Kev's Top 10 Hidden Gems of 2017
Every year hordes of moviegoers head to the cinema to catch the big blockbusters be it Star Wars, Marvel, DC, or whatever else has the attention of the masses. Every year there are tons of great films that don't get wide releases, commercial attention, or mass appeal. Those are the films I'm going to be talking about in this list. This is my top 10 list of great films you probably missed in 2017. Of course I'm going to kick off this list with some honorable mentions before jumping into the top 10.
Personal Shopper - A young American in Paris works as a personal shopper for a celebrity. She seems to have the ability to communicate with spirits, like her recently deceased twin brother. Soon, she starts to receive ambiguous messages from an unknown source.
Columbus - When a renowned architecture scholar falls suddenly ill during a speaking tour, his son Jin finds himself stranded in Columbus, Ind., a small Midwestern city celebrated for its many significant modernist buildings. Jin strikes up a friendship with Casey, a young architecture enthusiast who works at the local library. As their intimacy develops, Jin and Casey explore both the town and their own conflicted emotions.
Maudie - Canadian folk artist Maud Lewis (Sally Hawkins) falls in love with a fishmonger (Ethan Hawke) while working for him as a live-in housekeeper.
The Light of the Moon - Bonnie is a young New York architect whose life changes forever when a stranger rapes her in an alley. She receives loving and unwavering support from her boyfriend while trying to cope with the devastating effects of the attack.
Tragedy Girls - Teenage crime reporters Sadie and McKayla are hot on the trail of a crazed serial killer. After capturing the maniac and holding him hostage, they soon realize that the best way to boost their social media stardom is to commit the murders themselves.
NOW LET'S JUMP INTO THE TOP 10!
Gloria is an out-of-work party girl who leaves New York and moves back to her hometown after getting kicked out of her apartment by her boyfriend. When news reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, South Korea, Gloria gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this far-off phenomenon. As events begin to spiral out of control, she must figure out why her seemingly insignificant existence is having such a colossal effect on the fate of the world.
Do you ever catch a movie on VOD or Blu-ray and immediately wish you could've seen it on the big screen? That was the case for me with Colossal. The performances are great, the concept is so cool, and the movie is just a blast! Once you figure out what's going on, Colossal takes the audience on a wild journey.
9. Brigsby Bear
The show "Brigsby Bear Adventures" is a children's television program produced for an audience of one: James Pope. When the series abruptly ends, Pope's life changes forever as he sets out to finish the storyline himself. To do that, he must learn how to cope with the realities of a new world that he knows nothing about.
Brigsby Bear is possibly, at the same time, one of the most heartfelt, imaginative, and strangest films of 2017. I live to see Mark Hamill act in films that aren't Star Wars and he does an incredible job here alongside current SNL cast member, Kyle Mooney. This is a feel-good movie and a love letter to filmmaking that almost everyone should enjoy, but do prepare for it to get a bit bizarre.
8. Better Watch Out
Ashley travels to the suburban home of the Lerners to baby-sit their 12-year-old son Luke at Christmas time. She must soon defend herself and the young boy when unwelcome intruders announce their arrival.
Are you a sucker for Christmas-themed horror films like I am? Then Better Watch Out is the perfect film for you. It's funny, bloody, violent, fast-paced, and full of unexpected twists and turns - one in particular that has divided viewers' opinions so far. As for me, this is going to be an annual Christmas watch for the rest of my life.
7. Emo: The Musical
An angsty teenager named Ethan finds love with a cheery and optimistic Christian girl named Trinity. This bugs his fellow angst-filled bandmates and her evangelistic brethren.
I can't even begin to explain to you how far down the Amazon Video rabbit hole I had to go to find Emo: The Musical. This is an Australian punk-rock musical about high schoolers that never saw a release in the USA until it hit Amazon Video. Think of it as a High School Musical for fans of My Chemical Romance.
6. The Beguiled
Cpl. John McBurney is an injured Union soldier who finds himself on the run as a deserter during the Civil War. He seeks refuge at an all-female Southern boarding school where the teachers and students seem more than willing to help. Soon, sexual tensions lead to dangerous rivalries as the women tend to his wounded leg while offering him comfort and companionship.
Arguably the most beautifully shot film I saw in 2017, The Beguiled is a remake that far surpasses the original in every regard. This ensemble cast of Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, and more is absolutely stellar. Kidman turns in a performance that is, in my opinion, award-worthy and one of the best I've ever seen from her.
5. Brawl in Cell Block 99
A former boxer loses his job as an auto mechanic, and his troubled marriage is about to expire. At this crossroads in his life, he feels that he has no better option than to work as a drug courier. He soon finds himself in a gunfight between police officers and his own ruthless allies. When the smoke clears, Bradley is badly hurt and thrown in prison, where his enemies force him to commit acts of violence that turn the place into a savage battleground.
Brawl in Cell Block 99, a film I caught at Fantastic Fest back in September, is the most brutally violent movie I saw in 2017 and is not meant for anyone squeamish. These kinds of movies are what Vince Vaughn should be doing considering he's at his career-best in this film. Goodbye goofy comedies, hello extremely violent grindhouse crime films. It's about time someone put his stature to good use.
4. The Breadwinner
Parvana is an 11-year-old girl who lives under Taliban rule in Afghanistan in 2001. After the wrongful arrest of her father, Parvana cuts off her hair and dresses like a boy to support her family. Working alongside a friend, she soon discovers a new world of freedom and danger. Drawing strength from the fantastical stories she invents, Parvana embarks on an epic quest to find her father and reunite her family.
The Breadwinner, a.k.a. the film that has proven to be Coco's biggest competition this awards season, is a gorgeously animated film with a real and powerful story that has earned every bit of recognition it has received. It just makes me so happy that the two frontrunners for Best Animated Feature are both strong, minority-centric films that are vastly important in today's society. Parents, show this film to your pre-teens and teenagers as a good lesson in multicultural education.
3. A Ghost Story
A passionate young couple, unexpectedly separated by a shocking loss, discover an eternal connection and a love that is infinite.
I've never seen a more ethereal and blissfully peaceful movie in a theater than A Ghost Story. I know the title makes it seem like a horror film; it took a lot of convincing for my mother to understand this isn't a horror film before she agreed to go see it with me. It does poke fun at some horror elements, but in such a beautiful way that's beyond my words. At it's heart, A Ghost Story is one of the truest love and loss of life stories I've ever seen.
Ben and Rose are children from two different eras who secretly wish that their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he's never known, while Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue and Rose reads an enticing headline, they both set out on epic quests to find what they're missing.
The two names attached to this film that drew me in immediately were Todd Haynes, the director of Carol, and Oakes Fegley, the breakout child star from 2016's Pete's Dragon. This mesmerizing love letter to filmmaking introduced me to another breakout child star, deaf actress Millicent Simmonds. She's the biggest reason why I'm excited for 2018's "silent" horror film, A Quiet Place. Wonderstruck did just that - it struck me full of wonder.
1. The Florida Project
Set over one summer, the film follows precocious six-year-old Moonee as she courts mischief and adventure with her ragtag playmates and bonds with her rebellious but caring mother, all while living in the shadows of Disney World.
If you know me, then it should be no surprise to you that The Florida Project is at the top of this list. It's a Best Picture contender that no one is talking about because it never got a wide release. Hopefully it'll get the Best Picture nomination it deserves so it can expand nationwide and worldwide. As a former and future resident of Orlando, no movie in 2017 hit me harder in the feels than this movie did; my friends Dillon and Whitney can vouch for that. The Florida Project is just the perfect representation of the struggles and hardships many people endure in the city that holds my heart.