Thursday, December 28, 2017

Top 20 Films of 2017

Honorable Mentions:
Brigsby Bear
Patti Cake$
Logan Lucky
Wind River
It Comes At Night

The Top 20:

20. Coco
Pixar's latest gem Coco is a vividly-tuned celebration of music and passion. It's is so rich with themes of family, legacy, memories, and yes -- death. But for a film that does approach the subject of death so often, it's incredibly full of life.

19. The Lost City of Z
The beautifully shot Lost City of Z is a sweeping, sprawling epic of exploration and relentless desire that hearkens back to classical adventures of the past. It's one of the most under-the-radar films of the year, and it shouldn't just be hidden away, so go seek this one out.

18. Ingrid Goes West
Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen star in this California dreamin' excursion of social media age antics and web celeb obsession. It's over-the-top, thoroughly absorbing, and rich in relevant substance. It's practically a moving postcard with a lot of baggage. And actually, the film's use of "All My Life" by K-Ci & JoJo alone was enough to get my click of approval.

17. Baby Driver
A playlist-inspired action flick with a high-octane spin, Baby Driver is a film that fires on all cylinders. The flashy editing and kinetic camerawork... The escalating conflicts within each beat of the narrative... The way the rock & soul music synchronizes with the exhilarating tempo of the chase sequences and shootouts...  It's all crafted with stylish precision.

16. Personal Shopper
Kristen Stewart gives a captivating performance in Personal Shopper, an unorthodox ghost story that consistently intrigues and perplexes. What's in the mind and what isn't? Grief, trauma, delusion, and paranormal activity all seem to be at work. It's the type of film that will make you think, while coming up with your own theories about it, which means it's worth watching more than once. The end is unsettling and ambiguous, and given the nature of the film, you wouldn't expect anything else.

15. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Yeah, I enjoyed it. 

14. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The crew of ragtags-to-lovable heros return for another round of space escapades. From the dazzling visual effects to the charming, sometimes Looney Toons-esque camp -- to the well-curated soundtrack of classic rock & soul songs that pop against the film's arcade colors and cosmic splash aesthetic -- to the zany sense of humor -- Vol. 2  is a rollicking, gooey, extraterrestrial fun time.

13. Thor: Ragnarok 
Taika Waititi makes an impressive leap to blockbuster fare with the wildly warping blast of cosmic revelry that is Thor: Ragnarok. Simply put - it's a smash. Oh, and Korg rules.

12. John Wick: Chapter 2
As Kanye West once said in a song, "Any rumor you ever heard about me was true and legendary." The same could be said of John Wick. The guy keeps reiterating his desire to retire, but for the sake of us all -- let's hope he doesn't.

11. Wonder Woman
Dashing in as one of the most fantastic superhero journeys of the year, Wonder Women is a triumph in so many ways. It's a film worth rooting for. It'll give you chills, and it'll make you want to pump your fist. It has a shining, glorious soul.

10. Dunkirk
A technical marvel. An expertly crafted World War II thriller that leaves you breathless. Dunkirk is a very straightforward, matter-of-fact tale of rescue and survival that's told with minimal dialogue, and it's just as impactful as anything Christopher Nolan has ever done.

9. Logan
Not your usual Wolverine movie, Logan is a dark and grisly swan song for Mr. Claws that slashes with potent violence and pierces with affecting tenderness. This film honors the end of an era. The last of a dying breed.

8. Good Time
Robert Pattinson gives the best performance of his career in Ben and Josh Safdie's wickedly intense and tenaciously dirty New York City crime-drama. This thing is jarring, the stakes are high, and it's chalked full of danger. Every maximal scene is designed to get your heart racing. It's a visually stylish adrenaline rush, through and through.

7. Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villeneuve delivers an astonishingly-realized dystopian epic. The picture is so sublime and provocative that you just have to sit back and stare in awe. The soundscape is hypnotic too, as the reverberating post-Yeezus score virtually sends waves into your head and swallows you whole. I found the pure artfulness, innovation, and neo-noir vibes of it all to be mesmerizing.

6. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 
A darkly comic, potently tragic, and thoroughly entertaining display that features a prominent, tour de force performance from the great Frances McDormand. It's a small-town story, but it burns with resonant and relevant themes, sending smoke signals of scathing commentary on abuse of power, racism, predators, hypocrisy, and misplaced priorities.

5. The Florida Project
A spirited and empathetic juxtaposition of childhood wonderment against the backdrop of working-poor struggles within the fractured cracks of America. It's winsome, observant, transient, and as enchanting as it is harsh. The last 10 minutes breathtakingly set off fireworks of swirling emotion that will turn you into a blubbering mess.

4. Lady Bird
Greta Gerwig's directorial debut is a coming-of-age comedy gem that's spunked with a consistently delightful energy. It flaunts a well-written script, memorable characters, and a superb turn from Saoirse Ronan. Everything about this film is brilliant.

3. Get Out
Jordan Peele's feature directorial debut is one of those wildly blended cinematic experiences that you don't often see pulled off with this much success. It's all at once an effective horror film, a sly commentary on race relations, a searing satire on the terrors of white supremacy, and a psychological cult escape thriller. This film will make you jump. It'll make you squirm. It'll make you laugh. It'll make you sweat. And it'll make you desperately want to yell "Get Out!"

2. The Big Sick
Co-written by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, The Big Sick is a semi-autobiographical dramedy that is as pleasant as it is poignant. The film is about the complicated relationships we encounter, the doozies that life drops, the intricacies of family and culture, and the power of comedy that can sometimes help us through it all.

1. The Shape of Water
Weird, wet, wild, and wonderful. The Shape of Water is a deeply majestic fairytale that would only come from the mind of visionary director Guillermo del Toro. The film is definitely filled with a melancholy undercurrent of social themes, but what shines through the most is del Toro's obsessive ode to French and golden age Hollywood cinema, creature features, and outcasts. In the end, it becomes quite clear that The Shape of Water is love.

Will return.

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