I won’t do that opening paragraph about the year’s movies and try to make some statement about film or whatever, but I will declare that Twin Peaks: The Return was by far the best thing I saw in 2017.
I made a montage of the year’s films + my top 10 that you can watch here! https://vimeo.com/258874952
Honorable Mentions: I’m a Davies agnostic but A Quiet Passion is maybe my fave of his I’ve seen. The Lure is insane. mother! is insane. Brawl in Cell Block 99 is insane. Dawson City: Frozen Time was cool. Ditto Raw. Love the energy of Baby Driver. The Big Sick proves the romantic comedy can be as entertaining as any other genre. Love the ambition of The Square. Lady Macbeth stars Florence Pugh, and, uh, wowww. Idk if I actually *liked* this, but The Killing of a Sacred Deer is arthouse Saw and that is…. a choice. I’ve soured on Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri but I still like its biblical themes of violence, grief, and forgiveness.
Didn’t see: Lover for a Day, The Other Side of Hope, Loveless, On the Beach at Night Alone, Ex-Libris, The Death of Louis XIV, Jane
25. Faces Places – What a delight.
24. Star Wars: The Last Jedi and Blade Runner 2049 are two highly imperfect, but ambitious sci-fi films about legacy that curiously subvert the chosen one trope.
23. Landline – Jenny Slate.
22. Get Out – This felt like a modern classic before it was even released.
21. The Disaster Artist – Pissed myself laughing.
20. The Lost City of Z – The transcendent final 15 minutes made me reconsider the first two acts that I’d found somewhat strained. It’s a long and clinical film, but Gray rewards you if you lend yourself over.
19. Graduation – There’s a noir-ish feel to this story of an everyman trying to give his daughter a future away from the city maze they’re stuck in. Once corruption is let in, it’ll never leave. Helluva final shot.
18. My Happy Family – Just watch this. It’s on Netflix. It’s free to watch. For your enjoyment.
17. A Ghost Story – How did that bed sheet never get dirty?
16. Stronger – It’s a tragedy that a film this good got lost in the Oscar shuffle. It *may* have the best shot of the year. You’ll know which one.
15. It – This isn’t a great film but when watching it I don’t care that it’s not. For a generation, it is their A Nightmare on Elm Street. When was the last time a horror film felt like an event? It is packed with fun, Evil Dead-ish scares, but its excitement of youth’s never-ending summers and the terrifying moment when childhood ends is as potent as King’s other pop culture landmark, Stand By Me.
14. The Beguiled – Still waiting for Sofia Coppola to drop a film as great as her first 3, but there are flashes of greatness in this steamy southern potboiler. *Elle Fanning voice* Apple Pie?
13. The Post – Spielberg moves the camera better than any director, ever. The script here lays it on pretty thick, but Spielberg almost wills the on-the-nose flaws to his advantage — using them like giant swells of music in his orchestral filmmaking.
12. Logan – There’s been a lot of films about old movie stars and old movie heroes reluctantly returning for a final quest, but this is the best of the bunch, and, by far, the best superhero movie of the past few years; it’s not even close.
11. The Trip to Spain – I know I just said there’s been a lot of films about old heroes returning for a final quest and that Logan was the best of them but I lied. Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon going on food quests across Europe and battling their midlife crisis is, ahem, inspiring.
10. The Work – A documentary, taking place in Folsom prison, in which decades of repressed feelings are violently ripped out of their masculine facades during a group therapy session. I can’t believe that this footage exists. The most cathartic viewing of 2017, and one that genuinely helped me to understand our current world.
9. The Shape of Water – So gushingly earnest and romantic and weird. I love that it’s a Universal monster movie, and a musical, and a romance, and a film that’s clearly personal to Guillermo del Toro. This film, more than any I’ve seen in recent memory, gets what it feels like to be lonely and to long for someone — at least for me. When something vulnerably wears its heart on its sleeve it’s gonna be sneered at by certain crowds. I don’t care. I needed this.
8. After the Storm – “Are you who you wanted to be?” “I’m not. Not yet.”
7. The Florida Project – Walking out of this I wasn’t sure how much I liked it. After sitting with it I became moved by its larger context and understanding of cycles of behavior. I admire its collision of documentary-esque naturalism and childlike wonder. Sean Baker never passes judgment on these characters, and the film is all the more heartbreaking and illuminating for it. Just on the edges of Disneyworld, the film is an inverted mirror of “the happiest place on earth.” A hidden world lost in the fringes of society. In such a place the only way you can escape is your own mind.
6. Call Me By Your Name – There’s a moment late in this film when Oliver consoles Elio and the film enters a memory and the colors are hyper saturated; both heightened and faded, nearly gone. I legit thought the screen in the theater was messed up. It cuts back to Elio and there’s a different look on his face now. What was there is gone. I can’t fully explain what that moment did to me, but it physically hurt. These expressionistic moments are held back throughout Call Me By Your Name‘s summer vacation. The film basks in the mundanity of summer, but its introspective moments of discovery are profound, just as they were in youth. “Blessed be the mystery of love.”
5. Lady Bird – Sixteen Candles, but not racist, and better. This high school era was about 5 years before my own, but I fully recognize it. The details. The fashion. The music. The way people talked. Watching Lady Bird is like reading your high school journal, no matter what era you came of age. Greta Gerwig pulled off a similar feat in Frances Ha (co-written with Noah Baumbach), in that she writes so truthfully that when I walked out of the movie I was embarrassed because I felt like everyone in the theater had just seen my life, feelings, and thoughts projected onto the screen and back at them.
4. Personal Shopper – Kristen Stewart shopping for clothes, investigating ghosts, and overcoming grief. Honestly, what more could you want from a movie.
3. Good Time – My favorite sub-genre is “person explores the seedy underworld of the city during the night.” Obviously I loved every second of Good Time‘s rollercoaster ride into New York’s midnight abyss. Pattinson is incredible as Connie, a man who’s trying to escape an inescapable maze. The pulsing score propels him from strange vignette to stranger vignette. When the high wears off and Connie’s ride ends, a melancholy surfaces to put a lump in your throat.
2. Phantom Thread – PTA made this movie with black magic. If you showed it to me in black and white, and if I didn’t know the actors, I’d think it was from the 50s. And in color it sometimes feels like a lost Kubrick film. Its gothic romance is haunting and its screwball comedy is giggle-inducing, but what has stuck with me is its spiritual threading that ties together Reynolds and Alma and the entire film. I’ve thought about the image that Reynolds sees when he’s sick in bed every single day since I’ve seen the film.
1. Dunkirk – A soldier’s face. The pounding of gunfire. A purgatorial beach with endlessly crashing waves. A city in flames. Floating corpses. A light guiding soldiers out of a sinking ship. A young man fading into the black of the sea. Men and women sailing on boats to save their sons. A throttling score mechanically in sync with the actions of soldiers, fathers, pilots. A nod of acknowledgement between two men. Harry Styles. A pilot gliding down onto a sunlit beach. A boy quietly reading Churchill’s speech as Britain cheers on their returning sons. A burning spitfire fading into a soldier’s realization. A Christopher Nolan film.
What were your favorite films of the year?