The Movies of 2017
Best, worst and everything in between.
I find that 10-best lists are woefully incomplete. Here’s an expanded list of the films I saw this year.
Call Me By Your Name: A lovely, genuine, languorous coming of age story with Timotheé Chalamet in a star-making turn and Michael Stuhlbarg nailing the monologue of the year.
I, Tonya: A darkly funny American gothic fable about abuse, success and dismal failure. An underrated film.
Lady Bird: Greta Gerwig’s first outing as a director avoids her usual ditziness and tells a coming of age story with verve and wit. Saoirsie Ronan leads a fantastic cast.
The Meyerowitz Stories: Her boyfriend Noah Baumbach’s best and most affecting movie.
Phantom Thread: The more I think about this movie, the more I like it. Marvel at Lesley Manville and Vicky Krieps, and decide whether it is the darkest rom-com ever made.
Downsizing: An ambitious fable, it has great performances from Matt Damon and particularly Hong Chau, and even if it gets a bit derailed at the end, it’s a richly imagined dystopian tale.
Three Billboards in Ebbing, Missouri: Martin McDonagh being Martin McDonagh with the spectacular aid of Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell.
Thelma: A beautiful, austere, unsettling psychological thriller. Best use of digital effects this year.
The Killing Of A Sacred Deer: Not my favorite Lanthimos, but deeply disturbing and with a fantastic performance by Barry Keogh.
Lady Macbeth: A twisted little tale with an amazing performance by Florence Pugh
The Unknown Girl: It’s the Dardenne Freres. They wring a lot out of very little. Masters.
The Post: Corny but super effective. Tom Hanks is no Ben Bradley, but La Streep makes up for it in every scene. Also, I will watch Tracy Letts play a lamppost. He’s here; I’m happy.
Blade Runner 2049: Long, morose and visually stunning. A sci-fi film about love.
The Lost City Of Z: I like James Gray movies, so I like this movie. He gets obsession right.
Frantz: A haunting tale of loss and war.
The Big Sick: Sweet and winning, although Zoe Kazan grated on my nerves. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano kill.
The Florida Project: Willem Dafoe is heartbreaking. The kids are wonderful. But this would be a magnificent movie if it were less self-indulgent.
Faces, Places: A lovely documentary about creative collaboration. The only thing that mars it is the French trying to be cute. They are really not good about cute.
Molly’s Game: I wish Aaron Sorkin had put himself into a straitjacket and restrained himself from writing words into every nook and cranny of this fantastic story. The first half of this movie and everything that takes place at the poker table are oodles of fun. Daddy issues and strained chemistry between Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba, not so much. Huge plus: Bill Camp is in it.
My Cousin Rachel
The Square: Force Majeure, by Ruben Ostlund, the same director, was a controlled jewel box of a movie. This one is undisciplined and strains credulity.
Roman J. Israel, Esq.: Denzel brings it but the story fizzles out with lazy writing.
Darkest Hour: Historical kitsch but if you are an Anglophile you will swoon at Gary Oldman’s Churchill and Kristen Scott Thomas as his wife.
Okja: I love the Korean movies of Bong Joon Ho. His outings in English feel strained. Okja is a heavy-handed fable about our cruelty to nature. Not even Tilda Swinton can save it.
It: It lacks what Stranger Things has in spades, which is a heart. Not scary at all (except for Pennywise) and the kids are insufferable.
Happy End: A rare mishap by Michael Haneke. But chapeau to Jean-Louis Trintignant, a masterful actor.
Ghost Story: One of those movies that everyone loves except me.
Wind River: Meh.
Baby Driver: Starts well and then gets old very fast. Arthur Elgort and watching paint dry provide more or less the same experience.
Slack Bay: Over the top and not in a good way.
Personal Shopper: Less interesting than it thinks it is.
Logan Lucky: Making fun of rednecks is not that much fun in this case.
Suburbicon: A subpar Fargo.
The Shape of Water: Cheesy and lazy. If it weren’t for the enormous talent of Sally Hawkins and Richard Jenkins, and the committed hamming of Michael Shannon, this would be a bad B movie.