Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: Best of 2017: The 13 Best Films of the Year

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Best of 2017: The 13 Best Films of the Year

by Tony Dayoub

As Academy Awards night bears down on us, here is my annual filmic appreciation. For your consideration, my top films of 2017, followed by the winners of the respective polls I was invited to vote in.

1. Phantom Thread, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson - Increasingly, Anderson makes movies that you just want to crawl into and cover yourself in as if with a warm blanket. Phantom Thread is no exception. The film features compelling performances by the largely unknown Vicky Krieps and an icy Lesley Manvilleformidable presences bothopposite Daniel Day-Lewis in what he says is his final film role as fashion house impresario Reynolds Woodcock. Phantom Thread is a lush, hypnotic inquiry into the twisted romance between an artist and his admiring muse. As with his other films Anderson and his collaborator, composer Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead, build an insulated reality that envelopes the viewer in a delicate fog of details about 1950s London, creating a kind of ineffability and ephemerality well suited to the world of haute couture and the inexpressible, private aspects of relationships.

2. The Florida Project, dir. Sean Baker - It's nice when you get to see a filmmaker develop within the same timeframe as your own development as a writer. Not that my commentary bears any comparison to Baker's talent. It's just rewarding to recognize the early potential of a director like Baker or Jeff Nichols and see it pay off into recognition by the greater film community some years down the road. Ever since watching Take Out, I was hoping Baker would go on to something greater. The Florida Project is just that, a beautiful ode to the insular world of childhood, even in harrowing circumstances such as the ones faced by six-year-old Moonee (Brooklynn Prince). Add an understated supporting performance by a soft-spoken Willem Dafoe and this movie makes for essential viewing.

3. Get Out, dir. Jordan Peele - The single most original motion picture of the year, Get Out is not just a horror flick. It is a representation of the state of America and its historic problem with race. Driving the point home is that it isn't as reductive as attributing the problem to the current political climate, but the fact that the issue crosses all political affiliations and generations.

4. Lady Bird, dir. Greta Gerwig - In her directing debut, Gerwig manages to give us an unsurprisingly assured film set in a similar arena as Diablo Cody and Jason Reitman's similarly lauded coming of age dramedy, Juno (2007). And that's a minor achievement in itself.

5. The Post, dir. Steven Spielberg - At this point, most take it for granted that Spielberg can so quickly churn out these ensemble-driven historical dramas. That he manages to make the dry and complex story of the Pentagon Papers so easy to understand, so thrilling and, above all, so timely proves that The Post was criminally ignored. Great performances across the board make this relentlessly watchable. May the movie live a long post-theatrical life, no pun intended.

6. Logan, dir. James Mangold - Review here. If my review got anything wrong, it was that this movie would be forgotten come awards season. Its screenplay garnered an Oscar nomination, evidence that it's not only my skin it's gotten under in the months since its release.

7. The Square, dir. Ruben Östlund - Why take down a movie for missing its mark? The Square at least aims high. So its statement on the hypocrisy present in the art world (a microcosm of the society around it) is admittedly a mess. But Östlund earns points for tackling a complicated, and quite unique, subject. The most rewarding aspect of the film is found in the central performance of Claes Bang as the museum curator, Christian. The Square delights in torturing its lead, and Bang's Christian is as pretentious as they come, a kind of milquetoast whose tragicomic travails are not dissimilar to those of Griffin Dunne's Paul Hackett in Scorsese's After Hours.

8. The Lost City of Z, dir. James Gray - A disquieting take on Percy Fawcett, a real-world Indiana Jones-type adventurer that inspired Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World and its hero, Professor Challenger. The picture is expertly lensed by a filmmaker out of his own element, New York chronicler James Gray, bestowing his own fish-out-of-water discomfort to the performance of a very dashing Charlie Hunnam (Sons of Anarchy) as Fawcett.

9. Thor: Ragnarok, dir. Taika Waititi - While we bask in the glory of Black Panther, Marvel's most critically acclaimed film, let me remind you that at a point when other franchises start running on fumes, this cinematic universe is only getting better. Exhibit A: this feature, the third in the, until now, least interesting superhero exploits of Thor, the Norse god of thunder. An infusion of fresh blood in the form of its director, Taika Waititi, boosts this tired fantasy saga into the realm of the truly cosmic, as evidenced by outlandish characters such as the movie's two villains, Hela (Cate Blanchett) and the Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum), characters that cut quite a visual figure. But the true stars of this show are the often under-utilized Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson), and Thor himself, finally clowning around to the full extent of Chris Hemsworth's comedic ability. Not just a wild ride through the galaxy usually occupied by Marvel's Guardians, but one of the most hilarious movies of the year, Ragnarok demonstrates that Marvel maintains its high quality by continually challenging itself and embracing the malleability present within its, now interstellar-sized, proscenium.

10. Darkest Hour, dir. Joe Wright - A dramatic achievement of the highest order, Gary Oldman's star performance as Churchill captures the enigmatic personality that drove the political agenda surrounding Britain's terrifying, but inspirational, involvement in the early days of the Second World War. A noble supplement to Dunkirk.

11. Call Me By Your Name, dir. Luca Guadagnino - A queer movie that crosses over simply by illustrating the universality of adolescent infatuation. Where the movie really hit home for me was not in the beautifully drawn relationship between its teen protagonist and the older man who is the object of his ardor, but in Michael Stuhlbarg's acclaimed performance as the young man's understanding dad. In just one monologue where he encourages his son to pursue whatever makes him happy, Stuhlbarg etches a father we should all aspire to be, one as memorable in his own way as Gregory Peck's Atticus Finch..

12. Rat Film, dir. Theo Anthony - Is it a documentary? Is it a narrative? This odd intersection of both uses Baltimore's notorious problem with rats to depict the larger issues with the city and society itself. Memorable sequence: a couple of guys hanging out, rat-fishing in the allies.

13. Dunkirk, dir. Christopher Nolan - A technical achievement of the highest order, Nolan's movie captures various first-person perspectives during the events surrounding Britain's devastating, but inspirational, defeat. A superb supplement to Darkest Hour.

Honorable Mention: Alien: Covenant, Blade Runner 2049, Coco, The Disaster Artist, Get Me Roger Stone, The Greatest Showman, Hostiles, It, It Comes at Night, Jane, Kong: Skull Island, The LEGO Batman Movie, Let it Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992, The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected), The Shape of Water, Spider-Man Homecoming, Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri, Wonder Woman

Most Overrated: Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri

Most Underrated: Logan

Breakthrough Actor of the Year:
Timothée Chalamet (Call Me By Your Name, Hostiles, Hot Summer Nights, Lady Bird)

Breakthrough Actress of the Year: Gal Gadot (Justice League, Wonder Woman)


Winners are in red where my own vote coincides.

Georgia Film Critics Association

Best Picture:
Lady Bird
Best Director: Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
Best Actor: Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out)
Best Actress: Saoirse Ronan (Lady Bird)
Best Supporting Actor: Willem Dafoe (The Florida Project)
Best Supporting Actress: Laurie Metcalf (Lady Bird)
Best Original Screenplay: Get Out - Jordan Peele
Best Adapted Screenplay: The Disaster Artist - Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber
Best Cinematography:
Dunkirk - Hoyte van Hoytema
Best Production Design: Blade Runner 2049 - Dennis Gassner & Alessandra Querzola
Best Original Score: Dunkirk - Hans Zimmer
Best Original Song: "Remember Me" - Kristen Anderson-Lopez & Robert Lopez (Coco)
Best Ensemble: Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
Best Foreign Film: The Square
Breakthrough Award: Jordan Peele (Get Out)
Best Animated Film:
Best Documentary: Jane
Oglethorpe Award for Excellence in Georgia Cinema: Baby Driver


Best Film
1. Get Out
2. Lady Bird
3. Dunkirk
4. Phantom Thread
5. The Florida Project

6. The Shape of Water
7. Call Me By Your Name
8. Personal Shopper
9. Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri
10. The Post

Best Director: Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread
Best Actress: Saoirse Ronan, Lady Bird
Best Actor: Timothée Chalamet, Call Me By Your Name
Best Supporting Actress: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Best Supporting Actor: Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project
Best Documentary:
Faces Places
Best Undistributed Film: Bodied
Best Debut Feature: Get Out
Best Screenplay: Get Out
Best Foreign Language Film:
BPM (Beats Per Minute)
Best Cinematography: Blade Runner 2049
Best Animated Film:
Best 2018 Movie Already Seen: Zama

The Southeastern Film Critics Association
Top 10
1. Get Out

2. The Shape of Water
3. Dunkirk
4. Lady Bird

5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
6. The Post
7. The Florida Project
8. Call Me By Your Name
9. Darkest Hour

10. The Disaster Artist

Best Actor: Gary Oldman, Darkest Hour
Best Actress: Sally Hawkins, The Shape of Water
Best Supporting Actor:
Sam Rockwell, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Supporting Actress: Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Best Ensemble
: Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Best Director: Guillermo del Toro, The Shape of Water
Best Original Screenplay: Jordan Peele, Get Out
Best Adapted Screenplay:
James Ivory, Call Me By Your Name
Best Documentary: Jane
Best Foreign Language Film: First They Killed My Father
Best Animated Film: Coco
Best Cinematography: Hoyte Van Hoytema, Dunkirk

The Gene Wyatt Award for the Film that Best Evokes the Spirit of the South: Mudbound

1 comment:

Ana@snaptubeapp said...

Oh I am so excited for this weekend! I can watch some from list. I already seen this Phantom Thread. It's a fever dream of a film that I haven't stopped thinking about since seeing it yesterday. Of course, it's all exquisitely crafted, beautifully performed and the score by Jonny Greenwood is just sublime. The way in which Anderson and his crew have recreated a specific place and time but somehow managed to make it all seem otherworldly yet instantly recognizable is really a wondrous thing to behold. At times during this I wasn't quite sure of anything but the sway of it all is so intoxicating and seductive that it hardly ever mattered. I wanted to see it again straight away, to revel in its unique, discombobulating strangeness.