Film & Television / Reviews

Top 10 Films of 2017

Top 10 films released in 2017

10. Battle of the Sexes

battle 5Can we just pretend Emma Stone won her Oscar for this one instead of Blah-Blah Bland? Stone is warm and understated as feminist tennis legend Billie Jean King, who faces off against Steve Carrell’s frustrating/charming Bobby Riggs in the famed 1970s tennis match of the title. The film is funny, moving, and boasts some of the best erotic scenes of the last decade in film. (Who knew a head massage from a hair dresser could be so enticing?)

9. The Disaster Artist

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I’ve never felt as emotional about Corona’s “The Rhythm of the Night” until the end credits of this movie. Star/director James Franco’s magnum opus  about the making of cult classic film The Room is magnetic: you will howl with laughter at fearless Tommy Wiseau’s alien artistic vision as much as you will intrinsically feel his ambition, pain, and ultimate triumph.

8. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Finally, I understand why people love Star Wars. While The Force Awakens is a blast, it also feels like a beat-for-beat reboot of A New Hope. The Last Jedi, however, stands on its own legs, delivering action, humor, sexual subtext, and class-consciousness in a way that feels fresh for a nearly 50-year-old film franchise. Plus, Rey and Kylo Ren’s butt2butt battle sequence in Snoke’s Red Room might be the hottest sexless sex scene I’ve ever seen.

7. The Red Turtle

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Another masterpiece from Japanese animation titan Studio Ghibli. Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit’s dialogue-less fable tells the tale of a shipwrecked man who commits a vicious act of revenge against a red turtle who keeps foiling his plans to escape the uninhabited island. What happens after will astound you, and ultimately break your heart.

6. Menashe

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This rare Yiddish-language film peers into the little-seen  Hasidic Jewish world of Borough Park, Brooklyn. Menashe Lustig plays a ne’er-do-well widower who is forced to give up his young son to his in-laws because the religious elders of the community won’t allow him to raise the child until he remarries. But unkempt and forgetful Menashe is reluctant to do so after an unhappy first marriage. The film beautifully questions what it means to be a man in a culture where masculinity is defined by family leadership.

5. Girls Trip

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Hands-down the funniest comedy I’ve seen all year. Four college friends at four different stages in their lives reunite in New Orelans for a weekend romp away from their troubles. The chemistry between the members of the “Flossy Posse” – Queen Latifah’s has-been gossip columnist, Jada Pinkett Smith’s scrunch-faced divorcee, Regina Hall’s all-facade lifestyle guru, and Tiffany Haddish’s trash-mouth id – can’t be beat. Haddish’s break-out performance is a glory to behold and my personal choice for Best Supporting Actress.

4. Lady Macbeth

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Not a story about Shakespeare’s classic villainess, but the moral engine isn’t too far off. This breathless film – as close to a thriller as a drama about a 19th century heroine can get – tells the story of a bored and mistreated young wife (Florence Pugh, mesmerizing) who finds solace in the arms of a Heathcliff-like farm hand. Their lust ripples and craters the very sanctity of the household as they descend into deceit and murder. Surprisingly for the genre, the film has more to say about race and predatory whiteness than any other movie I’ve seen in in a long time.

3. The Florida Project

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Moonee is a seven-year-old scamp living in a motel on the margins of Orlando outside of Disney World. Her impulsive mom, Halley, is barely older than a teenager. Despite this clear set up for failure, you’re still more than halfway into this picaresque vision of childhood when you even realize the noose is tightening around their little family. The technicolor coda will pierce you right through the chest.

2. Lady Bird

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Greta Gerwig’s shining exploration of a girl’s senior year of high school defies words – when people ask me what it’s about, I have no idea what to say other than “just see it.” Is it a comedy about stumbling through first romances and old friendships? A drama about barbed mothers and ungrateful daughters? A look at life in the lower middle classes of a second-tier American city? A cutting revision of the common narrative about those who “get out” of their shitty hometown? I dunno, just see it.

1. I, Tonya

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This isn’t a black comedy, but a sparkling tragedy. Margot Robbie is brilliant as infamous skating champion Tonya Harding, a diamond-hard young woman who channels her lifetime of domestic abuse and class discrimination into figuring skating excellence… until she’s undone by it all. The film juxtaposes vicious cruelty with humor to showcase how violence becomes normalized for people who pass from abusive families to abusive partners.

Top 10 Older Films I Saw in 2017:

1. Grave of the Fireflies [1988]

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2. Broadcast News [1987]

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3. All About Eve [1950]

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4. The Virgin Spring [1960]

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5. Fanny and Alexander [1982]

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6. La Ceremonie [1995]

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7. Lust, Caution [2007]

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8. 8 Mile [2002]

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9. Take Care of My Cat [2001]

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10. Pink Flamingos [1972]

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One thought on “Top 10 Films of 2017

  1. I saw The Red Turtle couple of days ago, and I really love that movie. Highly romantic animation movie without a single dialogue. Thanks for your list. Hope I can spend some good time with it.

    Like

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