While the calendar will probably tell us it’s been six months, this year seems to have gone faster than the last one. Even so, we just can’t wait until December to deliver highly clickable headlines with ‘best of’ in the title, so we’ve gone ahead and listed the stuff we’ve liked so far. What does it all mean? Probably nothing. Or something. Either way, you’re here now so you may as well enjoy the ride.
Based in Australia, you’ll have to remember that the first two months of our calendar are spent going to the cinema to watch movies you all saw in the Northern Hemisphere in 2016. Moonlight and Silence, for example, came out here in January and February respectively. While the festivals keep us in celluloid and lower back trauma, we’ve mostly avoided their inclusion as some of those films haven’t been seen outside that rarefied air.
Did we get it wrong? Did you? Be sure to admit (y)our mistakes and let us know what your favourites are in the comments below!
A GHOST STORY
David Lowery’s haunting meditation on grief, life, and the relativity of time.Struggling musician C (Casey Affleck) and his wife M (Rooney Mara) live together in a small house. When C is killed in a car crash, he returns home as a spectre covered in a white sheet. The publicity aptly tells us “It’s about time.” This is the literal truth, with Lowery’s experimental structure deftly recreating the relativity of time for audiences. With this film, Lowery gives us a masterclass in how cinema can not only help us better understand time, but also ourselves. Read Full Review >>
“Edwina, bring me the anatomy book.” This reworking of Thomas P. Cullinan’s book focuses on the Southern Gothic aspects, bringing psychological warfare delicately to the forefront. With glorious naturally lit landscapes and chambers, this hypnotic and intoxicating vibe is in no hurry to get to its mic-drop conclusion.Coppola transports Cullinan’s tale to her own ethereal plane, beguiling the audience with its beauty, and holding us captive with an understated horror that continues mounting until the very end. An absolute masterpiece from Sofia Coppola. Read Full Review >>
Transcending convention with its dark outlook and relentlessly violent narrative, it’s both an inevitable conclusion and a complete departure from the series to date. LOGAN would have been impossible to create in isolation of the rest of the series, but expertly crafts an entire world of its own. It’s up to the audience to fill in the gaps of what comes before and after, but is left with no doubt that this is the perfect and only ending that a hero of this standing should receive. This is the comic book adaptation all others will be judged against for some time to come. Read Full Review >>
A charming and disarmingly funny film about a person who is obsessed with a TV show made for an audience of one. This film, on the other hand, should appeal to just about everyone. Like the fictional TV show within the film, BRIGSBY BEAR will bring people together for a collective feeling that’s just magical. Filled with references and allusions to countless films, along with a pitch-perfect recreation of 1980s television, it’s the kind of film that will leave you with a big sloppy grin on your face, and an overwhelming urge to do something positive. Read Full Review >>
“If you put something in a museum, does it make it art?” Ruben Östlund’s film is sharp, satirical, and hyper aware of itself. A true gem and worth the accolades. Some may struggle with the back half of the film, where the narrative takes a darker and more somber turn. The ‘ape’ scene is both hilarious and uncomfortable, which is probably the best description of the film in its totality. This one is a little bit of a cheat, as it has only been screened at festivals to date, but it is hard not to include the Palme d’Or winner, especially when we were lucky enough to see it less than a month after its Cannes debut.
A SILENT VOICE
A beautiful and impressionistic tale of second chances and inner turmoil that reflects on teenage interactions, bullying and the notion of self-worth. As the film builds to a crescendo of animation and emotional confrontation, the film asks the audience for a bit of their own introspection. It’s rare that a film manages to tackle the intricacies of friendship and romance without hitting us over the head with it. Not just an essential anime, but a film that genuinely speaks to the disaffected. Read Full Review >>
Rachel Perkins’ youth-centric adaptation is a mystery that combines Harper Lee and Mark Twain in Western Australia, tackling race and prejudice full-on in a complex series of secrets and lies. Not just a great adaptation, but one of the best and most heartfelt Australian films of the last decade. Read Full Review >>
After doing the Festival circuit in 2016, Aaron Peterson and Alec Doomadgee’s film was finally released to broader audiences in 2017. Cultural ambassador and media personality Doomadgee began filming his son Zach at the age of 10, and over the course of the next six years traced his journey towards a traditional initiation into manhood. An incredibly powerful journey that aims to combat a negative stereotype and achieve a greater good for all indigenous people around the world. A must see. Read Full Review >>
- LADY MACBETH is a chilling costume drama that could also be a horror film musing on the expected subservience of women in 19th century England. Read Full Review >>
- WE DON’T NEED A MAP opened the Sydney Film Festival this year. Exploring how symbols can be twisted and meaning lost, filmmaker Warwick Thornton brings some much-needed knowledge to an often impassioned debate. Read Full Review >>
- IN MY OWN WORDS: A powerful documentary about the positive changes a single community can make, as well as exploring the barrier that adult illiteracy represents to the Indigenous communities of Australia. Read Full Review >>
- COLOSSAL: Filtering alcoholism, abuse and violence through the lens of monster movies works surprisingly well, as inner struggle is writ large in this indie take on city-wide destruction. Read Full Review >>
MOST ANTICIPATED FOR THE REST OF 2017
LOGAN LUCKY (17 August) is Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming heist film, and the cast looks as amazing as the premise. Based on the comics of the same name, Luc Besson’s VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (10 August) could go either way, but it’s set to be a visual treat regardless. After reading half of Stephen King’s output in preparation, you better believe we are excited for THE DARK TOWER (17 August), an adaptation/sequel to the author’s magnum opus. While part of us approaches long-awaited sequel BLADE RUNNER 2049 (5 October) with trepidation, we can’t wait to see what that world looks like with the benefit of modern SFX. On the flip side of the coin, Darren Aronofsky’s MOTHER! (12 October) won us over with a wonderful poster that shows Jennifer Lawrence really putting her heart into it.
WIND RIVER (10 August) is one we were lucky enough to see at the Sydney Film Festival. confirms Taylor Sheridan’s talents as a writer and director, this atmospheric mystery continues his fascination with people on the fringes, focusing on intense personal drama inside a taut and nuanced mystery/thriller (Full Review >>). Similarly, ALI’S WEDDING (31 August), another Festival favourite, takes the conventions of a genre and uses them to hold up a mirror to a nation. If this isn’t huge at the local box office, there’s no justice. (Full Review>>)