2017 Retrospective

As a perfect response to the incomprehensibly ridiculous world leader that now sits in the White House making plans to chat with totalitarian dictators, women in the film industry took this year by storm. Lucrecia Martel returned after almost a decade and made us wish she never left; Agnès Varda, at 89, proved that age need never be a barrier; Chloé Zhao stunned Cannes with her genius; and Brooklynn Prince and Haley Lu Richardson and Margot Robbie and Allison Janney captivated the world. The below results – from Israel and Russia to San Francisco, from the 18th century to the future – represent the pinnacle of all cinematic endeavours undertaken over the last 12 months.

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2017 Year-End A&S Nominations

Dozens and scores of films later, with more inconsistent renditions of Sundance (that sheet, those primes), Cannes (that morgue scene), Telluride, and TIFF behind us yet again, I present the second annual Year-End A&S Nominations, in advance of my 2017 Retrospective, coming in January. A narrower range of great films this year means a narrower range of films represented (19), but chart-toppers like Columbus, Foxtrot, and Loveless can stand toe-to-toe with the best films of any year. See below for the full results.

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Lady Bird

Witty, wise, and wonderfully grounded, Lady Bird is a funny, realistic coming-of-age tale that sidesteps cliché in favour of presenting two complex, sympathetic female characters at odds and yet somehow wishing that they could come to understand the other. It’s a pithy, well-sculpted comedy-drama of affectionate precision that embraces adolescence’s messy realities, by a star and filmmaker that are simultaneously young and excellent far beyond their years.

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Twin Peaks: The Return

Dense, dour, dark, and downright transporting, Twin Peaks: The Return is an ode to lamps, beautiful ladies, and dimly-lit nightclubs, a bonkers cauldron of chaos from the master of the grotesque that’s constantly shifting, evolving, and changing shape. It’s creepy and funny, nostalgic and modern, strange and sad, indulgent and audacious, surreal and heartbreaking. 

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TIFF 2017 Wrap-Up

After a summer that many pundits considered one of the best in years (I may disagree) and an especially strong line-up in Venice, the 42nd annual Toronto International Film Festival burst onto the scene with typical flair and a host of red carpets. In line with an increasing trend away from the fall festival circuit, a number of high-profile films skipped the big 3 and will be released at the New York Film Festival (hello, Last Flag Flying from Richard Linklater and Wonder Wheel from Woody Allen) or held until the Christmas season, including Paul Thomas Anderson’s tentatively-titled Phantom Thread and The Post, Steven Spielberg’s anticipated take on the Pentagon Papers.

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Clean, crisp, concise, and as potent as the hallucinogenic drug referenced in the film, Columbus is a near-miracle of independent filmmaking: a quasi-mood piece from an unknown artist that will now be permanently on the cinematic map, showcasing lived-in performances that ultimately become larger-than-life. Clear-eyed, well-made, and sincerely affecting, it’s one of the best films of the year.

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A Ghost Story

Ambiguous, opaque, and highly original, A Ghost Story is an otherworldly brew that’s both wrenching and dryly funny; a gorgeously-shot-and-scored meditation on time, loss, grief, and mortality; and a potent reminder that great cinema requires nothing more than courage, vision, and execution. If you are patient and can get on its wavelength (and perhaps only some will), it’s absolutely devastating.

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