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Sunday, April 21, 2024

Films of 2017


Aggie writer takes his pick of 2017’s top 3 films

2017 produced a diverse list of first-rate films, evident in both the ironic yet hellish world of “Get Out” and the explosive seas and beaches of “Dunkirk.” Finding it hard to choose a definitive best movie of 2017, I’ve split my recommendation into three categories: Best Performance, Best Script and Best Design.


Best Performance: Gary Oldman, “Darkest Hour”

Gary Oldman adds to the near surplus of WWII films with a stunning performance as Britain’s Winston Churchill. Oldman displays a side to Churchill that is rarely touched upon: his doubt. Churchill is typically seen as a decisive prime minister during a time of incredible need, yet Churchill’s famous “we shall fight on the beaches,” among his other exceptional speeches, wasn’t something that came easy. Oldman does not leave such a pursuit unsung, but instead paints Churchill’s approach to Dunkirk as countless meticulous decisions, each one displayed through precise and careful actions. Oldman masterfully exhibits Churchill’s struggle to serve the British people under the gun of an encroaching Germany.


Best Script: “Lady Bird”

“Lady Bird” displays the awkward transition between high school and college in an effective way through the focus on Lady Bird and her mother. “Lady Bird” is a successful coming-of-age story, dodging the typical reliance on youthful relationships. “Lady Bird” fits much of the mold for a typical coming-of-age story (think “Superbad” and “Dazed and Confused”), yet stands alone in which relationship to follow. In “Superbad,” the story follows a small group of tight-knit friends; it focuses on their relationship. By contrast, “Lady Bird” examines the nuclear family — specifically, the mother-daughter relationship and how it changes with a daughter leaving the nest, showing the clashing dynamic between a rising child and a ruling matriarch. This honest depiction of surpassing family life and budding into adulthood awards “Lady Bird” with the best script of the year.


Best Design: “Bladerunner 2049”

A futuristic Earth containing the dying throes of a failing civilization isn’t an uncommon premise, yet the execution of “Bladerunner 2049” is original. The slightly dystopian world is crafted through the normalization of current oddities — for example, their food. According to the movie, the world, in order to provide nutrients for everyone, resorted to the consumption of worms. When these worms are consumed, they are alive and squirming: an uncomfortable sight, yet any character who eats them is unfazed. Subtle design choices, like the worms, create a genuine apocalyptic world. If Ryan Gosling sits down to salad and steak, nothing is strange. But once he sits down to a plate of worms, the world has truly moved on. This strategy of altering something as primary as food distinguishes the film’s setting, showing how something as familiar as home life is changed. The off-kilter world created in this film can be accredited to nothing but the stellar design, the focus on tweaking norms and what we are comfortable with today.


Written by: Nicolas Rago — arts@theaggie.org



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