The 5 Unsung Films Of 2017
In a sea of worthy competition, it's not uncommon for some great films to get eclipsed by the year's other contenders. There is, after all, a staggering amount of new releases each year, and some of them are here and gone in the blink of an eye or don't even reach our theaters at all. This makes it easy for a great film to go by unnoticed, and even when they do get seen, they don't always get the love and attention they deserve. Well, we refuse to let those worthy gems from 2017 go by unsung!
Out of the list of films we saw from last year, these are our picks for the most unsung and underappreciated:
- 5: Patti Cake$
In a lot of aspects, the film feels like a less crazy, less offensive, narratively cohesive and fluid Harmony Korine film. Another apt comparison would be the plus-sized female version of 8 Mile with more heart and less budget. It's not a perfect film, and you've seen it before, but not quite like this. There's a lot to be admired here, from Danielle Macdonald's awe-inspiring and genuine performance to its obvious quirk and oddity -- a hip hop crew consisting of a fat white girl, her sick, wheelchair-ridden Nana, her BFF of Indian decent, Jheri, and black metal atheist beat master, Basterd. Through Patti's long and winding journey, we see her grow and become more confident in her abilities, all of which culminate in a pretty thunderous third act, where she truly proves to be the "underdog in the thunderdome." Her last song is an amalgam of everything we've experienced with her, a fierce hip hop eruption of deep, sincere feeling, that ties up some narrative strings and may possibly even move you to tears.
- 4: Brigsby Bear
Brigsby Bear is a charming and sweet optimistic valentine to the obsessive compulsive, an ode to the pariah, a tale of friendship and family, a mashup of Be Kind Rewind and Little Miss Sunshine, and it's definitely "dope as shit." There's a lot of heart and sincerity pumped into this picture. It's a film that fills you up and warms the soul, and there's not one cynical note during the whole indie opus, either. It's final message is that it's okay to be who you are, even if that means that you're different. Kyle Mooney is awkwardly fantastic, and Mark Hamill's wonderful vocal talents are put to good use.
- 3: Lady Macbeth
The film is a subtly audacious delight of striking bravura, and it marks the debut of both the director, William Oldroyd, and the screenwriter, Alice Birch, and it's a brazen burst onto the scene for both of them. However, actress Florence Pugh is the film's shining star and delivers a performance that many spend their careers striving to achieve. It's a tale of love and deceit, and it unfolds in deliciously dark ways. Oldroyd uses the camera in similar ways to Michael Haneke's Funny Games, allowing violence to occur outside the frame to allow our imaginations to get the better of us. He even goes a step farther and places us into Katherine's headspace by creating a phenomenal soundscape that includes Katherine's perspective, more precisely her breathing, in nearly all the shots. It's a film that challenges you as a viewer, but entertains all the same. Fans of Game Of Thrones should find it an easy watch, as it's basically about twisted characters and the motivations lurking behind their plays and actions.
- 2: Super Dark Times
We never got around to drafting our review of Super Dark Times due to the rush of the holiday season, but, boy, did we enjoy it. The film feels like it's part Lynch, part Fincher, with a touch of Gus Van Sant, and it's all MOOD in the best ways. The film is set in the pre-Columbine 90s and is a story more about the loss of innocence than it is coming of age. The period aspects and the casting were perfect; the film's whole vibe feels thoroughly 90s, and you can actually believe these characters are in high school. The cinematography is stunning, and the mood is terrifically sustained and powerful enough to hold interest and even forgive the story when it starts to fall off the rails. It's not perfect, but it's psychologically engaging in ways that films rarely are these days.
Before we get to our #1 pick, here's a few that just missed the cut:
- It Comes At Night
- The Lost City of Z
- Alien: Covenant
- Endless Poetry
And now, our pick for the most unsung film of 2017 goes to...
- 1: The Lure
For a long time, it seemed that the fairy tale was forever sanitized and digestible for the whole family, but then came Agniezka Smoczynka's grimy, beautiful, bizarrely erotic mermaid horror musical, The Lure... The film is a splendidly dark and gothic take on The Little Mermaid, leaning closer to Hans Christian Andersen's novel than it does the Disney adaptation. Equal parts hypnotic and horrifying, the film is bursting at the seams with vibrant energy, character and synth pop musical numbers, all culminating into an oddly fun experience. The grime and stink of fish in Smoczynka's mermaid tale is so potent that it oozes from the screen and won't wash off easily. It may not be perfect, but there's a lot to sink your teeth into, and a whole lot of unorthodox enjoyment to be had, which is why it's our number one pick!
That's our list! Did we miss any of your underdog picks from last year? We want to know. Share your thoughts and feelings in the comments section below, and as always remember to viddy well!