The Best Movies of 2017 (So Far)

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We’re halfway through the year, and look at us, we’re still kicking. The old cliche is that Hollywood saves all of its best movies for the Fall, thinking that it will better the movies’ chances to get Oscar nominations. I don’t know how much of that statement is true, but I do know that 2017 is as good a contender as any to dispute the fact that great movies come only the second half of the year. This year has already given us a very nice mix of quality Hollywood entertainment, strong work by independent auteurs, and quite a few foreign imports. In the spirit of celebration, I’ve listed my ten favorite movies of the year (so far). Hopefully, you’ll take a chance of them if you haven’t seen them yet. They’re all worth your while.

The Ten Best Movies of 2017 So Far (in Alphabetical Order)

The Beguiled
Sofia Coppola has gotten some flack for the representation of race relations (or lack thereof) in her latest movie, which pits a conniving Union Soldier (Colin Farrell) against a group of repressed Confederate women (Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, and the great Nicole Kidman). I find these complaints both accurate and more complicated that some of the critics are willing to admit. In any case, why don’t you be the judge? Whether or not you find it “problematic”, you will at least start an interesting conversation. And you will experience some top-notch film-making as Coppola applies her delicate touch to what is essentially a steamy and pulpy B-movie. (In theaters now)

The Big Sick
Comedian Kumail Nanjiani and his wife Emily Gordon wrote a screenplay detailing the story of how they got together in the form of a romantic comedy. A rom-com in which Emily (played by Zoe Kazan, Kumail plays himself) falls sick unexpectedly and must go into a medically induced coma. Believe me, it’s way funnier than it sounds. And don’t worry, it’s as emotionally satisfying as the best movies in the genre. What’s more, Holly Hunter and Ray Romano are both fantastic as Emily’s parents. (In theaters now)

Frantz
If you’re in the mood for more World War I-related stories after watching Wonder Womanmay I recommend this period drama from that melodramatic Frenchman Francois Ozon? In the years after The Great War, a grieving German woman notices a mysterious Frenchman who keeps visiting and leaving flowers on her deceased fiancé’s grave. Based on an old movie by Ernst Lubitsch, Frantz is a truly emotional drama shot in beautiful black and white. (available to rent on V.O.D.)

Get Out
Who would have expected a low-budget horror movie from the guy from Key & Peele would become the movie event of the year? A treasure like Get Out only comes once in a blue moon. This is the kind of movie that defines a moment in culture. Not only did this movie -about a black man trapped in a nefarious white community- exorcise the right demons at the right time, it’s a wonderfully made movie in its own right. Carefully scripted, and precisely directed by Jordan Peele, who I’m sure will have a long and successful career. (available to rent on V.O.D.)

Hermia & Helena
A delightful comedy inspired by the work of William Shakespeare, in which an Argentinian woman comes to New York on an artist’s fellowship, only to find the connections between her lives in the two countries to be more complicated than they seemed. As in any good Shakespeare comedy, everyone is falling in and our of love at all times. Director Matias Pineiro knows it’s hard to decipher what the heart wants, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be fun to try. (making its way across the U.S. in limited release)

Kedi
This is a documentary about cats. The city of Istanbul, in Turkey, is known for its quite large population of roaming street cats. This movie follows some of these cats in order to understand their place in the city. It’s a movie that tries to tell us something about humanity and empathy, but it’s also a movie about a bunch of cats doing cat stuff. In other words, it’s freaking adorable. (available on YoutubeRed and in limited release)

The Lost City of Z
Director James Grey set out to make the kind of adventure that is not made anymore, and more importantly, try to make it in a way that would be acceptable to contemporary politics. This is the real life-inspired story of explorer Percy Fawcett and his multiple journeys into the Amazon searching for an ancient civilization. The real Fawcett disappeared into the jungle and never came back. We don’t know if he found anything, but Grey’s interpretation of his quest turns an old-fashioned adventure epic into a spiritual experience.(available to rent on V.O.D.)

Okja
This is one of the two Netflix movies controversially included in the Cannes Film Festival, and now that I’ve seen it, it’s clear that Okja deserved a spot at the biggest cinema celebration in the world. Korean director Bong Joon-ho has made the kind of movie that I wish more big studios were making (and putting in theaters), an exciting and idiosyncratic adventure about a young girl and her genetically modified super-pig. This is a great, fun, funny, dark, moving movie with a point of view. (available on Netflix and a couple theaters across the U.S.)

Personal Shopper
People said Kristen Stewart was a horrible actress. Now people say she’s the ebst of her generation. I’ve always somewhere in the middle, but if any movie was going to put me in the “she’s great” camp, it’d be this paranormal drama by French auteur Olivier Assayas. Stewart plays a medium trying to communicate with her dead brother, and the fascinating thing is I couldn’t call her performance good or bad, it’s a whole other thing in and on itself. Will she change acting forever? Who knows, probably not, but it’s fascinating to wonder. (available to rent on V.O.D.)

Raw
French veterinary school looks rough. Following on the trend of horror movies that are less scary than they are disturbing, the debut feature by director Julia Ducournau was a bit of a sensation when it debuted at the Cannes Film Festival last year, boosting its profile thanks to reports that people were passing out during screenings. This is the story of a young woman, a vegetarian, who goes off to veterinary school where she inadvertently develops a taste for live flesh. An obvious metaphor for female repression and sexual awakenings, perhaps, but a wonderfully made one. (available to rent on V.O.D.)

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3 comments

  1. smilingldsgirl · August 19

    Not a big fan of Beguiled. I felt they took all the tension out of the original and made all the women the same. Get Out, Personal Shopper and Big Sick are also in my top 10 of year so far

    • Conrado Falco · August 19

      I think you would dig Hermia & Helena if you get to see it.

      • smilingldsgirl · August 19

        Thanks so much. I hadn’t even heard of it

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