Wednesday, February 21, 2018

My Favourite Films of 2017

Hey Gang O' Mine, here we finally are at my annual best of cinema list...or, at least my favourite films of the past year. I know, I am a touch later than my normal first week of the new year posting of said list, but alas, I have been busy as of late, and...oh, who cares...let's just get on with the damn list. Anyhoo, awaaaay we go....

1. Mother! - The most divisive film of the year, is also, in my not-so-humble opinion, the best damn film since 2011's Masterful Tree of Life! A film I would qualify as a masterpiece...and that is a word I never use lightly. Darren Aronofsky has woven together a biblical allegory like no one has ever seen. Even more batshitcrazy than the auteur's Black Swan or Requiem for a Dream (though the latter is still one of the most gorgeously disturbing films this critic has ever seen), Mother! is an enigma of a film that many moviegoers, and many of today's critics, will just not get. Too bad for them!

2. Call Me By Your Name - Directed by Italian auteur Luca Guadagnino, and based on a novel by Andre Aciman, Call Me By Your Name, with it's deliberate pace and naturally lit scenes, hearkens back to the arthouse cinema of the 1950's and 1960's. Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer give two of the finest performances of the year, which only adds to the sensational magic with which this love story engulfs its audience.

3. Phantom Thread - Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day-Lewis! Together again! How could this combination not lead to such a beautiful work of art as Phantom Thread? A story of obsession and how far someone might go just to feel alive, this film manages to be simultaneously sinister and heartfelt. Mesmerizing in full. But alas, this also seems to be the swan song of the great DDL.

4. Get Out - Taking the sad reality of what it is like to be a person of color in racist modern day America, and placing it smack dab in the center of a classic slasher film frame, Jordan Peele has created a unique blend of comedy, horror, and social commentary, using the tricks and tropes of each genre, and flipping them all on their respective heads.

5. The Shape of Water - A succulent film full of gorgeous cinematography and luscious production design, and with brilliant turns from Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, and Michael Shannon, Guillermo del Toro has fashioned an homage to classic cinema and a love story for the ages. 

6. A Ghost Story - This low key (and one might say low brow in certain aspects) supernatural love story is the second film bringing together director David Lowrey and leads Casey Affleck & Rooney Mara, and is a tragic tale that takes the idea of losing a loved one, and twists it around to a whole nother realm of existence. 

7. The Killing of a Sacred Deer - Yet another brilliantly disturbing film from auteur of the absurd, Yorgos Lanthimos. Following last year's The Lobster (the best film of 2016), The Killing of a Sacred Deer, starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman, and based on the Euripides play, Iphigenia in Aulis, is absurdist tragedy in the vein of Bunuel.

8. Personal Shopper - I never thought I would say this, but Kristen Stewart gives one of the best performances of the year. Yeah, that's right! Channeling Jodie Foster in many ways, Stewart takes Olivier Assayas' psychological thriller to a strange new level of organic psychosexual terror.

9. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Playing like a rural take on a Tarantino theme, this film of revenge and small town politics (as well as racial and gender relations in America), highlighted by a stunning central performance by Frances McDormand, is as refreshing as it is frustrating. 

10. The Beguiled - Sofia Coppola has taken the very masculine 1971 Don Siegel-Clint Eastwood film and recreated it from the female point of view so missing in the former film. And she does it with her usual quiet grace and beguiling arthouse manner.

Special Mention: Twin Peaks: The Return - Yeah yeah, I know, this was a TV show, but it was so much more than that! With this return to his 1990 TV series, David Lynch has put together the most disturbingly brilliant work of his career, with the possible exception of Muholland Dr.. So yeah, I'm putting it on my best films list. Take that!

Runners-Up (in no particular order): Lady Bird; Logan; Okja; Wonder Woman; I, Tonya; Blade Runner 2049.

That's it gang. See ya 'round the web.