Another year has gone by, and it’s been a very special one for me. Among other reasons, this very blog has turn one! Thank you very very much for your support, and have a happy new year. During this year, I’ve reviewed many films, and this time around is time to pick the best of the best. Most of the movies selected for this list have already been discussed, but there certainly is something new here too.
With nothing further to do, let’s start with number ten!
I enjoy superhero films a lot. Many of them have earned a place in my heart, such as Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 and Brad Bird’s The Incredibles. However, I’ve been really worried about the path most of this genre’s movies have taken in recent years. Most of them are carbon copies of previous films, and therefore, have a hard time at making us care. Marvel chooses to prioritise comedy over any other thing, and are willing to sacrifice any moment, regardless of how interesting or dramatic it may be, in order to add more jokes to the runtime. DC… Well, DC has problems of its own.
However, this year, a superhero film has proven to be different, due to an attempt to make use of a very different tone. Logan, directed by James Mangold and starring Hugh Jackman, has definitely been a very pleasant surprise, mainly because it defies the limits of the genre. When talking about tone, I believe it’s important to explain that I’m not talking about the lack of jokes or the dark looking cinematography. I’m talking about themes that the story touches, which are unheard of in recent superhero outings. Now that Disney has the right to Fox films, I’m afraid we won’t get more of this, however… Damn it!
The swan song for both Jackman and Stewart is by far the best movie from the X-Men franchise, with great cinematography, acting (Dafne Keen was amazing, especially when taking into account the fact that she was 11 at the time) and directing. A memorable film that I sure hope will serve as inspiration in the years to come.
Original review: Logan
This may technically be a 2016 film, but since it was released in January 2017 both in my hometown and the UK (where I was living at the time), I’ve decided to include it here. This will happen again later… Hope you don’t mind!
What a moving story Manchester by the Sea tells. Kenneth Lonergan wrote and directed this film wonderfully, and the result is magnificent. Ordinary situations turn into heart-wrenching moments thanks to a subtle and powerful script, which is perfectly delivered by the cast. I described Casey Affleck’s performance as “career-defining”, and I still believe that to be true. He did an amazing and captivating job, without a doubt.
Cinematography is gorgeous, some plot-points are represented in a creative and very touching way, and everything is showcased with a beautiful soundtrack. I still listen to it every now and then! All in all, it’s a great film that no one should miss. Some will find it slightly too long due to the mundane situations depicted, but the whole story is greatly enhanced with that feature in my opinion.
Original review: Manchester by the Sea
The director of Tangerine is back, this time around with the story of the precocious six-year-old Moonee, who lives in a Motel packed with dramas that adults try to hide from their children: The Florida Project.
In fact, that’s probably the most interesting aspect of the movie, as watching the events from the viewpoint of a child is a very intriguing experience. That young girl is amazingly portrayed by the extremely young Brooklynn Prince, who achieves to be a convincing character albeit her lack of experience. Bria Vinaite and Willem Dafoe join her in this beautiful story about innocence versus maturity.
If there is one thing that The Florida Project has achieved, is being one of the most surprising and unforeseeable experiences of the year. A very unexpected ending is the icing on the cake, not just because of the events depicted, but also because the huge shift in direction that’s extremely evident during that final segment of the film.
Original review: The Florida Project
Pixar rarely disappoints, and Coco is no exception. Featuring Mexican characters and themes, it is one of the most touching films I’ve seen this year. Beautiful animation, awesome screenwriting and the rollercoaster of emotions it depicts converge and create an unmissable experience for the whole family.
In fact, it’s a film about families and their traditions, and I believe it treats those topics with lots of love, achieving a meaningful and genuinely emotional storyline throughout the picture. Pixar always finds a way to touch our hearts, but without being too explicit about what they’re trying to convey. It’s that subtlety what makes their movies stand out from the myriad of animated films that come out every year.
The best thing that can be said about Coco is that, even with its missteps, transcends.
Original review: Coco
I knew nothing about Au revoir là-haut when I purchased a ticket to watch it at the Zinemaldia Film Festival. And in the hope of making you have the same experience when you watch it (because you should!), I’ll be deliberately vague while talking about this movie.
See You Up There tells the story of two men that have nothing but a past in war in common, who, in order to survive, decide to pull off a scam and get some money. Those two protagonists are portrayed by the young and extremely talented Nahuel Pérez Biscayart and Albert Dupontel, who also serves as director. Both of them deliver great scenes, and more importantly, the chemistry among the two is nothing short of interesting.
The visuals of the film are also interesting, and some clothing elements are exceptionally pretty. But to me, the best feature of the movie is how drama and comedy intertwine throughout the whole runtime. Really looking forward to revisit it when it comes out on theatres next year!
Original review: See You Up There
You can’t even imagine how much I regret not having watched this film at a proper theatre. I couldn’t find a screening that would match my schedule, so I’ve ended up watching Edgar Wright’s latest at home, once the BluRay came out. And man, what an experience it was. In fact, I watched it again the next day. Watched it a couple more times later. And while putting this list together, this was the film I wanted to rewatch the most (so I did).
Exhilarating, intriguing, hilarious, beautiful, tense. Lots of words can be used to describe what Baby Driver feels like, but none of them makes the movie justice. The whole things moves according to the tunes played as its soundtrack, and everything flows with excellent precision. Lots of visual elements are used to make the sounds stand out, which is just great. In fact, I keep at finding new details that I love at every rewatch!
The story of a young boy, who finds himself tangled up in a criminal organisation with no escape possible is packed with familiar faces, such as the always great Jamie Foxx and Ansel Elgort, who proves to be an amazing young actor at every step he gives in Baby Driver.
Clearly takes inspiration from Drive, but at the same time, it feels nothing like it. Wright finds his own tone, one that it both smart and stylish, and proves that form and function can coexist.
Villeneuve seemed to be an appropriate director to direct the sequel to a 35-year-old cult classic. He proved us wrong. He wasn’t just appropriate, but perfect for that extremely complex task.
Blade Runner 2049 features Ryan Gosling as K, a young Blade Runner in the quest to uncover long-buried secrets. He will meet Deckard himself, once again portrayed by Harrison Ford, who delivers the performance of a lifetime. The film is extremely engaging, packed with stunning shots and jaw-dropping visuals that serve a purpose as they enhance the narrative. Villeneuve directs the whole thing masterfully, and is able to pull off one of the most profound science fiction flicks ever.
Most importantly, it’s remarkable how beautifully 2049 complements the original Blade Runner, even if both releases are over three decades apart. It expands the original, but also works on its own. It’s the impossible sequel: a perfect one.
Original review: Blade Runner 2049
I have watched very few anime films throughout my life, mostly because I know very little about these Japanese titles. This movie has changed that completely, and now I try to watch every flick my anime-fanatic friends recommend to me. In fact, due to how much I loved Your Name, I’ve started with the director’s, Makoto Shinkai’s, previous films, from 5 Centimeters Per Second, to The Garden of Words. This man is a living legend.
What starts as a romantic comedy kind of flick, soon achieves to tackle profound themes with great finesse. The story of the two teenagers who wake up in the bodies of each other at random days, turns out to be just an excuse to talk about love, loss and hope. The nonlinear structure greatly enhances the experience, even if it surely requires the audience to trust what Shinkai is doing, as the rules of the phenomenon he creates can sound quite cheesy. However, the payoff well deserves that blind trust, as Your Name ends up being one of the most unforgettable animated films ever.
Thrilling, exhilarating and beautifully animated (particularly when it comes to the sky and stars, which are breath-taking), this is the anime that will create anime fans. Spectacular in every sense, this is a film that I’ll never forget.
Original review: Your Name
A very special film, without a doubt. A very polarising one, too. Aronofsky is back with Mother!, a picture that I labeled as “revolutionary” in my original review.
Jennifer Lawrence stars the show, and delivers the best performance she has ever given, packed with intense and terrifying moments. Bardem does a great job too, as he is able to be charming at a given moment, and intimidating just a second later. Camera work is also amazing, which features an extensive use of subjective angles to make the audiences suffer with the characters of the movie.
What I loved most is that the themes that Aronofsky tackles aren’t completely evident. Some of them are easy to understand, and some are more open to interpretation. In fact, the film spoke about some topics to me, but about others to my girlfriend, who watched the movie with me. It isn’t an excessively obscure feature, but surely one that can be read in many ways.
Wonderful and terrifying, Mother! is a film that I’m eager to watch a thousand times more, and suffer over and over again with its characters. Indeed, it’s a revolutionary picture.
Original review: Mother!
And now, a drumroll, please…
The top film of the year is not a surprising one, but surely one that is well deserved. Damien Chazelle proved his craftsmanship with Whiplash, but this time around, he sets up a new standard. La La Land is by far the most beautiful film of the year, and the one that has been stuck in my head since I watched it when it came out in January.
Everything about La La Land is excellent, from the stars of the show, who form one of the sweetest duos in recent film history: Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. They both portray their powerfully-written characters masterfully, with great nuance. The original songs are amazingly written, with amazing and catchy melodies that suit the tone of the film perfectly. Its script, fantastic. Lots of subtleties convey the message masterfully, in a very heartfelt way. Every single thing about it is perfect.
Damien Chazelle has been able to pull off one of the most exquisite pieces of film-making I can remember. A timeless classic, a reimagining of musical films, a perfect marriage between what’s classic and modern. There are no words to describe how much I love La La Land.
Here’s to the ones who dream, foolish as they may seem.
It’s been an awesome year for movies. Lots and lots of great stuff has come out, and it’s been quite difficult to pick just ten! Lego Batman and The Disaster Artist have been amazing comedies that have been close to entering the list, Dunkirk was amazing too, and Logan Lucky and Wonder Woman were extraordinary entertainment pieces.
Once again, thank you for reading this, I hope you had a good time while doing so! It was definitely fun to put the list together. Here’s to a 2018 packed with great movies!