The MacGuffin’s Top 10 Films of 2017

4. Dunkirk

“All of this comes together in laser sharp clarity in Dunkirk (2017), which may very well be Nolan’s finest achievement to date. Retelling the events that took place in May and June 1940 – where Allied forces were surrounded by German troops at the small harbor town of Dunkirk, France – Nolan has come into the full realization of his cinematic powers. This is the leanest and most focused we have seen him. There is not a wasted moment – from the opening scenes to the end credits, Nolan has fashioned a World War II film that looks like an epic, but is so tight that it feels damn near intimate. By the time it’s over we’re exhausted, as though Nolan has wound us up and didn’t let go the entire way through.” Review by Allen Almachar

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5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

“The heart of Three Billboards is Mildred, and likewise, the star is Frances McDormand. She takes her heartbroken soul, her guiltiness, and transforms it into a weapon with the billboards being the catalyst. Frances McDormand does not play Mildred as your typical grieving mother. There is nothing typical about Mildred except the love for her children. She has the guffaw to go up against the police and not care what anyone thinks. There are repercussions for such actions, especially in a small town, but the will of this mother is strong. There are cracks in this woman that surface when things go south, or her actions have touched those she did not mean to hurt. They reveal the underlying vulnerability, something that Mildred would never willingly show to others. This is a powerful performance by Frances McDormand, one that has no equals thus far this year. It is not a typical role, and the resulting portrayal by McDormand is nothing short of brilliant as she takes the pages of the script and transforms them into something extraordinary.” Review by Sarah Ksiazek

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6. The Big Sick

“This movie is a little hard to write about, because my review is basically ‘This is a lot of fun, you should go see it.’ There’s some other stuff I could say, but that about sums it up. All the performances are good (I like watching Holly Hunter yell at people) and there were times when I laughed so hard I was a little embarrassed. It’s also nice to see Muslims just being regular people on the screen, and since I am the product of miscegenation, I tend to enjoy it when I see it. I laughed; I cried; I had a great time.” Review by Adelaide Blair

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7. The Shape of Water

“The best way to describe this movie is if Guillermo del Toro and Wes Anderson had a baby, this is what it would look like. The set design is dark at times, but also kind of purposely artificial. Giles even acts as a narrator from time to time, a frequent Wes Anderson device. And del Toro seems to be borrowing the gentle heart that is often at the core of Anderson’s movies too. This movie does have death and dismemberment in it. But it also has a lot of heart due in large part to Hawkins’ performance which is destined to be remembered come awards time. In the entire runtime of the film she says almost nothing but is captivating to watch. In fact, this year it is good to see a couple of strong examples of some of the best kind of reactive acting. Get Out earlier this year featured a terrific central performance by Daniel Kaluuya that was largely quite reacting to those around him. And Hawkins here is similar in that she is emoting through reaction. It’s often said that acting is about listening and both of these performers have done a stellar job of it.” Review by Edward Davidson

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Sarah resides in Dallas where she writes about films and trailers in her spare time when she is not taking care of her animals at the zoo.

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