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Phantom Thread to The Post: 2017’s Best Movies

December 30, 2017


Ok, I’ve given out my Frettsies for the year’s best performances and picked 2017’s 10 Worst Movies, so you know what that means. It’s time for my Top 10 list! Click on the highlighted titles for longer reviews.

10. Dean I’d say writer-director-star Demetri Martin’s sardonic comedy was the year’s most overlooked movie, if not for the next two films on the list. It’s a sweet, smart love story between a father (Kevin Kline, note perfect) and his son (Martin) made with the singular tone and style of a born storyteller.

9. Mr. Roosevelt I’d say writer-director-star Nöel Wells’ sardonic comedy was the year’s most overlooked movie, if not for the next film on the list. It’s a sweet, smart love story between a comedian (Wells) and her titular dead cat, made with the singular tone and style of a born storyteller.

8. Patti Cake$ I’d say writer-director Geremy Jasper’s sardonic comedy is the year’s most overlooked movie… because it is. I don’t know why it didn’t bring in more $, but I didn’t  have a more viscerally exciting experience this year than watching and listening to Danielle McDonald’s Durty Jurzy rapper take lyrical flight.

OK, now on to the movies that have gotten the respect they deserved…

7. I, Tonya Margot Robbie and Allison Janney delivered the year’s most potent one-two punch as disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding and her disgraceful yet somehow lovable mother. I, Bruce, found this movie gut-bustingly funny and strangely moving.

6. Get Out Jordan Peele’s social satire-slash-thriller is so scary-funny, it’s funny-scary. Also, I’ll never look at someone stirring their tea with a spoon the same way again.

5. The Post The only flaw in Steven Spielberg’s de facto prequel to All the President’s Men is its title. It was briefly called The Papers, which worked on at least two levels — as a reference to The Pentagon Papers, but also to The New York Times and The Washington Post, both of which played key roles in breaking the story. (And I’m not just saying this because I freelance for The Times.) As Post editor Ben Bradlee and publisher Katharine Graham, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep establish a crackling, Tracy-and-Hepburn-esque chemistry, and Spielberg is in the same classic, good old-fashioned movie mode that made Bridge of Spies and Lincoln so satisfying.


4. The Florida Project A child’s-eye perspective on poverty that makes a motel on the outskirts of Disney World look like both the happiest and the saddest place on Earth, Sean Baker’s bracingly unsentimental drama features revelatory turns from Willem Dafoe as a flawed father figure and young Brooklynn Prince in one of the most natural performances ever given by a child on screen. And it ends with an artistic flourish that is nothing less than exhilarating.

3. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri  Frances McDormand is a national treasure. Martin McDonagh’s deep, dark comedy gives her the role of her life as a grieving mother who pursues the truth about her daughter’s death with a destructive fury, and she’s surrounded by an equally formidable ensemble: Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Caleb Landry Jones, John Hawkes, Peter Dinklage, Lucas Hedges, Abbie Cornish, Zeljko Ivanek and Nick Searcy. What an embarrassment of acting riches.

2. Phantom Thread The breathtaking symbiosis between writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson and star Daniel Day-Lewis reaches its apotheosis with this fictional film that seems profoundly autobiographical for both of them. It’s the story of a man (in this case, a 1950s British fashion designer named Reynolds Woodcock) who’s so single-minded in his quest for perfection that he almost can’t function. The fact that this is allegedly Day-Lewis’ final film only adds pathos to the plot, which takes several unexpected turns I will not spoil after Woodcock becomes fixated on a new muse (the remarkable Vicky Krieps). Every detail, from Lesley Manville’s dry, subtle humor as Woodcock’s co-dependent sister Cyril to Jonny Greenwood’s sweeping score, is perfect, as Phantom Thread explores the mystery of love in a completely mesmerizing fashion. Fittingly, I’m not quite sure why I love it so, but I do.

And the year’s No. 1 movie is…

The Shape of Water Guillermo del Toro’s masterwork manages the seemingly impossible feat of evoking classic monster movies, musicals and romances while simultaneously creating something wholly original that could only come from his brilliant, idiosyncratic vision. It’s a fish-out-of-water story crossed with a fish story, pureed in a Bass-o-matic. Oh, and that cast — Sally Hawkins, Octavia Spencer, Michael Shannon, the always-wonderful Richard Jenkins, the marvelous Michael Stuhlbarg, and yes, Nick Searcy  — they slip into their roles as seamlessly as Doug Jones dons his scale-tight suit. You can’t put your hands around The Shape of Water, but if you can’t feel it in your heart, you must be an amphibian.


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  1. Just love your list! Happy 2018 Bruce!

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