Ben Cahlamer’s Best of 2017
10. Good Time (A24) The Safdie Brothers’ crafted a tale of intrigue as Connie tries to find every angle to not only cover his own, but to spring his brother from jail after a failed bank heist. It’s a chase movie, with a vibrant look and sound. And Robert Pattinson is electric.
9. The Big Sick (Amazon Studios) A genuine bright spot this past summer, Kumail Nanjiani and his real life wife, Emily V. Gordon wrote an abbreviated (and fictionalized) version of how they met. Zoe Kazan plays Emily and Ray Romano and Holly Hunter co-star as her parents. Hunter’s performance rivals Laurie Metcalf’s and Allison Janney’s performances.
8. Ingrid Goes West (Neon) A film about social media and stalking, Aubrey Plaza plays Ingrid, a down on her luck young lady who just wants to be liked. When she moves to Los Angeles to follow her Instagram obsession, Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), Ingrid’s ways catch up to her, but not before finding the true meaning of friendship.
7. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (A24) Yorgos Lanthimos’ film about the power of suggestion is a stunning film. Featuring performances from Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman and Barry Keoghan, the film is one of many dark comedies, but this films’ nuances say one thing, but they contain multiple different meanings.
6. Lady Bird (A24) Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut is full of amazing performances and feel good moments. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf are dynamite on the screen as a mother – daughter duo. Tracy Letts is in the backdrop, but his performance never lets you forget that he’s there for support.
5. I, Tonya (Neon) The autobiographical look at the life of Tonya Harding, Craig Gillespie’s dark comedy is full of wit and charm, and surprisingly, empathy towards Tonya. Margot Robbie is sensational, while Sebastian Stan plays Jeff Gillooly her husband. Allison Janney is a hoot as her vindictive mother, who wanted nothing but the best for her daughter.
4. Dunkirk (Warner Brothers) Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic divided a number of people over the summer, but one thing’s for certain: there was no shortage of tension in this tight thriller which effortlessly combines three vantage points to tell the same story. It is certainly one of the most uniquely constructed films this year and looks stunning on IMAX.
3. The Shape of Water (Fox Searchlight) This film caught me by surprise. I was familiar with Guillermo Del Toro, but hadn’t seen any of his works. Then this love story in the guise of the ‘Creature from the Black Lagoon’ comes along. Its premise is simple, but its intentions are not. Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Michael Shannon, Michael Stuhlbarg, Octavia Spenser and Doug Jones star.
2. Call Me by Your Name (Sony Pictures Classics) There was a lot of buzz about this film, especially the performances coming out of Sundance and a number of latter year festivals. Luca Guagadnino’s lush film is set in the Italian countryside in 1983. Oliver, played by Armie Hammer, is a graduate student invited to stay with the family for the summer, studying under Sam, Elio’s father and a professor of archaeology. The film is an “actors’ movie” which focuses on the performances, but the story is as paramount to this film as are the performances.
1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox Searchlight) Martin McDonagh’s dark comedy sits at the top of my list because of its “no holds barred” brazenness. It tells the story of grief and of rage, but it does it in a very approachable way. Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell are three of the most memorable characters this year and their performances here are no exception.
The Florida Project
All the Money in the World
Tom of Finland
City of Ghosts
The Lost City of Z
Land of the Little People*