Rachael's Top Ten Movies of 2017
This was one of the most difficult top 10’s I’ve had to make—I realized I’ve seen a lot of great films this year, with so many amazing performances—that I just HAD to incorporate honorable mentions. So here you have it, my honorable mentions and my top 10 list. I can only hope that 2018 brings along great films as 2017 did!
Here are my honorable mentions (five of them, because I’m a weak individual).
Brawl in Cell Block 99 (dir. S. Craig Zahler)
S. Craig Zahler impressed and shocked me with Bone Tomahawk, and he did it again with Brawl in Cell Block 99. This is most likely my favorite performance by Vince Vaughn ever. He was in another realm, playing a drug-runner who ends up in prison. Of course, Zahler threw in a jaw-dropping scene here, just like in Bone Tomahawk, and I loved every second of it. Not to mention, you get to watch Don Johnson, Udo Kier, and Jennifer Carpenter run the show, too. This was a perfect follow-up to his previous work and I’m excited for what’s to come.
Super Dark Times (dir. Kevin Phillips)
Went into this completely blind and wasn’t disappointed in the least. Shocking and bone chilling, Super Dark Times is a test of friendship for the teens in the movie. A violent incident occurs, and what follows is a cover up, complete paranoia, and trust issues. It has a great script to accompany all the madness and has a very Stand by Me vibe… just a lot darker. I feel as though this was swept under the rug this year just a bit, but I highly recommend it.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (dir. Rian Johnson)
Every time there is a new Star Wars film, my family sees it together during opening weekend with my brother dressing up in his Chewbacca onesie, and this time was no different. I always love a Star Wars theatre experience because of the wide range of people that show up. It’s heartwarming to see kids and adults come together for the love of a franchise. Rian Johnson created a gem with The Last Jedi. It pushed the Star Wars boundaries, and tested the waters, but it works. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t emotional when I saw Carrie Fisher and her fierce personality on screen. I just love this movie and all involved.
Dina (dir. Antonio Santini, Dan Sickles)
To say I loved this is an understatement. One of my favorite documentaries I watched as of late. Dina is about a mentally handicapped woman named Dina Buno and her also mentally handicapped boyfriend-turned-fiancé Scott Levin. I really love is the style of this documentary, which follows their love story. It’s not your typical voiceover documentary, this shows how charismatic the two are, how they make it work, and how the only thing that matters is love. I may be a tad biased because the subjects of the doc and the directors are from my area, but it’s truly wonderful and should be seen by all.
The Beguiled (dir. Sofia Coppola)
This year I tapped into both versions of The Beguiled. This one, to me, is much better than the 1971 original. You can tell this has a woman’s touch when it comes to the characters and the way the story unfolds and how certain scenes are filmed; it’s refreshing. I’ve always been a fan of Sofia Coppola and, with this, I will continue to be. There were issues with things being slight problematic, but after hearing her reasoning, I understood it a bit. You can’t go wrong with the cast either. Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Colin Farrell shine on screen with each other bringing brow-furrowing tension through the movie.
Now for the Top 10 that will probably change in about 5 minutes after I finish writing this up.
10. Landline (dir. Gillian Robespierre)
A movie that I feel wasn’t even in the eyes of many audiences, which is a complete shame. Landline is GREAT! Jenny Slate and Abby Quinn play sisters going through a lot of changes in their lives. They are one of my favorite duos in a movie. Their chemistry is undeniable and I really thought they could be sisters in real life. So far I’ve seen the two full length films from Robespierre and I want a million more. I adore Obvious Child and Landline and want her to continue working with Jenny Slate. I love how Robespierre pushes the buttons just a bit more in her films to where they can be controversial for society but ridiculously heartwarming in the end.
9. Personal Shopper (dir. Olivier Assayas)
I have never been one to hail Kristen Stewart, but I find myself loving everything she’s been in lately. She is a powerhouse of an actress and this doesn’t change my thoughts. Working with a minimal cast, with her co-star being a cellphone, Stewart displays fear and uneasiness as a woman who is dealing with the death of her brother, who may be contacting her via text messages. This movie leaves you with a pit in your stomach and a sense of dread. It’s not for everyone. People at my screening said it was the worst movie they’ve ever seen. However, it worked for me. Kristen Stewart is making a great name for herself and I love it!
8. The Florida Project (dir. Sean Baker)
I had heard so many good things about The Florida Project that my anticipation was through the roof. I was able to see it in San Francisco on vacation, since I wasn’t sure when or if Pennsylvania, where I live, was ever going to get it. I remember watching this and afterwards just saying “wow”. Brooklyn Prince stole the show. I don’t think I have ever seen a little girl deliver as much and as well as she did. She blew me away. The film is a tough subject matter to tackle and at times it’s very hard to watch. I don’t know how Sean Baker did it, but he did. Major props to Willem Dafoe too, one of my favorite supporting performances of the year.
7. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (dir. Yorgos Lanthimos)
Have you ever watched a movie where majority of the time you have nothing but big gulps from pure rush of nervousness? That was me during this whole viewing. I felt extremely uncomfortable at times, and at other times I wanted to laugh at how stiff the scenes and cast were. However, once it unfolds... it really unfolds. Colin Farrell reteams with his The Beguiled co-star Nicole Kidman as they play a husband and wife who befriend a kid, which leads to all hell breaking loose within their family. My jaw was on the ground for the majority of the time. There is one scene towards the end where Farrell gives a certain look—it’s engraved in my head because it’s extremely real and haunting. Lanthimos brings out all the emotions and this is no different.
6. The Shape of Water (dir. Guillermo del Toro)
This was one of my most anticipated films of the year and I was counting down the days to see it. If you know me, you know how much I adore Michael Shannon. So obviously, this was a must see and it was beautiful. Sally Hawkins doesn’t get enough credit in general, in my opinion, and I was so happy to see her in this. The Shape of Water is Creature from the Black Lagoon with a love twist. I am a big fan of casting, and this is my favorite casting of the year. In addition to the previous two mentioned, Michael Stuhlbarg, Octavia Spencer, Richard Jenkins, and Doug Jones are all superb. I laughed, I cried, I felt the love. Guillermo seemed to tap into many different genres while creating this film and it deserves all the love.
5. Wonder Woman (dir. Patty Jenkins)
Pure love. That’s what I have to say about this. I saw this twice in theatres and on a second viewing my adoration grew tenfold. Patty Jenkins absolutely crushed it. Gal Gadot was dominant and amazing. My theatre viewing experiences of this were my favorites of 2017. Little girls dressed up as Wonder Woman, a little girl telling her mommy that she wanted to be just like Wonder Woman, and another little girl throwing her arms in the air with fists of glory. To say I loved an in-theatre viewing experience more would be a lie. The film itself showed the world that women have it in them to do everything men do. They can smash box offices and deliver something so genuine and fun that empower women (and men) all around. Hats off to Patty Jenkins!
4. A Ghost Story (dir. David Lowery)
I knew after seeing this at Sundance that there was going to be no in-between for viewers, they would either love it or they would hate it. I was on the love side. It is hard to talk about this movie without remembering the complete feeling of dread and loneliness it brought along. I recall sitting with two of my friends afterwards and we were dead silent for a solid couple minutes, taking in what we just saw. There is minimal dialogue and most of the progression of this film is visual, with an enigmatic score, which just so happens to be my favorite score of 2017. Of course, you’ll hear about the pie scene, but there is much more to A Ghost Story that is worth seeing. It stuck with me for long after I saw it and I’m ready for what David Lowery delivers next.
3. Good Time (dir. Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie)
Whoa. Just whoa. I have never been one to hide my adoration for Robert Pattinson and I most certainly will not hold it back after watching this. If anything, I’m screaming from the rafters for people to watch his performances. They haven’t failed my as of late and I was blown away by his performance in this. It comes so naturally. Pattison plays a guy who is trying to free his mentally handicapped brother before he gets sent to jail after a heist goes wrong. There is one scene that I could REALLY do without, but the rest is a neon roller coaster ride. I remember seeing this in an empty theatre and I said out loud, “Oh my god” during one scene at the end because I loved it so much. My recommendation is to go into this completely blind if you haven’t seen it. It’s so crazy!
2. Call Me by Your Name (dir. Luca Guadagnino)
When I first heard about this, I heard how it was an absolutely stunning film, yet a tad controversial. I read the book immediately after. I understand the controversies, but there is so much more to the film than what people are complaining about. It is a tale of a young man, Oliver, staying at an Italian summer home of a professor to assist him in his work. Meanwhile he has an affair with the professor’s 17-year-old son, Elio. Their relationship unfolds, and it is shown in such a beautiful way that I cannot get it out of my head. The script, composition, music, acting...everything was wonderful. Timothée Chalamet puts on one of my favorite performances of 2017. I can’t recommend this enough. My tears were shedding tears and I needed a box of tissues, or two.
1. Lady Bird (dir. Greta Gerwig)
This was my most anticipated film of the year and it turned out to be the most relatable film I’ve seen in quite some time. I attended a Catholic school and I watched this movie thinking, “me too.” I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought that while watching this; this coming-of-age film, I feel, can be relatable to so many people, young and old. Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is something to praise. This love letter to Sacramento made me feel everything. Saoirse Ronan was phenomenal, and Laurie Metcalf put on one of the best performances of the year, while Tracy Letts was a perfect companion to the story. It has a perfect use of music from the era (set in 2002) and a script that melts your heart. There’s so much good to say about this movie, and I am beyond excited to see Greta’s directing career flourish.