Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Ten Best Films Of 2017

Clockwise from bottom right: A scene from Dee Rees' drama "Mudbound"; Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps in Paul Thomas Anderson's drama "Phantom Thread", a scene from Steven Spielberg's drama "The Post"; Charlize Theron in David Leitch's action film "Atomic Blonde". 
Netflix, Focus, Fox, Focus respectively 

Omar P.L. Moore/        Follow popcornreel on Twitter FOLLOW                 
Thursday, December 7, 2017

After two mediocre years 2017 was a year in which I could finally do a ten best film list.  There are also-rans (to be documented in the near future) but here are the ten films that I had the most fun enjoying, thinking about, being impressed by or reveling in this year.

10. Atomic Blonde  (Focus)

David Leitch's lurid carnival of sex, espionage and violence hits the viscera and stays there.  "Atomic Blonde" is embodied by Charlize Theron, who plays a spy for MI6 on a Cold War mission in 1989.  Rated R. 1hr 54.


9. Logan Lucky  (Bleecker St)

Channing Tatum and Adam Driver in Steven Soderbergh's comedy caper "Logan Lucky".  Bleecker Street

Steven Soderbergh got cute and affectionate with the lovable, hilarious "Logan Lucky" this summer, and it hasn't been forgotten.  The film is a parody of Americana and of the director's "Ocean's" series.  The shrewdness was casting three actors (Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig) of macho culture films ("Magic Mike", "Star Wars" villainy and James Bond) and making them ordinary, bumbling and feckless.  Rated PG-13.  1hr 59.

8. Dunkirk (Warner Brothers)

Christopher Nolan economizes on a huge canvas and hits paydirt in his chronicle of several days in May 1940 in Dunkirk during World War Two.  Gripping, immense and immersive, "Dunkirk" focuses on the mission to save a few thousand men trapped behind enemy lines.  A great feat of directing.  Rated PG-13. 1hr 46.

Kenneth Branagh in Christopher Nolan's war drama "Dunkirk".  Warner Brothers

7. Lady Bird  (A24)

A personal journey that debut director Greta Gerwig seals with brilliant direction and writing.  The actors take over in a tale of mothers, daughters and the graduation to adulthood and independence.  "Lady Bird" is, among other things, about spreading your wings and flying in a male-controlled world that tells women they cannot.  Rated R.  1hr 34.

Saoirse Ronan in the title role in Greta Gerwig's comedy-drama "Lady Bird".  A24

6. I, Tonya  (Neon)

Craig Gillespie's satire-drama is a no-holds barred, piss and vinegar imbroglio of savagery and wickedness.  "I, Tonya" is about class, mothers and daughters, judgment and the culture that requires more of the spotlighted individual than it does accountability for the way a famous person is treated.  Skillfully written by Steven Rogers and well-acted by all involved including Margot Robbie (above) as Tonya Harding, who was pilloried in the media in the 1990s after things went south around her.  Rated R.  2hrs 1.

Margot Robbie as Tonya Harding in Craig Gillespie's satire "I, Tonya".  Neon 

5. Call Me By Your Name

(Sony Classics) 

Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer in Luca Guadagnino's romantic drama "Call Me By Your Name".  Sony Pictures Classics 

Luca Guadagnino directs this sensitive, at times discreetly sensual story about a summer of love and discovery for a teenage boy when an older man visits his home in Italy in 1983.  A mature, assured film featuring excellent acting from Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet and Michael Stuhlbarg. The film is adapted from Andre Aciman's book.  Rated R.  2hrs 11.

4. Mudbound  (Netflix)

Mary J. Blige as Florence Jackson in "Mudbound".  Netflix

Dee Rees executes a compelling film about America and systems of violence and how they affect one Southern Black man and one Southern white man who fought for the U.S. during World War Two.  Excellent performances including Mary J. Blige (above) and fine cinematography by Rachel Morrison.  Rated R.  2hrs 14.

3. The Post  (Fox)

A riveting account of the 1971 to print-or-not-to-print dilemma faced by The Washington Post re: The Pentagon Papers and the U.S. deception in Vietnam.  A stellar cast of performers adorn Steven Spielberg's dynamic drama.  Rated PG-13.  1hr 55.

2. Phantom Thread  (Focus)

Paul Thomas Anderson's drama is his most literate and mature - a brilliant undressing of relationships between men and women.  So very good.  Daniel Day-Lewis and Vicky Krieps are sublime, as is Lesley Manville.  Set in 1950s London in the fashion industry.  Marvelous movie.  Jonny Greenwood's music score is out of this world.  Opens Dec. 25.  Rated R.  2hrs 10.

1. Get Out  (Universal)

Catherine Keener, Bradley Whitford, Allison Williams, Betty Gabriel and Daniel Kaluuya in Jordan Peele's horror drama "Get Out".  Universal

Jordan Peele's astonishingly brilliant directing debut hit the cornerstone of the subject many white Americans still have extreme discomfort talking about: race and racism.  A heavily layered, well-written film that subverts the conventions of the horror genre while hewing and testing attitudes about racism, race and what it means to be Black in a world of white supremacy.  Memorable acting from all including Lil Rel Howery.   Rated R.  1hr 44.

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