By Daniel Reif
When the first ‘boo’ roared upon the opening second at the Cannes premiere of Bong Joon Ho’s “Okja”, a demonstrative new marker set upon film industries everywhere. Ho’s latest 50-mil capitalist/vegetarian epic is ready to light up your Netflix account at this very second. Without context, the original feature for the major streamer is marvelous filmmaking and an undeniable slot in my top ten films released thus far in 2017. But despite a scarce theatrical reach, the film is also notable for being the first direct-to-stream flick to highlight the regarded Palme D’or catalog; not to mention the outpour of press which swarmed the international May gala over controversy surrounding the intended online distributive approach behind the “super pig” movie. Eventually, the madness became awash and Netflix reigned in a monster start to cinema’s 2017 on all fronts. The unstoppable critic woos match those from the viewers at a host of major “indie” outlets such as Sundance and ‘South By’. Their original content arm now matches their distribution arm. The astonishing horizon is dominant for the corporation in a many-year campaign to tear through the unbreakable feature film business.
For my pleasure, Netflix made a commanding focal point into- we can be honest- an annual slog of a look-back for bloggers everywhere. With respect and admiration to a roulette of brilliant artistry outside the internet marvel, here’s my top ten movies of the first half of 2017.
Note: All films released on or before June 30th, 2017
10. Colossal and Sleight
This list will prove more evident than ever that 21 century American independent filmmaking has evolved to be an era where commercial genre (horror or otherwise) has found embrace within the traditional settings saved for kitchen-sink drama and urgent socio-political expression. The poignant performed black comedy Colossal and the young urban superhero/magician thriller Sleight are textbook examples.
(Colossal) Written and Directed by Nacho Viglando – Neon / (Sleight) Screenplay by JD Dillard and Alex Thuerer; Directed by JD Dillard – WWE Studios/BH Tilt/High Top Releasing
9. The Lego Batman Movie
Like if a formal roast of Bruce Wayne’s career as Batman was then adapted into a laugh-a-minute Lego flick for the whole family.
Screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern and John Whittington; Directed by Chris McKay – Warner Bros. Pictures
For American theaters, no overseas release has amassed more attention than this sorority-coming-of-age-cannibal horror whose multi-thematic bite (feminism, vegetarianism, bully culture) rewards its title.
Written and Directed by Julia Ducournau (French) – Focus World
Backed by a career outing from James McAvoy, M. Night Shyamalan’s latest claustrophobic psycho-thriller displays his best touch since The Village.
Written and Directed M. Night Shyamalan – Universal Pictures
6. Wonder Woman
Hurt by Hollywood’s origin story overload, Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins nonetheless head DC’s best production of the DCEU so far. To embarrass the riches of a long-underused classic female heroine, the global box office shared the cheer.
Screenplay by Allen Heinberg; Directed by Patty Jenkins – Warner Bros. Pictures
5. Get Me Roger Stone
Netflix dominates this top 5, and none can be surprised one release represents the service’s deft legacy of non-fiction. Roger Stone- an infamous Goldwater conservative campaigner, political party rouser, and architect to Donald Trump’s presidential run- is the subject of a comically dark, revelatory political doc.
Directed by Dylan Bank, Daniel DiMauro and Morgan Pehme – Netflix
One of 2017’s most important films (so far) is certainly unbound by an imaginative corporate satire, but boldly barrels as well with blistering characters (an utterly adorable/undeniably huge CGI pig to name one) and the bountiful cast behind them.
Screenplay by Bong Joon-Ho and Jon Ronson; Directed by Bong Joon-Ho – Netflix
3. Baby Driver
Though writer-director Edgar Wright thought up the concept for this jukebox-ala-iPod car-chase heist flick nearly two decades ago, I gleefully consider Baby Driver the birth child of Hot Fuzz’s ultimate fantasy for an American action feature. Fitting as its Wright’s best work since his 2006 “Cornetto” hit.
Written and Directed by Edgar Wright – Sony/TriStar
2. I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Indie horror star, Macon Blair, was the toast debut filmmaker of Park City this year. So no surprise his touching and idiosyncratic action-dramedy (starring the game Melanie Lynskey and Elijah Wood) was scooped up by the streaming red giant and released to their service a week after the Sundance premiere.
Written and Directed Macon Blair – Netflix
1. Get Out
An absolute masterpiece on the unconsciousness through an urgent, chilling and fatally funny slash at the racial biases of American liberalism. Through pen and lens, Jordan Peele cemented superstardom with his debut horror-comedy.
Written and Directed by Jordan Peele – Universal Pictures
July 16, 2017
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