Ahh, and here we are, the finish line for all things 2017. Which can only mean one thing of course. Well, at least for us here at Flick Fans…
That it is NOW time to commemorate the finest films we’ve consumed through multiplexes and art houses across the globe.
These past twelve months have spoiled us with an abundance of great blockbusters, indies and documentaries.
Evidently, filmmakers are continuing to discover new ways – big and small – to delight, thrill, and inspire.
Regardless of budgets, scale, or subject matter, each of the selections provided had much to offer the dauntless cinephile or even just the common fan.
Whether it be an emphasis on essential family relationships (particularly mother/daughter ones), shedding light on current hot-button affairs, or illustrating the various aspects of intricate human behavior; This year’s films conveyed a sort of realism we haven’t seen in many years past.
So, without further ado, our Top 10 movies of 2017:
10. Lady Bird
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is a touching, clever and sharp coming of age story that hits on many distinct cylinders. It’s an elaborate mother/daughter tale which showcases the sudden emotions inherent in a teenager’s process of discovery and self-discovery.
This film is far from pioneering, as the angst-filled teen has been a pictorial platitude since 1956’s Giant starring James Dean. Lady Bird, though, still finds a way to strike a chord with splendid performances by Soarise Ronan and Laurie Metcalf. Filled with moments of charming humanity and a realistic portrayal of unabashed adolescence, it’s one of the better mother-daughter duets to play on the big screen.
9. Baby Driver
Shaun of the dead filmmaker Edgar Wright can direct action – and use it to interpret character – like almost nobody else. This dazzling stylistic film stars Ansel Elgort as Baby, a young car thief who is forced to be a getaway driver in order to pay off debt to a bank-robbing crime boss.
The storytelling is first-class, while the film is chalked with great performances by Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx and an electric Jon Hamm. The insane car stunts are also sensational, paired with a soundtrack that is one of 2017’s best. If you think Baby Driver is too entertaining to be considered a great movie…You’d be wrong.
8. Get Out
A horror-comedy like we’ve never seen, noticeably in touch with its graver facets, its anger and sadness, Jordan Peele’s groundbreaking debut possesses much purpose and importance. A bleak and wretched satire of black experience in supposedly benign white spaces, Get Out emits truths while exposing injustices with zero apologies, because absolutely none is needed.
Daniel Kaluuya is mesmerizing under Peele’s tutelage, embodying the striking mood of unease and trepidation. The humor is sufficient, as well as the anger, which can be felt booming beneath each scene of this utter masterpiece. It’s not only one of the year’s best films, but its success has given me hope for future “social commentary” productions.
7. Call Me By Your Name
Director Luca Guadagnino’s gorgeous adaptation of the André Aciman novel is a passionate coming-of-age romance which implores the blush and swoon of first love. The countryside northern Italy setting immediately captivates, and so do the performances of the eloquent Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer. A precocious 17-year-old, Chalamet plays Elio, whose sudden relationship with an older male grad student ignites a divine sexual awakening.
The energy communicated is effortless, as well as the impatience portrayed whilst wanting to clarify all of life’s possibilities. The transition between childhood and adulthood is also guided with much grace and benevolence. You can’t help but, reminisce about your own past… and all the moments that didn’t seem completely real – yet were.
6. Phantom Thread
With little surprise, Daniel Day-Lewis’ second pairing with There Will Be Blood director Paul Thomas Anderson is a wonder. A fascinating, euphoric psychodrama set in 1950’s London, Day-Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock, a distinguished dressmaker whose obsession is his profession…and the daily routine which coincides it.
Such structure begins to collapse once a waitress named Alma (Vicky Krieps) becomes his model and companion in his house. The tracking shots marvel, as do the sharp close-ups, lavish transitional fades, and Jonny Greenwood’s vivid classical score. Phantom Thread is, in the end, a disobliging sort of rom-com, and a testimony to the compromises and chaos of all things intimate. An uncanny and witty delight, my 6th best film of the year caught me, happily off guard – as most great love affairs do.
5. Ex Libris: The New York Public Library
If I had to sum up this three-hour documentary about public libraries in one word, that word would be exhilarating. No…seriously. Through Frederick Wiseman’s latest documentary, we come across people who are genuinely overjoyed about being at the library – whether they’re sharing their sweeping knowledge with others or receiving it.
The legendary 87-year-old Wiseman, does a deep dive into an institution, showing us every aspect, from its inner workings to its public surface. A rare film that gathers momentum and power as it goes on, it blends into a mosaic that demonstrates how essential the library truly is to public life. Here, you come to understand that libraries are not just about books, or their storage, but about people – being an essential tool that preserves the American ideal of freedom and equality.
4. The Shape of Water
The third time is certainly the charm for Guillermo del Toro, whose previous attempts to spin Beauty and the Beast never quite lived up to the hype. Following Crimson Tide & Hellboy, The Shape of Water is a stunning production which flourishes on all levels. Sally Hawkins is astounding, portraying a mute janitor who falls for the amphibian man at her top-secret research lab.
Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon and Richard Jenkins also offer magnificent support in this Cold War-era fantasy that tells the tale of society’s outcasts from the very point of view of those outcasts, themselves. The film is one to be visually devoured, as cinematographer Dan Laustsen provides imagery which overwhelms you with a sense of metaphorical submersion. Add in Alexandre Desplat’s rousing musical composition – and every piece fits gently like an irresistible jigsaw, thus making The Shape of Water one of 2017’s finest achievements.
Shot with IMAX and 65mm cameras, Christopher Nolan’s profound reenactment of Operation Dynamo is a breathtaking escapade that works as a low-key emotional drama and a glowing cinematic feat. This wartime tale shows little concern for character detail or a clarified background. Instead, it plunges viewers into the mayhem that immerses infantrymen (including Fionn Whitehead and Harry Styles), commanders (Kenneth Branagh), fighter pilots (notably Tom Hardy), and civilian boatmen (Mark Rylance).
What then transpires is an assortment of sacrifice, selfishness, cowardice, and bravery -thrown into keen relief by Nolan’s imposing set pieces. No moment is wasted in this film, for everything has a salient purpose. Sentiment also is rather absent, which quite frankly has become a rarity in recent war films. My #3 best film of the year is nothing short of a triumph in refined filmmaking and pure unfiltered cinema.
2. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
Take a deeply powerful story of a mother seeking vengeance after the rape and murder of her daughter, inject it with scathing humor, and cast actors that would revel in such material – and you’ve got one of the greatest dark comedies of all time. Written and directed by the brilliant Martin McDonagh (In Bruges), here, he balances boundless laughter with moments of anguish better than any movie I could remember.
Frances McDormand shines bright as the justice-seeking mother, Mildred Hayes, who epitomizes dignity, satire, passion, and dominance, all while taking charge in the face of male incompetence. Sam Rockwell and Woody Harrelson captivate in superb supporting roles, as this unique and complex take on small town America will be talked about and dissected for years to come.
1. The Florida Project
Written and directed by low-budget miracle worker Sean Baker, The Florida Project is a heartbreaking look at deeply impoverished families living just outside the most magical place on earth, Disney World. Six-year old Moonee lives in a cheap motel while spending her summer running rampant, whilst causing constant commotion. But for all the bratty screaming, silly antics, and startling cursing, you will never fail to feel empathetic (Which is an achievment in itself). Brooklyn Prince is a revelation, while Willem Dafoe should win an Oscar for what I believe is his best performance since 1986’s Platoon.
This film sheds light on how personal choices by parents can have devastating consequences for their kids. Moonee’s mother (Bria Vinaite) so often infuriates with shocking actions and lackluster parenting, and yet, somehow, you never doubt her love for her daughter. Reason being? You come to terms with the fact that some people just aren’t capable of being functioning members of society – let alone parents. My #1 film of 2017 has many layers, but the one that cuts deepest is its symbolism for optimism and hope. Living in extreme poverty, amidst much turmoil and zero guidance…Moonee and her jubilant little friends maintain smiles that never alter. It’s as if their childhood was taking place inside the magic kingdom – not the magic castle motel.
By Brandon Colón