2017 Favorite Films Crome YellowI swear it gets harder to put this list together every year. Superhero films, sequels and reboots may be taking home the big bucks, but there are too many films to keep up with. This list is in no particular order, and I love all of these more than I can say – each one is made up of ideas that inspire while daring to expose feelings we can’t yet put into words or didn’t know we had.

Stronger review Jake Gyllenhaal Tatiana Maslany 2Stronger: At this point, any “based-on-true-story” project gets a long, healthy eye roll. I can’t take how many of these are either too fictionalized, obvious Oscar bait, or overly sappy, and David Gordon Green manages to sidestep all of these flaws. Armed with incredible performances from both Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany, Green’s film is immersive and understated, drawing emotion from doc-style realism and character studies that prize the mundane over the sensationalized. We come out of this film feeling empowered and with a renewed sense of empathy. FULL REVIEW

Let the Corpses Tan review Helene Cattet Bruno Forzani skullLet the Corpses Tan: Helene Cattet and Bruno Forzani are an acquired taste. While some may chalk their work up to sensory endurance tests, I find the pair two irreverent auteurs who speak their own language. You have to meet them on their own terms, and this subversive gangster film is no different. Essentially one long shootout, the film is a cool, relentless barrage of creaking leather, bullets and sleaze. FULL REVIEW

Colossal: Nacho Vigalondo is a gift to cinema, and this film’s the proof. Marketing cleverly kept the film’s secrets close to the chest. I’m not going to spoil them here, but let’s just say… this is the feminist rom-com Kaiju fest you never thought you needed. Giant monster battles, even bigger heart. FULL REVIEW

Personal Shopper: It doesn’t feel right to pare Olivier Assayas’ film down to mere words. Taking the iconic ghost story and turning it upside down, Assayas and star Kristen Stewart have created a quiet, meditative rumination on the nature of connection, meaning and purpose, both in this life and the next. The film ramps into a thriller in its third act, but never loses sight of the poignant ideas that anchor it. FULL REVIEW

Okja: Probably weirdest Netflix film to permeate the mainstream consciousness this year, Bong Joon-ho’s film is a passionate plea for decency in a celebrity-obsessed, corporatized world. The film at times feels like a Spielbergian blockbuster, but retains all off Bong’s eccentricity and a very layered exploration of our relationship with each other, the animals we share this world with, and nature itself. It doesn’t hold back punches and gets pitch dark when it needs to, but also carries the uncompromising hope for a better world. FULL REVIEW

The Square Review Terry NotaryThe Square: Ruben Ostlund’s film is an unclassifiable madcap social satire that makes us angry and sad as much as it makes us laugh. Star Claes Bang balances a comedic tightrope, playing a museum curator with big hopes for his social art experiments, while also being inept when it comes to the people and things around him. We laugh until we can’t anymore, and then the film hits us while we’re down. A one-of-a-kind experience that is on a level of its own. FULL REVIEW

The Beguiled: Sofia Coppola gender flops the male gaze with a period setting that sends an all-girls school into chaos. Every member of the ensemble is impeccable, and Coppola’s most structured film is seething with atmosphere, tension and purpose. FULL REVIEW

A Ghost Story: No matter how many ghost stories you’ve seen, you’ve never seen one like this. Director David Lowery pares down the symbolism behind his story to explore the nature of time, memory and existence. As intimate as the film is, it’s also unabashedly ambitious and epic in scope. Casey Affleck is underneath a white sheet the entire time, and as the film comes to a close, its warmth and wonder radiate into our lives. FULL REVIEW

Columbus John Cho Haley Lu Richardson reviewColumbus: Video essayist-turned-director Kogonada knocks it way outta the park with his first feature. Most films and directors will never reach the emotional heights of this effort, which overflows with measured nuance and complexity. From the architecture that anchors everything, to the performances from Jon Cho and Haley Lu Richardson, this film makes our hearts feel full. FULL REVIEW

Get Out: We never saw this one coming, but man, it’s about time. Jordan Peele shocked us all into submission with this film, which feels like the best Twilight Zone episode never made. Peele channels the African American experience into a story that’s more terrifying because it’s too real and too true. FULL REVIEW

Good Time review Robert PattinsonGood Time: Crime dramas have never hit this hard. Bringing an unparalleled sense of realism and unflinching look at two hustling brothers, this subversive heist film is a new classic. Whereas most films would sensationalize the story at the film’s heart, Josh and Benny (who also co-leads) Safdie use their film to shine a light on the devastating effects of a broken system. Taking place over the course of a night, we can’t look away from this poverty-stricken, drug-addled race against time – nor should we. FULL REVIEW

mother! jennifer lawrence javier bardem reviewmother!: Easily the most misunderstood film because it really isn’t a film – it’s an expansive personal diary entry that allowed Darren Aronofsky to exorcise his creative demons at 24 frames per second. The symbolism is rich and multi-faceted, allowing for a few different interpretations, but no matter how you look at it, the film is a singular experience that will probably never be recreated again. FULL REVIEW

Blade Runner 2049 review Ryan GoslingBlade Runner 2049: Denis Villeneuve pulled off the impossible with this one. He created a sequel that wasn’t needed, expanding the Blade Runner universe and its central story without demystifying what came before. This is a magic trick if I’ve ever seen one, boasting beautiful synergy between dreamlike storytelling and technical mastery. FULL REVIEW

Florida Project Review Brooklynn PrinceThe Florida Project: Sean Baker hits another home run and shows us why he’s one of the most important voices in film. Starring a pint-sized Brooklynn Prince, this fairy tale exposes transience at the doorstep of Florida’s Magic Kingdom, exploring the rot of America’s opulence and those who scramble to survive in its shadow. The film is pure and full of innocence and wonder, but doesn’t shy away from the hard truth at its center. FULL REVIEW

Shape of Water review Sally Hawkins Doug JonesThe Shape of Water: Instantly the crown jewel in director Guillermo del Toro’s already stacked body of work. His entire career has led to this adult fantasia, using a cold-war setting to probe racism, xenophobia and hope, which to this very day continue to battle for dominance in each and every one of us. Rich production design, immaculate makeup/prosthetics for one of cinema’s most ravishing creatures, and an Oscar-worthy turn from Sally Hawkins. FULL REVIEW

Thelma review Eili Harboe Kaya WilkinsThelma: Sensual and provocative, Joachim Trier’s story of identity and sexual awakening is horrifying and ambitious. Unfolding like a waking nightmare, Trier blends abstract dream sequences with a story that doesn’t ever go where we’d expect. A true horror film that keeps its focus on humanity and the gnawing truths we keep hidden within. FULL REVIEW

Bodied review Callum Worthy Jackie LongBodied: Joseph Kahn is probably the most misunderstood director out there, but he’s also one of the most profound. Following up his teen comedy slasher Detention, Kahn’s latest takes on battle rap. Laid bare within each war of words, is Kahn and writer Kid Twist (Alex Larsen)’s look at prejudice, racism and everything in the middle. The film is brutal in every way, but also a celebration of how art can be used as a weapon to destroy and unite. FULL REVIEW

three billboards review Frances McDormandThree Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: Martin McDonagh’s latest is hard to watch because its about pain – and what it says about this fundamental human trait is breathtaking and mandatory. Frances McDormand, Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell turn in a triptych of broken, flawed characters whose lives intersect through trauma. A few of the scenes in this film are absolutely the most wrenching and touching moments I experienced in 2017. FULL REVIEW

Phantom Thread review Daniel Day-LewisPhantom Thread: Paul Thomas Anderson can do no wrong, but with Daniel Day-Lewis, he’s untouchable. For perhaps the duos last collaboration, the pair craft a story about the casualties and grace of obsession and romance. The film feels timeless and evokes a bit of Hitchcock, and star Vicky Krieps near steals the show as a headstrong woman who won’t stand silent as she fight for what she wants. Bonus: that Jonny Greenwood score. FULL REVIEW

Call Me By Your Name review Timothee Chalamet Armie HammerCall Me By Your Name: Director Luca Guadagnino’s film swoons with warmth and reminds us to never repress our most honest feelings. Guadagnino has a narrative language all his own, and stars Armie Hammer, Timothee Chalamet and Michael Stuhlbarg are perfect. Overflowing with sensuality, poeticism and grace.

Twin Peaks The Return Kyle Maclachlan Laura Dern David LynchBONUS: Twin Peaks: The Return: Of course this had to go on here! Lynch hasn’t done a traditional film for sometime, but his latest project made it into our living rooms in 18 weekly installments. Every week, we tuned in to the inscrutable work of a master, hypnotized by eccentric characters and an ambitious study on the nature of good and evil. The performances (especially those 3 characters from Kyle MacLachlan) were stellar, the musical guests were beautifully curated and in the end, it went out on its own terms. The definition of pure art, and something that may never happen again.