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:
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
Director: Edgar Wright
Starring: Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Jon Hamm, Eiza González, 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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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. Timothée Chalamet delivered one of my favorite performances of the year and absolutely broke me during the closing credits scene.
1. Lady Bird
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.