' ' Cinema Romantico: 10 Favorite Movies of 2017

Tuesday, January 02, 2018

10 Favorite Movies of 2017

This year more than recent ones I entered my year-end list-making with some fairly notable blind spots, not just in the case of notable entities like “Phantom Thread” or “The Florida Project”, alas, but most distressingly in the arena of foreign films where I really, regrettably fell down on the job. And even if my year-end Top 10 never deigns to call itself a Best Of, because such a declaration is laughably presumptuousness, but merely a collection of favorites, I still felt compelled to add this disclaimer. Not that I would forgo making my year-end Top 10. Cinema Romantico is as disinclined to pen the traditional Lists Are Stupid, Man, But My Editor Decrees I Write One Anyway prologue to our Top 10 as it is to calling our Top 10 a Best Of. So anyway, out of the many, many movies I did watch in 2017, these 10 meant the most to me. (Note: click on the movie title to read the full review.)

10 Favorite Movies of 2017

10. Good Time 

Though Robert Pattinson’s human scuzz spends most of “Good Time“ on a rescue mission, he also spends the majority of it on the run, from law enforcement, sure, but, more than that, from his profound white entitlement, which seems to catch up with him in the end, though Pattinson refuses to let his character comply.

9. Columbus 

Korean director Kogonada improbably utilizes the lauded architecture of the real life Columbus, Indiana as the epistemological conduit to an intellectual blossoming.

8. Strong Island 

Yance Ford sort of transforms flipping through a family photo album into a meditation on race in America, not seeking to dissolve the racial divide but shine a harsh spotlight on it to explicate in no uncertain terms that it absolutely exists and that it will not go anywhere unless we first acknowledge its presence.

7. A Ghost Story 

“A Ghost Story” is a testament to what movies can do, a reverie of DIY, taking nothing more than a bare bones child’s Halloween costume, a white bed sheet with two cut out eyeholes, and wresting all manner of meaning and aesthetic magic from it.

6. Get Out 

It is both inevitable and unfortunate that “Get Out”, as cinematical as allegorical, has become the subject of (pointless) awards category confusion since writer/director Jordan Peele is mashing up genres to comically, frightfully, thoughtfully demonstrate how the black experience in America is too often co-opted and whitesplained.

5. Lost City of Z 

Not so much a journey into British colonialism as into the mystic, where English explorer Percy Fawcett ostensibly sets out in search of a place — El Dorado — that his failure to find allows for an emergent tranquility anyway, suggesting a mawkishness that director James Gray skillfully sidesteps for lyrical magnificence instead.

4. A Quiet Passion 

The visage of Cynthia Nixon as Emily Dickinson, recounted in indelible static frames and formidable close-ups by Terence Davies, captures with great clarity the roiling, toiling emotions within that gradually push her into seclusion, yielding a visual embodiment of the film’s title that is damn near as astonishing as the famed poetry recited in voiceover.

3. Wonder Woman 

Patty Jenkins filters a fish out of water comedy, given captivating life by her leading lady, through the typical brawn of a superhero movie, the former enlightening how the latter becomes about its titular character holding holy her idealism in the face of being forced to recognize mankind’s myriad flaws, which makes the ending, lamented by so many, this perfect flawed thing.

2. Lady Bird 

Packed with the trappings of countless inferior coming-of-age movies, writer/director Greta Gerwig does not skewer or dissect those trappings so much as willfully embrace them to enjoyably, movingly uncover their multitudes of truth.

The apparently un-retired Steven Soderbergh hits the sweet spot with “Logan Lucky” in concocting a NASCAR country heist flick that is an absolute blast to watch on all aesthetic levels even as it delicately assembles numerous real world strands and then effortlessly ties them together to raise the compulsory twist from the mere unexpected to the essential. 


Derek Armstrong said...

This may be the most we've overlapped in a couple years, as my current top two and three of my top six appear on this list. You'll have to wait until January 23rd to see which films those are, though.

I don't think you fell down on the job with foreign films. There just weren't very many of them this year, or at least, not many that crossed over into the zeitgeist. I bemoaned it on my blog recently. I hope it's not a sign of things to come in the Netflix era, but it may be. Ironically, by (hypothetically) shining a spotlight on some additional foreign films, Netflix is also blurring the lines between high-profile foreign films and just some foreign film picked up off the scrap heap. This may not really be happening but I think it might be.

Lady Bird does not open here for another six weeks. Grr.

Alex Withrow said...

Great stuff. LOVE your love for Logan Lucky. I didn't know that was your year favorite, but I'm so happy it is. I watched Strong Island last week and damn. Just... damn. That phone call with the lawyer in the beginning set the tone perfectly. No one will help you. You have to go at this alone. So devastating.

Nick Prigge said...

Derek: That's an interesting thought about Netflix. I did just catch up with My Happy Family, which I liked but which didn't necessarily wow me. Some foreign films get to Chicago, but not all, and they are gone so fast that often I don't have time to get there, and so Netflix pitches you a foreign film that is supposed to be great and it's so easy to access that you don't go digging for something else. I'm just thinking out loud here. Still waiting for In the Fade to get here.

Alex: I'll be honest, any of the Top 3 could have been my #1...but there was just something about Logan Lucky and how Soderbergh made something so straight-up entertaining with un-forced notes of reality that I couldn't shake. That was the movie that I felt most blown away by RIGHT when the credits rolled, you know? Like, how did he do that?