Top Ten Films: by Tahmina Rafaella

With 2017 coming to an end, I selected my top ten films of the year so far. Not included in this list are last year’s award contenders (Sorry Moonlight).

I’m in no way a film critic but simply a lover of film. Enjoy!


1.      Loveless (Andrey Zvyagintsev)


I am a big admirer of Zvyagintsev’s past work, but this film struck me as the most universally relatable of his. Aside from his ability of perfectly capturing the Russian spirit, he touches upon a more currently relevant theme that we all need to pay more attention to, and that is, as the title simply puts it, a state of lovelessness, and how it affects us and those around us. He also brilliantly captures our era of narcissism in social media, and how often we neglect the real world and real values such as family and self awareness in lieu of seeking validation from strangers on social media sites. Breathtaking cinematography, symbolism and acting. This is perhaps the best acting I’ve seen Russian actors do in the last decade. There is one scene in particular that proves how deserving this film was of the Jury Prize at Cannes. Without spoiling it, it’s a scene where we see the lead character finally break down over an incident that drives the entire movie forward. Incredibly powerful. Those that understand the Russian spirit and their societal as well as cultural flaws will especially relate to this film, but overall the theme of the movie is perfectly summarized in the title of the film.



2.      Shape of Water (Guillermo Del Toro)


As I was watching this movie I kept thinking how I wished I could glimpse into Guillermo Del Toro’s imagination, even if just for a second. The man’s imagination is wild, beautiful, serene, tender, spiritual, mystical, romantic and these are the words I would use to describe this movie. I believe this is a movie that everyone needs to watch right now because of the current hateful climate in the world. What we need more of, and what drives the world at the end of the day is love, and Del Toro tenderly captures each moment of that feeling between the two lovers in the film. This is a modern classic that will stand among the ranks of King Kong (1933) and Cocteau’s Beauty and The Beast (1946). I can’t even begin to describe the beauty of the cinematography, the colors and the production design in this movie. Everything was thought of in such detail and careful attention and it definitely shows. No wonder it’s already sweeping off numerous awards.


3.      Call Me By Your Name (Luca Guadagnino)


Another love story that will stand among the ranks of classic romances. But then again, I’m not surprised considering who wrote (James Ivory) and who directed (Luca Guadagnino) it. Luca Guadagnino is one of the freshest and most unpretentious directors of our generation. I’ve been following his work since I Am Love and he hasn’t disappointed ever since. There is one quote (part of a longer monologue) in particular toward which I believe the entire movie is built. Read it and try not to weep (I did both times I watched the film): “We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster than we should that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to feel nothing so as not to feel anything - what a waste!”.



4.      Lady Bird (Greta Gerwig)


I think Soairse Ronan is one of the most interesting and talented actresses of our generation. She shines in this movie about youth, love and a complex but yet caring relationship between mother and daughter. I loved the simplicity of this movie. It’s the kind of film that everyone will love, If you don’t, there’s something wrong with you (sorry!). I wish there were more movies that explored the inner workings of young women and the confusion at entering adulthood as well as the complexity of mother daughter relations. Also I love that a woman wrote and directed this (Great Gerwig is a lovely actress herself). If I can sum the movie up in one word it would be, “delightful”.



5.      Coco (Lee Unkrich)


I’m not sure if I can include this movie since it’s a animated feature, but oh well. This is the sweetest movie I’ve seen all year. It will definitely sweep the Academy Award for Best Animated Film as it encompasses everything that both adults and children love; a heart capturing theme and a message that teaches us the importance of family and their unconditional love above everything else.


6.      The Disaster Artist (James Franco)


I read the book years ago and I still remember how it much it made me laugh. The same happened while I was watching the movie. Hilarious, and it will make you want to go see the movie on which this movie is based which is, “The Room” all the more. This might be James Franco’s best work both as an actor and as a director. Aside from accurately capturing the authenticity of the events in the book, this movie also gently translates the theme of this movie which is, friendship and dreams. This movie will make you cry tears of laughter but also of empathy and awe. Watch it, preferably with a friend! I did and we nudged each other every other second to either laugh or to whisper “Awwww….”.


7.      The Florida Project (Sean Baker)


With every movie that Sean Baker makes, it feels like he puts the camera in one spot and allows us, the audience, to observe these strangers lives. He picks characters that aren’t often portrayed in film and lets us see what their lives might look like in authentic ways. I loved how real this movie felt and the unbiased portrayal of the characters that most of the society will label as “outsiders”. This might be the best performance of Willem Defoe’s too. It’s worth seeing just for the last scene which takes us out of reality and into an otherworldly space of childhood dreams.



8.      Blade Runner 2049 (Denis Vileneuve)


I’m a big fan of Denis Villeneuve and how he captures time and emotions in space and in images. Although some deemed this film to be too “slow”, I enjoyed every second of it. It’s very easy to disappoint after the original Blade Runner, but this sequel exceeded my expectations. He created an entire universe that I felt engulfed in. The music of course, just as in the original, drove this movie forward in many ways.


9.      A Ghost Story (David Lowery)


Be prepared to cry, yes. I’m not spoiling the story as this story is about love and loss and how we deal with it. The movie was pretty much shot in one location, with a limited cast that did a fantastic job. There isn’t a lot of dialogue, but if you allow yourself to feel your way through the movie instead of trying to understand it, you might very much enjoy it. I’m a sucker for beautiful, cinematic love stories so this to me hit the perfect spot.


10.   Dunkirk (Christopher Nolan)


This was the first great movie I saw in 2017, as it came out in the summer when most of the movies coming out were… let’s just say not so great. It’s different from Nolan’s other works, but not less brilliant. I felt like I watched the entire film in one breath and only when it ended was I able to breath out. Fantastic acting, and a great historical lesson, as not many knew about this very important battle (I didn’t…)


Films I’m looking forward to watching:

In The Fade

-Fatih Akin is one of my favorite filmmaker’s. It also seems like Diane Kruger gives a career changing performance in this movie.


Molly’s Game

-Jessica Chastain. Enough reason.


The Post

-Intriguing story, great cast & crew… I doubt it’ll disappoint.


The Phantom Thread

-Daniel Day Lewis. Enough reason.


By Tahmina Rafaella