When I’m not writing, producing, and curating content at widefoc.us, you’ll find me at the movie theater. While Senior Community Manager Stephanie ups her audiobook game for 2018, I prefer to unplug and connect with my roots: my passion for film studies.
This isn’t your mama’s blog post that just tallies Hollywood’s top 89th Academy Awards contenders. This list may contain potential honorees, but also includes movies that may fly under the Academy’s radar. Why? To put it simply, 2017 was a phenomenal year for film. In fact, I loved so many thoughtful movies this year, selecting just five nearly made me break out in hives.
Here are my hive five:
Based on Andre Aciman’s novel of the same title, Call Me By Your Name is a feast for the eyes and heavy on the heart. Set in the 1980s, the film chronicles Elio, a young Jewish man who bonds with his father’s handsome research assistant during a summer spent in Lombardy, Italy. Starring the impressive Timothee Chalamet and formidable Armie Hammer, “Call Me By Your Name” is a poignant and poetic coming-of-age queer film by Luca Guadagnino. The film’s dialogue is engaging, yet disarming, and as revealing as a diary entry, exposing each character’s innermost desires and the fear in that desire. A complex romance punctuated by a sun-drenched Italian countryside; the film leaves the viewer stunned by its beauty and overwhelmed by a certain je ne sais quoi, a feeling similar to falling in love the first time.
I’ve been a longtime fan of Greta Gerwig, particularly her ability to capture the fierce bond between women and the feminine search for identity. Ladybird is not only her finest film to date, but an introspective narrative that explores the complicated relationship a woman can have with her mother. In the movie, protagonist Ladybird dreams of abandoning stifling Sacramento for college in New York, but must suffer through her senior year of Catholic high school first. Hardheaded, brash, and selfish, Ladybird may seem like your typical teenager, but Saoirse Ronan’s heartfelt portrayal elevates the character as a young woman desperate for independence yet acceptance at the same time.
This one is likely to win big come Oscar season, but may lose out to well-funded blockbusters like The Post.
A short aside: If you aren’t following Kumail Nanjiani on Twitter, (Pluto is!) stop what you’re doing, admit you’ve made a mistake, and follow him immediately. Now that you’ve improved your Twitter feed, no need to thank me, let’s talk The Big Sick. Nanjiani’s big screen debut is a thoughtful examination of modern dating, biracial relationships, and the familial diaspora. Based on Kumail’s real-life romance, the protagonist of the same name is a blossoming comedian who meets charming grad student Emily. As their relationship intensifies, the two struggle to see a future together.
What really makes The Big Sick startling is that Nanjiani has repurposed the rom-com genre formula to explore a modern Muslim’s struggle with his first-generation parents and identity in contemporary America. The result is a heartbreakingly authentic film with romance as a catalyst to personal development.
I’m a sucker for the midwest and films that appreciate its stark beauty. Columbus is mediation on living, dying, and the purgatory between the two. Protagonist Jin (John Cho) is forced to visit his estranged ill father in Columbus, Indiana. There he meets Casey (Haley Lu Richardson), a dedicated daughter and architecture enthusiast, who stays in Columbus, rather than pursue her dreams of college, to care for her mother who is a recovering drug addict. The two bond while traversing around the university hospital and campus.
An extraordinarily quiet film, with an emphasis on ambient sound, Columbus captures the beauty of Columbus, Indiana, highlighting its architectural accomplishments. Director Kogonada complexifies every architectural space, no matter how sparse, with engaging cinematography and natural light. Each setting the characters inhabit appears as idle and empty as the characters feel.
I’ll admit it: I’m a horror junkie, capable of consuming even the worst of what the genre has to offer. I will watch literally any horror movie, no matter how trashy.
That being said, Get Out is one of the scariest films ever made: not only due to its technical prowess, but also its disturbing subject matter. Horror has always been used as a genre to inform society of its innermost struggles: racial inequality, homophobia, poverty, mental health issues. Considering context, some films even reflect global fear of nuclear threat. Yet horror movies often punish “offenders” of conservative society.
Director Jordon Peele subverts genre technique, and instead of punishing the film’s subjects, it radically empowers them. The revealed horrors are gut wrenching, but brutally honest about racial fear in America.
KT Heins is a Community Manager at Widefoc.us who specializes in technical writing. When she isn’t at the office, she is most likely hanging out with her Chiweenies, “working” on a novel, or participating in bar trivia alone. Follow her on Instagram @ktotheheins for mountain views, cold brews, and fancy food.