Reviews

2017 Films: Wrap-up

Hello!

It’s been a while since I’ve written on my blog, but I’m ready to get back to it (I hope). We’re already well into 2018 and lots have changed over the past year so I will give you a quick update on my life before I get to the films. I am now a Junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago, I moved out of my childhood home, I dropped the pre-med education plan (still a biology major), I’m now working towards a film minor, and life is pretty good right now. Now that that has been taken care of, let’s get into the fun, magical world that is film. A couple of years ago, I started going to the movies by myself. There were just too many things to see and I was too impatient to wait around for people to see them with. Going to the movies alone can be… mortifying at first, but after a few times it becomes the best way to screen a film. Going alone means having the freedom to experience a movie without interruptions, and the fear that the person who accompanied you didn’t enjoy the it as much as you did. This was pretty much what kickstarted my love for film and everything that revolves around film. In the past year, I watched over fifty 2017 releases and have gotten more into classic and world cinema. Hopefully by taking two film classes this semester I’ll be able to write more elaborate film essays and share my thoughts on the upcoming 2018 releases. So without further ado, here are my top 15 films of 2017:

15. Dunkirk

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Dunkirk © Warner Bros. Pictures

Director: Christopher Nolan

Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Barry Keoghan, Cillian Murphy, Jack Lowden, Tom Hardy

Quick Thoughts:¬†This film is a sensual experience and had me on the edge of my seat during its entirety. Out of all of Nolan’s work, I don’t think Dunkirk is his best, but I do believe that the technical aspects of this film are outstanding and deserve to be recognized.


14. Baby Driver

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Ansel Elgort and Lily James in Baby Driver © Sony Pictures

Director: Edgar Wright

Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Eiza Gonz√°lez, Jamie Foxx

Quick Thoughts:¬†This is an adrenaline driven film that is so visually and audibly satisfying to watch. I don’t usually gravitate towards action/car chasing films, but Baby Driver defied all my expectations. Wild action sequences, a perfectly synchronizing soundtrack. . . who knew heists could be this stylish?


13. Good Time

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Robert Pattinson in Good Time © A24

Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie

Starring: Robert Pattinson, Benny Safdie, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Quick Thoughts:¬†Speaking of heists, Good Time is another wild one. Robert Pattinson’s performance in this film¬†has been extremely overlooked, but is a force to be reckoned with. This is basically the film adaptation of If You Give A Mouse A Cookie but with more running and a complicated heist.


12. The Shape of Water

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Doug Jones and Sally Hawkins in The Shape of Water © Fox Searchlight Pictures

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Starring: Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon, Michael Stuhlbarg

Quick Thoughts: Guillermo del Toro has created another magical masterpiece. The Shape of Water brings you into a whimsical, fairytale-like world. The story, colors, cinematography, score, and performances are not only the reasons why I enjoyed this film, but also why it has received such critical acclaim.


11. The Killing of a Sacred Deer

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Colin Farrell in The Killing of a Sacred Deer © A24

Director: Yorgos Lanthimos

Starring: Colin Farrell, Barry Keoghan, Nicole Kidman, Raffey Cassidy, Alicia Silverstone

Quick Thoughts:¬†Watching this film invoked every feeling of discomfort in me; it was paralyzing. Yorgos Lanthimos is known for creating unsettling cinematic experiences, and he sure did succeed with this one. Barry Keoghan was perfectly… strange and was without a doubt the breakout star.


10. Coco

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Coco © Walt Disney Studios

Director: Lee Unkrich

Starring: Anthony Gonzales, Gael Garcia Bernal, Benjamin Bratt, Alanna Ubach

Quick Thoughts:¬†Watching Coco¬†is like having a glimpse of the Latino Culture, specifically El Dio de Los Muertos. This film is able to tell a beautiful story about family and music in such a colorful, vivid way. I’m definitely not ashamed to say that I bawled my eyes out multiple times.


9. Get Out

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Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out © Universal Pictures

Director: Jordan Peele

Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, Bradley Whitford, Catherine Keener, Caleb Landry Jones, Lakeith Stanfield

Quick Thoughts: Get Out is one of the most original, clever, and horrifying films I have ever seen. Jordan Peele did not disappoint with his first directorial debut. He created a  film that will be remembered for many years to come. There were incredible performances all around.


8. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi © Walt Disney Studios

Director: Rian Johnson

Starring: Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, John Boyega, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern

Quick Thoughts: Star Wars being one of the most loved and well-known franchises in the world, you could say that The Last Jedi drew in a pretty large (divisive) crowd. This film introduces new, refreshing sides to many of the old and new characters. There were a few scenes I felt were unnecessary, but I loved the action scenes and the humor.


7. Columbus

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Haley Lu Richardson in Columbus © Sundance Institute

Director: Kogonada

Starring: Haley Lu Richardson, John Cho, Parker Posey

Quick Thoughts: With Kogonada’s detailed vision,¬†Columbus¬†captures architecture in a way that is so beautiful and moving. This is a perfect coming of age film that also showcases Haley Lu Richardson’s incredible talent. I am now planning a road trip to Columbus, Indiana this summer (something I’d never thought I would be doing).


6. Blade Runner 2049

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Ana de Armas and Ryan Gosling in Blade Runner 2049 © Warner Bros. Pictures

Director: Dennis Villenueve

Starring: Ryan Gosling, Harrison Ford, Ana de Armas, Sylvia Hoeks, Robin Wright, Jared Leto

Quick Thoughts:¬†Blade Runner 2049 is such a visually striking film. Roger Deakins’s cinematography in this film is among some of his best work. On a technical aspect, this film is outstanding all around, but I also think it’s a great sequel to the original 1982 film.


5. Logan

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Dafne Keen and Hugh Jackman in Logan © 20th Century Fox

Director: James Mangold

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, Dafne Keen, Boyd Holbrook

Quick Thoughts: The epic conclusion to one of my favorite super heroes of all time. X-Men, Logan specifically, have been in my life since the beginning of my childhood. This film is more than just a super hero film, it showcases the bond within a family, overcoming mistakes, and it gives Logan the send off he so clearly deserved.


4. Phantom Thread

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Vicky Krieps and Daniel Day-Lewis in Phantom Thread © Universal Pictures

Director: Paul Thomas Anderson

Starring: Daniel Day-Lewis, Vicky Krieps, Lesley Manville

Quick Thoughts: Phantom Thread is not your average love story. Besides the glamorous production and costume design, this film radiates beauty through its dialogue, cinematography, and acting performances. I was also pleasantly surprised by the dark humor; I definitely had a few laugh out loud moments.


3. The Florida Project

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Valeria Cotto and Brooklynn Prince in The Florida Project © A24 

Director: Sean Baker

Starring: Brooklynn Prince, Willem Dafoe, Bria Vinaite, Valeria Cotto, Christopher Rivera

Quick Thoughts:¬†An honest look into the lives of the hidden homeless on the outskirts of Disney World. With gorgeous cinematography and incredible performances, The Florida Project¬†not only brings awareness to a community that is overlooked, but does so in a way that doesn’t exploit the people living in these types of situations.


2. Call Me By Your Name

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Armie Hammer and Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name © Sony Pictures Classics

Director: Luca Guadagnino

Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Amira Casar, Esther Garrel

Quick Thoughts:¬†I finished the novel a year ago and waited 10 months to see this film but it was so worth it. This film features the beauty of Italy, first love, the 80’s, and it ripped my heart out. Timoth√©e Chalamet delivered one of my favorite performances of the year and absolutely broke me during the closing credits scene.


1. Lady Bird

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Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf in Lady Bird © A24

Director: Greta Gerwig

Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Beanie Feldstein, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Lois Smith

Quick Thoughts:¬†A24 had a great year. Lady Bird was the one film that made me feel SO much. I resonated so much of Lady Bird’s life with my own and for that, I felt so deeply attached to her story. I saw this film five times in theaters because I just couldn’t get enough. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf had my favorite performances of the year, and I was so incredibly impressed by Greta Gerwig’s solo directorial debut.

 

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Reviews

Review: Logan

First off, I want to start by saying that Logan is the best Marvel film I have seen so far. The last time I ever felt this way about a “comic book” movie was after seeing The Dark Knight, and that says a lot. Logan lacked the quality of a fantasy/sci-fi comic book film (pretty much the opposite of X-Men Apocalypse) but that doesn’t diminish it in anyway. I feel like movie-watchers who aren’t huge comic book fans will still enjoy Logan as long as they have some background knowledge on the Wolverine. The film had grit, emotion, and character. I think James Mangold did an incredible job with directing Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s final film portrayal of the Wolverine and Professor X.

[Spoilers ahead!]

I went to the theater and saw Logan twice. The first time, I played close attention to the plot and character development, while the second time, I focused more on the little details and the cinematography. I highly recommend seeing it twice because I was surprised about how much I missed. Before I get into the details, I’m going to discuss the major theme I noticed in the film.

Even though comic book movies usually revolve around “good vs evil” storylines, Logan was different. Don’t get me wrong, there were antagonists and conflict, but the main theme of the film revolved around family. Three scenes in particular stuck out to me the most and really pulled at my heartstrings. The scene when they were all eating dinner at the kitchen table, smiling, and joking around, was a moment that felt “normal”. Even if it was only for a moment, it felt nice to see Logan, Charles, and Laura briefly step away from the madness and live like a normal family (before X-24 showed up of course, also why do nice helpful families always have to die??) .

The two other scenes involved Logan carrying Charles and then Laura. When Laura watched Logan carry Charles up the stairs, there was a moment of¬†tenderness that really hit me. You could also see this happen when Logan lifted Laura off the ground (after temporarily knocking out X-24) and carried her to the truck. He was torn up, limping, in pain, but he showed a different kind of strength in those two scenes. I loved that the idea of family was emphasized in Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart’s last time playing their X-Men characters because not only did they have “father and son” relationship throughout all the X-Men movies, but because I grew up watching all the X-Men movies, and they both kind of felt like family to me. And let’s not forget the¬†ending. When Laura turned the cross onto its side to form an X, I became a blob full of tears. I wish there could’ve been more done for Charles’ death but what more can you do when you’re on the run and most mutants are gone anyway. I think Logan was a good send off for both Jackman and Stewart. Besides Mangold’s great work on this film, Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart, and Dafne Keen’s performances were outstanding.

After seeing Logan for the second time, there were many small but significant details that I noticed. In the final scene when the kids buried Logan, I noticed that one of the kids was holding a yellow suit Wolverine figurine. I loved that they brought this back into the movie because although they never really included the yellow suit in any of the recent X-Men movies, it was nice that they included some of the comics and the figurine. The character that has inspired so many deserved to make an appearance in¬†the final moments of an era. By seeing it again, I was also able to make out some of the dialogue that I missed. For instance, Charles’ last words to Logan about being on the water and the boat they were going to buy together.

And the last thing I have to say is how glad I am that they decided to make Logan a rated R film. Following the success of Deadpool, it made sense that they would incorporate the grit, gore, and profanity that made Deadpool so popular. Seeing Charles and Logan swear at each other like a bickering father and son felt so right.

Overall, I would rate Logan a 9.5/10, and I highly recommend it to any movie lover out there regardless if you like comic books or not. 

Much Love,

Syd

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