Essays · Movies

The 17 Best Video Essays of 2017

A tour of our favorite video content of the year from a number of brilliant creators.
Rewind Ops
By  · Published on December 13th, 2017

A tour of our favorite video content of the year from a number of brilliant creators.

After taking over for H. Perry Horton as the new Video Content Editor of FSR, I got to engulf myself in the world of talented and insightful video editing that somehow has offerings from all over the world.

Every single week since moving to this position from staff writer, I watched dozens of well-reasoned video essays, exciting montages, stupid mash-ups, and silly supercuts – as well as dozens of raw videos by editors just beginning to dive into the medium. I did this so that the cream would rise to the top, not just of our site, but of our industry. That means I was left with quite a few favorites who tackled film and TV with deep historical knowledge, moving personal insight, sharp editing skills, or an eye for the instinctively moving.

This was a rough year for all of us, so diving even deeper into those things we love was an escape irresistible to many in the arts, while others used the opportunity to read their preferred texts as revolutionary.

Then there were videos that I liked, like when Luís Azevedo made a whole video about movie farts. Or the dedicated deep dives of Philip Brubaker comparing Evil Dead and Raising Arizona with one particular cinematographic technique shared between Sam Raimi and the Coens. In 2017, I favored videos that took topics I saw every single day and made me notice them again.

It’s the same way I enjoy movies. If someone takes a trope, has me realize it’s a trope, then does it so well or so strangely that I can understand how it became a trope in the first place – from a different angle – they’ve made something great. That’s where videos like Adam Tinius’ examination of the VHS box art of horror films comes in, or the deconstruction of Doug Liman’s disruptive introductions by Nelson Carvajal.

There were the major players like Cristina Álvarez López and Adrian Martin, whose noir investigations gave me films for my queue and pleasure for my eyeballs, and One Hundred Years of Cinema, whose enigmatic history lessons never failed to teach me something new.

There were those that went deep on deeply personal subjects, like the best-of countdown artist David Ehrlich and the Over the Garden Wall-analyzing Grace Lee. Then there were videos that made me reconsider a large theme of the moment, a trend that got flipped. That’s Thomas Flight comparing Mindhunter’s main performance with the serial killer’s actual body language and delivery. That’s Vince Di Meglio understanding the personal tactility of Steven Spielberg. That’s learning how Wonder Woman’s catchy theme rewrote modern superhero music.

I learned a lot this year and I added more than enough channels to my YouTube and Vimeo subscriptions (thanks, everyone), but the most important takeaway I gleaned was the importance of continued education and curiosity. Video essays are a lesson, no matter how silly or frivolous. A supercut of milk-drinking has something to say as much as a heady piece of sci-fi. It’s all in what you, the viewer, are willing to bring to the table. And, if I know FSR readers, y’all are bringing a lot.

Wrapping things up, here are my seventeen favorite forays into the video essay by some of my favorite editors, without ranking or criticism, given to you so that you can look back on 2017 as the year where you discovered something:

A History of Flatulence on Film

Why Horror VHS Artwork Was So Gruesome

The Shot Similarities of Raising Arizona and Evil Dead

The Uncanniness of Over the Garden Wall

Mindhunter vs the Real Serial Killer

2017 End of Year Countdown

The Opening Moments of Doug Liman

Spielberg and the Power of Touch

In Memory of Tom Petty

A History of Stop-Motion Animation

How Wonder Woman’s Music Changed the Game

Presidential Spouses in Media

Beethoven’s 7th Symphony, Second Movement in Film

Guillermo del Toro’s Objects

The Psychology of Raw Deal

Remembering Tobe Hooper

The Films That Shaped Donald Trump

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Jacob Oller writes everywhere (Vanity Fair, The Guardian, Playboy, FSR, Paste, etc.) about everything that matters (film, TV, video games, memes, life).