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2017 Top 10 Films

Top 10 of 2017

List by-Jarrett Leahy

As the 2018 Academy Awards near, it’s time yet again for AmateurCinephile.com to release the site’s Top 10 list for the 2017 movie year. Every year, there are always films that unfortunately go unseen before the Top 10 posting.  This year is no different, but, overall, I’m fairly comfortable with these selections, and I hope you’ll give a few of them a watch if given the chance.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

Baby Driver (Edgar Wright)
Colossal (Nacho Vigalondo)
Get Out (Jordan Peele)
Mudbound (Dee Rees)
Last Flag Flying (Richard Linklater)
Wind River (Taylor Sheridan)
Wonder Woman (Patty Jenkins)

AMATEURCINEPHILE.COM TOP 10 FILMS OF 2017

  1. Columbus (Kogonada): He is stuck in Columbus, Indiana, tending to his ailing, estranged father.  She selflessly remains in Columbus, Indiana, to look after her recovering mother. Written and directed by Korean-born filmmaker, Kogonada and starring John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson, Columbus is a contemplative and emotionally therapeutic examination of responsibilities the child must endure when it comes to taking care of ailing parents. A showcase of the heralded modern architecture that populates the town it is set in, Columbus is a hidden gem worth seeking out. (A-)
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  1. Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan): The harrowing true story of the evacuation of the Allied army from the beaches of Dunkirk, France, as the German forces surround and close in on their location. Told using three intertwined storylines, each with its own timeline, auteur filmmaker Christopher Nolan expertly recounts this momentous event in world history with meticulous detail and accuracy. Rivetingly immersive, Dunkirk proves yet again Nolan remains at the top of his game. (A)
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  1. Phantom Thread (Paul Thomas Anderson): A distinguished 1950’s London dressmaker finds his meticulously controlled life upset by a headstrong young woman who becomes his muse and romantic interest. The final performance for three-time Academy Award-winning actor Daniel Day-Lewis, Phantom Thread is an elegant and sumptuous period drama filled with stunning costume design (he’s a world-renowned dressmaker after all). But all this pageantry masks a dark, little secret.  This film is a bit naughty. Clandestine power struggles ensue between this famed artist, used to getting his way, and his new creative influence he does not want to alienate, and we the viewer get to sit back and enjoy the lovingly underhanded and subversive actions that emanate. (A)
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  1. Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino): Set amongst the beautiful 1980’s Italian countryside, a burgeoning relationship blossoms between a 17-year-old young man and an older college student who is hired to be the research assistant for his father. Nostalgic and romantic, Luca Guadagnino’s tale of infatuation and sexual discovery never over-sensationalizes or turns tawdry.  Rather, it remains honest and adoringly engaging as we experience the euphoric highs and afflicting lows of an unconventional first love. (A)
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  1. Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Villeneuve): After the uncovering of a long-repressed secret that could plunge a society already in disarray into anarchy, LAPD blade runner, Officer K, is tasked with covertly identifying and eliminating this threat and seeks out the assistance of former blade Runner, Rick Deckard, who has been in hiding for over thirty years. The choice to make a sequel to a cult-classic science fiction masterpiece twenty-five years after its initial release was a perilous decision to say the least. But if anyone could pull it off it would be Canadian auteur, Denis Villeneuve, and boy did he. Starring Ryan Gosling as Officer K, Blade Runner 2049 not only expertly compliments the narrative laid down by the original film, but skillfully expands on it to create its own existential questions involving artificial intelligence and what exactly are our responsibilities as the creator. A true masterwork of the science fiction genre, let the endless debate begin as to which film is better. (A)
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  1. Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig): This deliciously quirky coming-of-age story follows a peculiarly charismatic 17-year-old girl trying to find herself in the mundane suburbs of Sacramento, CA circa 2002. Written and directed by actor/filmmaker Greta Gerwig (Frances Ha, Jackie, Mistress America) Lady Bird is a fictitious homage to her own unconventional upbringing in Sacramento, CA. Starring now three-time Academy Award nominee Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn, Atonement), Lady Bird cunningly captures the angst-ridden world of this precocious young woman as she tries to find her way in life. Filled with amusing Catholic school anecdotes and a period-accurate soundtrack, Lady Bird shows that Gerwig will remain a creative force to be reckoned with for years to come. (A)
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  1. The Big Sick (Michael Showalter): Kumail, a Pakistani-born comedian living in Chicago, struggles with the idea of possibly alienating his family after he meets and falls for Emily, a non-Pakistani grad student. These feelings become even more convoluted when Emily becomes critically ill. Written by real-life couple Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon based on their own covert courtship, The Big Sick is an immigrant story, medical drama, and behind-the-scenes look at the life of a stand-up comedian wrapped up into a wonderfully sentimental and diverting romantic comedy. A film that gets better with each viewing (I’ve seen it three times), The Big Sick joins Lady Bird as two first-rate pieces of comedic cinema destined to be modern comedy classics. (A)
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  1. A Ghost Story (David Lowery): The ghost of a man who suffered a sudden, tragic death returns to his bucolic house to be with his grieving wife. Writer/director David Lowery creates an uncommonly peculiar and exceptional ghost story, exploring the idea of the afterlife with a poignant eeriness, as you sympathize with the ghost’s frustration about not being able to communicate or even comfort the woman he loves. Lowery’s decision to utilize the childish ghost-in-a-sheet motif was an intrepid choice, bringing a level of existential realism to a character that could have easily been construed as campy or nonsensical. Achingly hypnotic and mesmerizing at times, this film may not be for everyone, but if you’re into more experimental cinema, A Ghost Story is by far one the best. (A)
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  1. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson): As the Resistance prepares to battle the First Order, Rey remains on Ahch-To, hoping to persuade exiled Jedi-Master Luke Skywalker to train her how to harness and control her new-found abilities. The second installment of the third Star Wars trilogy has caused quite the controversy amongst some of the so-called Star Wars purists, as many have taken umbrage with the Luke Skywalker story arc that writer/director Rian Johnson created for the iconic character. After witnessing Johnson’s masterful extension of the Galaxy, far, far away, the only controversy I can see is whether or not The Last Jedi has surpassed The Empire Strikes Back for the title of the best Star Wars installment. It has for me, and I suspect that, if you are a fan of the franchise and go into your viewing without any preconceived expectations, you will find this film to be one of the best of 2017. (A)
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  1. Mother! (Darren Aronofsky): A couple’s secluded tranquility is up-ended when unsolicited visitors unexpectedly show up on their doorstep, straining their peaceful way of living. Choosing this film for my #1 film of 2017 comes with a bit of trepidation, for many moviegoers have expressed a general dislike (or downright hatred) for Darren Aronofsky’s latest cinematic creation. However, for me, there was no film more daring or original to come out in 2017 than Mother! and I honestly believe it will find its rightful critical praise as time passes. A biblical allegory disguised as a psychological horror film, at the time of the movie’s theatrical release, there was a big debate about whether the film’s allegorical aspects should be known beforehand, basically “spoiling” any major surprises it offered. It is my recommendation that you should spoil the plot for the sake of understanding and/or possibly enjoying the film’s abstract narrative involving humankind’s infatuation with God and mistreatment of mother nature. Terrifying, intoxicating, avant-garde, Mother! will be hated by many. There’s a good chance you will or already do, and that’s perfectly alright. But for me, no film from 2017 challenged me more or left me downright giddy with appreciative enthusiasm. I truly hope you’ll give it a chance. (A)
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Edited by-Michelle Zenor
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