Great films come out every year, but truly unique films are hard to find. Luckily, 2017 was full of films with distinct voices. Here are five films from last year that I thought were truly special.
- A Ghost Story (Directed by David Lowery)
A Ghost Story is the kind of film that sticks with you for the rest of your life. This film is a testament to what a talented filmmaker can do with a small budget and a great idea.
The film’s premise is simple; Casey Affleck and Rooney Mara are a couple and one day Affleck dies unexpectedly. Affleck becomes a ghost and “haunts” their house. It is a very cliched premise, but David Lowery does something amazing (and unexpected with it) with it.
The look of the film is one of the most unique aspects. They shot with Panavision Super and Ultra Speeds for a shallower depth of field and more a natural look.
The aspect ratio is also a unique contributor to the film’s look. The film is 4:3 instead of 16:9 because, as Lowery explained, “I liked the concept of trapping this character in a box, in a very formal fashion. I’ve always been a fan of that aspect ratio. It’s 1.33:1, the classic Academy ratio.”
2. The Killing of a Sacred Deer (Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos)
Yorgos Lanthimos has quickly become one of my favorite contemporary filmmakers with films like Alps, Dogtooth, and The Lobster. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is my favorite work by Lanthimos so far and makes me excited to see what he has next for us.
The story is based around Steven (Colin Farrell), a cardiologist , who takes Martin (Barry Keoghan), under his wing after his father dies. Things turn dark when Steven’s family suddenly starts becoming ill.
It is hard to articulate exactly what makes the film unique. Everything from the choice of camera placement to the timing of words spoken in any given scene is different from many films that came out in 2017. It exudes style. Lanthimos has developed a very clear and effective voice that is unique in the world of film.
The film is tense, funny, and horrifying at times, but it never strays from its eerie tone. Barry Keoghan has an amazing performance, shifting from vulnerable youth to intimidating certainty. It possess the odd delivery of dialogue that is present in Lanthimos’ films, which may annoy some viewers, but I believe it sets the tone very well.
3. The Florida Project (Directed by Sean Baker)
The Florida Project is more understated than the other films on this lost, but it is just as special.
The story follows and group of children who live at a motel in Orlando, FL. There is love, laughs, tragedy, and an ending that annoyed everyone.
As an indie guy myself, Sean Baker is an inspiration. The Florida Project is one of the best and most talked about films of 2017 and it was shot on an iPhone with a cast of mostly unknown actors.
Baker’s voice is unique because of his style and subject matter. A good summation of his films can be summed up in this quote:”When I see a billboard that literally just has five names and they’re all A-listers, I’m just like, What is that bringing to the world that’s new?”
The best word I can use to describe the film simply be raw. It is 115 minutes of raw emotion from such simple images such as children playing in a parking lot.
4. Good Time (Directed by Josh and Benny Sadfie)
Good Time is a film that not talked about enough. The Sadfie brothers are another unique voice in film and this gem should not be overlooked.
Following the trend of simple stories, Good Time is about two brothers (Robert Pattinson and Benny Sadfie) who try to rob and bank and fail. One goes to jail while the other tries to free him.
The film is super fast paced and flies by super quickly. The viewer is quickly invested in the story by the amazing performances and cinematography. Despite the simplicity of the story, you never see what comes next because you simply don’t have time to!
Good Time excels at making you feel as though you were in the situation. You feel just as tense as Robert Pattinson and understand him completely. The relationship between to the two brothers is bittersweet and carries the film well.
5. Ingrid Goes West (Directed by Matt Spicer)
With its eerily realistic premise, Ingrid Goes West is one the better dark comedies made in the last decade.
The story follows Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza), as she moves to Los Angeles to stalk an Instagram user (Elizabeth Olsen) whom she idolizes.
Aubrey Plaza is my favorite part of the film. She really surprised me with her performance. Instead of the deadpan character she normally portrays, she actually pulled off a deeper character who was sympathetic and vulnerable while still being dark and quirky.
I admire that Ingrid Goes West is a fully fleshed out film instead of the gimmicky teen comedy I feared it would be. I like how it doesn’t judge its characters for their quirks and just tells the story. It could have easily turned into schlock, but I appreciate the more nuanced version that we got.
What did you think of my list? Are there any films that you thought were especially unique from last year?
Let me know in the comments!