Another year is complete, but not without having talked about the wonderful experiences we’ve had at the cinemas. Together with the not-so-wonderful films. But alas, this has been an extraordinary year for films for the highlights still managed to stick their landing inside of our minds – and the inevitable “what about such and such?” will come but I will remind you that it would have been outright impossible for me to have been able to catch virtually every movie that had come out the previous year to make sure I wouldn’t forget other highlights that may not have made it.
So as we begin to cover how wonderful a year this has been for movies, here are a few movies that almost made my favourites list of the year.
After the Storm
A Quiet Passion
A Ghost Story
And with that said, here are the best films that I had been lucky enough to catch from last year – from what I have seen.
10. On the Beach at Night Alone
Hong Sang-soo’s films remind me of the sort that Eric Rohmer would make, and that’s what draws me into watching them. You hear them as they start talking and soon enough that’s why you’re in for the bigger picture that they create on the spot, because these conversations are what drive us further in our world today and it’s wonderful to reminisce upon them.
9. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Martin McDonagh hates the way America is going, something that this film makes clear. In this dark comedy that was apparently nominated (and won) as a drama at the Golden Globes, we look upon the growing anger inside of a city that is built upon said anger. Frances McDormand gives one of the year’s best performances as a troubled mother grieving the loss of her daughter after having been raped and murdered, and Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell are just as welcome to play cops who insinuated the anger against her cause. A fittingly angry film for an increasingly angry world, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is not one to be missed.
8. Get Out
From the moment I first saw this in theaters, I thought Jordan Peele’s Get Out was merely a good film and nothing beyond that. So how did it wind up finding a spot in my top ten of the year? Well, it turns that not only did it manage to stick in my head after talking about it more with friends, but also a rewatch had proven itself more rewarding, and beyond being one of the year’s best horror films it also happens to be: 1) one of the best directorial debuts of the year and 2) one of, if not, the best horror film that this decade has yet to offer. And it isn’t scary just in a contextual sense, because sociopolitically, the relevance of Get Out makes it one of the decade’s most important films too. And with that said, I’m looking forward to Jordan Peele’s future as a film director.
7. Lady Bird
I knew from the moment that I saw this at TIFF that it would stick so closely with me. I just knew from seeing the environment that Lady Bird grew up in, it was also one that felt almost like a mirror of my own experiences having just recently graduated high school. This is the sort of movie that I wanted to hug because I feel like I’m overwhelmed by my own environments, moving from one place to another – and even if Lady Bird isn’t a reinvention of the coming-of-age narrative, it reaffirms what is the most important aspect of showing the experience: honesty. I can’t understate how amazing Saoirse Ronan is as the title character, and I can’t thank Greta Gerwig enough for this film alone.
6. Personal Shopper
But alas, I couldn’t forget the other Twilight star who broke free of the pop culture realm that she has been associated with for quickly enough I’ve been proven wrong about her with every new performance I see from Kristen Stewart. In another collaboration with Olivier Assayas after Clouds of Sils Maria, what Kristen Stewart presents to us in Personal Shopper is a haunting tale about the shadows of our past, and how we as people respond to the pace of the world. After all, the movie doesn’t end with a song named “The Track of Time” for nothing.
5. Blade Runner 2049
The original Blade Runner is one of my favourite films of all time. In part I was suspicious of how this would turn out but quickly enough it came clear to me why Denis Villeneuve was perfect to be the one to direct this long belated-sequel after having directed the previous year’s Arrival. And after nearly thirty years have passed, Blade Runner 2049 doesn’t just cash in on the name, it still keeps the original film in spirit as it tells a new story set within its universe. Somehow, Denis Villeneuve manages to make a better film than his last with every new one he releases: I don’t know how he does it, but I don’t want him to stop at it either.
4. The Florida Project
When I saw The Florida Project at TIFF, I had the strongest feeling it was going to remain a special film. It was special in the sense that it keeps everything at such a small scope, but as it weaves around life, that’s why it hits so hard. You just know from your experience as a child, you wanted to seek the best even in the harshest of times, and as the adults are trying to do the best for us, we still find our own new memories being made as if we lived inside of our own magic kingdom. Maybe even the best final shot of the year? I don’t think any other ending this year has perfectly captured everything this film has stood for than this one’s.
3. Call Me by Your Name
Do you know what’s that feeling when you discover love for the first time? Not the feeling of being in a relationship, but just feeling as if you’re truly in love? Watching Call Me by Your Name reminded me of that experience. What Luca Guadagnino crafted in Call Me by Your Name shouldn’t be treated as a love story, because this isn’t limited to being a gay love story (it’s actually bisexual). It’s about the feeling of an important discovery, how it affects us at a young age, and how we cope with the emotions afterward. And Timothée Chalamet is dreamy.
2. Phantom Thread
I was holding off making this list until I could see Phantom Thread for a number of reasons. I didn’t want to make a “best of the year” list missing out on Paul Thomas Anderson, and even though I had failed to see Inherent Vice while it was still in theaters, being able to catch Phantom Thread wasn’t just a privilege. To see Daniel Day-Lewis owing his heart to what may be his last film role, and in one that reunites him together with Paul Thomas Anderson at that, it all adds up to create a Hitchcockian experience.
1. The Shape of Water
This is the year where love has no limits, and Guillermo del Toro’s take on Beauty and the Beast with The Shape of Water continues to prove it. Of the many fantastic love stories that we have been told in the past year, I don’t know if I’ll ever come across one that will top The Shape of Water for me. In an oppressive time, a mute woman finds a sense of happiness through an amphibian monster that may actually be more than just that – and this friendship isn’t just a beautiful one. It feels like a nice reminder to humanize those who we consider “monsters” to our own people, because these literal monsters have more humanity to themselves than they look.
The Best Performances of the Year
In a year of great films, there are always great performances coming about, so without further ado, here are my favourite acting performances from last year.
- Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread
- Timothée Chalamet, Call Me by Your Name
- Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out
- Robert Pattinson, Good Time
- Ryan Gosling, Blade Runner 2049
- Hugh Jackman, Logan
- John Cho, Columbus
- Kumail Nanjiani, The Big Sick
- Shahab Hosseini, The Salesman
- Charlie Hunnam, The Lost City of Z
- Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
- Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
- Vicky Krieps, Phantom Thread
- Brooklynn Prince, The Florida Project
- Kristen Stewart, Personal Shopper
- Frances McDormand, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
- Kim Min-hee, On the Beach at Night Alone
- Cynthia Nixon, A Quiet Passion
- Haley Lu Richardson, Columbus
- Eili Harboe, Thelma
Best Supporting Actor
- Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
- Armie Hammer, Call Me by Your Name
- Michael Stuhlbarg, Call Me by Your Name
- Richard Jenkins, The Shape of Water
- Tracy Letts, Lady Bird
- Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
- Patrick Stewart, Logan
- Daniel Craig, Logan Lucky
- Michael Cera, Molly’s Game
- Christopher Plummer, All the Money in the World
Best Supporting Actress
- Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
- Lesley Manville, Phantom Thread
- Allison Williams, Get Out
- Bria Vinaite, The Florida Project
- Ana de Armas, Blade Runner 2049
- Catherine Keener, Get Out
- Elle Fanning, The Beguiled
- Octavia Spencer, The Shape of Water
- Holly Hunter, The Big Sick
- Mary J. Blige, Mudbound
A year of good will have nonetheless disappointed us in some way or another, so here are what I found to be among a few notable disappointments of 2017.
I’m sorry, I don’t see what’s so special about a conventional horror movie that feels like a mere bastardization of its wonderful source material. This wasn’t the same coming-of-age horror story that I know Stephen King told, it’s merely a great coming-of-age movie that happens to be mixed with a generic horror movie. Granted, I don’t think It is a bad movie, but considering what more it could have been, It is highly disappointing.
Yes, I know, it’s a tad respectable that this happens to be the first ever animated film through the use of oil paintings. Beyond that? I’m not so sure what’s being told by Loving Vincent other than, I don’t know, the mere fact that everyone loves Vincent van Gogh? It feels like a series of interview about Vincent van Gogh rather than an actual exploration of his own psychology – and there’s a more interesting story to be told there. Mad respect for the effort put into bringing this to life, but unfortunately, I can’t say the same about a story that has nothing really to say for it.
No, I’m not feeling this one. At all. After John Wick, what ever happened to the energy that David Leitch had created in order to make action feel exciting from the moment it starts till the end of the movie? Beyond that, this doesn’t reinvent the wheel for the action genre as much as we would like to think it does (and granted John Wick wasn’t a film that sought out for that, either), but what’s most annoying about Atomic Blonde is the fact it needs to shove in how different it feels – all of these sensibilities pandering to teenage cinebro fanboys. If you want bisexual representation, then a first step closer to that is not having your female protagonist feel as if she can be written as male without much change in the character arc. And together with that, the Stalker scene or the long take on the staircase? Yeah, I’ll pass.
Words cannot describe how much I desperately wanted to like I, Tonya. I desperately wanted to like it because the story was always so fascinating to me and well, to see it from the point of view of Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding? How bad could it have been? It could have been bad enough when you make your film not only one that invites you to laugh at the fact Tonya Harding was emotionally abused her whole life, or at the expense of Nancy Kerrigan either. The smug GoodFellas narrative approach doesn’t help either, it just makes the film appear smug and gives off the feeling that it doesn’t really know what it wants to be. At least it has great performances from its cast.
No, this really isn’t as bad as you’ve been hearing it to be. I refuse to believe that Tomas Alfredson would have sunken himself down that low after having directed an adaptation of a novel as dense as Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. But what certainly doesn’t help is that the whole script wasn’t finished thus what we’re left with is clearly an unfinished movie, wasting the magnificent talent of those involved. But people putting the blame on Tomas Alfredson because this wasn’t finished properly? Give me a break. Let’s be honest with ourselves, we were all expecting it to be good from the offset. Too bad that we didn’t get the whole picture and just a puzzle with missing pieces.
Well, to get everything over with, we’ve already had a lot of awful films this year amidst the many good. So as follows, my least favourites this year are:
- The Last Face
- The Emoji Movie
- Wolves at the Door
- The Bye Bye Man
- The Book of Henry
- American Assassin
And so concludes what is a fantastic year for all of cinema, here’s to looking for the best in the future. See you this year at the movies.