Sam Mauro's Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2017
Connect with us

Movies

We present critic Sam Mauro’s immensely subject to change top 10 films of 2017 list

Published

on

A note before we begin: I wrestled with how I wanted to go about this list. 2017 isn’t a particularly lackluster year for film—it just seems that way. Most of the movies worth talking about are old news to anyone who saw them at their 2016 premieres (Personal Shopper), or hold-overs into the new year (First Reformed), or arguably not even any of the films at all (ahem, we’ll get to that). Four of the films ranked below are 2016 premieres, and compared to my concurrent world premiere top ten, I only share four titles. Regardless of my sometimes brutal film criticism and wantonly erratic change of taste, I present my immensely subject to change top ten of 2017:

10. On the Beach at Night Alone

A great climate change movie, among other things, which is cool, because it’s a cold, dark world out there. A staggering work on what chases you when you travel to get some “alone time.” Hong Sang-soo’s shaggiest and most straight-forward film in a minute, but it’s also a raging, shattering bleeding heart of a motion picture. People hurt each other and the world thinks you’re a star. There are a million ways to tell the same story, as per the usual with Hong: when a stranger comes to town, you want to be littler.

9. Good Time

“Untwisting and untangling these strings I’m in.” A desperate, dread-inducing rollercoaster, all flailing limbs, and bug-eyed glances. The emotional vulnerability here is shoved right up against the vicious sociopolitical climate until it feels suffocating. This is 70s New York (and 70s cinema) brought face to face with its bastard offspring. The kind of confrontational, invigorating cinema that brings you to your knees, a contradictory troll game of privilege and raging political relevance. New York City is a garbage city that will chew you up and spit you out and make you thank your lucky stars that you’re white. It’s a macho wistful crazy fucked micro tragedy epic. An island of 8 million people. A blotter-acid, massive interrogation into the nature of care – for one’s self-preservation, for those closest to us, for those numbed within bureaucratic systems, and those institutionally pushed aside and objectified, in both our art and our politic. A bleak, contradictory, magnum film.

8. The Ornithologist

Anti-anthropocentric cinema at its finest. A great parable of Christian belief and Biblical storytelling, which forms a wonderful joke of pulling triple-duty as a personal meta-treatise for director João Pedro Rodrigues. High canon queer cinema, and a rich document of modern Portugal. I also really like birds.

7. Princess Cyd

The most generous, exposed-heart sort of humanism; the kind with novelistic integrity and a fullness of vision, a work concerned with all sorts of intimacy, a visually and structurally mature gift feels light and pleasant and easy. Stephen Cone’s modern classic is an ode to Marilynne Robinson and Jonathan Demme, to be sure, but it is full of such clean air, and back-kisses, and a voice so utterly unique in today’s cinematic landscape, and so winning seventeen different ways over. It’s healing, empowered art, and a radical rejiggering of the prototypical American indie towards something more…considered. It is a film of fluidity (a work of genuine queerness, a utopian view of acceptance and a bleary-eyed, quiet catharsis) and also specificity. Having been born and partially raised in suburban Chicago, I saw myself in this movie. But moreover, I saw so many people I loved.

6. Nocturama

Won’t somebody think of the children! Precision-engineered formalism (the opening half hour is so technically perfect, and the shot of the two teenagers hands slinking away just as the light of the tunnel hits them, A sleek film of muddied philosophy: These children enact reactionary comforts and genre gestures so completely informed by a capitalist mentality that the film never shakes, a frisson of genuinely uncomfortable, terrifying ideas. This may well be an empty film of tragic things made clean. It is still probably as good an indicator as any as to how good and important movies are right now, an authentically progressive film with no answers and all questions, an obsessive and obsessively confounding object.

5. Dawson City: Frozen Time

A secret history, an entire town’s life at the movies, a rewriting and affirmation of cinema’s transistors pleasures and otherworldly power. Super-sad love story thesis ephemera. Movies are a reproduction of life imagined and life gone by, all the ways it was and could have been. It’s an exceptional an archival powerhouse and a cinephilic master text.

4. Personal Shopper

This is a movie where Kristen Stewart says the word ectoplasm multiple times and there are many references to Hilma af Klint and there is ghost texting and bondage and I have many other thoughts. A very sad, very lame movie, right down to the goofy-ass CGI and an A+ obnoxious murder scene. Stewart is at her best, a movie star incapable of not being herself, and a queer icon in a film that doesn’t fully do her justice. Assayas never quite nails it, but the films brushes and falls from perfection create an intangibly endearing, earnest, and truthful quality never before present in his work. I flipping love this messy mumbo jumbo movie. It helps that I believe in ghosts. Grief is a motherfucker.

3. Song to Song

A string of perfect moments (thinking about right now: the kazoo sounds of Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender at the table morph into monkey howls as Fassbender chases Rooney Mara to the sounds of seagull above them on the beach). Silly and old-person youthful, biblical and freewheeling and something of an arthouse playlist, a panoramic view of Terrence Malick’s obsessions and delights, sprawling with Malick’s strongest storytelling yet (amazingly, this film feels like it could be edited in any order, and that this is, essentially, the best possible edit), an unabashedly graceful ode to the foolish pursuit of freedom above all else. Above all, it’s about how much Malick loves Patti Smith. It’s really sweet.

2. Columbus

Cigarettes and meth. Kogonada’s debut is a great examination of displacement in the Western inland of America, a quietly devastating ode to Ozu’s family dramas, a great work of architecture, modernism, and the notion of permanence. It is a film where every character supports each other, quietly. Haley Lu Richardson is, no exaggeration, the greatest actress of our generation, and her performance here is all-time. She walks like she dances and her performance is as camouflaged as it is calibrated and utterly recognizable. A movie about loving and learning to be familiar and still be awestruck. Admittedly, this is about as close as you come to a movie made specifically for me, but I still cry a lot whenever I watch it, and it makes the day good.

1. Twin Peaks: The Return

What is it like to spend 18 hours in a single moment of irresolution? The history of American iconography, a diatribe on film versus detail, television versus cinema, narrative versus conceptual art. Kyle McLaughlin gives six or seven of the year’s best performances. A total diatribe on genre in all its forms, on soap operas, and Sarah Palmer, and the history of electricity. So monumental, so clearly better than anything this year, in any medium, so full of hidden secrets, so unlike in feeling and amalgam, and it has total re-watchability (I have seen it four times through). An artistic event unparalleled in its ambition, success, and unifying yet diversely productive discourse this year.

Honorable Mentions (listed in alphabetical order): A Quiet Passion, Beach Rats, The Death of Louis XIV, Heal the Living, The Last Jedi, Roman J. Israel Esq., Wonderstruck

Advertisement
Comments

Movies

‘Incredibles 2’ opens with a record-breaking $18.5 million from Thursday night previews

Published

on

Incredibles
DISNEY/PIXAR

Disney and Pixar’s Incredibles 2 is off to an excellent start at the domestic box office as the long-awaited animated sequel leaped into theaters with a record-breaking $18.5 million on Thursday night, making it the biggest preview ever for an animated film.

The record was previously held by Finding Dory, which earned $9.2 million from Thursday previews in 2016. However, Dory still holds the record for best opening weekend ever for an animated film with $135 million—whether Incredibles 2 can break that record as well is still to be determined, but it’s chance look promising.

Incredibles 2 launches in 4,410 theaters across the U.S. starting today and, according to estimates from box office analysts, could gross anywhere between $125 million and $140 by Sunday.

Advertisement

Still, the preview is an impressive feat for Incredibles 2, beating out Beauty and the Beast ($16.3 million), Spider-Man: Homecoming ($15.4 million), and Thor: Ragnarok ($14.5 million), while almost matching the $18.6 million preview number Deadpool 2 earned just mere weeks ago.

Incredibles 2 picks up just after the events of the 2005 original and finds the Parr family back again, but Helen (Holly Hunter) is off on important crime-fighting business, leaving Bob (Craig T. Nelson) at home with Violet (Sarah Vowell) and Dash (Huck Milner) to navigate the day-to-day heroics of parenting life.

Brad Bird returned to write and direct the sequel, which also stars Bob Odenkirk, Catherine Keener, Jonathan Banks, Sophia Bush, Isabella Rossellini, and Samuel L. Jackson.

Continue Reading

Movies

‘Aquaman’ first look reveals Nicole Kidman as Queen Atlanna, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta

Published

on

Aquaman
WARNER BROS.

This week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly offers our first look at Nicole Kidman as Queen Atlanna and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta in James Wan’s highly anticipated Aquaman, which is due out in theaters this winter. The EW cover photo also features Jason Momoa as the titular superhero and Amber Heard as Mera.

While specific plot details are being kept tightly under wraps by the studio, the EW cover story features an interview with Wan where he teases what’s to come in the next installment in the DC Extended Universe, which, according to a new report, is currently undergoing some big changes behind the scenes amid a recent shakeup of DC’s top executives.

“The water world my movie takes place in is so separate and so far apart from previous DC movies it’s like I’m making my own sci-fi fantasy film,” the director said, adding that Aquaman will be “a whole new underwater world nobody has seen before in live action.”

Advertisement

The cover story also details the “great white sharks, giant octopi, seven different underwater kingdoms, trench-dwelling cannibals, and even sea dragons” that are present throughout the film, which will find Aquaman going head to head with his archnemesis, Black Manta, and half-brother, Ocean Master (Patrick Wilson).

Written by Will Beall, Aquaman also stars Dolph Lundgren as Nereus, Temuera Morrison as Thomas Curry, and Willem Dafoe as Nuidis Vulko, and will hit theaters on December 21. You can check out the EW cover photos below.

Continue Reading

Movies

‘Ant-Man and the Wasp’ tracking a solid $75 million opening weekend at domestic box office

Published

on

Ant-Man and the Wasp
MARVEL STUDIOS

Ant-Man and the Wasp is looking to outgross its predecessor when it debuts next month as the upcoming Marvel Studios sequel is heading toward a solid $75 million opening weekend over the July 6-8 weekend, further proving the fact that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is showing no sign of losing momentum due to so-called “superhero fatigue.”

If these early figures are correct, this would put the sequel roughly 30% higher than Ant-Man‘s $57 million opening weekend total in 2015. The original went on to earn more than $180 million at the domestic box office and $339 million overseas, bringing its worldwide haul to a whopping $519 million.

Advertisement

The latest Marvel adventure, which takes place in the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War but before the events of Avengers: Infinity War, follows Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) as he grapples with the consequences of his choices as both a superhero and a father. However, when Scott is confronted by Hope van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) and Dr. Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) with an urgent new mission, they must work together to uncover secrets from their past.

Ant-Man and the Wasp also stars Michael Pena, Walton Goggins, Bobby Cannavale, Judy Greer, Laurence Fishburne, and Michelle Pfeiffer, who joins the cast Hope’s mother and the original Wasp, Janet van Dyne, who Marvel revealed for the first time in a set of a character posters released for the film earlier this month.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement