The Oscar nominations are out, and I recommend some (not all) of the nominated films. I’ve also written If I Picked the Oscars – before the nominations were announced. 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.
Don’t forget what is sure to be one of the best Bay Area cinema experiences of 2018 – the Noir City festival of film noir in San Francisco. Don’t miss out on Noir City’s bang up final weekend, with The Man Who Cheated Himself, Roadblock, The Big Heat and wickedly trashy Beverly Michaels in Wicked Woman.
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 Final Year, a wistful inside documentary about the Obama Admistration’s foreign policy during his last year.
- 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.
In a tribute to Noir City, my DVD of the Week is I Wake Up Screaming, an early noir with a groundbreaking performance by the tragic Laird Cregar. I Wake Up Screaming plays occasionally on Turner Classic Movies. The DVD is available with a Netflix subscription, or you can buy it from Amazon. I Wake Up Screaming is on my list of Overlooked Noir.
On February 5, Turner Classic Movies airs one of the greatest political movies of all time – The Times of Harvey Milk, the documentary Oscar winner from 1984. It’s the real story behind the 2008 Sean Penn narrative Milk – and with the original witnesses. If you pay attention, The Times of Harvey Milk can teach you everything from how to win a local campaign to how to build a societal movement. One of the best political movies ever. And watch for the dog poop scene!