by Hogan Short
10. The Lost City of Z, like its characters, is grandiose and larger-than-life. It is a film that shows us the spirit of early explorers as they risk everything for the sake of discovery. This is a riveting portrayal of a man and his obsession, a journey of grandeur that feels like an epic tale of exploration from the past as he searches for his lost city.
9. Mudbound is a thoughtfully slow story about both a white and a black family living in the rural American south during World War Two. The film is a careful look at the tragedy of the times, using war not just as an absorbing narrative arc, but also as an example of shared experience. This is a considerate story to reflect on until the critical end moments, which take all that reflection and shatter your heart with it.
8. Marjorie Prime, set in the near future, is a sentimental drama about grief and regret. A family heals with the memory and appearance of their deceased loved ones using holograms. This allows them to heal in cathartic ways that the present day could never allow. Marjorie Prime wonderfully explains that regret means not appreciating love when we have it, and assures us that loss is worth it.
7. Get Out is the rare film that tells its metaphors blatantly while maintaining a genius subtlety. The social critique here proves so insidious that the real horrors of a more hidden type of racism stay with you long after each terrifying scene. The idea and execution are perfect, making this film a wildly fun, albeit terrifying, classic for the genre.
6. Blade Runner 2049 had every chance to be another awful sequel to a sci-fi classic, but instead depicts an original story that makes the original even better in retrospect. The expertly tangled story is accompanied by stunning visuals and a soundtrack that make this improbable 30-years-later sequel well worth the wait.
5. Dunkirk is the true World War Two evacuation story of the thousands of Allied soldiers stranded on the beach. Complexly layered in both time and point of view, we see heroism from the air (one hour), horrors experienced by the stranded soldiers (one week), and risks taken by common citizens rescuing them by boat (one month). This is a masterpiece of war cinema that uses little dialogue, shows new perspectives, and feels no need to show an enemy soldier even once.
4. Wind River is the directorial debut from Taylor Sheridan, the writer behind Hell or High Water and Sicario. Like his previous films, this is a bleak and unflinching modern western, set this time in the freezing North. A local tracker helps an FBI agent solve the murder of a young Native woman in a plot that grips you from the beginning, through the intense and surprising third act, all the way to the end.
3. Lady Bird’s heart wrenching moments are always immediately replaced with hilarity. The few times when humour doesn’t follow allow us to really feel that sadness. This tone-perfect, coming-of-age drama from the mind of Greta Gerwig is a refreshing look back at your upbringing and childhood home, even if you no longer call it that.
2. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is not just the funniest film of the year, but also one of the darkest. You will laugh and then wonder if you should be laughing, but it won’t matter because the entertaining plot won’t give you a chance to think about anything other than the story’s core: a bitter, heartbroken anti-hero in grief over her daughter’s death, looking for justice and hoping to hold the responsible accountable with the use of three billboards.
1. Call Me By Your Name is this year’s Moonlight, except with rich, white men in the sun-drenched Italian countryside. It is a slowly simmering, beautifully patient look at first love and first heartbreak. Whether it’s the explanation of the origin of the word “apricot” or the analysis of ancient statues “daring us to desire them,” every moment carries the vulnerable feeling of familiarity.
Stronger, Brigsby Bear, The Big Sick, Landline, Good Time, Logan Lucky, Band Aid, A Ghost Story, The Killing of Sacred Deer, Lady Macbeth, Sweet Virginia, The Square, Detroit, Logan, Shot Caller, The Darkest Hour, Coco