By Manuel Fernandez
With the year coming to a close, it’s once again the time to look back at the numerous achievements in filmmaking that highlighted the year. It’s clear that 2017 hasn’t been the best year, with many things happening in the world that has us worried. But film continues to be the perfect form of escapism, and this year has provided a lot of films that are worth seeing in the theaters.
It’s safe to say that the year was brimming with a wide variety of incredible films that warmed our hearts, brought us to tears, scared the pants off us or made us gasp in awe and wonder.
Some honorable mentions worth noting include:
“The Darkest Hour”: An engaging WWII story enhanced by an Oscar-worthy performance by Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill.
“Get Out”: A subtly disturbing social commentary with a perfect blend of scares and laughs that’ll be talked about for years to come.
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi”: A blend of the classic and the modern that offers up enough twists and turns to create a fresh new take on the Star Wars saga.
- “The Big Sick”
One of the most authentic films in recent memory, “The Big Sick” offers up a heartwarming, honest, romantic tale of how renowned comedian Kumail Nanjiani met his wife Emily. The relationship between Nanjiani and Zoe Kazan is one of the more believable, genuine romances in any film of the last decade.
Along with the heart comes the various laughs, whether they’re chuckles or laugh-out-loud moments, as it’s one of the funniest films to come out this year. Mix in great performances from the entire cast, including Ray Romano, Holly Hunter, Kazan, and Nanjiani himself, and you get one of the best romantic comedies of the past ten years.
- “The Shape of Water”
Director Guillermo Del Toro continues to prove why he’s one of the most prolific, imaginative directors working today. “The Shape of Water” highlights everything that makes Del Toro a one of kind director, from his blend of realism and fantasy to his imaginative storytelling, to his outstanding practical creature effects. From the very first shot, the film feels as though you can find it in a storybook you read to your children. The colors, production design, and costumes all give a unique style to the film and the fantastical writing and dynamic characters bring the audience into a world brimming with imagination.
Sally Hawkins shines throughout the film and gives life to her vibrant character, perfectly embodying both her timid nature and headstrong demeanor. She brings so much heart and life into this film without uttering a single word. Doug Jones knocks it out of the park as the creature, with the practical effects stunningly portrayed. In the end, Guillermo Del Toro has created a fairy tale unlike any other.
- “Wonder Woman/Logan”
It’s clear that this may be a cheat, but it really is difficult to pick between the two: One marks the end of an era in superhero films and another that begins a new chapter in superhero films. Regardless, “Logan” and “Wonder Woman” both standout as incredibly well-made films and influential additions to the superhero genre.
“Logan” is a neo-western that uses its R-rating to full effect while being enhanced by terrific performances, powerful storytelling, and a perfect conclusion to the character of the Wolverine. “Wonder Woman” evokes the same kind of optimism and hope previously felt in 1978’s “Superman: The Movie” by giving the audience a strong female character to look up to in Wonder Woman. Despite their differences, both films will surely change the superhero genre forever.
- “Blade Runner: 2049”
The teamwork of director Denis Villeneuve and cinematographer Roger Deakins is used to full effect in giving us a beautiful, poignant, emotionally resonant dystopia in “Blade Runner 2049.” The film is one of the prime examples of what makes a great sequel in that it further progresses the overall narrative of the original film while also expanding on the vast, dystopian world laid out in the original by introducing new concepts to explore and new dynamics and characters to get invested in. At the same time, however, the film manages to stay independent of the original film and acts as its own standalone film.
In addition to the brilliant storytelling, every single performance, especially Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling, is stellar. Each actor perfectly embodies their respective characters, and the cinematography and color palette are absolutely stunning and beautifully rendered.
If it’s a rarity for a sequel to surpass the original in so many respectable ways, “Blade Runner: 2049” is Halley’s Comet.
A film that deserves every single tear that is shed, “Coco” evokes some of the most powerful storytelling of the year and is by far one of Pixar’s best films they have ever released.
Much like last year’s “Moana,” “Coco” presents to the audience a beautifully well-rounded character in Miguel who is instantly captivating, charming, and incredibly relatable while also presenting numerous other charming supporting characters along the way. In addition, the animation captures the magic and wonder of the Land of the Dead while also perfectly depicting the rural town within the Mexican landscape where Miguel lives, from its architecture to the people who reside within it.
But the film’s perfect representation of the Mexican culture and its incorporation of the culture into the overall narrative are what make this film so special. From the use of the Spanish language, to the architecture, to the beautifully-written music, to the actual celebration of La Día de los Muertos, “Coco” tells a powerful, emotionally resonant story about family, memory, and legacy that will pull the heartstrings of anyone who watches it while honoring the rich culture and traditions of Mexico.
“Coco” is a film that is for anyone of any age and is one of the most powerful films of recent memory. Bound to become a classic down the line, “Coco” is a culturally significant film that opens the door to limitless possibilities you can do with the limitless potential of filmmaking.