The 50 Best Films Of 2017

These are those 50 Films of 2017 that in some way have seeped into my life as the ones I would like to keep in my memory. The ones that have left me with something to ponder upon. Something to hold close and think about. And something that I will need every now and again.

50. Arrhythmia | Director: Boris Khlebnikov | Language: Russian

Quite reminiscent of Derek Cianfrance’s “Blue Valentine”, “Arrhythmia” explores why people who deeply & truly love each other, face the loss of understanding that brought them together in the first place. Yes, there’s a social subtext about what goes around medical units that don’t comply humanistic approvals, but Khlebnikov’s complete focus remains on the half-dead heart that Oleg & Katya share with each other.

Read The Complete Review of Arrhythmia Here.

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49. Manifesto | Director: Julian Rosefeldt | Language: English

German visual artist Julian Rosefeldt lifts, copies and deconstructs the true essence of an experimental-art-house-film to develop something truly fascinating. Hinging on the meaning, presentation, representation, and making of what and how true art is to be construed, Rosefeldt’s film is a ticking time bomb that explodes multiple times and baffles your incomprehensible sensibility. Featuring the uber-talented chameleon – Cate Blanchett, who plays 13 different characters in this 95 mins showcase of enthralling visuals and sharply observed insights, “Manifesto” is one of its kind.

Similar to 50 Best Films Of 2017: The 15 Best Directorial Debuts Of 2017

48. Directions | Director: Stephan Komandarev | Language: Bulgarian

Ever had a really bad day? A day where even the morning coffee tastes like a bad case of psychoactive caffeine intake? Stephan Komandarev’s latest film “Directions” is based on a series of cab rides on one such ‘really bad day’ in present-day Sofia. Focusing on the dreaded and tortured lives of Bulgarian residents, Komandarev twists the general narrative into a mosaic of vignettes that are both a certain cry for help and an investigation into human empathy that is bursting out for a listener.

Read The Complete Review of Directions Here.

47. Custody | Xavier Legrand | Language: French

When a marriage falls out, it definitely changes the lives of the spouses in question. The suffering that the kids go through is even more intense. The constant juggling between the two peers becomes a kind of chaos that shapes their life thereafter. Despite playing on familiar notes, French filmmaker Xavier Legrand’s films about toxic masculinity plaguing the lives of a family brings the terror home. The fear that shadows their life is so intense and real, that watching the film feels like being there besides the camera as the terror takes a toll on you.

Read The Complete Review Of Custody Here.

46. Lovesong | Director: So Yong Kim | Language: English

So Yong Kim’s “Lovesong” caters to the complexities of friendship and love. A gentle, beautiful and wonderous ode to the people who had lived so long in a state of vulnerable loneliness that saying the right thing at the right time is a distant possibility. Performed to perfection with subtle gazes, nervous hands, and melancholic longings by  Jena Malone & Riley Keough, this is an intimate film where words take a backseat to feelings.

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High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

45. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri | Director: Martin McDonagh | Language: English

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Anchored by a powerhouse performance by Francis McDormand and Sam Rockwell, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” juggles multiple themes around an unpredictable journey of a foul-mouthed, grief-stricken mother. Seeking justice against the evil and brutality that brought her into this state of unbearable rage, Mildred Hayes’s Billboards set up and iconic and revolutionary voice to the voiceless. While the film does fall into the trap of failing to balance the comedic tone with a serious one, this tale of injustice & redemption is wrapped in enough enigma to keep it burning for a while. 

Read The Complete Review of Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri Here.

44. God’s Own Country | Director: Francis Lee | Language: English

Francis Lee’s “God’s Own Country” is essentially a British Brokeback Mountain minus the melodrama. Set against the picturesque land of rural Britain that not only provides peace but also brings in isolation and distress, the film captures an outbursting romance that is gentle, life-affirming and heartbreaking all at the same time. The film achieves the fact that for some people it’s entirely impossible to articulate love and show vulnerability when life has never let them have their ways. 

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43. Lady Bird | Director: Greta Gerwig | Language: English

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Using her incomprehensible maniac, radical energy, Greta Gerwig molds the generic highschool coming-of-age films with an astutely observed love story between a daughter and her mother. In her solo directorial debut, she washes over genre convention with a grand understanding of her environment. Gerwig’s “Lady Bird” works because it knows that a place (which we never give any importance to, least trying to escape it all the time) builds one’s character more than anything else.

Read The Complete Review of Lady Bird Here.

42. On Body and Soul | Director:  Ildikó Enyedi | Language: Hungarian

Winner of the Silver Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival, Ildikó Enyedi’s “On Body and Soul” is a film where the two introverts at its center have the same dream each night. As ridiculous as that might sound, Enyedi’s sensitive direction makes this film about the human connection much more visceral & tender. In spite of all the strangeness that surrounds it, Enyedi’s vision is one of the most original romances of the year. It will most definitely cater to everyone looking for the least bit of human connection. Bizzare, beautiful and awkward to an extent of charming you to the bone, “On Body and Soul” is one for the heart.

Read The Complete Review Of On Body And Soul Here.

41. Newton | Director: Amit Masurkar | Language: Hindi

Amit Masurkar’s “Newton” is not only a scathing satire on the democratic system but is also endearing and quite aware of its less-is-more possibilities. Wherein lies its strength to question the system without providing answers to all of them. The film understands the limits it can stretch to and also where the limit starts and ends. It’s a comedy, a wake-up call, and overall a testament to honesty which is the only currency that can change the world. Sadly, we will need 1 thousand milli-newtons to do that job, though.

High On Films in collaboration with Avanté

Read The Complete Review of Newton Here.

40. Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts | Director: Mouly Surya | Language: Indonesian

There’s no exact way to categorize Mouly Surya’s “Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts.” It’s neither just a western or just a rape-revenge drama. To put it only mildly, I’d call it a cross between the aesthetically pleasing feminist troops of Ana Lily Amirpour‘s “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night” & the calmness, subtlety & deadpan humor seen in Jim Jarmusch’s psychedelic-western “Dead Man.“ Set in the deserted, picturesque hills of Indonesia, this badass tale of seeking justice is slyly brimmed in a heating pan until it boils up with unmatchable fury.

Read The Complete Review Of Marlina the Murderer in Four Acts Here.

39. The Mainour and the Witness | Director: Dileesh Pothan | Language: Malayalam

With a sensational central performance by Fahad Fasil and built upon the struggles and helplessness of the common everyday person  Dileesh Pothan’s “The Mainour and the Witness “(Thondimuthalum Dhriksakshiyum) is a deliciously crafted black-comedy. While really small in scope & catering to a certain aspect of people, it is an amusing piece of commentary on the unstable and unsuitable legal system of the entire nation. 

Similar to The 50 Best Films of 2017 : The 15 Best Asian Films Of 2017

38. Personal Shopper | Director: Oliver Assayas | Language: English 

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Olivier Assayas’s “Personal Shopper” is a pretty unique investigation into a person who understands and doesn’t understand death. Eerily sold as a horror tale of a woman split and confused between the in-betweens, Oliver still manages to bridge a portal between spiritualism and materialism. He also gives time for his main theme of grief to organically evolve on its own, while his aim becomes the process of Maureen understanding her environment, moreover – herself.

Read The Complete Review of Personal Shopper Here

37. Lady Macbeth | Director: William Oldroyd | Language: English

Lady Macbeth‘s strength lies in its dissolving morality. At times, both – moody & macabre, the film never latches into fake aesthetics and truly trusts its central performance to take you the extra mile. With a mesmerizing turn by Florence Pugh, William Oldroyd dwells the period drama with a smart and subtle placing of themes like race, obstinate desires, class division, and violence set in the 19th century. 

Read The Complete Review of Lady Macbeth Here.

36. The Meyerowitz Stories | Director: Noah Baumbach | Language: English

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Pretty much like any other Noah Baumbach film, the depth and profoundness of the emotions peel off very slowly. On the surface level, the film is just a series of disjointed, hyperactive and mostly angry selections of scattered memories of the Meyerowitz family after they visit the aging artist & familial patriarch Harold (Dustin Hoffman). Exploring the family dynamics, Baumbach successfully investigates what makes and breaks a family. Powered by brilliant performances, especially the one by Adam Sandler, “The Meyerowitz Stories” finds greatness in its characters.

Watch The Meyerowitz Stories on Netflix

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35. Animals | Director: Greg Zglinski | Language: German

Playing the game of telling and deceiving, the new film by Greg Zglinski plays with time, with characters, and with a seamlessly woven mix of genres. A marital drama on the surface, “Animals (a.k.a Tiere)” in no time becomes a dark-comedy that borderlines Lynchian territory without losing its grasp on the narrative. Keeping an engaging hook on what’s real and what’s a dream, the film always keeps some of its cards hidden.

Read The Complete Review of Animals Here.

34. Happiness | Director: Sabu | Language: Japanese 

Unlike what the title suggests, Japanese cult filmmaker Sabu’s “Happiness” is probably the saddest film of the year. A non-resilient, sadistic and often heart-wrenching film about memories and their truly uplifting and destructive nature. A carefully constructed film that doesn’t just base itself on the narrative surprises and explores why some memories – both happy and sad, eventually make us what we become.

Read The Complete Review Review Of Happiness Here.

33. The Other Side Of Hope | Director:  Aki Kaurismaki | Language: Finnish

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Finnish auteur Aki Kaurismäki’s “The Other Side Of Hope” is an idiosyncratic, deadpan comedy about refugees staring right into the face of kindness and compassion. With his trademark style, stoic cinematic space & a great understanding of human emotions and reasoning, Kaurismaki’s film rightfully treads the line between casual cruelty & empathetic humaneness. 

Read The Complete Review of The Other Side Of Hope Here.

32. The Levelling | Director: Hope Dickson Leach | Language: English

Grief has become a recurring theme in many indie films in the recent past. It’s astonishing how some film-makers still manage to find new ways to portray it. “The Levelling” is about a father & and daughter who are unable to come to terms with the death of a close one. The film is filled with rage and incomparable trauma inflicted by loss under its melancholic & silent edges. In her first film, Hope Dickson Leach tackles in the heavy theme of not being able to accept one’s fate when the universe seems to be playing against you with every other move.

Read The Complete Review of The Levelling Here.

31. Ana, Mon Amour | Director: Calin Peter Netzer | Language: Romanian

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The contemporary relationships that I happen to see around me are mostly built on broken strands. Someone or the other needs to be fixed, and the significant other makes it a mission to do the fixing. While this co-dependence often forms the heart of the relationship – becoming a boon to the ever-growing tenderness towards one another, it, in turn, becomes a curse too. Calin Peter Netzer’s “Ana, mon amour” explores love, addiction & co-dependency and how each one of them takes a turn in becoming a boon & a curse.

Read The Complete Review of Ana, Mon Amour Here. 

30. November | Director: Rainer Sarnet | Language: Estonian 

Shot in rustic black-and-white, “November” is a folklore, a black comedy & a love story. Unrequited love, as we all know,  makes us do strange things. Rainer Sarnet’s bleak vision, which is mostly sneakily funny, manages to be heartbreaking to an extent of turning a cold-feet towards the idea of love. He also cleverly makes the struggle and sadness that surrounds it feel like complete dead-pan-magic.

Read The Complete Review of November Here

29. Antiporno | Director: Sion Sono | Language: Japanese 

When Japanese auteur Sion Sono was asked to film his take on the Roman Porno Revival, (a type of adult film that features a sex-scene every 10 minutes) who knew he would create a maddening stage-play about the oppression and entrapment of woman in a society that has been scrutinized to please the male species. By doing so, Sono creates “Anti-Porno,” taking a ballsy step of criticising the very idea of a Roman Porno whilst also paying tribute to it. 

Read The Complete Review of Anti-PornoHere

28. Wonderstruck | Director: Todd Haynes | Language: English

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Todd Haynes’s “Wonderstruck” is about braving the sadness that is constantly trying to make and shape you into becoming someone. It is an adventure into the unknown that makes one understand what true love and compassion really mean. Shown through the eyes of two children who share common deafness, the film uses the single most beautiful (structurally and visually) way in which it examines adolescence and the constant feeling of trying to belong somewhere.

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27. Wajib | Director: Annemarie Jacir | Language: Arabic

Annemarie Jacir’s “Wajib” is a road-movie that builds upon the familial indifference between the absolutely charming father-son duo (both onscreen & offscreen). With earthy dialogue, relatable and familiar emotional tension and truly beautiful setup to ride-along, Jacir’s film never doubts the viewers into understanding why these two people from the same family have a different point of view about the world they live in. By doing so, she prods into the indifference and the subtle affection between the two with charismatic results.

Read The Complete Review of Wajib Here

26. Afterimage | Director: Andrzej Wajda | Language: Polish

50 Best Films of 2017

Accounting the life of Polish Avant-Grande artist Wladyslaw Strzeminski, Andrzej Wajda’s last testament to films was a heartbreaking tale about the freedom of expression. The film follows Strzeminski, a hardcore social realist who was prohibited from making paintings on the grounds of them being entitled as ‘progressive art.’ Featuring one of the best performance of the year by Bogusław Linda and a story that still somehow haunts us in the contemporary world, Wajda’s last love letter to cinema is an experience bloated in dark red color.

Read The Complete Review of Afterimage Here

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