The best movies of the year are in theaters right now, and here are the very best:
- Steven Spielberg’s docudrama on the Pentagon Papers, The Post, is both a riveting thriller and an astonishingly insightful portrait of Katharine Graham by Meryl Streep. It’s one of the best movies of the year – and one of the most important. Also see my notes on historical figures in The Post.
- Pixar’s Coco is a moving and authentic dive into Mexican culture, and it’s visually spectacular.
- The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro’s imaginative, operatic inter-species romance may become the most-remembered film of 2017.
- Lady Bird , an entirely fresh coming of age comedy that explores the mother-daughter relationship – an impressive debut for Greta Gerwig as a writer and director.
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri a powerful combination of raw emotion and dark hilarity with an acting tour de force from Frances McDormand and a slew of great actors.
- I, Tonya is a marvelously entertaining movie, filled with wicked wit and sympathetic social comment.
- Phantom Thread, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, is Paul Thomas Anderson’s rapturously beautiful story of a strong-willed man and two equally strong-willed women; unexpectedly witty.
- The Florida Project is Sean Baker’s remarkably authentic and evocative glimpse into the lives of children in poverty, full of the exuberance of childhood.
- Darkest Hour, Gary Oldman brings alive Winston Churchill in an overlooked historical moment – when it looked like Hitler was going to win WW II.
Here’s the rest of my Best Movies of 2017 – So Far. Most of the ones from earlier this year are available on video.
Other current choices:
- The Disaster Artist, James Franco’s hilarious docucomedy about the making of one of the most unintentionally funny movies of all time.
- Diane Kruger’s award-wining performance in the German thriller In the Fade.
- The ambitious satire The Square.
- Call Me By Your Name is an extraordinarily beautiful story of sexual awakening set in a luscious Italian summer, but I didn’t buy the impossibly cool parents or the two pop ballad musical interludes.
- Murder on the Orient Express is a moderately entertaining lark.
- Novitiate, the tediously grim story of a seeker looking for spiritual love and sacrifice, with a sadistic abbess delivering too much of the latter.
Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread is topping some critics’ top ten lists. So my Stream of the Week is Anderson’s first feature, Hard Eight, a neo-noir from 1996. Hard Eight is available to stream from Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, YouTube and Google Play.
On January 13, Turner Classic Movies airs director Richard Fleischer’s overlooked film noir masterpiece The Narrow Margin (1952), a taut 71 minutes of tension. Growly cop Charles McGraw plays hide-and-seek with a team of hit men on a claustrophobic train. Marie Windsor is unforgettable as the assassins’ target. It’s highly recommended on my list of Overlooked Noir.