Hollywood changed in 2017. From the ousting of alleged powerful sexual abusers in the industry such as Harvey Weinstein to female-led films dominating the box office, this past year will likely be remembered as a watershed year for cinema. To celebrate the important slate of released films, here are The PHOENIX’s top five films of 2017.
- “Lady Bird” — Greta Gerwig
A fresh, new coming-of-age story, “Lady Bird” tells the story of a teenage girl (Saoirse Ronan) who calls herself “Lady Bird” and her tumultuous relationship with her mother (Laurie Metcalf) while growing up in Sacramento, California.
There are few films this year that feel more real than “Lady Bird.” Even though Gerwig’s witty dialogue, quirky characters and nostalgic references litter the film’s narrative, it’s the mother-daughter relationship that elevates the film above average. Gerwig brings intelligence and experience to this dynamic, which results in a unique balance of heart and frustration between the characters. Despite tackling a cliché-filled genre, “Lady Bird” is smart enough to stand on its own among its saturated market.
Read The PHOENIX’s conversation with actress Beanie Feldstein, who plays Julie Steffans in the film, here.
- “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” — Yorgos Lanthimos
“The Killing of a Sacred Deer” pushes the horror genre forward in a way only Lanthimos (“The Lobster,” “Dogtooth”) can. Starring Colin Farrell (“The Lobster,” “In Bruges”), Nicole Kidman (“Eyes Wide Shut,” “Lion”) and Barry Keoghan (“Dunkirk”), the film explores the relationship between revenge and privilege in a loose, twisted adaptation of the Greek myth of Iphigenia.
Filled with the director’s trademark declarative dialogue, awkward performances and stark visuals, the film is best experienced with as little prior information as possible. All one needs to know is that “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” feels like it could have been directed by the great Stanley Kubrick (“2001: A Space Odyssey,” “The Shining”) himself.
Read The PHOENIX’s review of “The Killing of a Sacred Deer” here.
- “Phantom Thread” — Paul Thomas Anderson
The collaboration film fans have been waiting years again for has finally arrived. Daniel Day-Lewis (“Lincoln”) reunited with his “There Will Be Blood” director Anderson for their latest film, “Phantom Thread.” The film follows Day-Lewis portraying a renowned dressmaker and the budding of his new, complicated relationship with his latest muse, played by Vicky Krieps (“Colonia”).
“Phantom Thread” is a subdued, disturbing and oddly funny examination of the power dynamic of a relationship in 1950s London. The film crawls through its runtime, leaving hints of something deeper and darker lurking beneath its surface. By the time audiences reach the eerie conclusion, they will be left with more questions than answers.
Read The PHOENIX’s review of “Phantom Thread” here.
- “Get Out” — Jordan Peele
One of the biggest surprises of the year, “Get Out” is not only a great horror-thriller, but also a relevant and intelligent examination of race relations in modern America. The film follows a black man, Chris (Daniel Kaluuya), and his white girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams) as they travel to meet Rose’s parents at their vacation getaway. Rose’s parents first seem to be overcompensating to accept Chris into the family, but their demeanors soon turn sinister.
“Get Out” will likely go down as one of the greatest debuts for a first-time director ever. At once a spine tingling thriller, laugh-out-loud comedy and biting cultural commentary, Peele’s debut proves his transition from sketch comedy to filmmaking was a brilliant move. Not only does “Get Out” raise concerns and draw attention to the everyday fears of being black in America, it also gives audiences one of the most cathartic third acts in years.
Read The PHOENIX’s review of “Get Out” here.
- “Call Me By Your Name” — Luca Guadagnino
“Call Me By Your Name” examines the fleeting relationship between Elio (Timothée Chalamet), a precocious 17-year-old boy and Oliver (Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old graduate student who has traveled to Italy to live with Elio’s family and study under Elio’s father (Michael Stuhlbarg). The film thrives on realistic and honest acting from its cast, with Chalamet and Stuhlbarg delivering Oscar-worthy performances.
While “Call Me By Your Name” will be unfairly compared to Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight” simply because of subject matter, the two films stand on their own as two modern masterpieces. The film’s sumptuous portrayal of Italy is so immersive that audiences will feel as if they were there with Elio and Oliver during their summer together. The dreamlike backdrop borders on fantastical despite its realism, perfectly echoing the relationship at the film’s core.
The warm, vibrant atmosphere of the film is only enhanced by Guadagnino’s slow, deliberate pacing and progression of Elio and Oliver’s relationship from infatuation to love. “Call Me By Your Name” is a gorgeous, melancholy film that will leave audiences heartbroken and staring misty-eyed at its final frame.