My sister predicted, pretty much to a T, what my top movies of the year were going to be -- even pinpointing what movie exactly would be number three. So this one's for Izmeister.
5. Blade Runner 2049
Villeneuve's sequel does everything it should -- honoring the old, while avoiding hackneyed ideas by exploring newer nuanced ones. It never assures us what the answers are, but invites us into its thrilling, living labyrinth.
4. The Shape of Water
The music is as sweepingly romantic as the narrative, and the way that the light plays on the ceiling of Elisa's apartment makes it look as if she's living underwater as well. Del Toro is always so good at creating worlds we both want to be in -- with its plush red theater seats and camaraderie and magical wonder -- and that we are afraid of -- with its monsters of men and red scares and bigotry. But that is like life in general, I suppose, and kudos for him for always finding the magic in it...or understanding that the basic emotions like true love are in and of themselves a sort of magic.
3. Get Out
It's strange that such a horrifying movie has also united audiences so much. Going to see Get Out in the theaters was one of my most enjoyable outings at the movies this year: there were collective gasps, cheers, and spasms of laughter.
Get Out plays out in so many ways and it's a masterclass in each one. It can get its audience to jump at a simple cut of strings or it can cause us to question the motivations behind our behaviors. But beyond that, it achieves what great art should do -- it allows us, even if only briefly and incompletely, to live in the experience of someone else. As audience members, we become strangers to our own lives, and that's perhaps the best thing Peele achieves here.
2. Call Me By your Name
And despite all those lovely images you can practically touch and taste, this movie is so much more than that. It's a coming of age where youth is opened to the possibility of life, and our feelings are cherished. Michael Stuhlbarg's monologue at the end has to be one of the most profound and touching scenes of the year. It's a film about both the fleeting and immortal grace that touches our lives if we're lucky enough.
Call Me By Your Name has all the languor of summer, begging us to savor it -- not only because of its beauty but because like a summer romance, it has a time limit. All set to either dreamy Ravel or dreamy Sufjan Stevens, it's pretty close to perfection.
1. The Florida Project
Moonee is warm, loving, and wise beyond her years. She shows her best friend a hidden place and they perch on top of a gnarled tree, which she calls her favorite because it's "tipped over and still growing". Her life is a fairytale to her as she and her friends beg ice cream off strangers (to cure their "asthma"), set fires, and watch the Disney World fireworks from afar. And through it all, her mother indisputably loves her unconditionally. Unapologetic and fierce Halley (Bree Vinaite) struggles to make ends meet, but never struggles to shower love on her daughter. When they're cleaning their room and Moonee moves to scrub her crayoned name off a wall, Halley stops her, affirming that that can stay because her mark is important.
The Florida Project is a compassionate film that doesn't patronize or sentimentalize its characters. It's a beautifully devastating movie that makes you love its characters even as you feel pain for them. Sean Baker created a movie that uplifts just as much as it makes you cry bitter tears at the impossibility of it all.
As always, I love to hear thoughts or other favorites. 2017 was such a good movie, I had far too many that got pushed off the top ten list as a result. Here's to hoping that 2018 is just as rich.