The year 2017 has been a great year, cinematographically speaking, and we’ve come to that moment of the year in which we decide our most liked films of the year. In this case, we are going to name some films that were definitely great; the difference is that these films were somehow difficult to notice and failed to catch attention.
Some of these films were popular at several film festivals and are really appreciated in some circles, but overall, they didn’t get much attention. Feel free to share your personal picks for the films of this year that failed to gain more attention and deserve otherwise.
Here we go with the 10 best overlooked films from 2017.
A father and his 6-year-old daughter are going to hunt on the mountain. When they see a deer, they both look at him; the father points at him, but he does not shoot, and instead changes aim and points to his daughter. This is the opening scene of “Thelma,” an initially spooky and an amazingly well-shot scene that will make you need to know what happens next.
Thelma is not a normal girl. She has some strange powers, and she asks God insistently why he has done her this way. Her parents are not very helpful with the situation; instead they are two mysterious people who are calm with the powers shown by their daughter, who, every time she feels something, causes disasters. When Thelma begins a relationship in college, the emotions of love will wreck havoc.
One critic defined the film as, “an art-house version of ‘X-Men,’ Bergman & Stephen King,” and he is damn right with that statement. Looking at the synopsis, it seems like a very trite story nowadays with all those superhero origin stories and shows, but director Joachim Trier achieves a realistic and restrained approach to the genre without forgetting that the powers of the main character are an important element of the film, while knowing how to endow his film with much more.
9. Super Dark Times
We have arrived at a moment in which teenage stories set in the 80s are tremendously popular and well received. You could say that it is fashionable and that it is an easy resource to reach audiences. “Super Dark Times” is somehow that kind of story, but with a different tone and set in the 90s instead of the 80s.
Josh and Zach are two kids who share their adventures and misadventures since they have use of reason. One day with classmates, they are involved in a fatal accident that will change their lives forever. From that moment, both Josh and Zach will see that maintaining that great friendship through life will be a danger due to that great secret. Together they will live a descent into hell that will lead to an escalation of paranoia and violence.
The film, without being a horror film (although it has elements of that genre), keeps you on the edge of your seat through the runtime. It catches you and does not let go; from the first scene to the last, you’re trapped in that dark, gritty and oppressive atmosphere of “Super Dark Times.”
While the script is nothing special and some twists from the final act are executed in a more awkward than desirable way, “Super Dark Times” has something that hypnotizes you and plunges you into its darkness.
8. Most Beautiful Island
Juliana is a young and committed Spanish immigrant who lives without papers in the great New York block. With a flat from which she owes the rent, and incapacitated to receive medical attention, Juliana suffers without seeing the end of the tunnel, juggling in solitude to balance her time as a nanny for children who revile her, and as a street advertiser for a roast chicken franchise.
Until one day her Russian companion Olga invites her to be part of a succulent business: dressing cute and attractive to be the female object of a party who knows nothing, but in which they pay her a lot of money. She accepts, but will soon discover that this mysterious clandestine business is more murky and disturbing than she could imagine.
“Most Beautiful Island” is a modest, low-budget film made with few resources, but whose intentions and execution lead the film to a triumphant and memorable journey, accompanying the young Juliana on her dark nocturnal journey. You will barely notice the passage of time with this film. It has a 1 hour and 20 minutes run time, but aside from that, it has a really interesting and intriguing story.
Ana Asensio stars, writes and directs this debut film, which may be the start of a really promising career for her.
7. Song to Song
After the release of “The Tree of Life,” there was a change in the career of director Terrence Malick, made much more prolific and marked by experimentation with narrative freedom. This stage is made up of the following films: “To the Wonder,” “Knight of Cups” and “Song to Song,” all of them shot and released in the last six years. This recent trilogy has two characteristic elements: the absence of a script, leaving room for improvisation, and the importance of the visual versus narrative aspect.
Two interrelated love triangles, the couples formed by composers Faye (Rooney Mara) and BV (Ryan Gosling) and music producer Cook (Michael Fassbender) and Rhonda, his waitress girlfriend (Natalie Portman), are all pursuing success while stumbling with the obsession and the betrayal in the world of the music scene of Austin, Texas.
In this new film from Malick, we see the same existential characters with the same internal conflicts, same structure, same voiceovers, same cinematography, and same beauty overall as in the previous two films, but with better results. The only thing that changes is the environment, in which these helpless characters move in an eternal search for their fragmented selves in the middle of an ideal country, where nothing satisfies them.
Malick keeps his narrative somewhat diffuse, not at all linear or conventional, where the chronological order is altered, causing the viewer to feel somewhat confused and amazed by what he sees. He also shows us his bold and impossible camera angles when it comes to capturing the scenes, making use of natural light and unusual framing, always chasing the characters and getting ahead of them to show their poetic meditations, gestures, emotions, reactions, and everything they experience while they are on screen.
Overall, “Song to Song” is a romantic drama that continues along the path initiated by the two previous films by the director, with which, though it shares many elements with them, manages this time to stand out by making what we care for happen on the screen. It is already known that for his next film, Malick will have a script and a marked structure, the first time since 2005 with “The New World.” So let’s see what the future holds for him.
6. Our Time Will Come
The film comes from veteran Chinese director Ann Hui, who tells us a story about the resistance in Hong Kong to the Japanese invasion suffered by the country in the 1940s.
Set in that decade, it tells the story of a legendary woman, “Fang Gu” (Zhou Xun), who was one of the key pieces of the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong. It also represents the struggle for the freedom and independence of young people from resistance groups.
Zhou stars in the film, along with others like Eddie Peng. As always, Zhou gives a brilliant performance, although here it seems that it is a calmer and more measured one if we compare it to her performances in other films, but the performance that takes the palm is the one of Zhou’s character’s mother, played by Deannie Yip. Loyalty, betrayal, adventure and drama surround this film entirely, shot with elegance and pause, and with a bearable pacing that doesn’t become hard to watch.
“Our Time Will Come” has elements of an espionage and adventure film, but it is more a drama about cultural differences and human relationships in society, as it also deals with the subject of maternal relationships, giving the figure of the main character’s mother an important role within the plot.