CINEMAPS' BEST OF 2017: Les Enfants Terribles

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The Florida Project
It's the year of the chillun! Probably poetically fitting that we had this many child-acting breakthroughs in the same year an adult-child wreaked havoc in the White House? Too bad AMPAS ignored these performances. Fear not, kids, I'm here to give you mentions and go where no one cares. Literally (because no one cares about this list but me). Bright futures you'll all have though! And, to mark the crazy year that was 2017, we also had some pretty outrageous sequences committed to the big screen: the 'performance art installation' in The Square (actually, everything The Square), the 'battle' in mother!, the botched 'attempt' (can't do spoiler) and slaughter scenes in On Body and Soul, the 'spin-and-pick-off' problem-solving attempt in The Killing of the Sacred Deer, and not to be outdone, the heavy-metal headbanging nuns of Jeannette the Childhood of Joan of Arc. The following picks are my final words for this year in film, uncharted films notwithstanding.

CINEMAPS' TOP 10
The other side of hope
01. Toivon tuolla puolen (The other side of hope; Kaurismäki) ****1/2 Relevant, hysterical, damning, moving, hopeful (yes, I must use it), and masterfully crafted: I wish this humanistic tale about the struggles to make it together and the compassion born out of these struggles would be seen more widely. We need this.

02. Get out (Peele) **** The best darn time I had at the theatre with an audience last year was at the Get Out screening. I'm not sure how much of that coloured my perception of this film, but I'm pretty certain its wit and Peele's balls-to-the-wall approach were not accidental.

03. Dunkirk (Nolan) ****The technical marvel of the year, I must say. This was a tense ride, unforgiving and yet triumphant at the same time. I love what he did with the timelines. Again with the timeline! Methinks Nolan is a twee bit obsessed with time.

04. The Square (Östlund) **** Shocking and hilarious. You must forgive its choice of targets, simply for the outrageous way it brought a canon to a slingshot practice. Its bigger theme of disconnection is worthy of a conversation.

05. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Lanthimos) **** Another off kilter tale from the land of Lanthimos, where people just act out their psychological state and the whole world's emotions are as plain as day. Colin Farrell again delivers such a good performance here. He belongs in this universe.

06. The Beguiled (Coppola) **** This film was sweating off the screen; there was something very dirty about the whole deal, despite its beautiful setting and the fantastic people populating it. One could make a double-header evening with this one and Get out, and call it "White people have issues" night out.

07. Zama (Martel) **** Epic, beautifully shot film spanning multiple physical and spiritual journeys, crafted by an Argentinian woman to boot!

08. Blade Runner: 2049 (Villeneuve) ***1/2 This odd, contemplative film will find its rightful audience in due time. People forgot how dark and deliberating the original Blade Runner was huh?

09. Lady Bird (Gerwig) ***1/2 Often, characters develop throughout the course of a film, and we grow along with them. This was a rare bird in that its characters didn't really change, but we grew from observing their plumage anyway. Witness (possible spoiler): watch Laurie Metcalf's all-too-familiar mother figure go through her relationship with Lady Bird, and may be you, too, will be transformed as I did, no matter her character arc.

10. Phantom Thread (Anderson) ***1/2 A delicate, meticulous film that stays with you, propelled by sheer excellence in craftsmanship from all the people involved.

Get out
Grin and Pulse
The most fun I had watching a movie this past year
Get out
Jeannette, l'enfance de Jeanne d'Arc (Jeanette, The Childhood of Joan of Arc)
Toivon tuolla puolen (The other side of hope)
Atomic Blonde
Baby Driver

Frames
Impressive, memorable staging of a shot or series of shots
A cow's gaze at the people through its pen, awaiting certain fate, On Body and Soul
Coffee run sequence, Baby Driver
Red salt dispersed from the fighter planes, Star Wars: the last Jedi
Georges Laurent rolling himself through the street, camera is at a distant, Happy End
Mr. Woodcock watches Alma through a keyhole, and she sees him, Phantom Thread

Director
Confident storytelling, with a touch of "wow"
Aki Kaurismäki, Toivon tuolla puolen (The other side of hope)
Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk
Sofia Coppola, The Beguiled
Lucrecia Martel, Zama
Paul Thomas Anderson, Phantom Thread

Dafne Keen in Logan
Performance
I feel you
Child actors: Dafne Keen, Logan; Ahn Seo-hyun, Okja; Lise Leplat Prudhomme, Jeanette, The Childhood of Joan of Arc; Brooklynn Prince, The Florida Project; Fantine Harduin, Happy End

Adult actors: Frances McDormand, Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri 
Daniel Day Lewis, Phantom Thread  
Maryana Spivak, Loveless
Jennifer Lawrence, mother!
Colin Farrell, The killing of a sacred deer and The Beguiled

Laurie Metcalf, Lady Bird
Daniel Kaluuya, Get out
Cate Blanchett, Thor: Ragnarok   
Meinhard Neumann, Western
Willem Dafoe, The Florida Project

Writing
Create interesting, layered, cohesive universe; would make for a great read on its own
Sofia Coppola, The Beguiled
Yorgos Lanthimos, The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Ruben Östlund, The Square
Greta Gerwig, Lady Bird
Jordan Peele, Get out 


Zama
Editing
Interesting, effective cuts and stitches that support and move the story visually
Dunkirk
Baby Driver
Toivon tuolla puolen (The other side of hope)
Zama
mother!

Cinematography
Takes my breath away
Blade Runner: 2049 
Zama
Toivon tuolla puolen (The other side of hope)
The Beguiled
Dunkirk

Blade Runner: 2049
Art Direction / Production Design
Transportive, impactful set design
Blade Runner: 2049
The Shape of Water
The Beguiled
Ghost in the Shell
The Other side of hope

Effects
Movie Magic
Blade Runner: 2049
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
mother!
Kong: Skull Island
Ghost in the Shell



Sound
Amplify the visuals and enrich my sensory experience
Dunkirk
Blade Runner: 2049
Baby Driver
Zama
Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Score
Was it memorable?
Jeannette, l'enfance de Jeanne d'Arc (Jeanette, The Childhood of Joan of Arc)
Dunkirk
Baby Driver

Stray comments:
- I, Tonya was more fun than I thought it would be.
- Ryan Gosling is endlessly watchable.
- I was a little obsessed with James McAvoy in 2017; I blame having seen him in person at TIFF, and his role in Submergence definitely helped.
- Atomic Blonde kicked some serious butt.
- A ghost story had an awesome way of approaching the concept of ghosts.
- The Big Sick was sweet but underwhelming due to Aziz Ansari's trailblazing series.
- I've sworn off pork, on top of beef, for 2017 (and still going), thanks to Okja and Body and Soul
- Lady Bird changed how I saw (some) moms.
- I liked Jedi and Adam Driver enough to overlook the glaring fault of Kylo Ren's motive.
- Reality check: brutal divorced couples spat in Loveless, Halley's style of mothering in The Florida Project - seen 'em in real life.
- mother! was a wild ride of a woman's perception of her (mis)treatment by the world - can't see it as anything but the interior of a woman flipped inside out.
- Thor was underrated for how it gave wonderful female characters: Tessa Thompson was so awesome as Valkyrie, and Cate Blanchett was the sexiest villain anywhere, and at her most commanding of screen presence since Carol ("kneel," yes ma'am!); there was also Korg.
- Guardians of the Galaxy 2 disappointed.
- Logan Lucky was a lot of fun, and Daniel Craig was a hoot.
- Logan was surprisingly cool.
- The Beguiled was so well cast.
- Wonder Woman had an amazing trailer and very charming leads, but she deserved a better last third of the film (it devolved into a series of terrible, forgettable 'special' effects).
- The Shape of Water was lightweight del Toro.
- Three Billboards had a slight misjudgment in handling thorny issues outside of grief and vengeance, but on its main theme, it was on point.
- Mudbound was a slug and ultimately too TV-movie of the week to be great; however, I did cry quite a bit watching it, due to sheer anger and sadness at the injustice of it all; Garrett Hedlund was fantastic in it.
- Armie Hammer was the ultimate golden All-American boy in Call me by your name, if there ever was one; really loved the film for its location mostly, I'm afraid, and maybe Michael Stuhlbarg's speech at the end.
- The suggestive post-ending of the Post was probably the best part of the film.
- The disaster artist was funny to watch and quote, but forgettable after a few days.
- The disaster that was Superman's face in Justice League was unreal. Literally.
- Sad about the squashed potential of Ghost in the Shell.

Uncharted  
Films I'm intending to see that could make a dent on the list above
Maudie
War of the Planet of the Apes
Detroit
Wind river
First they killed my father
Loving Vincent

Charted
Ranked out of *****
****1/2
Toivon tuolla puolen (The other side of hope; Kaurismäki)

****
Get out (Peele)
Dunkirk (Nolan)
The Square (Östlund)
The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Lanthimos)
The Beguiled (Coppola)   
Zama (Martel)

***1/2 
Blade Runner: 2049 (Villeneuve)
Lady Bird (Gerwig)
Phantom Thread (Anderson)
Jeannette, l'enfance de Jeanne d'Arc (Jeanette, The Childhood of Joan of Arc; Dumont)
Logan (Mangold)
On Body & Soul (Enyedi)
Makala (Gras)
The nothing factory (Pinho)
I, Tonya (Gillespie)
The Florida Project (Baker)
Call me by your name (Guadagnino)
Logan Lucky (Soderbergh)
Baby Driver (Wright)
The death of Stalin (Iannucci)
Western (Grisebach)
mother! (Aronofsky)
Loveless (Zvyagintsev)
Happy end (Haneke)
Atomic Blonde (Leitch)

***
A ghost story (Lowery)
The Post (Spielberg)
Three billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri (McDonagh)
Mudbound (Rees)
The Shape of Water (del Toro)
The third murder (Koreeda)
The Big Sick (Showalter)
It (Muschietti)
Spiderman: Homecoming (Watts)
Okja (Bong)
Split (Shyamalan)
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Johnson)

**1/2
Submergence (Wenders)
Thor: Ragnarok (Waititi)
Wonder Woman (Jenkins)
The disaster artist (Franco)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (Gunn)
Coco (Unkrich)
Kedi (Torun)
Ghost in the shell (Sanders)
Alien: Covenant (Scott)
Justice League (Snyder)

**
The Dark Tower (Arcel)
Kong: Skull Island (Vogt-Roberts)
Mummy (Kurtzman)
Gaga: Five foot two (Moukarbel)

*
The Great Wall (Zhang)
American Assassin (Cuesta)



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