Call Me by Your Name - Still 1

5. Call Me By Your Name

Points: 27

You know that moment when you first wake from a beautiful dream? You feel hazy, feverish, and dense with an inexplicable emotion that remains just out of reach. That’s what the entirety of Call Me By Your Name is like. The LGBTQ romance is subtle and moving, set against the gorgeous, lazy backdrop of the warm Italian countryside. But despite its lush setting, director Luca Guadagnino maintains a cold distance to his core characters, allowing the romance between breakout star Timothée Chalamet and the Adonis-like Armie Hammer to blossom in an aching slow-burn. Guadagnino observes but never touches — as if this summer fling is so beautiful and delicate that it could shatter into a million pieces. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Forget an Oscar – can we give Michael Stuhlbarg the Nobel Peace Prize for his breathtaking monologue at the end of Call Me By Your Name? Even if everything that came before this concluding speech had been lackluster (which it isn’t), Stuhlbarg’s delivery coupled with the power of the words themselves casts Call Me By Your Name into the upper echelon of 2017 films. (Chris Evangelista)

For much of the movie, there’s this unspoken tension between Chalamet and Hammer that you can cut with a knife. They’re each always on the verge of ripping each other’s clothes off and kissing each other into oblivion. Luca Guadagnino creates an lush, gorgeous environment for this relationship to blossom in, only for it to be a fleeting moment in both of their lives, almost as if it’s been built up in each of their minds as this temporary fairytale. The linchpin is a tear-inducing monologue given by Michael Stuhlbarg at the end of the movie that is the icing on a positively magnificent cake. (Ethan Anderton)

Love is what defines Call Me By Your Name. Love is in every gorgeous frame, in every conversation, and every nuanced interaction. These characters love one another and Guadagnino loves all of them, often pausing to give minor supporting characters a moment in the spotlight because the film has enough room in its heart for everyone. Our hearts are torn open by Elio and Oliver, but they’re healed and strengthened by the men and women in the margins. And then, when we least suspect it, Elio’s father (the great Michael Stuhlbarg) delivers a monologue so beautiful and heart wrenching that all of the pain and joy we’ve endured for the past two hours comes into crystal clear focus. This is Elio’s summer. This is Oliver’s summer. It is also our summer. (Jacob Hall)

shape of water top 10

4. The Shape of Water

Points: 27

Leave it to Guillermo del Toro to make one of the most romantic movies of the year, and also have it be about a woman who falls for a fish-man. The Shape of Water is a lovely little Cold War fairytale; a film brimming with ideas, and defiant of fitting nicely into any one particular genre. Violent, charming, and yes, even sexy, The Shape of Water is as fluid as its title suggests, able to change and shift at will. It’s also a wonderful celebration of individuals who are traditionally labeled as societal outcasts. (Chris Evangelista)

Guillermo del Toro returned to the realm of fairy tales and delivered this lyrical, beautiful love story of the overlooked and the voiceless. The premise is out there (a mute woman falls for a fish man), but as usual, del Toro goes all out on the production design and sucks you into a world where that seems like a plausible and natural thing that could happen. (Ben Pearson)

I’m convinced that there’s no director who loves his craft more than Guillermo del Toro. There’s a certain unfiltered joy he brings to his movies that you can feel throughout The Shape of Water, a weird and whimsical fairy tale with teeth and a warm, bloody heart. He’s been knocked before for his fastidious love letters to genre, but The Shape of Water soars thanks to the ardent cinematic homages that del Toro plants throughout the film. The Shape of Water is at once send-up of B-movie creature features and classic Hollywood musicals, an allegory of oppressed minorities during the Cold War, a deconstruction of the American dream, and a dark fairy tale romance. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Del Toro has created a movie that feels like a cross between Amelie, Cinema Paradiso and Creature from the Black Lagoon. How does a filmmaker convince anyone to make this movie? Perhaps because this might just be del Toro’s best movie yet. It’s a story about wanting to be loved, wanting to belong, wanting to feel human. It’s a story that has characters getting lost in the magic of movies, the possibility of unrequited love, and the allure of the unknown. It’s everything del Toro loves rolled into one beautiful, wonderful package. Oh, and it has one of the most gorgeous scores in recent memory. (Ethan Anderton)

Why waste $150 million on a remake of The Mummy when Guillermo del Toro can remake The Creature From the Black Lagoon as a fairy tale melodrama about about a mute woman who falls in love with a beautiful fish-man held captive in the government facility where she scrubs the toilets? This tale of men and monsters and the blurry line that divides them is the modernized take on the classic Universal Monsters formula that we need, a creepy and sincere and wholly empathetic creature feature that is about loving who you want to love and not letting society dictate your desires. (Jacob Hall)

The Big Sick Trailer

3. The Big Sick

Points: 28

And while the key romance encounters a serious obstacle in the middle of this movie, the film is just as much a love story between a man and his parents as it is between a man and his girlfriend. Spending time with Kumail’s (often hilarious) family reveals his burden of living with cultural expectations, all handled fairly and humorously by the film without painting one side or the other as being wrong or unreasonable. Relatable, heartbreaking, and laugh out loud funny, this is one of the most purely enjoyable times at the movies I had all year. (Ben Pearson)

The highest praise I can give The Big Sick is that you can place it side-by-side with the greatest rom-coms of all time and realize that yeah, it belongs in that company. Michael Showalter’s film is hilarious and sweet and sad, a movie that hits just enough familiar beats to feel comforting while straying from the path and into enough specific tangents to feel proudly unique and personal. The screenplay by Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon (adapting how the couple actually met in real life) is a low-key triumph, as are the lovely, natural performances from Nanjiani, Ray Romano, and Holly Hunter. (Jacob Hall)

Along with the romance comes ample laughs. Rarely has a movie ever made me laugh so hard, especially with one of the funniest 9/11 jokes ever told, before making me cry. Helping in both regards are Holly Hunter and Ray Romano as Emily’s parents, who are responsible for plenty of big laughs themselves, but also some of the more tender moments. It all makes for a perfect storm of love and laughs. (Ethan Anderton)

The Big Sick has so much greatness and all of the elements I usually look for in a film I see at Sundance. The film tells the story of up-and-coming Pakistani-American comedian Kumail Nanjiani (based on his real-life experience) who meets and dates a white woman named Emily (Zoe Kazan) who would never get the approval of his traditional family. When Emily contracts a severe illness, Kumail finds himself forced to be there for the girl, confronting her parents and his family’s expectations. The film is one of the most hilarious, touching, authentically charming movies I saw in 2017. (Peter Sciretta)

get out

2. Get Out

Points: 30

This movie gave a voice to an underserved audience at a time when their existence was continually devalued by people in power, and the rich metaphors of this film provide multiple layers to dig into beyond its surface appeal. There’s something to say for coming up with an A+ premise and then nailing the execution, and Get Out feels like the work of a seasoned filmmaker instead of a debut effort from an up-and-coming director. Jordan Peele has arrived, and Hollywood better get used to him because he’s going to be around for a long time to come. (Ben Pearson)

But Get Out is more than a great movie. Get Out is a movie that changed me. After watching it, I knew that it was brilliant, but I couldn’t articulate why it was great beyond its gleeful genre pleasures. So I started reading and I started listening. I sought out writers of color who could shed light on what makes this movie so important. I read pieces from folks different than me whose personal and cultural perspectives illuminated details that I, as a clueless white man, never would have caught. Get Out encouraged me to open my ears and my eyes and listen to people, all so I could better appreciate the scariest, funniest, angriest movie of 2017. It’s made me a better person. (Jacob Hall)

How refreshing it is to watch a horror movie with something on its mind. More often than not, horror is a genre that buckles under the pressure of trends – a glimpse at the scary movie output of the last decade is riddled with by-the-numbers creepshows that are solely committed to loud, inconsequential jump-scares rather than thoughtful explorations of fear. It seems only appropriate that the filmmaker to give the horror movies a much-needed shot in the arm is someone who wasn’t primarily associated with the horror genre. Jordan Peele’s Get Out is a twisted, funny, scary, socio-political commentary that continually surprises from scene to scene. (Chris Evangelista)

Get Out was the best experience I had seeing a movie in a theater this year. Jordan Peele crafted a densely layered narrative that is somehow both a crowd-pleasing horror film and a sharp commentary on systemic race and privilege, turning racial microaggressions into tangible plot points. And nothing will beat seeing it with a crowd of anxious moviegoers, gasping and clapping at every plot twist. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Rife with social commentary that is perfectly blended with a genre that is often lambasted for its insignificance and lack of creativity, Get Out takes horror tropes that have been present for years and turns them on their heads by making them part of a plot that resonates with today’s society in a way that you might not expect. (Ethan Anderton)

the florida project

1. The Florida Project

Points: 41

Sean Baker’s film is a profoundly human, emotionally devastating depiction of life on the periphery. However, it never veers into overly sentimental or grim territory, instead presenting a story of Florida’s hidden homeless through the fanciful eyes of a child, played with astounding grace by newcomer Brooklynn Prince. The Florida Project is the most sincere and authentic film of the year, aided by the unpretentious performances from a cast that Baker largely plucked from the streets. Coupled with the astonishing career-best turn of Willem Dafoe as the strict but compassionate motel manager, The Florida Project is a near-perfect film. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

In The Florida Project, director Sean Baker brings his camera down low to the ground, better putting the audience in the eye-line of a child. This one simple decision effectively transports us into the film’s world – a world of run-down motels, abandoned properties, and souvenir stands, all nestled within miles of Walt Disney World. That Magic Kingdom colors nearly every element of this film; it’s a dream, not-too-distant yet worlds away, that looms over the lives of the people here struggling to get by. Baker’s film doesn’t glamorize poverty, nor does it cast judgement. Instead, it presents a less-than-desirable way of live through the eyes of children, who are blissfully unaware of whatever financial means their families lack, and instead are wholly engaged in a world where some magic is still very much a reality. Newcomer Brooklynn Prince delivers a performance so real, no natural, that it makes actors three times her age seem almost amateurish. (Chris Evangelista)

What’s most heartbreaking about The Florida Project is the pure glee and fancifully clueless nature of Moonee and her friends living in poverty without really knowing it. That makes the revelation of her situation all the more shattering when the life that she knows and loves is nearly upended. This movie is somehow uplifting and totally heart-wrenching all at once, and it’s pretty much a perfect movie. (Ethan Anderton)

I’m just going to focus in on a single scene. Gruff but kind-hearted motel manager Bobby Hicks (Willem Dafoe) is working in his office when a gaggle of children, led by the adorable and abrasive Moonee (Brooklynn Prince) barge in, looking for a place to play hide and seek. Bobby is annoyed and demands they go elsewhere. They don’t listen and crawl under his desk. Quietly admitting defeat, Bobby just asks them to not mess with his computer cords. Right on cue, his monitor is pulled across his desk. But while Bobby is clearly irritated, Dafoe allows a smile to creep across his face – this is a distraction and an annoying one, but goddamn it, he loves these kids. And he knows they live in abject poverty, spending their days hanging around the crappy motels (15 minutes from Walt Disney World) that many impoverished central Florida families call home. He knows that these kids mean well, that they’re blissfully ignorant of what they do not have. And who is he to stand in the way of them being happy, just for now? Because it’s not going to last. All of this is communicated in a smile from Dafoe, giving the warmest (and possibly best) performance of 2017. Sean Baker’s The Florida Project is a machine powered by empathy and Bobby Hicks is its avatar. (Jacob Hall)

Every time I go to Disney World, I drive by the cheap tourist spots and motels that surround the Disney property and wonder who goes there. Who lives there? Filmmaker Sean Baker finally tells this story, and sets it from the point of view of a precocious six-year-old, played brilliantly by newcomer Brooklynn Prince. This isn’t a typical slum-porn indie drama thanks this brilliant framing, which presents this story from the eyes of an innocent child who has no idea how bad of a hand she has been dealt. It’s an honest portrait of the low-class American childhood, smartly positioned right next to the happiest place on the planet. (Peter Sciretta)

/Film Staff Top 10 Lists

Ethan Anderton

10. Logan

9. The Disaster Artist

8. Brigsby Bear

7. The Shape of Water

6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

5. The Post

4. Call Me By Your Name

3. The Big Sick

2. The Florida Project

1. Get Out

Hoai-Tran Bui

10. The Post

9. Okja

8. Wonder Woman

7. Lady Bird

6. Get Out

5. Dunkirk

4. The Shape of Water

3. Your Name

2. Call Me By Your Name

1. The Florida Project

Chris Evangelista

10. Dunkirk

9. Get Out

8. Okja

7. Personal Shopper

6. Call Me By Your Name

5. Blade Runner 2049

4. The Post

3. Phantom Thread

2. The Shape of Water

1. The Florida Project

Jacob Hall

10. Raw

9. The Shape of Water

8. Blade Runner 2049

7. The Big Sick

6. The Florida Project

5. Call Me By Your Name

4. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

3. Dunkirk

2. John Wick: Chapter 2

1. Get Out

Ben Pearson

10. War For the Planet of the Apes

9. It

8. Get Out

7. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

6. The Shape of Water

5. The Disaster Artist

4. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

3. The Big Sick

2. Coco

1. The Post

Peter Sciretta

10. John Wick Chapter 2

9. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

8. Spider-Man Homecoming

7. Blade Runner 2049

6. Star Wars: The Last Jedi

5. War For the Planet of the Apes

4. The Florida Project

3. The Big Sick

2. Lady Bird

1. Ingrid Goes West

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