The best films of 2017, part #1

Excellent queer films get released every year, but 2017 was exceptional for seeing several of those excellent films garnering widespread praise and a semblance of an American release. This year I noticed my picks align with consensus more than usual. Let me do my best to screw it up.

20. The Killing of the Sacred Deer, dir. Yorgos Lanthimos.

From my review: Even more than The Lobster, The Killing of a Sacred Deer represents a triumph of tone. In Yorgos Lanthimos’ world, humans don’t joke. Actors recite the flat dialogue without affect: imagine a Robert Bresson film restaged by vice presidents on a corporate retreat.

19. Staying Vertical, dir. Alain Guiraudie.

From my review: Droll and repellent, Staying Vertical uses demystification strategies that the squeamish will dismiss as shock tactics. Extreme close-ups of scrotums and vulvas and crowning babies – sex and birth don’t awe Guiraudie…No one makes films like Alain Guiraudie, and no one knows how.

18. The Other Side of Hope, dir. Aki Kaurismäki.

For thirty years, Aki Kaurismäki has made films about men and women out of step with their cities and each other. The Other Side of Hope plays like a sequel to 2011’s Le Havre: how do citizens of the old Europe deal with emigrants to the new one? Remarkably, Kaurismäki abjures modish pessimism. The Other Side of Hope‘s last fifteen minutes had my jaw trembling, which says something.

17. Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo, dir. Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau.

Finally: a gay variant on Richard Linklater’s Before series. Opening with a twenty-minute sex scene at a club, Paris 05:59: Théo & Hugo then follows its title characters into fresh air, moonlight, and a series of possibilities trembling between them. It’s Pet Shop Boys’ “Two Divided by Zero” as a feature length film.

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