Sam Mauro's Top 10 Favorite Movies of 2017
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We present film critic Sam Mauro’s immensely subject to change top 10 films of 2017 list

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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

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How the hell do these ‘Spider-Man: Far From Home’ posters keep managing to get worse?

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Spider-Man: Far From Home IMAX poster
SONY PICTURES

I really, really hate to keep bringing this up, but the Spider-Man: Far From Home posters are fucking atrocious. Every single one of them. Actually, maybe these ones weren’t all that bad. However, I would say that the vast majority of the one-sheets Sony has put out for this otherwise good-looking movie so far have been straight up hideous.

What’s even more baffling than the fact that someone is actually getting paid to design these things that look like they were created using Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 is that they somehow keep managing to get progressively worse and worse.

Case in point, take a look at this new poster Sony put out the other day to promote Spider-Man: Far From Home‘s release in IMAX:

I mean, they can’t be serious with this shit, right? What exactly is going on down there at the bottom with Samuel L. Jackson and Jake Gyllenhaal? Why does it look like they were copied and pasted in from some very poorly lit still images? And did they really need to throw in that gigantic blue rectangle around Spider-Man that completely throws off the whole red color scheme of the entire poster? I just have so many damn questions.

At this rate, I don’t know if I can take another bad Spider-Man: Far From Home poster. Please just make it stop.

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Bradley Cooper might be replacing Leonardo DiCaprio in Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Nightmare Alley’

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Bradley Cooper
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Fresh off his breakup with Irina Shayk that definitely didn’t have anything to do with Lady Gaga, Variety is reporting that Bradley Cooper is in talks to take on the leading role in Guillermo del Toro’s adaptation of Nightmare Alley.

While the talks are still early and nothing has been set in stone quite yet, Cooper is looking to play Stanton “Stan” Carlisle, a young and ambitious con man who joins forces with a female psychiatrist for a mentalist act only to realize that she’s even more corrupt than he is.

Indeed, this is the same role that Leonardo DiCaprio was attached to play just a couple of months ago, but the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood actor reportedly “ended up passing on the project after a deal could not be reached.”

Say what you will about Cooper, but there’s no denying that the guy is most definitely at the top of his game right now despite not having much luck this past awards season and I think a collaboration between him and Del Toro will make for one hell of an exciting project.

No word yet on when we can expect to see Nightmare Alley hit theaters, but production on the film is expected to get underway this fall, so a 2020 release date seems more than likely at this point assuming no delays get in the way of things.

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Blumhouse is remaking Bob Clark’s horror classic ‘Black Christmas’ with Imogen Poots set to star

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Black Christmas
BLUMHOUSE

Folks, I’m happy to report that Christmas came early this year and, honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a better gift than this: a remake of the genre classic Black Christmas is coming our way via Blumhouse on December 13, 2019.

The latest remake of the Bob Clark classic is being directed Sophia Takal from a script she co-wrote along with April Wolfe and follows a group of sorority girls who are, one by one, being killed off by an unknown stalker at Hawthorne College.

However, as the film’s official logline so greatly puts it, “the killer is about to discover that this generation’s young women aren’t willing to become hapless victims as they mount a fight to the finish.”

Green Room star Imogen Poots will lead the film’s cast, which also includes the likes of Aleyse Shannon, Brittany O’Grady, Lily Donoghue, and Caleb Eberhardt. Jason Blum, the producer behind Jordan Peele’s Get Out and David Gordon Green’s Halloween, also serves as a producer here along with Ben Cosgrove and Adam Hendricks.

Notably, this will be one of the first Blumhouse features to be directed by a woman (the studio is also developing a remake of The Craft with Zoe Lister-Jones set to write and direct) and it’s also the second time Black Christmas is being remade.

As you may remember, Glen Morgan’s 2006 remake (which took on the abbreviated title of Black X-Mas) starred Katie Cassidy, Michelle Trachtenberg, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and was a complete and utter mess thanks to creative geniuses Bob and Harvey Weinstein, who had more than one issue with Morgan’s script.

Given everyone involved here, though, it seems to safe say that Blumhouse’s take on Black Christmas is going to be fucking great and I can’t wait to see it hit theaters on its very appropriate Friday the 13th release date later this year.

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