2017 was a very good year for me, in term of finding favorites- to the extent that, even after narrowing my list down, I find that I have 14 in the top tier.
They are as follows:
- Call Me By Your Name: Every aspect of this movie is perfect- from the atmosphere to the plot to the chemistry between characters (notably Elio and Armie Hammer and Elio and his father). I want a pair of vintage-y swim trunks. And maybe a peach.
- It: It Chapter 2 disappointed me a bit, but happily this one stands very well on its own.
- Dunkirk: A stylishly-executed war drama about the evacuation of soldiers from Dunkirk. A few people have criticized the “confusing” pacing of the film, but I found that the manipulation of time serviced the feeling of different types of combat in a really interesting way.
- Baby Driver: The use of diegetic music (music incorporated as part of the plot, rather than disconnected soundtrack) in this really blew me away, particularly during action sequences. Shame about Kevin Spacey, but there’s enough Jon Hamm, Jaime Foxx, and Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers to provide a good distraction.
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: I’m struggling not to start every single one of these descriptions with “This is one of my favorites”. Frances McDormand is a queen, the supporting cast is amazing, and I hope Sam Rockwell can break out of playing incapable racists (see also Vice and Jojo Rabbit).
- The Shape of Water: This is almost one of my favorites but it is at the same type so elegantly done that I would be amiss not to include it. Yes, it is a fish sex movie. Yes, I watched it with someone I was trying to dissuade from his romantic intentions toward me, not realizing the first scene would be bathtub masturbation. The music is beautiful, the wetly green colors are slimily luscious, the acting is all great. They need to cut out the random musical number. There is some controversy about the disabled marrying literal monsters that is very much worth reading about.
- Coco: Coco is highly predictable, fairly formulaic, and astonishingly beautiful. yes, clearly if I were to take two films off of this list, they would be Coco and The Shape of Water, but I’m including them, so deal with it. I can’t stop thinking about the skeleton who is forgotten, I believe his name is Chich. The true star. Along with that beautiful flying tiger animal.
- Phantom Thread: A psychologically twisted costume drama, one of my favorite genres. For fans of Daniel Day Lewis, couture, Paul Thomas Anderson, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson (you’ll understand). Also good on a rewatch (I rarely rewatch because there is so much new to see, but this was on a plane).
- The Killing of A Sacred Deer: You may know Yorgos Lanthimos from The Lobster (too weird for me) or, more recently, from The Favorite (a psychologically twisted costume drama for which Olivia Colman won best actress). The Killing of a Sacred Deer seems less well known than those two and deserves to be more widely seen. It’s disturbing and will put you off spaghetti.
- Hostiles: In 1892 a legendary US Army captain reluctantly agrees to escort a dying Cheyenne chief and his family back to their lands through dangerous territory. Frankly, I really liked this movie and did not find it to be too problematic or too forgiving toward white people in an era when we did a whole lot of bad shit, but it’s been long enough since I saw the film that I am unprepared to thread the needle of an accurate description with adequate historical disclaimers.
- Wind River: We’ve already covered Sicario and Hell or High Water- this is the third and last installment of Taylor Sheridan’s trilogy. In my mind, it is the best of the three and hideously underwatched. It’s cold and bleak and fairly devastating. Jeremy Renner rides a snowmobile.
- Ingrid Goes West: It’s a compulsively watchable dark social media satire about a disturbed Aubrey Plaza who worms her way into the life of an Instagram influencer.
- Thoroughbreds: Unfortunately not about horses. Fortunately about two teen girls who hatch an evil plan.
- Detroit: A fact-based drama set during the 1967 Detroit riots. I put off watching it for a long while after hearing about how absolutely brutal it is to sit through. I wish I hadn’t, because it’s also appallingly necessary viewing.
Honorable Mentions: Get Out, The Wife, Annabelle: Creation, The Breadwinner, BPM, Good Time, Logan Lucky, Mother!, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Beast, and I, Tonya.
I have not yet seen: Okja, You Were Never Really Here, One Cut of the Dead, Tigers are Not Afraid, The Rider, On Body and Soul, A Fantastic Woman, Au Revoir La Haut, November, and Foxtrot.
Happy New Year’s (Eve) depending on where you are!
This is the last selection of links for the year of 2017, and it’s a blessedly short one.
Do you have New Year’s plans? It’s been bitterly cold here in Boston and will continue to be so tonight, so my evening looks like a cuddly warm stay at home affair. If I manage to stay up past 9:30. Jet lag. It’s still real.
Most of my movie watching is not new releases, so much as catching up on films that were once new releases but haven’t been from somewhere between a year to a century.
And they’re none the worse for that.
To be eligible for this list, the film must be one of my favorites that I watched in 2017 but NOT released this year.
- Shall We Dance (1937)
I can’t say enough about this film- one of the most beautiful Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers vehicles that I’ve ever seen. Highlights: Slap That Bass and Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off (roller-skates!)
- Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
I’ve already talked tons about Kingsman so I’ll keep this short. You’ll never think of Free Bird the same way again.
- 3:10 to Yuma (1957)
While the more recent version is good (particularly for a modern remake, that most justly maligned of categories) it still doesn’t really hold a candle to the absolutely masterful original- the frustrating but heroic town drunk (completely cut from the modern version), Van Heflin’s scrappy portrayal of Dan Evans, and above all Glenn Ford’s suave outlaw Ben Wade. Plus the song.
- Django Unchained (2012)
Tarantino’s films are very hit or miss for me, but Django Unchained was very much a hit. The cast is excellent, the plot is fun and exciting. Tarantino does his fun soundtrack thing.
- The Piano Teacher/ La Pianiste (2001)
This movie is beautifully repulsive. Basically a piano teacher (Heyyy Isabelle Huppert) conducts and affair with one of her students who believes that she is falling in love with him, essentially misreading the symptoms of her rapidly deteriorating sanity as signs of romantic obsession.
- The Hurt Locker (2008)
I had pretty much decided not to watch this because it looked a bit testosterone-heavy for me, but a confluence of circumstances led to me watching it and discovering that it is in fact a thoughtful and well-paced film with interesting characters and developments.
- La Piscine/ The Swimming Pool (1969)
Alain Delon is beautiful. So is Romy Schneider. So is Jane Birkin. So is summer.
- Les Enfants du Paradis/ Children of Paradise (1945)
This film had me absolutely spellbound for all 3+ hours of runtime. A theater mime is in love with a courtesan who is also beloved by three other, very different men- a pretentious actor, a conniving thief, and a rich count.
- Contracorriente/ Undertow (2009)
Contracorriente is my most recent addition to this list, having just watched it I think the day before yesterday. It’s a surreal and poignant ghost story in which a married fisherman has to find a way to reconcile two aspects of his life: his more conventional family life with his pregnant wife and his devotion to his male lover, a painter and town outcast.
Here’s to another year of good films!
Some of my favorite film critics are putting out their lists of ‘top 5 (or 10) films of 2017’ and I don’t want to be left out. However, the difference between me and them is that they get early screenings to everything, and so have actually seen the big 2017 films that I have yet to see (especially the Oscar-bait ones that cluster toward the end of December).
But I’ve been thinking back on what I’ve seen so far, and it’s definitely enough to make a top five, plus honorable mentions, plus shout outs to films I’m excited to see but that I haven’t had time to see, am saving for later, or that haven’t come out yet.
In an order that indefinitely particular:
- Baby Driver
- Wind River
- Ingrid Goes West
Honorable Mentions: Coco, The Shape of Water, and The Killing of a Sacred Deer.
Not yet seen: Lady Bird, The Post, I Tonya, Phantom Thread, Call Me By Your Name, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Hostiles, The Disaster Artist, Loving Vincent, The Square, Only the Brave, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, Mudbound, Good Time, Lucky, and many many more.
Happy Christmas Eve Eve! I arrived home yesterday afternoon and am super jet lagged and being treated to a very New England ice storm.
It’s excellent. We’re going to see The Last Jedi tonight and I think my excitement will be such that I will stay awake. I’ve heard lots of interesting things about it but have so far avoided any spoilers.
I have a healthy (and scented!) collection of links this week!
The year-end photo compendiums are coming in, here are two favorites…
On the fashion front:
And the more miscellaneous:
Look at me doing two posts two days in a row like I don’t currently have 134 raw materials to study and an illness to recover from! 😀
No excuses, I have reaped enough links from the inter webs now to share them and I’m missing sharing my thoughts more often, so I’m going to work on making time for this blog/diary/list compendium more of a priority.
For the children, you know.
- Pixar’s released a TEASER TRAILER FOR INCREDIBLES 2! I’ve been waiting so long. And I am so ready for destructive apocalyptic Jack Jack and stay-at-home Mr. Incredible. (And Edna Mode. Please, Edna Mode).
- One of my favorite makeup artists (Violette, check out her youtube channel) has released a trio of lip colors with Estee Lauder. I’m sorely tempted.
- A scholarly discussion of Rankin & Bass Christmas specials; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Finally convinced me to finally watch Jack Frost, which I had somehow missed during all of my childhood ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas. Here are some highlights.
- A program to help you find the word that’s just on the tip of your tongue.
- Guys, there’s a new horse movie coming out, Lean on Pete.
- The American Film Institute has released their list of top 10 films of 2017. It’s a pretty good list. I’ve seen 4/10 so far, time to get cracking.
- Yale’s released a new admissions video, “That’s Why I Toured Yale”, replacing cult icon “That’s Why I Chose Yale”. The weirdest thing? I recognize people in the video. (I see you at 9:26-9:33, ballroom team!)
- NPR’s guide to the best books of 2017. Be right back, adding about 20 to my list. have you read any?
- New York Times film critics on the best movie performances of 2017. So much agreement and so much anticipation for films I haven’t seen yet (like Ladybird, The Shape of Water, and Call Me By Your Name).
- The magic of big cities, an illustration.