#1 Call Me by Your Name
Sensual love and haunting sadness.
|Call Me By Your Name is a film about love and sadness. I would argue that that’s all it’s about and it’s beautiful. Timothée Chalamet stars as Elio a teenager in Italy who likes lounging about. Armie Hammer co-stars as Oliver an American who has come to stay with Elio’s family and work with his father. Elio doesn’t like Oliver much and just views him as another arrogant American. The subtle shifts in the characters and their perceptions is particularly good.||2017 |
Directed by: Luca Guadagnino
Screenplay by: James Ivory
Based on the novel by André Aciman
Starring: Timothée Chalamet, Armie Hammer
|See full review of Call Me by Your Name|
#2 Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Brilliantly unsettling drama.
|Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is one of those movies where you are never allowed to get comfortable. Every time you think you know what it’s about, there’s another twist which turns all of its themes on its head. And that’s impressive for a drama, a drama about police relations, racism, homophobia, bigotry, and a parent’s grief about the death of a child.||2017 |
Directed by: Martin McDonagh
Screenplay by: Martin McDonagh
Starring: Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell
|See full review of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri|
#3 A Ghost Story
Creative exploration of life and loss with a uniquely engaging ghost.
|A Ghost Story is an incredibly unique and odd experience and although I have no desire to describe it in overly philosophical and broad terms, describing how it accomplishes what it accomplishes is going to be a challenge. First, writer and director David Lowery has chosen a box-like 1.33:1 aspect ratio with rounded corners. Similar to photographs you’ve seen in your grandparents’ albums. It gives the film a worn-out but familiar atmosphere, like this moving story of a ghost’s life is a family photograph held onto and cherished through the years.||2017 |
Directed by: David Lowery
Screenplay by: David Lowery
Starring: Casey Affleck, Rooney Mara
|See full review of A Ghost Story|
#4 Lady Bird
Heartfelt, honest and funny.
|Lady Bird is about a lot of smaller ideas, all of which might seem uninteresting to the average viewer, but it so perfectly captures the awkwardness of a teenager coming of age and trying to survive her last year of high school, that there’s a relatable humour and warmth that will echo throughout the generations. Writer and director Greta Gerwig has referred to it as a love letter to her hometown of Sacramento, California, and it’s also about navigating the slightly different social structure of an all-girls catholic school, which Gerwig herself attended.||2017 |
Directed by: Greta Gerwig
Screenplay by: Greta Gerwig
Starring: Saoirse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges
|See full review of Lady Bird|
#5 The Post
Enthralling timeliness about the fight for the freedom of press.
|The timeliness of The Post, set in 1971, is distressing and eye-opening to say the least. The President (Nixon, but not a visible character in the movie) is throwing the 1st Amendment out the window as he’s trying to stop newspapers from publishing the Pentagon papers and banning reporters from covering his daughter’s wedding. Meanwhile the female president of The Washington Post was facing significant gender discrimination where none of the (all male) board members thought she was capable of leading the paper and would say so to her face.||2017 |
Directed by: Steven Speilberg
Screenplay by: Liz Hannah, Josh Singer
Starring: Meryl Streep, Tom Hanks, Bob Odenkirk, Tracy Letts and Bradley Whitford
|See full review of The Post|
#6 Their Finest
They’re making a movie and it’s brilliant and funny.
|The plot of Their Finest works on many levels. On one side it’s a simple comedy-drama-romance of a young woman finding her way in the world, on another side it’s a comedy about making a movie, but it’s also an historical drama taking a look at the effects of war on everybody left at home, and when war hits the home you know, and how war has changed the role of women in society. Above all, it’s a comedy; a very engaging, very funny comedy about ridiculous actors and how to write a screenplay.||2016 |
Directed by: Lone Scherfig
Screenplay by: Gaby Chiappe
Based on the novel by Lissa Evans
Starring: Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin
and Bill Nighy
|See full review of Their Finest|
#7 The Lost City of Z
|The Lost City of Z is a curiously good movie. As the movie begins it looks a lot like an average historical period drama. Taking awhile to get interesting, it tells a methodical story of British Army Col. Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) who is tasked by the Royal Geographical Society to survey the border between Brazil and Venezuela in the Amazon jungle. But with each scene and employing everything at their disposal, the filmmakers build it into a mesmerizing picture of survival and mystery.||2016 |
Directed by: James Gray
Screenplay by: James Gray
Based on the book by David Grann
Starring: Charlie Hunnam, Sienna Miller
|See full review of The Lost City of Z|
#8 Wind River
Thoughtful, compelling and distressing.
|Wind River starts with the end of a life of a Native American woman. It wouldn’t be inaccurate to say murder mystery, but it does feel like that is a cheap description. This film is a drama, a tightly wound drama at times, while on its way to avenging a murder (either through legal justice or revenge) it gives some thoughtful pause to racial tensions between Native Americans and their white neighbours, and the universality of grief.||2017 |
Directed by: Taylor Sheridan
Screenplay by: Taylor Sheridan
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Jeremy Renner
|See full review of Wind River|
#9 Molly's Game
Fast-talking, smart story of one accomplished woman.
|Molly Bloom was a world-class skier, an academic over-achiever, a woman who built a legal multi-million-dollar poker business on her own wits and intelligence, and now she’s a felon. Molly’s Game is her story - all of her story, or at least the prescient moments from her first 36 years. It’s the highs and the lows and most importantly, how she got there.||2017 |
Directed by: Aaron Sorkin
Screenplay by: Aaron Sorkin
Based on the book by Molly Bloom
Starring: Jessica Chastain, Idris Elba
|See full review of Molly's Game|
Witty, genuine and authentic.
|Landline is set in the 90s. The filmmakers definitely make that point clear, but at the same time the references are mostly kept in the background. The film is so much more than outdated fashion and culture jokes. It’s a very enjoyable treatise on love – family love and commitment to yourself and commitment to another you’ve professed to love. It hits that remarkable balance between witty silliness and relatable drama of real life.||2017 |
Directed by: Gillian Robespierre
Screenplay by: Elisabeth Holm, Gillian Robespierre
Starring: Jenny Slate, Abby Quinn, Edie Falco, John Turturro and Jay Duplass
|See full review of Landline|
#11 Speech & Debate
Conquering intolerance with hilarity and amusement.
|Stand up and sing, or say something, or just do anything. Speech & Debate does an excellent job in helping its lead characters find their voice. This is about the injustice in high schools: an aspiring journalist being told exactly what to write and not being helped to get into a good school, an aspiring singer denied the lead role in the school musical because she’s too theatrical, outspoken and not pretty enough, and a gay kid not allowed to really be himself because the community is just not progressive enough.||2017 |
Directed by: Dan Harris
Screenplay by: Stephen Karam
Based on the play by Stephen Karam
Starring: Sarah Steele, Liam James and Austin P. McKenzie
|See full review of Speech & Debate|
#12 I, Tonya
Uproariously entertaining with astute insight into Tonya Harding.
|Craig Gillespie, director of I, Tonya, opts for a comedic breaking-the-fourth-wall type biopic where characters in mid-action will either deny or confirm what they’re currently doing. When Tonya has a rifle aimed at ex-husband Jeff’s head, she says she didn’t do it. When Jeff slams Tonya’s fingers in the car door, he says he didn’t do it. But you know they did do most of it. The style works for a too-crazy-to-be-true true story.||2017 |
Directed by: Craig Gillespie
Screenplay by: Steven Rogers
Starring: Margot Robbie, Sebastian Stan, Allison Janney, Paul Walter Hauser
|See full review of I, Tonya|
#13 The Disaster Artist
Hysterically funny real-life nonsense.
|After just a few funny scenes of The Disaster Artist, I started getting antsy, that maybe I shouldn’t be laughing at one man’s lunacy, but there are two good points to keep in mind. As much as this is a comedy about the making of Tommy Wiseau’s The Room (it is – and a very funny one at that), it’s mainly about friendship and the pursuit of dreams, and Tommy Wiseau is all for it.||2017 |
Directed by: James Franco
Screenplay by: Scott Neustadter, Michael Weber
Based on book by Greg Sestero, Tom Bissell
Starring: James Franco, Dave Franco
|See full review of The Disaster Artist|
#14 1 Night
Teenagers and adults converge in short and sweet romantic drama.
|What 1 Night does well, really well, is examine love as a thirty-something adult and as a teenager. Four main characters: Bea and Andy are attending their high school prom, and Liz and Drew are at a turning point in their marriage. It’s about the similarities and differences as people age and grow up, and then finding something to relate to in all of these characters.||2016 |
Directed by: Minhal Baig
Screenplay by: Minhal Baig
Starring: Anna Camp, Justin Chatwin
|See full review of 1 Night|
#15 Get Out
Humorous, bizarre and very well made.
|Get Out is the type of movie that just begs you to keep watching. The theme of systemic racism has been explored before, the psychological thriller/supernatural element of the suburbs has been done before, even the horror ending has been done before (at least similarly), but none of it has been put together in quite this way before. It’s a very complete movie with brilliantly designed cinematography, and a score that perfectly balances the uneasiness and inherent humour.||2017 |
Directed by: Jordan Peele
Screenplay by: Jordan Peele
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya, Allison Williams, and Bradley Whitford
|See full review of Get Out|
#16 Handsome Devil
A well-told entertaining and inspiring coming-of-age story for our times.
|Handsome Devil is a great film because it effortlessly combines characters both relatable and vital to the well-being of society, important themes of acceptance and self-confidence, and grandiose statements on the nature of growing-up, and put them all in an entertaining story. It brings to mind similar films that have come before it, notably Dead Poets Society and School Ties, but still draws a favourable comparison. This is a film for now, for this generation of school kids, and is good enough to make a difference.||2016 |
Directed by: John Butler
Screenplay by: John Butler
Starring: Fionn O'Shea, Nicholas Galitzine, and Andrew Scott
|See full review of Handsome Devil|
Visually and aurally immersive experience of war.
|Christopher Nolan decided to tell a World War II movie. One thing needs to be made very clear: this is not a story; this is a visually and aurally immersive experience of war. I’m sure many people were thinking Dunkirk would be something along the lines of Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan but updated with today’s impressive technology and added upon with Nolan’s visual flair, but Nolan is striking a very different chord. Dunkirk just wants to get you in your seat and throw a thousand different things at you.||2017 |
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Screenplay by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Mark Rylance, Fionn Whitehead, Cillian Murphy, Kenneth Branagh
|See full review of Dunkirk|
Unique, interesting and entertaining.
|If you have ever wanted to have a discussion about extremely self-destructive people, then you need to watch Colossal. A movie that’s more clever than it has any right to be. Gloria (Anne Hathaway) spends her nights getting drunk and then waking up in the morning (or afternoon) with a hangover unable to remember what happened the night before, and then rinse and repeat. Meanwhile there’s a giant monster terrorizing Seoul, South Korea. Interestingly, these two events are intimately connected.||2017 |
Directed by: Nacho Vigalondo
Screenplay by: Nacho Vigalondo
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis
|See full review of Colossal|
#19 Girls Trip
Funny and satisfying film about love, sex, pee, drugs, debauchery and self-acceptance.
|The thing about Girls Trip that works is that it cares about its characters, and its audience. It’s a funny film – crass, funny, and sweet; and so effortlessly it has us caring about this foursome of women. None of these character types are new to film, and none are overly complicated, but they all contribute to the film and there’s a genuineness to all four of them which makes the predictability and relationship drama easier to swallow.||2017 |
Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee
Screenplay by: Kenya Barris, Tracy Oliver
Starring: Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Tiffany Haddish and Jada Pinkett Smith
|See full review of Girls Trip|
#20 The Big Sick
|The Big Sick explores several topics including the struggle of artists as they try to make it big, the clash of American and Pakistani cultures, relationships with in-laws, and how near-death experiences can change people and their loved ones, and it does all of this while being framed as a romantic comedy. Which is just one of the reasons it’s a good movie: an accessible and entertaining romantic comedy but approaches it from more interesting, and refreshing, view points.||2017 |
Directed by: Michael Showalter
Screenplay by: Emily V. Gordon, Kumail Nanjiani
Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan
|See full review of The Big Sick|