The year of 2017 has come to an end. And what incredible year we had for cinema! Even though I found people, in general, more willing to hate films than appreciate them, I was satisfied with almost everything I’ve watched, including blockbusters like Wonder Woman, King Arthur, Thor: Ragnarok and Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I was also thinking about waiting to watch movies like Lady Bird, The Shape of Water, The Post and Phantom Thread before making this list, but since these movies were all released at the last day of the year just to be part of the Oscar season, it kind of makes me mad since it blurry the other films out. Because of that, I’ve decided to share my thoughts of best movies of 2017 a little bit earlier than expected, and adding five more films to the classical list because the year was THAT good!
15. “Baby Driver” by Edgar Wright (USA)
One of the most talked about films of the year, Baby Driver is the coolest movie of 2017. Composed by an amazing soundtrack by T. Rex, Beck, The Damned, Barry White, Queen and many others, Edgar Wright’s feature is an absurd and unique musical about a kid named Baby who is the driver of a group of robbers. His adrenaline is set through the playlists of his iPod, which is also how he manages to spend his day since he has an ear problem thanks to an accident he suffered when he was younger and needs to listen to music to stop the humming in his ears. With that, Edgar Wright creates a beautiful, thrilling and unique experience that will make you on the edge of your seat. The way the director presents his film with the editing and the soundtrack is something beautiful to watch.
14. “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” by Yorgos Lanthimos (USA)
This was probably one of the most expected movies of the year for me since Dogtooth and The Lobster are one of my favorite movies ever. Although, this time, Yorgos Lanthimos comes back with an extremely disturbing and dark feature that will make you feel uncomfortable and paranoid. Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman play Steven and Anna Murphy, a happy family of doctors with two children who suddenly start to face a terrible illness. The illness, however, is revealed to be a provoked by a school kid who hangs out with Steven and secretly wants revenge for his father’s death, who died at the hands of the doctor. With that, Lanthimos creates a horror tale that pushes the limits of ethics and logic.
13. “Blade Runner 2049” by Denis Villenueve (USA)
Probably the most visually beautiful movie of the year, Blade Runner 2049 is an incredible homage to its processor by connecting the elements of the first film with developing the story further ahead. Set decades after Ridley Scott’s feature, Ryan Gosling plays an android who is killing other androids who rebelled themselves against humans. His fate will be challenged once he discovers the rebels discovered a way to reproduce, changing the whole concept of what is real and illusion, human and android. Dennis Villenueve embraces this cyber punk universe with incredible talent and delivers one of the most jaw-dropping movies of the year.
12. “Beach Rats” by Eliza Hittman (USA)
I haven’t seen Beach Rats in many lists of the best movies of the year but I can assure you this is definitely one of the best American independent movies of 2017. Eliza Hittman creates a beautiful sensorial feature about a teenager in Brooklyn who is struggling with his identity and sexuality. While he takes drugs with his friends and flirts with girls during the day, Frankie chats with gay boys online and have sexual encounters with older men at hotels. White the time passes and his desires get more complicated, Frankie finds himself in complicated and self-destructive situations. Elia Hittman’s directing is extremely subtle and her eyes for homoerotic voyeurism is one of the most interesting things I’ve seen this year.
11. “The Florida Project” by Sean Baker (USA)
Another great independent American film, The Florida Project is set on a cheap colorful hotel called Magic Kingdom in Florida whose habitants are disturbed by the presence of three kids who spit on cars, make noise and have a talent for trouble, especially with the manager Bobby, played by William DaFoe. These kids are children from young mothers who struggle to support themselves and live in the hotel. The most interesting thing of the film, however, is how this world is presented to the spectator, by having a child’s point of view. While their mothers smoke spot, let them eat whatever they want and scam tourists, the children face these daily routines as part of a big game, like they’re at Disney’s Magic Kingdom theme park. The more the time passes, however, the more complicated their situation becomes, making The Florida Project a touching and incredible coming of age drama.
10. “Happy End” by Michael Haneke (Austria)
Michael Haneke is probably my favorite director so this was also another film I was dying to see since it was announced as part of the official selection of Cannes Film Festival this year. Since its plot was extremely mysterious from the beginning, I was expecting something raw and serious, but I would have never imagined that this was in fact, a comedy. Haneke apparently decided to explore a new territory, and despite is very Michael Haneke-like, Happy End is a unique and satirical comedy about a problematic bourgeois family in France. Isabelle Huppert plays the mother of a family who is going crazy. His son is an alcoholic, her father has suicide tendencies and her brother have sexual secrets who are discovered by her niece, a 12-year-old girl who put poison on her mother’s food. All of that is orchestrated with playful elements such as technology and social media, themes that Haneke has explored in the past, but are presented in a different and more interesting tone here, resulting in my opinion, his best film since The Piano Teacher.
09. “A Ghost Story” by David Lowery (USA)
I was very surprised to see a lot of people didn’t like A Ghost Story since I thought this was probably one of the most beautiful and original movies of the year. Yes, it’s very slow pacing but at the same time is extremely creative and minimal. Having a lot of similarities with Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, A Ghost Story is about a couple facing relationship problems in a house that makes strange noises at night. Once the husband dies in a car crash, his soul comes back to the house in the shape of a white-sheet ghost and travels through time and space, remembering the moments of his life and the life of other people in the past. The way David Lowery creates his film is extremely beautiful and touching, bringing up themes like the importance and the purpose of our lives on earth and after death. Not mentioning there is a ten-minute beautiful scene where we get to watch Rooney Mara crying while eating pie.
08. “The Square” by Ruben Ostlund (Sweden)
Winner of the Palm d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, The Square is probably the craziest and most surreal movie you’ll get to watch this year. Even though the ending didn’t make the movie the masterpiece it could have been, The Square is a film about the contradictions and the absurdity of our modern world while it criticizes at the same time. Christian is the manager of the Stockholm’s museum and is trying to advertise the idea of a new exhibition, which is an illuminated square at the museum’s center. The square has the concept of being a “sanctuary of trust and care. Within it we all share equal rights and obligations.” The film, however, challenges this concept by showing human’s true nature and exposing our rotten side in absurd situations, from an interview who is currently being interrupted by a guy who has Tourette syndrome to the presence of a monkey next door while Christian has sex with a woman. Ruben Ostlund creates a very modern and challenging film that deserves to be watched and rediscovered each time you watch it!
07. “120 Beats Per Minute” by Robin Campillo (France)
In a year of a lot of political turmoil, 120 Beats Per Minute comes as a refreshment. Even though it’s not about current politics, the film talks about a group of activists in France during the ’90s who were fighting the government’s oppression to expose the problems and consequences of the aids epidemic in a time where the disease was known to be exclusive from homosexuals. With that, Robin Campillo creates an extremely fast-pacing and exciting film where we are currently thrown in the middle of discussions, protests, riots, night clubs, and sex scenes. All of that happens through the point of view of Sean, a young man who decides to join the group as a way of supporting the cause and falls in love with an HIV positive member. Their relationship will be tested while the disease progress and conflict rises as the government keeps shutting them down. Without a doubt, one of the most powerful movies of the year.
06. “Winter Brothers” by Hlynur Pálmason (Denmark)
It’s a shame that Winter Brothers is one of those films we get to see only at film festivals and probably won’t get any distributor to show in commercial circuits. This is by far one of the most interesting and original movies of the year, with a cinematography and format that will make all the films from this list look like a cartoon for kids. The film tells the story of two brothers working as miners in Denmark. One of the brothers seems to live in his own world as he has strange habits and steals chemicals from the mine to produce liquor. One day, one of his co-workers die after drinking his liquor and people start to think he is guilty. Annoyed his strange habits, people start threatening him, which creates a conflict with everybody around him. Shot with real film, Winter Brothers is more like an experience than a movie with a story. Hlynur Pálmason uses the darkness, the dust, the snow and the forest as elements of his narrative to create a unique world that seems to be taken out of his character’s head, resulting in one of my favorite movies of 2017.
05. “Lady Macbeth” by William Oldroyd (United Kingdom)
Even though Lady Macbeth is a movie from 2016, the film was released in major countries only this year. Having The Beguiled by Sofia Coppola as a contrast for portraying psychosexual characters on a different century, Lady Macbeth excels for embracing its madness and feminist archetypes in a plot of everything can and will go wrong. After being bought for a piece of land, Katherine is forced to marry a man she doesn’t love and must be kept inside of the house, facing humiliation from her husband. When her husband travels for work, Katherine starts to leave her house and start a relationship with one of her workers. As the time pass and they fall in love, they decide to destroy everything that stands on their way, resulting in a shocking and incredible end.
04. “Dunkirk” by Christopher Nolan (USA)
It’s interesting to see that even though a lot of people loved Dunkirk, a lot of people also hated it. This may sound a little dull since this is the major reaction for most of the movies, but being a Christopher Nolan film with very opposite reactions is a little surprising, especially because I thought this film was amazing. This is the kind of film that needs to be watched in the movies. I haven’t seen on my home yet, but the format is for the big screen. It was shot on real film and the battles had real airplanes and real ships. The extras were real and everything you see on-screen is Christopher Nolan’s orchestra of chaos that is helped by a disturbing soundtrack by Hans Zimmers. On a world full of computerized blockbusters and superhero movies fighting space creatures, Dunkirk reminds me the essence of the 20th Century Cinema, where a good story was told without the need of many special effects. And it doesn’t need to have an incredible story with incredible moments. Less is more. You may have not liked Dunkirk, but you can’t say is a bad film.
03. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” by Martin McDonagh (USA)
This film hasn’t come out in many countries but I was fortunate to watch it at São Paulo Film Festival and I’m extremely glad I did. As you can see, it holds third place as the best movie of the year on this list and with reason. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is the example of true cinema. The directing, the editing, the pacing, the cinematography, and the acting are just simply perfect. Martin McDonagh creates a brilliant and original script of a mother whose daughter was raped and murder, puts up three billboards on a highway next to the small town of Ebbing blaming the cops for not finding the murderer. The cops, however, already have trouble with the citizens of the town, as they are known for being oppressive and racist. The billboards end up shaking the world of little Ebbing upside down, resulting in no doubt, the best original script of the year. Frances McDormand is also fantastic by portraying the mother, along with Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell for playing the cops. Make sure to watch it once it comes out!
02. “God’s Own Country” by Francis Lee (United Kingdom)
Being one of the few British films of the list – and also winner of the Best British Independent Film Awards, God’s Own Country is probably one of the best LGBT dramas ever. Just as Call Me By Your Name, the film doesn’t have a necessity of explaining his relevance towards the theme, which is probably the biggest problem on LGBT movies nowadays. Josh O’Connor delivers a breathtaking and powerful performance by playing Johnny, a problematic young man with alcohol problems that when is not taking care of his father’s farm, is out drinking and having sexual encounters with other boys. The arrival of an immigrant on their farm makes Johnny start a relationship with him, changing his life forever. Despite the same old story archetypes, God’s Own Country is a fresh movie about two people falling in love, and Francis Lee tells this story in an absurd beautiful way with England’s country-side scenery and a camera-movement that is almost like is one of the film’s characters.
01. “Call Me By Your Name” by Luca Guadagnino (Italy/USA)
Well, what can I say? It’s a little bit of a cliché by now, but Call Me By Your Name is the best movie of the year. I think the two major reasons is that the movie it’s incredibly loose and doesn’t necessarily follow the arc of the three acts and it’s so emotional and touching that is impossible not to relate with Elio and Oliver as the credits go by. The film is a beautiful homage to Eric Rhomer and André Téchiné’s films by portraying different romantic relationships on the country-side of Europe during summer, using the bodies of statues and the characters to portray desire and sexual tension. Timothee Chalament is incredible as Elio, as Luca Guadagnino, who keeps surprising me each time and I can’t wait to see his next movies. More than that, I can’t wait for everybody to watch Call Me By Your Name!
Also worth watching: Borg vs McEnroe by Janus Metz, Columbus by Kogonada, Get Out! by Jordan Peele, Good Time but the Safdie Brothers, In the Fade by Faith Arkin, The Lost City of Z by James Gray, Loveless by Andrey Zvyagintsev.