By Deann Chiazzese
I saw 120 new releases in 2017 either in theaters or at home. As a result, I don’t have any predominant blindspots to note. However, I do want to mention my honorable mention: mother!
Watching “mother!” was like watching mud get tracked in after mopping the floor. It was like working your booty off on a project at work and then having to turn it over to someone else to pick apart and do differently. It was like the twinge of frustration you feel when you just want to have a private conversation with someone you love and people won’t leave you alone to finish your thought. Oh and did I mention, I dig this movie? Jennifer Lawrence also happens to give the best performance of her career in it.
Ok. Now, with that out of the way, click below to see my Top 10 films of 2017.
10. BRIGSBY BEAR
Right out of the gate, you are not quite sure where “Brigsby Bear” is going. I was worried that the absurdity would rule the story. But hold on-wait for a few turns. You will be pleasantly surprised where it takes you and most importantly, how you will feel when it ends. Featuring great performances from SNL’s Kyle Mooney (co-writer), Mark Hammill and Greg Kinnear. It was one of the highlights in independent film this year.
9. WONDER WOMAN
Oh “Wonder Woman,” I am sorry for underestimating you. You made me so happy this year. Beauty and empathy and leadership displayed in all the right ways. Gal Gadot was stunning and empowering. I cannot thank this film enough for showing us the value that a female filmmaker (Patty Jenkins) can bring to telling a female story. It is not perfect, but it fully transcends.
One of the first meaty reads of my life was Stephen King’s “IT” (The other was VC Andrews, “Flowers in the Attic”). Yes, I was a dark child. Then when I learned of the involvement of Mama director, Andy Muschietti (“Mama”), my anticipation for the film elevated. This movie flies by like no movie I have seen this year. It is appropriately paced with story and heart and incredibly visceral imagery that makes it strangely artful. There are complaints about the formulaic elements, but I loved the structure and most importantly, the performances. Is it scary? Not really, but that did not bother me. I was there for the visuals and the power of friendship.
7. GET OUT
It is impossible to ignore a movie that aused this much amazing conversation as “Get Out” did in 2017. It is first and foremost, entertaining and creative. Then layer on the social commentary, reconsideration of horror vs comedy vs drama as conversation and this movie is almost as fun to talk about as it is to watch. “Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga” the title track, loosely translates to something bad is coming. So Chris Washington better run! I plan to run blindly and unabashedly into whatever Jordan Peele does next.
6. BLADE RUNNER 2049
I was initially stunned by the visual journey of “Blade Runner 2049” and its score. Then, out of nowhere, a story begins to come together in a very compelling way and I became doubly invested. New characters are introduced throughout the run time and I was intrigued with every one one of them. I believe this has the longest run time of any picks on my list, but I could have wrapped myself in a blanket with this world for two more hours. I said before on the podcast, that there may not be one well rounded female character, but there is one pretty fantastic female character when you combine the traits of the four predominant leading women that bring vitality to this film. This film is interesting, beautiful and surprisingly full of meaning.
5. THE BIG SICK
Like Zoe Kazan’s character, Emily says in her and husband Kumail Nanjiani’s romantic and funny re-telling of how they came to meet each other “The Big Sick,” “I am overwhelmed by you”. What better viewing combination than one filled with humor and heart. This beautiful film covers so much ground, from finding your place through creative expression, relationships and a compelling thread about the American immigrant experience. Besides having one of my favorite writing and acting turns of the year, Kumail Nanjiani’s twitter feed is everything.
4. THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI
If you are looking for a morality tale to help you come to terms with some of the awfulness that exists in this world, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is not your movie. It is cynical and some would say mean-spirited at times, with some plot holes and unfinished business. However, I went into this movie looking for an adult dark comedy and for me, I got what I paid for and much more. Most of my affection is rooted in the performance of Frances McDormand as her rage and brokenness play out on screen. I was mesmerized by her, and although I could not always relate to her, I enjoyed the challenge of trying to. It makes for a very interesting and unique viewing experience from a filmmaker I want to see more from.
3. CALL ME BY YOUR NAME
So much expectation and build up mounted long before I finally saw “Call Me By Your Name,” but it does not change the fact that I could barely move in my seat as the painstakingly beautiful and authentic events unfolded. Surprisingly or most impactful to me was the love of a father to son, cap-stoned with one of the most stunning parenting moments on screen that I have ever seen. That is what made this an unforgettable experience. Moments of words, that embodies acceptance, truth, and authenticity of self (From parent to child). This is what absolutely stunned me. The other transcendent moment(s) was the choice to use the music of Sufjan Stevens to narrate the inner dialogue of our main character in lieu of any voice-over monologue. What a triumph of acting, art, and music and one I will not soon forget.
2. LADY BIRD
What can I possibly say that has not been said about Greta Gerwig’s triumphant “Lady Bird?” This movie is about you, it is about me, it is about your Mom, it is about your Dad and it is about that friend you had in middle school that you regret leaving behind. It is also about the person you easily can and will be at some point in the future, as a parent. It is about sustaining appropriate levels of idealism through endless reality checks. It is a display of masterful writing and direction by Greta Gerwig, that is executed with charm. PS: It is not about a first lady.
1. THE SHAPE OF WATER
I write about and talk about movies because I am a fan. I always will be. My favorite theatrical experiences typically have three things in the formula: a world is built visually and experientially that I want to know more about, there is love or connection or friendship between two beings (I am open on how that is interpreted), and whimsy and fantasy is mixed with pathos to elevate the stakes. I got what I ordered with Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape Of Water.” This is beautifully scored, beautifully acted and represents an absolutely stripped-down form of the simplest most natural type of connection, and that worked for me. Loneliness, as a challenge is explored in a way that made my heart ache, but not break. This was an experience that challenged my senses in all the right ways, almost opposite of the way a highly cerebral film would do, but in a way that transported and stripped down pretense, so that I could revel in the pure joy of cinema.
Be on the look out for more Top 10’s and check out others previously announced from Matt Neglia, Tommy Barquinero, Josh Williams & Daniel Howat. We also recently revealed our own staff nominations for the 2017 NBP Film Awards which you can read here. Also, our NBP Film Community Awards nominations will have their nominations announced in a few days as well. Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
You can follow Deann and hear more of her thoughts on the Oscars, Film and Sundance on Twitter at @tweedledeedee33