Top Ten Films Of 2017
2017 was another incredible and exciting year for film, complete with a diverse array of unbelievable indies and higher caliber sequels than we've had in recent year's past. Like we'll probably say every year: it was difficult to whittle down our favorites to a list of ten. But, as is the end of the year tradition, we've braved through the difficulty and crafted our picks for what we consider to be the most unique and masterful standout films of the past year.
We're a smaller indie blog and don't get the opportunity to see every film, so this is solely based on the 70+ films we were able to see. Also, as the subtleties of taste buds seem to differ from person to person, it's highly unlikely that we'll be in complete agreement, but if you let us know your thoughts in the comments section below, we'd love to have a conversation over the past year's lot of fantastic films.
Without further ado, here's our top picks for 2017:
10: The Square
There's a whole lot of monkeying around in Ruben Östlund's The Square, and we loved every 142 minutes of it. Östulund's distinct brand of squirmy absurdist humor may turn off some, and its runtime may alienate even more; however, those who give 2017's Palme d'Or winner a chance may de delightfully surprised with the sharpness of its anthropologically satiric teeth. It's a highly ambitious work that may times bite off more than it can chew, but manages to chew through so much subject matter that the crumbs that fall from its full mouth are still wonderfully golden. Its ending is a bit soft and ambiguous, but the ride is a howling hoot.
9: Blade Runner 2049
Another chapter in the Blade Runner saga? Mmmm, yes please! Blade Runner 2049 is hands down the biggest and most satisfying visual spectacle of the past year. Roger Deakins' cinematography is the most breathtaking it's ever been, and Denis Villeneuve continues to prove that he's one of the most consistently standout directors working today. Like The Square, 2049 is a long ride, but the story is tightly drawn and always moving forward, even though the film really takes its time. We're glad to have another chapter to the original Blade Runner story, and to have the opportunity to further explore the film's world in greater detail. Fans of the original will not be disappointed; Villeneuve and company do the impossible: make a film as good, if not better, than the original, which is no small feat.
8: I, Tonya
We said it in our review of the film, but we'll say it again: I, Tonya is the greatest figure skating film ever made. The film oozes with undeniable charisma, pops with Scorsese-esque energy, and boasts several memorable performances. It's a deep and darkly comic look at Tonya Harding, but also shines a light on parental and spousal abuse, the superficial injustices of the figure skating world, and the devastating pains of associating with the wrong people. It's not a film we ever thought we'd want or that we would enjoy this much, but, man, were we wrong. It is, without a doubt, one of the most wild, comical, and entertaining experiences that 2017 had to offer.
7: The Florida Project
Sean Baker is one of the most humane filmmakers working today, and his latest effort, The Florida Project, is a perfect reinforcement to that bold claim. Following suit with his 2015 breakout film, Tangerine, the focus of The Florida Project are also outsiders living on the fringe of society as we know it. This time around, we focus on the residents of a seedy motel outside of the most magical place on earth. The contrast of living right outside of Disney World but being too poor to ever go really works here. Since the motel's kids aren’t able to get into the park, they make their own fun, which manifests in both debaucherous and harmless ways. Never less than touching, with a pinch of humor and sobering dose of the bittersweet, The Florida Project is a profoundly entertaining celebration of the people living day-to-day to make ends meet, and it’s a rare cinematic gem that is sure to warm even the coldest of hearts.
6: Lady Bird
On the subject of touching, Greta Gerwig's directorial debut, Lady Bird, is one of the most heartfelt films to come out of 2017. It's an honest and poignant depiction of late adolescence, and it's packed full of humor and heart. Laurie Metcalf and Saoirse Ronan give exceptional performances that make their character's mother/daughter bond feel 100% genuine. As much as the film is a coming-of-age story, it's also a love letter to Gerwig's hometown of Sacramento (which feels akin to the midwest of California). It’s feel and tone is somewhere between John Hughes and Woody Allen, but breathes a freshness that is wholly its own. It’s the kinda film that will make you want to call your parents (or children) afterwards. Whether you laugh or cry (or probably both), you’ll definitely walk away from this one feel touched.
Julia Ducournau's directorial debut, Raw, is a wild, grotesque animal. Essentially a raucous coming-of-age tale veiled as a body horror, Raw is about being away from home for the first time and desperately trying to find your own way amidst all the confusion. In that respect it's universally relatable, but throws in an element of surprise not common to the coming-of-age story: a heaping dose of cannibalism. The result is nothing short of gripping and unlike anything you've ever seen before.
4: A Ghost Story
David Lowery's A Ghost Story is a poetic meditation on life, death, love, and loss. Walking into this blind, we were completely blown away, so much so that we called the film "2001: A Space Odyssey for human existence." Part of the film's magic stems from Lowery's ability to take something comedic and cliche (the classic sheeted ghost image with two slitted eyeholes) and turn it into something lofty, beautiful and full of deep meaning. It won't work for everyone, but if you can allow yourself to go along for the ride, we think that you'll be moved in ways you didn't expect to be.
3: Good Time
Good Time is an electric thriller that literally had us hanging from the edge of our seat. It's a sordid race against the clock drenched in neon and accompanied by a driving 80s synth score by Oneohtrix Point Never, à la Tangerine Dream's score for Sorcerer. It was one of the most gripping, visceral and kinetic films we've seen all year. From the very first scene this film grabs ahold of you and doesn't let go. If it's not hold-your-breath, jaw-slack-open, edge-of-your-seat tense, it's emotionally gripping with minor moments that allow you to breathe. Even a moment of paying for a bail bond with a credit card is made incredibly tense and stressful though the culmination of overlapping dialogue, score, and sporadic camerawork and editing. It's the most memorable crime thriller in recent memory, and will leave you reeling from its pure adrenaline rush.
2: Phantom Thread
The collaborative return of Daniel Day-Lewis and Paul Thomas Anderson is nothing short of remarkable. More so, however, is Vicky Krieps who is absolutely charming and shows tremendous chops as she squares off toe-to-toe with Day-Lewis. The story begins fairly simply and morphs into the deliciously subversive in increasingly tantalizing ways. Jonny Greenwood's score is the best and most beautiful it's ever been. His score, along with PTA's creepingly gorgeous and dreamlike cinematography, intoxicate and enchant, pulling you deeper and deeper into the lives of these lovingly twisted characters.
Before we cruise to our #1 pick, here's a few honorable mentions that just missed the cut:
The Big Sick
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
And our #1 pick for 2017 is...
1: Call Me By Your Name
Call Me By Your Name is just breathtaking. Objectively, we feel it's the finest film to emerge last year. It's a celebration of first love and all the sorrow that accompanies it, told in such a beautiful and uncynical way. The performances are utterly incredible, the cinematography and the languid Italian countryside are intoxicating and seductive, the dialogue is honest and touching (especially, Stuhlbargh's eloquent third act monologue), and the whole thing sparkles with a layer of Italian neorealism subtlety. It also has the year's most fantastically heartfelt and devastating ending. It's a film that somehow manages to seep into all five senses, and there’s so much undeniable splendor to the film that it’ll manage to win just about anyone over, even if you don’t agree with the film politically, which is a true testament to its power.
Did we leave any of your top picks off our list? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always, remember to viddy well!