Surviving 2017: Another Year, Another List

Here's a list of things I managed to enjoy while trying to survive 2017.

Top Ten Films

10. The Beguiled The Beguiled is Sofia Coppola's hardest film hidden beneath her signature soft focus. If we've learned nothing else from 2017, I hope it's that women are through being treated as less than equals. And that those who treat them as anything less than the multi-layered, intelligent, empathetic, caregiving, life-giving beings they are risk being served a slow, painful death the next time they're invited to supper.

10. The Beguiled

The Beguiled is Sofia Coppola's hardest film hidden beneath her signature soft focus. If we've learned nothing else from 2017, I hope it's that women are through being treated as less than equals. And that those who treat them as anything less than the multi-layered, intelligent, empathetic, caregiving, life-giving beings they are risk being served a slow, painful death the next time they're invited to supper.

9. The Killing of a Sacred Deer When I saw this at Fantastic Fest there was a Q&A with Barry Keoghan after in which he commented that being in a film by Yorgos Lanthimos felt like being part of a social experiment. Then he added that now that we'd seen it we were a part of that experiment too. I thought that was the perfect summation of Lanthimos' style of filmmaking. I don't know where to begin to explain this movie or even how to recommend it to a casual movie fan. Yet, that's precisely what's so great about it. If you're tired of predictable cinema and have any interest in directors that push boundaries, then this is for you. Also, Barry Keoghan gives one of the most unnerving and unforgettable performances of the year. Have some spaghetti ready.

9. The Killing of a Sacred Deer

When I saw this at Fantastic Fest there was a Q&A with Barry Keoghan after in which he commented that being in a film by Yorgos Lanthimos felt like being part of a social experiment. Then he added that now that we'd seen it we were a part of that experiment too. I thought that was the perfect summation of Lanthimos' style of filmmaking. I don't know where to begin to explain this movie or even how to recommend it to a casual movie fan. Yet, that's precisely what's so great about it. If you're tired of predictable cinema and have any interest in directors that push boundaries, then this is for you. Also, Barry Keoghan gives one of the most unnerving and unforgettable performances of the year. Have some spaghetti ready.

8. T2 Trainspotting To be honest, I didn't expect to like this film. Trainspotting was such a product of its time that even hearing that Danny Boyle and the original cast were on board didn't instill me with hope. I'm happy to say I was wrong. I'm also happy Boyle didn't spend too much time throwing us back into the past and that when he did, he did it with style. Sad as it may seem, I'm also glad these boys didn't find their happy ending, because who would have ever believed that, anyway? This sequel stays true to the characters in a way I've never seen accomplished with a gap of so many years between films. It was fun to revisit the gang. 

8. T2 Trainspotting

To be honest, I didn't expect to like this film. Trainspotting was such a product of its time that even hearing that Danny Boyle and the original cast were on board didn't instill me with hope. I'm happy to say I was wrong. I'm also happy Boyle didn't spend too much time throwing us back into the past and that when he did, he did it with style. Sad as it may seem, I'm also glad these boys didn't find their happy ending, because who would have ever believed that, anyway? This sequel stays true to the characters in a way I've never seen accomplished with a gap of so many years between films. It was fun to revisit the gang. 

7. Baby Driver I'd like to drive cross-country with Edgar Wright. I'd even let him choose the music. In Baby Driver, Wright creates a character out of rhythm and words. He marries music and cinema in a way that encourages the audience to rise up from their seats and sing and dance along. I know I did and I'll do so every single time I watch his innovative tribute to song and scene.

7. Baby Driver

I'd like to drive cross-country with Edgar Wright. I'd even let him choose the music. In Baby Driver, Wright creates a character out of rhythm and words. He marries music and cinema in a way that encourages the audience to rise up from their seats and sing and dance along. I know I did and I'll do so every single time I watch his innovative tribute to song and scene.

6. The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro is a master of modern fairytales. In The Shape of Water he's achieved melancholy magic once again with a daring tale of love that epitomizes just how much courage is required when we offer another being our heart.

6. The Shape of Water

Guillermo del Toro is a master of modern fairytales. In The Shape of Water he's achieved melancholy magic once again with a daring tale of love that epitomizes just how much courage is required when we offer another being our heart.

5. A Ghost Story In my lifetime, whenever I've gone looking for a place to live I've always had a certain feeling about the apartment or house that made it the "right" one. Most people might think that's bupkis, but when I saw A Ghost Story I was reminded of how much importance I place on such feelings. If it doesn't feel right, it must be wrong. Right? Is it possible that some outside force connects us to the places where we dwell? If I were to die today, was the feeling I had about this particular house connected to the fact that it was the last place I'd ever live? And will I linger here when I'm gone? It's the lingering part that's important. No one wants to be forgotten or left behind. And there are certain places we all go where the people who have left us still linger. These thoughts will sound crazy and mean nothing to most, but the point is that this was the first ghost story I've seen that portrayed the afterlife in a way that made any sense to me. The places where we live out our lives, where we laugh, love, fight, and cry are the only things that can possibly contain the spirit of our lifetime. We linger inside the walls of these places forever and, as a result, we become a part of that feeling someone gets whenever they step through the door.

5. A Ghost Story

In my lifetime, whenever I've gone looking for a place to live I've always had a certain feeling about the apartment or house that made it the "right" one. Most people might think that's bupkis, but when I saw A Ghost Story I was reminded of how much importance I place on such feelings. If it doesn't feel right, it must be wrong. Right? Is it possible that some outside force connects us to the places where we dwell? If I were to die today, was the feeling I had about this particular house connected to the fact that it was the last place I'd ever live? And will I linger here when I'm gone? It's the lingering part that's important. No one wants to be forgotten or left behind. And there are certain places we all go where the people who have left us still linger. These thoughts will sound crazy and mean nothing to most, but the point is that this was the first ghost story I've seen that portrayed the afterlife in a way that made any sense to me. The places where we live out our lives, where we laugh, love, fight, and cry are the only things that can possibly contain the spirit of our lifetime. We linger inside the walls of these places forever and, as a result, we become a part of that feeling someone gets whenever they step through the door.

4. John Wick Chapter Two It's the world surrounding John Wick that's the most captivating part of this series for me. Of course, Keanu is at his best in the role and he's a goddamn joy to watch. Yet, what I appreciate most is that this isn't just another "turn off your brain" action flick. The universe is vivid and layered and I have no doubt that this rabbit hole runs deep.

4. John Wick Chapter Two

It's the world surrounding John Wick that's the most captivating part of this series for me. Of course, Keanu is at his best in the role and he's a goddamn joy to watch. Yet, what I appreciate most is that this isn't just another "turn off your brain" action flick. The universe is vivid and layered and I have no doubt that this rabbit hole runs deep.

3. Dunkirk It's tension and fear of the unknown that drives this movie. Every scene is heightened when we realize every move these characters make could be their last. From my seat I couldn't help but wonder if it's luck or fate that chooses which ones survive. Nolan puts you in their shoes, in the sand, in the water. And if you don't feel it then, you definitely will when you look into Kenneth Branagh's eyes.

3. Dunkirk

It's tension and fear of the unknown that drives this movie. Every scene is heightened when we realize every move these characters make could be their last. From my seat I couldn't help but wonder if it's luck or fate that chooses which ones survive. Nolan puts you in their shoes, in the sand, in the water. And if you don't feel it then, you definitely will when you look into Kenneth Branagh's eyes.

2. Lady Bird I spent the drive home after watching this movie skipping through my ‘90's playlist, a personalized soundtrack of my own coming-of-age. While anticipating the moment I'd inevitably reach “Crash Into Me”, every song transported me back to every great and terrible memory of my teenage years. I’m grateful for every single one of them and I’m grateful for this movie. It's rare that I find the time to see things twice in the theater, but this was one that demanded a second viewing. I can't even express to you how much I love what Greta Gerwig has given us.

2. Lady Bird

I spent the drive home after watching this movie skipping through my ‘90's playlist, a personalized soundtrack of my own coming-of-age. While anticipating the moment I'd inevitably reach “Crash Into Me”, every song transported me back to every great and terrible memory of my teenage years. I’m grateful for every single one of them and I’m grateful for this movie. It's rare that I find the time to see things twice in the theater, but this was one that demanded a second viewing. I can't even express to you how much I love what Greta Gerwig has given us.

1. Call Me By Your Name This was another one I saw twice in the theater. It just barely stole the number one slot from Lady Bird, but it wins purely based on the fact that I can't stop thinking about. I can't stop thinking about Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and how hard he falls for Oliver (Armie Hammer) and how easily they melt into each other once they confront how they feel. I can't stop picturing him, uncertain and nervous, taking that first step forward that changes everything. That step that marks the beginning of a summer romance that he will carry with him forever. Call My By Your Name truly belongs alongside the greatest love stories of the ages.

1. Call Me By Your Name

This was another one I saw twice in the theater. It just barely stole the number one slot from Lady Bird, but it wins purely based on the fact that I can't stop thinking about. I can't stop thinking about Elio (Timothée Chalamet) and how hard he falls for Oliver (Armie Hammer) and how easily they melt into each other once they confront how they feel. I can't stop picturing him, uncertain and nervous, taking that first step forward that changes everything. That step that marks the beginning of a summer romance that he will carry with him forever. Call My By Your Name truly belongs alongside the greatest love stories of the ages.

TV Shows:

Twin Peaks: The Return Out of everything I watched this year, nothing compares to the experience of watching Twin Peaks: The Return. Part of it was waiting so many years to return to this town, to this world, to these characters. And part of it was merely the elated joy that came from tuning in each week with a community and enjoying every insane second of the journey together. It was what I can only describe as a Lynchian combination of two completely different viewing experiences, separated by decades: Twin Peaks before and after the internet. He made people across the world tune in like they did back in the day. Those who missed out on that first-run, those weeks of waiting with bated breath, conversing endlessly about what they thought could possibly happen next missed out on something pretty spectacular.

Twin Peaks: The Return

Out of everything I watched this year, nothing compares to the experience of watching Twin Peaks: The Return. Part of it was waiting so many years to return to this town, to this world, to these characters. And part of it was merely the elated joy that came from tuning in each week with a community and enjoying every insane second of the journey together. It was what I can only describe as a Lynchian combination of two completely different viewing experiences, separated by decades: Twin Peaks before and after the internet. He made people across the world tune in like they did back in the day. Those who missed out on that first-run, those weeks of waiting with bated breath, conversing endlessly about what they thought could possibly happen next missed out on something pretty spectacular.

The Leftovers It's tempting for me to just embed the first episode here, because once you start watching this series you won't be able to stop. Then once you reach episode 8 in season 2 entitled "International Assassin" you'll realize that The Leftovers is one of the best shows you've ever seen. You'll fall in love with Justin Theroux and Carrie Coon. You'll re-watch specific episodes because you won't be able to stop thinking about them until you do. And when the series ends, you'll start it again, because it's only then that it will hit you that you're never going to see anything like it ever again.

The Leftovers

It's tempting for me to just embed the first episode here, because once you start watching this series you won't be able to stop. Then once you reach episode 8 in season 2 entitled "International Assassin" you'll realize that The Leftovers is one of the best shows you've ever seen. You'll fall in love with Justin Theroux and Carrie Coon. You'll re-watch specific episodes because you won't be able to stop thinking about them until you do. And when the series ends, you'll start it again, because it's only then that it will hit you that you're never going to see anything like it ever again.

Happy New Year! Here's to 2018 and all the wonderful movies and, hopefully, much better times ahead.