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The Top 10 Films of 2017

PM film critic Sean Collier counts down the 10 best films of 2017.

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#5 — Lady Bird
Extraordinary and heartbreaking truth exists in “Lady Bird,” writer/director Greta Gerwig’s yarn of early-2000s teenage wastelands. There have been innumerable coming-of-age tales well told, but few so perfectly match a director of distinct vision, a star — the incomparable Saoirse Ronan — of endless depth and a story both eminently relatable and wholly original. Anyone who cannot see themselves in Lady Bird isn’t truly watching her; anyone who doesn’t want to give Gerwig permanent carte blanche to make whatever movies she wants didn’t watch “Lady Bird.”
How to See It: In select theaters now.

#4 — The Florida Project
It’s a slice of life driven by without a glance en route to The Happiest Place on Earth. In the hands of director Sean Baker (a rising star in his own right), the forgotten corners of Orlando, Fla. are a sun-bleached satellite of human existence, as an underclass far removed from the high-priced pleasure of the theme parks ekes out an undignified existence. Heretofore unknown stars Bria Vinaite and 6-year-old Brooklynn Prince are astounding. Miraculously, though, this is not a movie about indignity and class; it’s a movie about childhood.
How to See It: Currently out of theaters; available on streaming services next month and DVD and Blu-Ray in February.


#3 — Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri
With the heartbreaking and honest “Three Billboards,” Martin McDonagh has finally made a movie as powerful as his best plays. Frances McDormand gives the best performance of her already excellent career as a grieving mother raging (with a midwestern dignity not afforded to her by her neighbors) against injustice, while a knockout supporting cast full of life and complexity rounds out a believable and idiosyncratic world. You’ll never laugh louder at a completely devastating film.
How to See It: “Three Billboards” is nearing the end of its theatrical run, but may well return to local theaters after Oscar nominations are unveiled on Jan. 23.


#2 — The Shape of Water
A gorgeous, bewitching fairy tale, Guillermo del Toro’s “The Shape of Water” is assuredly the year’s most unforgettable movie (even if my top choice did edge it out by a nose). Bathed in shades of green and a haunting score, the romance between Sally Hawkins — by rights, the presumptive Best Actress winner in a year overflowing with great turns — and the creature played by Doug Jones is simple, magical and grand. In a year with a (very good) remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Shape of Water” is that story in its most honest (and yet lyrical) terms.
How to See It: In theaters now.

#1 — Mudbound
The best movie of the year is one that only nominally appeared in movie theaters, instead emerging as the best Netflix release to date. Director Dee Rees, who adapted Hillary Jordan’s novel (with co-writer Virgil Williams), mires her film in the mud of Mississippi, weaving the experience of a half-dozen characters into a symphony of disappointment and brutal reality. The tale of two farming families struggling through life in the wake of World War II is indeed a period piece, but it remains achingly relevant as an exploration of circumstances, anger and dialogue in America. There is no award it shouldn’t be nominated for (although a continued stigma against streaming releases may limit its honors). This is a movie for everyone, perfectly presented.
How to See It: Streaming on Netflix.

Honorable Mentions: Any of these, presented in alphabetical order, could’ve easily made the Top 10, and all are worth your time: “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Big Sick,” “Call Me By Your Name,” “A Fantastic Woman,” “Free Fire,” “I, Tonya,” “In the Fade,” “Last Flag Flying,” “Logan,” “Molly’s Game,” “The Square,” “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” “Thelma,” “Wind River,” and “Wonder Woman.”

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