You have to trust the person you were when you wrote it because you’re actually not that person anymore.—Greta Gerwig
In honor of last week’s Oscar nominations, here are my favorite movies from this past year.
NOT Honorable Mention:
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri—In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.” That’s all the time I’ll give to this “shithole” (other than to say that it’s tonally a mess and irresponsibly simplistic towards race and sexual assault).
10. Get Out. I handle scary movies about as well as the GOP handles health care reform (not well). So, including Get Out on this list is a testament to how remarkably savvy, urgent, and genre-bending Jordan Peele’s debut was. It was the single best (re: loudest, most communal) movie-going experience of my life. People were yelling. And cheering. And LAUGHING. And high-fiving strangers. But mostly, people were yelling GET OUT.
9. Dunkirk. I’ve always been more impressed by Christopher Nolan—of the scale and spectacle of his movies— than a fan. He’s known for his otherworldly (Interstellar) and other-dimensionality (Inception) and seemingly inhuman villains (the Batman series), and yet I’m most drawn to his grounded, human stuff. And nowhere is that grounded, human stuff more on display than in Dunkirk. It’s his shortest movie, his most spare dialogue, and the most a movie of his has ever been graced by The Incomparably Cool Harry Styles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xE-qS1COcPw
8. The Disaster Artist Did parts of this movie make me laugh harder than anything I saw last year? Yup. Is it a weird and sad movie about creative restlessness and isolation? Yup. Is it simultaneously charming and icky? Yup. Is James Franco a monstrous, dreadful creep? Yup. Alright. Onwards.
7. Coco. I didn’t feel settled for the whole first half—but man oh MAN did the ending stick the landing.
6. I Am Not Your Negro. (It came out in 2016, but I saw it in theaters in 2017, so I’m counting it.) It’s as heartbreaking as it is beautifully crafted. To quote James Baldwin himself: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
5. I Am Heath Ledger. Heath Ledger was a lot of things: an infectiously goofy free spirit, a wildly curious and limitless artist, a deeply kind person, and, something I learned from this documentary, a self-taught filmmaker. It’s a beautiful and tragic story about a tragic and beautiful soul—with an emphasis on him behind the camera and his need to document everything. And the Bon Iver soundtrack…
4. Lady Bird. I’m a fan of Lady Bird ‘cause how can you not be a fan of Lady Bird? But mostly I’m a fan of Greta Gerwig, the director/writer/badass behind it all. She’s just so funny and delightfully weird and talented and real: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VF3kkk6fdqQ
3. The Shape of Water. “Failure and success live next door to each other—and there are no numbers on the doors. You just knock.”—Guillermo del Toro (For sure the best/least-critiqueable movie I saw all year: the cinematography, the color, the acting, SALLY HAWKINS. Just too much blood to be my favorite movie of the year.)
2. The Big Sick. Truly a rom-com in the most literal, refreshing, rare sense: romantic and funny. So happy it got nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
1. Brigsby Bear. My good pal, Mark, who watches movies and writes about them for a living, said it best: “I haven’t seen Brigsby Bear, but I’ve read enough to know it’s special— which can be rarer, and more memorable, than great.” I saw it in August and have been glowing since.