Oh look, another year of cinema running around all crazy with its head cut off. Sex scandals everywhere, the Hollywood sign is on fire and, once again, my best-of list is filled with controversy, depravity and woe. Here are my favorite films from 2017 (notably incomplete—I’d loved to have seen P.T. Anderson’s Phantom Thread for example, but oh well). Let’s get to it:
5. Call Me by Your Name
The world has yet to unleash director Luca Guadagnino’s sultry summer romance to a Montana theater near you, but get ready. I saw this last January at Sundance and I’ve been a gay teenager unfurling my heart and mind in Italy ever since. Timothée Chalamet and Armie Hammer re-educate us on how to eat a peach while offering further proof that American cinema has no idea how to do sexy. Hint: Lose the red lighting, 50 Shades. Your parents aren’t listening in the next room, you don’t need to blare the soundtrack. This movie knows how to linger in the silence.
4. The Florida Project
A reader called me out last month for being too kind to the film’s psychopathic heroine. It’s true, when Hailey took sexy Craigslist pictures of her kid to help her hooking, I wrote that she acted out of love, but perhaps I was too generous. Building supervisor Bobby (Willem Dafoe) and others live a stone’s throw from Disney World in director Sean Baker’s smart, beautifully shot and painfully long exploration of poor people on the fringes of society. Not one bit fun.
How come nobody gave a hoot about director Kathryn Bigelow’s gritty horror show about riots in my hometown in the summer of 1967, the historical precursor of everything rotten about race relations between black people and our country’s punch drunk police force? Are we that much a slave to trending hashtags, is #BlackLivesMatter so last year that we can’t scroll back to appreciate great cinema when we see it?
Director Darren Aronofsky made a bizarre masterpiece with Mother! that people really, really hated. One Vice writer called it “one of the worst films of the decade.” Oh really, in a decade that birthed 15 Pirates of the Caribbean movies? Consider the sound design alone and that’s a spurious claim. Whoever heard of a girl in a translucent slip and a mousy voice trapped in the house she built for an ungrateful poet, surrounded on all sides by an impossible field? I get it, where is the driveway? What is that wonderful yellow powder she takes like a drug, why’s Kristen Wiig shooting people in the head—a horror film with tits and the blood of dead babies dripping from mouths, I never! The conversation surrounding this movie really hurt my feelings. Films and Facebook don’t mix; they are like coke and vodka. Mother! is a dream turned nightmare.
1. Good Time
The Safdie Brothers’ crime adventure gives us a bank heist gone wrong, followed by a Mountain Dew bottle’s worth of LSD down some poor Somalian’s throat and a crook so bad at life, we watch him fall thrillingly out of a window. See, I’m not all brimstone and vinegar. My favorite film of the year might feature yet another psychopathic grifter (Robert Pattinson with dyed blonde hair, Team Edward!), but it’s also a lot of fun!
6. The Killing of a Sacred Deer 7. Get Out 8. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri 9. The Disaster Artist 10. (Write-in) Star Wars: The Last Jedi