Top 10 Films of 2017
by Natalie Fält
Natalie here, Creative Director and Founder of @womenandfilm. I thought I'd share with you some of my favorite films of this very eventful year. As I organized my list I realized that there were more films that I still am yearning to see as this year was a very busy one for me with work and Women and Film duties. My "watchlist" is an ever growing organism that I can't seem to tame. Perhaps 2018 will grant me with more film watching time so that I might chip away at the list and soothe my soul. Wishing everyone a great 2018 and I hope to be able to connect, collaborate, and continue to curate inspirations for you all.
1. Call Me By Your Name
Directed by Luca Guadagnino It's the summer of 1983, and precocious 17-year-old Elio Perlman is spending the days with his family at their 17th-century villa in Lombardy, Italy. He soon meets Oliver, a handsome doctoral student who's working as an intern for Elio's father. Amid the sun-drenched splendor of their surroundings, Elio and Oliver discover the heady beauty of awakening desire over the course of a summer that will alter their lives forever.
MY NOTES Where to begin with this beautiful film... Timothée Chalamet's performance was incredibly vulnerable and masterful. While I was hesitant at first since the age difference between them was palpable, I found this honest and intimate portrait of love and heartbreak so refreshing. The film is poetic and slow when needed and the fact that there is no "villian" really spoke to me. There are very few love stories for gay men (and women) as the film world is dominated by heteronormativity and this film is so sweet and the portrayal of "first love" is universal, it made me yearn for my memories of my first loves. OH and the parents! such great acting MUST SEE!
2. Good Time
Directed by the Safdie brothers After a botched bank robbery lands his younger brother in prison, Constantine "Connie" Nikas (Robert Pattinson) embarks on a twisted odyssey through the city's underworld in an increasingly desperate—and dangerous—attempt to get his brother Nick (Benny Safdie) out of jail. Over the course of one adrenalized night, Connie finds himself on a mad descent into violence and mayhem as he races against the clock to save his brother and himself, knowing their lives hang in the balance.
MY NOTES The Energy, the Casting, The Acting.. what's not to love in this insane film. I find this film to be a refreshingly new take on narrative filmmaking. A lot of people's problems with it were that there wasn't much character development, that you are just thrown into this event with these brothers-that's what I like about it. It doesn't follow the rules it is almost like a ride that you get on when it begins. when it ends you are stressed and sad but wow what a good film. Robert Pattinson's and Benny Safdie's performances were incredible as well as Buddy Duress' and the casting is really my favorite part of this film; the people feel incredibly real and familiar. In its essence its a film about low-lives and the love of the brothers.
3. Lady Bird
Directed by Greta Gerwig Marion McPherson, a California nurse, works tirelessly to keep her family afloat after her husband loses his job. She also maintains a turbulent bond with a teenage daughter who is just like her -- loving, strong-willed and deeply opinionated.
MY NOTES I feel like this film needs no comments considering the community here and how well received it was. I will say that I saw the film at the DGA with both Gerwig and Saoirse Ronan in attendance and I've always been on the fence with Greta not sure if she spoke to me- I'm not the biggest fan of mumblecore films. Having seen her speak about the film made me love it and her more.
4. All This Panic
Directed by Jenny Gage A group of teenage girls, coming of age in Brooklyn, navigates the ephemeral and fleeting transition between childhood and adulthood. Shot over a three-year period, it is a meditation on the mysterious, often painful, yet ultimately exhilarating period of a teen's life. These city girls, raised where everything moves fast, appear savvy and sophisticated, but their Brooklyn attitudes can't obliterate the baseline insecurities, fears and awkwardness shared by teens across the globe.
MY NOTES just a beautifully intimate portrayal of Girlhood. The fact that the director Jenny was family friends with the main subjects made the subjects more comfortable with her filming at such intimate times in their lives. When it ended I could remember more vividly what it felt like to be young. The subjects are all girls in NYC so it's also really cool to see how life as a teenager is in a big city, something I know little of.
Directed by Julia Ducournau Stringent vegetarian Justine (Garance Marillier) encounters a decadent, merciless and dangerously seductive world during her first week at veterinary school. Desperate to fit in, she strays from her principles and eats raw meat for the first time. The young woman soon experiences terrible and unexpected consequences as her true self begins to emerge.
6. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond
Directed by Chris Smith Using 100 hours of footage from the set of "Man on the Moon," filmmaker Chris Smith documents Jim Carrey's transformation into legendary performance artist and comedian Andy Kaufman.
MY NOTES It's weird and its good, sooo good. I'm still not sure if Jim Carrey is mental or not but it doesn't matter, he's a genius and you also learn a lot about Andy Kaufman in this docu as well.
available on Netflix
7. The Lure
Directed by Erin Lee Carr Things are not always as they appear, especially in the case of Dee Dee and Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Child Abuse, mental illness, and forbidden love converge in this mystery involving a mother and daughter who were thought to be living a fairy tale life that turned out to be a living nightmare.
MY NOTES It wouldn't be a list made my me if it didn't include at least one true crime documentary. For those who know me, know that I have a sometimes unhealthy (?) obsession with true crime that stems from my deep interest with human psychology and this film is one for the books if you're at all interested in the psychology of human beings and monsters. I have been obsessed with this case since I read about it years ago and was so thrilled they made this bizarre case into a documentary.
available on HBO
9. Love True
Directed by Alma Har'el three real-life relationships unfold in distinct corners of the country.
MY NOTES I put the trailer for the film instead of images because I really feel that images don't do this film justice. In this documentary, Alma weaves an intensely poetic tale of love and relationships that is so different. She shot it herself so it has this closeness that only Alma could bring, she is such a thoughtful and romantic person and I love the way she blends fiction and non fiction by inserting these "psychodramas" into the film in which characters re-enact moments of trauma in their lives.
available on Netflix
10. Beach Rats
Directed by Eliza Hittman An aimless teenager on the outer edges of Brooklyn is having a miserable summer. With his father on his deathbed and his mother wanting him to find a girlfriend, Frankie escapes the bleakness of his life by causing trouble with his delinquent friends and flirting with older men online. When his chatting and webcamming intensifies, he finally starts hooking up with guys at a nearby cruising beach while simultaneously entering into a cautious relationship with a young woman.
MY NOTES Shot on Super 16mm this film was not only visually stunning but I loved how it took this specific pocket of NY and made a sort of tragic love story with it. I can't wait to see what Eliza makes next she creates raw and beautiful work and I'm jealous she gets to shoot on film!
available on YouTube
Honorable Mentions: (films I'm sure that would have made the list but I haven't seen yet)
Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold