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cinemaspeak59

2017 Noteworthy Films

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The following is a baker’s dozen of noteworthy films from 2017, and 8 honorable mention films.  Arranged alphabetically.

Beach Rats A breakout performance by newcomer Harris Dickinson, playing an aimless, bored Brooklynite who spends his days lounging around with equally aimless friends, and his nights surfing gay chat rooms and meeting older men.   

Call Me by Your Name Luca Gaudagnino’s tender, bittersweet story of a teenager’s (Timothée Chalamet) emotional and sexual awakening when a handsome scholar (Armie Hammer) visits his family’s picture-postcard Italian villa.

Columbus A stunning directorial debut by Kogonada.  This is an exquisite, meditative film about relationships, family ties, and the power of architecture as art.  

Darkest Hour This elegant, Masterpiece Theatre-like production takes a few liberties with Churchill’s life.  Gary Oldman’s performance is one for the history books, and the film is riveting as a political thriller

Dinner with Beatriz Things go off the rails when an eccentric spiritual healer (Salma Hayek) has dinner with her wealthy clients, and one very obnoxious, right-wing real-estate mogul (John Lithgow).  The film also exposes the phoniness of limousine liberals, who wear their politics like fashion accessories.   

Dunkirk Christopher Nolan simply can’t do linear narrative.  But that’s okay.  We know how the story ends.  This is cinematic minimalism at its finest.   

Get Out A combination of 1980s horror and absurdist comedy sprinkled with keen racial and political insights.  Hopefully, we’ll see more of Jordan Peele as a director.

Lady Bird Much in the same vein as Columbus, Greta Gerwig’s semi-autobiographical film about an opinionated young woman (Saoirse Ronan) longing to escape stultifying Sacramento for the glitter of Manhattan.  It’s also a time capsule into 2002, and a love letter to California’s capital.

The Lost City of Z A haunting Edwardian Era-set throwback to those adventure quests, like King Solomon’s Mines and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The Post Steven Spielberg’s flawlessly acted ensemble hits every note, and flawlessly captures the mood, style and detail of the era. 

The Shape of Water This is Guillermo del Toro’s best film.  It’s a creature feature, yes, but also a statement for acceptance and tolerance.  Beautifully photographed and acted.

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri A powerful performance by Francis McDormand as a mother taking desperate measures to find her daughter’s murderer, while haunted by doubt that she didn’t do enough to prevent it.

Wind River A Neo-Western set on a Native American reservation. It's a murder mystery and a poignant statement on grief and loss.  

Honorable Mention:

Alien: Covenant – An underrated thriller with arguably the best monsters ever created

Baby Driver – Some of the most dizzying driving scenes since The French Connection

Blade Runner 2049 – A worthy follow-up to Ridley Scott’s 1982 classic

Lady Macbeth – Shakespeare meets film noir

Logan Lucky – A return to form by Steven Soderbergh

Phantom Thread – Daniel Day Lewis’s final film before retirement

The Beguiled – Southern Gothic Civil War drama with sexual tensions running through the roof

Wonder Woman - Feminist empowerment in the form of a superhero.  Gal Gadot is almost too good to be true.

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As of right now, my top ten for the year include:

  1. Blade Runner 2049
  2. Dunkirk
  3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
  4. mother! (This highly controversial allegorical nightmare won't be for most viewers, but I appreciated its audacity, originality, and execution.)
  5. Logan (This final outing for Hugh Jackman as the mutant superhero Wolverine is a serious, violent, and melancholy look at aging, featuring a trio of stellar performances from Jackman, young Dafne Keen, and Sir Patrick Stewart. Some have called this the best superhero movie yet made.)
  6. A Ghost Story (Another divisive film, this metaphysical indie film features a unique look at the afterlife that's both simple and cosmic.)
  7. Spider-Man: Homecoming (A superhero movie that remembers to be fun, with the best depiction of the web-slinging superhero yet on screen.)
  8. Wind River
  9. War for the Planet of the Apes (Amazingly lifelike special effects anchor this moving final installment in the recent Apes trilogy.) 
  10. Brawl in Cell Block 99 (Hyper-violent crime drama not for the faint of heart, this features both stylistic originality and a knowledge of 70's and 80's exploitation flicks.)

Runner-ups: The Big SickT2 TrainspottingBaby Driver

I have yet to see several of the end-of-year titles.

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As it stands at the moment, I have seen 22 films that were released in 2017. This includes four titles that premiered at film festivals in 2016. I still have a lot to see as they come to DVD later than usual this year, so I have not seen many of the Oscar nominees yet. Maybe, by May or June, I will be all caught up. As it stands, top 10 of the 22 would look like this....

 

1. Last Flag Flying

2. The Big Sick

3. Their Finest

4. Wonder

5. Dunkirk

6. Our Souls at Night

7. Gifted

8. Murder on the Orient Express

9. Coco

10. Maudie

Three Billboards was too strident for me, although the performances are ndeed excellent and I cannot argue with that. Get Out was a strong thriller that would have been better without a comic relief subplot.

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38 minutes ago, CinemaInternational said:

I still have a lot to see as they come to DVD later than usual this year, so I have not seen many of the Oscar nominees yet. Maybe, by May or June, I will be all caught up.

I'm in the same predicament. I see that both Phantom Thread and All the Money in the World won't be out until April. I also haven't seen Lady BirdThe Shape of WaterThe PostI TonyaCall Me By Your Name, or Darkest Hour. I may see that last one tonight, though. I also haven't seen Thor: Ragnarok or Star Wars: The Last Jedi, both of which have made a few Best-of-year lists.

I've now seen 65 titles from 2017. From your list, I still haven't seen Last Flag FlyingTheir FinestWonderGiftedCocoMaudieOur Souls at Night, or Murder on the Orient Express. That's only 8 out of your 10!!!

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11 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

I'm in the same predicament. I see that both Phantom Thread and All the Money in the World won't be out until April. I also haven't seen Lady BirdThe Shape of WaterThe PostI TonyaCall Me By Your Name, or Darkest Hour. I may see that last one tonight, though. I also haven't seen Thor: Ragnarok or Star Wars: The Last Jedi, both of which have made a few Best-of-year lists.

I've now seen 65 titles from 2017. From your list, I still haven't seen Last Flag FlyingTheir FinestWonderGiftedCocoMaudieOur Souls at Night, or Murder on the Orient Express. That's only 8 out of your 10!!!

After my original post earlier, I did get to see Darkest Hour, courtesy of the local rental store. Its a god film, with Gary Oldman turning in fine work as the mercurial prime minister. Its his film through and through, although the film is well cast and is done with style.

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17 hours ago, Thenryb said:

I would certainly add Wind River to that list.

I loved Wind River.  Oversight corrected.  I added it to my list.

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The catchup continues. I loved Blade Runner 2049. And A Quiet Passion, listed as a 2016 release, but released in 2017 has a tremendous performance from Cynthia Nixon. A United Kingdom and Goodbye Christopher Robin were two good old-fashioned dramas that slipped under the radar. Was left disappointed with The Florida Project and American Made, although both had a standout performance or two.

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I'll be catching up with Lady BirdWonder Wheel, and Thor: Ragnarok this week.

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15 hours ago, LawrenceA said:

I'll be catching up with Lady BirdWonder Wheel, and Thor: Ragnarok this week.

Thor: Ragnarok was really good! I especially liked the rapport between Hulk and Thor.

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This week has several notable 2017 movies becoming available: Best Picture winner The Shape of Water, Best Supporting Actress winner I, Tonya, Best Adapted Screenplay winner Call Me By Your Name. the well-reviewed The Disaster Artist, and much-less-well-received Justice League

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I got Phantom Thread and All the Money in the World on Blu-ray today. Next week,The Post will be released, and after watching these three, I think I'll finally be able to make my Top Ten list of 2017.

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I'd like to recommend Lucky, which stars Harry Dean Stanton as a 90-something loner living in a small Arizona desert town. It's an episodic story centering on Lucky's wanderings around town and his interactions with the various characters who populate the town. I know, that doesn't sound like riveting cinema. But it's a wonderful film that will stay with you for a long time.

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I have a weird feeling when watching The Shape of Water. It likes I don't want to see such a depressed life like the main actress. 

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