Best of 2017

In preparation for awards season, I’ve compiled my favourite films of 2017.  I present them in no particular order beyond the Top 2 – meaning I believe the overall best film of the year to be Call Me by Your Name, followed closely by Dunkirk.  That being said, there are many 2017 flicks I have yet to see that very well may have landed themselves on my favourites, including The Shape of Water, All the Money in the World, The Post, Darkest Hour, and The Greatest Showman.  Hopefully I’ll post full reviews of at least some of these when I eventually am able to see them.  I’m excited to round out my 2017 viewing soon, and to see how the following selections fair in the home stretch of awards season.

  1. Call Me by Your NameCall Me By Your Name

“Nature has cunning ways of finding our weakest spot.”

(Fully reviewed here)This film infected my mind for days, necessitating a repeat viewing less than a week later.  While some technical elements of other films on this list may be more impressive, Call Me by Your Name stands out to me as the best complete work. Superb acting

(especially from Timothée Chalamet), a magnificent screenplay, beautiful cinematography (highlighting stunning Italian locales), and an unexpected but perfectly fitting score (rounded out by songs by Sufjan Stevens) all come together to create an incredibly stunning story.  I still feel moved by the honesty, complexity, and humanity this film projects, and I know that this will be a film to which I routinely return.

  1. DunkirkDunkirk.jpg

“‘All we did is survive.’ ‘That’s enough’”

War movies usually don’t pique my interest as keenly as other genres—enter Dunkirk, the filmed-for-IMAX spectacle by Christopher Nolan.  I loved Dunkirk so much I returned to the IMAX theatre several times to soak it all in.  The biggest triumphs of this film to me are the technical ones.  The awe-inspiring sound editing and mixing are second only to the incredible direction and cinematography.  No other film this year (except numbers 1 and 3 on this list) made me feel so engrossed for its entire runtime.  The soundscape is relentless, with perfect use of the Shepard Tone to amp up the intensity and engagement of the audience throughout the entire film.  And with so much footage filmed specifically for IMAX, Dunkirk’s three intertwining timelines are expertly woven together as a veritable visual feast.

  1. The Last JediThe Last Jedi.jpg

“No one’s ever really gone”

Star Wars will always hold the #1 place in my heart.  The Last Jedi, if nothing else, has been, shall we say, divisive.  I fall into the “love it” camp—needless to say I did not sign the ridiculous petition to have it removed from cannon.  I was not a fan of The Force Awakens.  I understood the intention—to ‘reboot’ the franchise for a new generation by reintroducing the mythos that was so successful in the original film—but I wanted something new, exciting, and exhilarating from this new trilogy.  Thankfully, The Last Jedi does just that.  By actively subverting expectations left right and centre, and moving the series into uncharted and unexpected territory, Rian Johnson delivered everything I was hoping to get in 2015.  The Last Jedi made so many steps to connect the three trilogies both narratively and thematically, and it did so without sacrificing the fun, energetic spirit which is what I for one have always loved about the galaxy far, far away.

  1. Get OutGet Out.jpg

“If I could, I would have voted for Obama for a third term.”

I am always enamoured by films that subvert expectations—that actively and intentionally take the viewer in surprising and intriguing directions.  I admittedly don’t remember a lot of specifics about the film itself, but I definitely remember leaving the theatre pleased with the fresh and unorthodox aspects of the film, and a sense of overall satisfaction that lingers enough to this day for an inclusion in my ‘best of’ list.

  1. War for the Planet of the ApesWar for the Planet of the Apes.jpg

“If we strive but fail, and the world remains armed against itself, then we’ve been divided, because the hunger for peace is in the hearts of all.”

There have been many highs and lows in the Apes series, and War is absolutely near the top of that nine film ladder.  A three line introduction at the beginning of the film succinctly summarizes the preceding entries in this trilogy, allowing War to propel forward with an energetic momentum that is unique to this installment.  What is most impressive, however, is that the film does not allow this momentum to take control, but rather keeps its pace measured.  This permits a complex and deep exploration of its themes of humanity, empathy, and morality, more successfully than any other film in the franchise.  War for the Planet of the Apes is also a visually striking film, with cinematography that is exquisite.  Finally, Andy Serkis provides his best performance yet, with a profound complexity that grounds this final installment of the reboot trilogy.

  1. Loving VincentLoving Vincent

“The medium of an artist defines them, it’s their voice, tell their story with it, each note or stroke.”

(Fully reviewed here)
Loving Vincent is not perfect.  It has narrative missteps, and some awkward pacing makes it feel longer than its runtime.  The striking visuals of the film, however, more than make up for these drawbacks.  Watching countless Van Gogh paintings come alive in his own unique style is marvellous, and is the most perfect homage to my favourite painter I could imagine.

  1. The Disaster ArtistThe Disaster Artist.png

“Oh, hi Mark!”

A disgrace to cinemaphiles everywhere, I had not seen The Room until this year, in anticipation of The Disaster Artist.  Why I held out so long on seeing the best worst movie ever made is beyond me, but alas! that is the truth.  Seeing The Disaster Artist so soon after experiencing The Room for the first time was truly exquisite.  The attention to detail, from acting to wardrobe to set decoration, is astonishing, to the point where there were moments I had to mentally check in that I was not in fact watching The Room itself.  James Franco’s performance as Tommy Wiseau is divine—I would eagerly watch a complete feature length side-by-side comparison of his reconstructions to the original.

 

Honourable Mentions (Non-2017 films I happened to watch this year)

  • Manifesto (Fully reviewed here): In a stunning display of Cate Blanchette’s mastery of her craft, she performs a series of monologues from various real life manifestos. Fresh, engaging, and wholly original, Manifesto is truly a striking ride.
  • Coherence: This 2013 head-trip with an exponential trajectory of complexity and intrigue kept me guessing from beginning to end. This is hard science fiction done right.
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