As we arrive on the verge of this year’s curtain call, its time for us to revisit some of the best films that marked this year for posterity – both mainstream and indie. Like any other typical year, there were surprise breakout successes (Newton, Wonder Woman) and momentous let-downs (Jab Harry Met Sejal, Justice League). However the Box Office behaves, its undeniable that we as an audience have evolved a little more than last year. Mediocre films that could have passed off as Blockbusters five years ago, are now hard-pressed to impress an audience which is not only more aware but is more conscious of the definition of entertainment. Keeping that very sentiment in mind, let us look back to 2017 for a Year in Review with films that broke conventions and changed cinema forever.
Hollywood Top 5
Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine is the quintessential example of an actor becoming his character. After playing the mutant for 17 years, Hugh Jackman’s portrayal of one of the most iconic superheroes in comic book lore evolved from a unidimensional brute to a more responsible father figure who cared for the next generation of X-men who faced a much harsher world. James Mangold’s Logan was the culmination of a character who had been in the fight for far too long and had suffered collateral damage. The Adamantium in his bones had been poisoning him for years and his body was finally giving up. This R-rated version of an aging Old-man Logan gave us, arguably, the best Wolverine we had seen so far.
4. Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villeneuve’s spectacular repertoire of films like Enemy, Sicario, Prisoners and Arrival among others, definitively established him as a legend in making. So when it was revealed that he would carry forward Ridley Scott’s seminal vision, we knew it would be in good hands. Despite a dismal reception at the box office, Blade Runner 2049 captivated us with its haunting cinematography and Villeneuve’s signature story-telling, making it one of the best sequels ever made.
Remember all those films of child actor Leonardo DiCaprio that we watch and say to ourselves – “He was always talented!” ? That’s Jacob Tremblay right now. After his heartrending performance in the Oscar winning Room, Tremblay had become a force to behold. Wonder is a testament of Tremblay’s versatility and deep understanding of his character. Complemented with Stephen Chbosky’s unique story-telling, the film is one of our favourites this year.
2. Get out
There are rare moments in film history when independent films defy all templates and genres telling a compelling story that scarily resonates with contemporary culture. Comedian/Writer Jordan Peele’s debut film Get Out became an instant breakout success with its satirical understanding of America’s deep-rooted racism that has just become more subtle after the civil uprisings. Through a lethal combination of horror/satire, Daniel Kaluuva’s portrayal of a black dude who meets his white girlfriend’s disturbing family is bone-chilling. Get Out is a classic from the get-go!
From an indie film-maker whose debut film Following was made on a whopping $6000 budget, Nolan has become an institution. Every release of his film heralds a festival in itself. Dunkirk fell into a genre hitherto untouched by him which made the proposition even more enticing and boy did he deliver ! Based on the massive World War II evacuation of British soldiers who had been trapped on the island of Dunkirk without food or water, Nolan’s treatment of the war adaptation was unlike anything we had seen before. Combined with Hans Zimmer’s breathtaking score, Dunkirk’s three-act screenplay put us right in the middle of a race against time where war is not always about winning but just surviving it is the best you can do. As with every single film in his body of work, Nolan has changed the way war-movies are filmed, forever.
Bollywood Top 6
Bollywood came of age this year. From genre defining movies to topical cinema to experimentation, this year had something for everyone. From the runaway massy blockbusters like Baahubali : The Conclusion to niche topic heavy movies like Shubh Mangal Savdhan, there were options galore and for the first time there was a welcoming audience who went in hordes to watch those movies. And leading the way are the young 20 something segment of the society who are open to grammar altering cinema courtesy the foreign content they are regularly exposure to.
As 2017 ends, there are a lot of articles listing the best movies of 2017. We would slightly sway away from that and try to list the best movies you might have missed out in the last 12 months and which you ought to give your valuable time to. Here are our top 6 picks:
1. Mukti Bhawan
Adil Husain is a peerless performer of Indian cinema who has made a name for himself for taking up out of the box projects like The Reluctant Fundamentalist (English), Parched among others. Connoisseurs of Bollywood would validate the fact that when the cast includes Adil Husain, the movie demands attention. Mukti Bhawan is slow indulgence, yet a celebratory film which dives into the complex psyche of a man who knows when he has to leave the world. Adil plays the morally conflicted son of Daya who reluctantly agrees to take his father Daya on his final journey towards death. The topic of the movie itself raises a thousand questions and each scene between the father and the son makes us ponder, if we would do anything different or if understanding death is the
best salvation there is. Watch this!
2. A Death in the Gunj
The directorial debut of Konkona Sen Sharma, who is an actor par excellence and extremely under-appreciated at that, tells the story of a family on vacation in the simpler sepia toned times of the late 1970s. After establishing in the very first scene itself that, true to the movie’s name, a death has indeed taken place, we travel in flashback to the sleepy uneventful town of McCluskieganj in Bihar. A Death in the Gunj is luxuriously leisurely, yet there is not one irrelevant or wasted dialogue, expression or scene. The movie has a large cast, but all characters have a purpose to fulfill. We don’t get a hero in the movie; we get a protagonist who is as unlike a hero as they come. For a serious movie, it has a handful of nuggets of humor scattered along the way. Ms. Sen Sharma has written the movie as a study in contrasts, and it is precisely the harmony in the coexistence of all these contrasts that impart the movie its body and soul.
3. Shubh Mangal Savdhan
This is a fine example of how to circumvent the myopic eyes of the censor board and deliver a perfect recipe of topical and humorous content which hardly fails. The movie explored the really hushed up issue of erectile dysfunction, the very mention of which may raise a red flag. But the treatment is so light and the performance of Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar are so refreshing that you will fall in love with the characters and relate to the complexity of a relationship.
4. Qarib Qarib Singlle
Sahabzade Irfan Ali Khan, better known as Irrfan excels at playing the oddball character with such rakish flamboyance that you instantly gravitate towards it. Be it Piku in 2015, Hindi Medium this year and now Qarib Qarib Singlle, Irrfan knows how to cater to the gallery as well as the cosied up couple holding hands and having popcorn from one bucket. Whereas Parvathy as Jaya is the solitudinarian, whose life revolves around her job in the insurance sector and getting pity filled advice from women around her. In India, dating, specially for the ones on the wrong side of 30, is still considered a taboo. But with two endearing characters in Jaya (Parvathy) and Yogi (Irrfan), the script is a road trip come cutesy love story weaved into one sweet story.
Phillauri is a fantasy comedy film with a climax which will make you ponder. Anushka
Sharma has started to make a name for herself for choosing to produce quality cinema. In this one, she also acts as the well-meaning spirit Shashi who connects with Kanan (Suraj Sharma) and reveals the decades old story of Phillauri and Shashi which culminates in a tragic event known to us all. Without divulging much, I can only appreciate the effort put in by the director Anshai Lal in working in a genre not seen much in India, fantasy-humour. The movie received mixed reviews, but what works for the movie is it’s touching climax and humour.
6. Tumhaari Sulu
It is said that the best is generally left for the last. And best it is as Tumhaari Sulu provides another testament of the fact that Vidya Balan is an acting maverick par excellence. She single-handedly embarks on the mission of making the middle-class home makers of India shine under the limelight in the titular role of Sulu. She displays a gamut of expressions and makes a lovable character out of a somewhat bland housewife looking for her identity in the patriarchal society. Her RJ antics are a treat to watch and with a stellar cast of Manav Kohli & Neha Dhupia, this movie leaves your heart warm and you leave the theatre with a smile on your face.
Disclaimer: The images used in this post are the sole property of the makers of the films and are not owned by us in any form whatsoever.