving interests. The bright color scheme of Almodóvar’s mise-en-scène redoubles these matters by problematizing realism as a dissenting faction amid otherwise psychologically defined characters, whose motivations are typically for sustenance of a rather short-order sort. On that note, Almodóvar’s oeuvre, and the characters that comprise it, can perhaps be best summarized by Carmen Maura’s character in Matador, who says near the film’s end: “Some things are beyond reason. This is one of them.”

The Films of Paul Verhoeven Ranked From Worst to Best

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The Films of Paul Verhoeven Ranked From Worst to Best

Rialto Pictures

The Films of Paul Verhoeven Ranked From Worst to Best

During the closing moments of John Carpenter’s They Live, a sound collage of news readers and media pundits is unfurled, one of them indignantly blasting the low culture wrought by the likes of George A. Romero and Carpenter himself. It was a none-too-subtle in-joke for fans, but also a gesture of respect, one craftsman tipping his hat to his peer across the aisle. Had the speaker continued, he might easily have spoken the name of Paul Verhoeven, whose U.S. tour of duty resulted in several of the highest-profile and least respected films of their day.

Verhoeven signed his name to at least two VCR classics (RoboCop and Total Recall), one bona-fide game changer that dominated media and water-cooler conversations for months on end (Basic Instinct), and one certified turkey (Showgirls) whose fate may still be undetermined. While his stock rose and fell several times during his volatile tenure as a Hollywood auteur, his films rarely failed to provoke excitement and contention; only the bookends (Flesh+Blood in 1985, Hollow Man in 2000) fail to contribute to the tsunami.

Verhoeven didn’t just arrive in America a fully formed auteur director; he began making features that way, arriving at his feature directorial debut, Business Is Business, equipped with a favorite set of progressive themes and a flair for instilling even small moments with a swaggering, ramshackle kineticism. Most movie buffs will now associate his name only with rank sensationalism—bare breasts and broken bones—and it isn’t as if he would decline the honor. But filmed depictions of sex and violence don’t exist within Verhoeven’s purview exclusively. What we may have been responding to was the casualness, bordering on grinning impertinence, with which he deployed images designed to titillate or shock. A girl in Turkish Delight lops off the top of a banana before using a spoon to extract the meat. Verhoeven goes after your nervous system the same way: Why peel?

In honor of Film Society of Lincoln Center’s complete retrospective of Paul Verhoeven’s work, running from November 9—23, we ranked the Dutch filmmaker’s films from worst to best.