It’s a beautiful dilemma that every year it seems to get harder to whittle the best films of the past 12 months to a meagre top 10. It’s insane that something as sublime as Call Me By Your Name didn’t make my final cut, but it just missed out, as did the extraordinary doco The Work.
As usual the Melbourne Film Festival delivered many of my favourite films of the year. What a rich showcase of cinema it is, not only presenting the aforementioned two titles, but another three in the list below.
Just as reliable is the tricky issue of timing. Technically both Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri and The Shape of Water have already had public screenings in Oz, but since they’re being released in 2018, I haven’t considered them for this list.
Other honourable mentions include The Disaster Artist, The Death of Stalin, Battle of the Sexes, 78/52, At the End of the Tunnel, Baby Driver, The Beguiled, Ciudades y Contraluz and The Stopover.
Here’s my top 10:
- City of Ghosts
For me the best doco of the year. This look at the heroic efforts of a small group of Syrian citizens to expose the work of ISIS to the world was so powerful I couldn’t enjoy my next visit to the cinema because I was so worked up about it.
- The Nile Hilton Incident
A perfectly structured noir thriller infused with cultural and political relevance and a commanding performance by Fares Fares
- Get Out
Proof that a film can be both social commentary and hugely entertaining. Funny, frightening and shrewdly hitting a nerve with the general public.
- May God Forgive Us
It’s a shame films not in English rarely get seen outside of festivals. This cracker of a crime drama, set in the middle of a searing Madrid summer, is as tight as a drum from start to finish.
- The Innocents
This French drama set in Poland is loaded with so much drama but directed with such assured rigour that the effect is spellbinding.
Kathryn Bigelow’s powderkeg of a film about a shameful event in America’s recent history has been sadly neglected. Like Get Out, it hits a nerve, but clearly this one hits in a place that’s too much for people to handle.
Swoon inducing, melancholic, (mostly) black and white drama brims with suppressed passion. Hauntingly beautiful. A career best for Francois Ozon.
- Manchester By The Sea
Kenneth Lonergan delivers another masterclass in screenwriting and directing extraordinary performance. Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams and Lucas Hedges make for an unforgettable acting troika.
- God’s Own Country
In a year of groundbreaking queer cinema, this is right up there. Learning to love has never been portrayed on screen with more power, intensity and emotional honesty. Hard to believe this is Francis Lee’s directorial debut.
From it’s stunning visuals, to the evocative sound design (and Nicholas Britell’s moving score) to it’s sheer visceral impact, this is a one-of-a-kind film that leaves an indelible impression. The pinnacle of an incredibly strong year in cinema.