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The 50 Best Films Of 2017

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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