We’ve been doing this annual year-end list of runners-up for our best of lists – a bunch of narrative films and documentaries that, basically, tied for eleventh place on their respective lists – since 2012, and there’s a story to be told in how it’s evolved. Back in 2013, for example, it was a list of movies that were available for rental or purchase, with exactly one (1) streaming on Amazon Prime. The 2014 list had six on Netflix, one on Prime, and three for rental/purchase. By the following year, every film on it was available via a subscription streaming service, a tradition which continues through this year – and gives some idea of how much Netflix and Amazon Prime are dominating the film world, financing and distributing works of genuinely high quality. You can watch any of these great films, with a subscription, at the click of a button. Ain’t the future grand?
Laurent Bouzreau’s three-part documentary adaptation of Mark Harris’s essential cinema-in-WWII chronicle offers up riches for film fans and history buffs alike – focusing on five big-time Hollywood directors who spent the war making movies for Uncle Sam, while walking through the story of that war (and the years immediately following it) through their lens. There’s a lot of material to wrestle with here, but the filmmakers do so with intelligence and emotional resonance, ingeniously telling each directors’ story primarily via a compassionate contemporary counterpart, and dispatching well-chosen clips and outtakes from the works in question. (Streaming on Netflix.)