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Episode 136 - The Best of 2017


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Poll: Episode 136 - The Best of 2017 (73 member(s) have cast votes)

Which film, as the Best of 2017, should enter The Canon?

  1. The Florida Project (14 votes [19.18%])

    Percentage of vote: 19.18%

  2. Get Out (24 votes [32.88%])

    Percentage of vote: 32.88%

  3. Lady Bird (14 votes [19.18%])

    Percentage of vote: 19.18%

  4. mother! (15 votes [20.55%])

    Percentage of vote: 20.55%

  5. Star Wars: The Last Jedi (6 votes [8.22%])

    Percentage of vote: 8.22%

Vote Guests cannot vote

#1 Dalton Maltz

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Posted 07 January 2018 - 11:25 PM

Amy is joined by Engineer Sam to take listener calls as they discuss which film will enter The Canon as the Best of 2017! Will “The Florida Project” find its place? Does “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” have a hope? Will “Lady Bird” make the cut? Can “Get Out” get in? Or will “mother!” take the cake?

#2 robert-cop

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 08:59 AM

Based on the episode, I doubt there’s much chance of Last Jedi getting in, but, if it comes to it, I will change my vote (from Lady Bird) to whatever keeps Last Jedi out. Not to say that I disliked the movie, in fact I agree with almost everything positive said about it, but it is by far the least exciting film in a list of very exciting films and I cannot live with a canon that has Last Jedi but doesn’t have Empire.

As for my vote, I won’t be able to defend Lady Bird better than it already was on the podcast. Suffice it to say, it’s worth all those shitty mumblecore movies getting made if it somehow led to Lady Bird.

#3 mveew

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 10:12 AM

I've unfortunately yet to see The Florida Project and will be unable to do so before next week, so I am casting my vote for Lady Bird with that reservation. When I've just seen a film and I'm trying to decide how I feel about it, I always ask myself, did anything seem out of sync with the rest of the movie and did it seem unnecessarily long? Lady Bird, to me, was perfect in every way. Nothing seemed out of place, I wasn't checking my watch near the end, and Greta Gerwig's examination of a mother-daughter relationship in early 2000s California somehow struck a deep emotional chord in me despite having come of age a decade before the title character and growing up a husky midwestern boy. I expect Lady Bird to stick with me for a long while.

#4 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 10:28 AM

This was a great episode and I regret not calling in!

It was also unexpectedly great to hear Devin's voice. His comments were insightful (as usual), and he seems, I dunno . . . happier? More pleasant? I hope his personal-improvement work is going well.

Anyway, coming in to this episode I expected to vote for Get Out because it felt like the best and most representative movie for the present moment, regardless of whether or not it's my personal favorite (though I do like it a lot). But the podcast arguments were very cogent and convinced me that ALL of these movies speak in some important way to the present cultural moment, so I'm not sure I need to elevate one over the others just based on that.

So instead, I'll go with my heart: I vote for Lady Bird. All of these movies have things going for them. Get Out is smart and super-entertaining. The Last Jedi is the most interesting big-budget blockbuster I've seen in years and has sparked the most passionate debates in my circles. The Florida Project is beautiful and an amazing accomplishment for its budget. And while I am personally "mixed" about my feelings on mother!, I also want to encourage Aronofsky to keep doing his thing and cannot deny that the movie has provoked a lot of reactions in a lot of different ways, and that is also a worthy accomplishment.

But ultimately it comes down to this on Lady Bird: I'm a man in his late 30s, and this damn movie made me cry about a teenage girl's relationship with her mother. I cry at very few movies, but this one got me. It gets my vote.

#5 Lawbster31

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 11:29 AM

Wow, that very Yoda-like cameo from Devin was super unexpected and nice to hear. I really like these 5 movies and I think they're a good representation of this otherwise terrible year overall. I hadn't even noticed that consistent writer-director theme before they mentioned it in the episode. Of the choices, mother! is my least favorite and I'm definitely surprised by how well it's doing in the votes so far but I didn't dislike it, I just thought the allegory was (far) too heavy handed for my taste. I do love how universal that allegory can be though, even if Bible, climate, art are the obvious front runners. Anyway, I'll be happy with anything winning this (hoping for The Florida Project), but I hope we can get some retroactive 2016 movies in at some point because it's a shame that we missed out on that Best Of episode (and Welcome To The Dollhouse, and the grand elimination spectacular episode for that matter).

#6 ijustliketowatch

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 12:52 PM

Really love this whole crop of films. Florida Project is a devastating look at poverty that serves as an indictment of Republican politics. Get Out perfectly encapsulates America's views of race, specifically blackness, in this post-2016 GE world. Lady Bird is a look at a relationship and time period that is so specific, but somehow manages to feel universal. I'll get to Last Jedi later. However, my vote is and always has been mother! So surprised and glad to hear so many of the callers felt the same way.

When I would recommend the film to people earlier in the year, I always said the best way to watch it was to not read any of the interpretations about it beforehand--particularly Aronofsky's. For me, the film felt like an exciting if anxiety-inducing expression of the pressures of womanhood (the way Lawrence's character constantly subordinates her own desires in order to seem accommodating, her husband's constant dismissal of the things that matter to her so he can following his every whim, the world-weary rage and bitterness of Pfeiffer's character) that doubled as an indictment of human selfishness. I've always liked Lawrence, but it's a helluva feat to embody a nameless, metaphorical conduit to all that chaos and still feel largely sympathetic.

It was incredible to see a studio picture--especially after MeToo--essentially release a big budget star vehicle about the toxicity of male genius. I have to commend Aronofsky for essentially making a movie that's a thinly-veiled metaphor for his marriage to Weisz in which he basically admits he's insufferable. I still think he'd be nightmare to be around, but I appreciate the self-awareness. Perhaps if the MeToo hadn't happened, I'd feel more inclined to think of Get Out or Florida Project as the most representative film of this particular moment in history, but it is downright energizing to see a film so unflinchingly critical of patriarchy from an industry that has been driven by it for so long.

Moreover, mother! is without a doubt one of the most technically impressive films I've ever seen. There's much to say about the long takes and the brilliant camera movement (it's insane Libatique isn't really in the Oscar conversation), but what stood out to me on first viewing was the sound work. Rather than a traditional score, Johannsson creates a strange, elemental soundscape made of bumps and groans and all manner of human wailing that's just as responsible for the rising anxiety on the screen as all the chaos. It was like nothing I'd ever heard and helped make the movie unlike anything I've ever seen. (Yes, I'm including Repulsion, which works with many of the same themes, but which I've never found quite as compelling or coherent as this.)

That was honestly what made the backlash the film got so strange to me. It feels like people are constantly complaining about how Hollywood doesn't make original films anymore and yet when we were confronted with something that actually tried to do something different, people hated it. I think history's going to remember this film well, but I think people now are too focused on their kneejerk negative reaction to being challenged by a medium that so rarely bothers to break from formula.

I think the same applies to Last Jedi. It is baffling to me that anyone can look at a film that breathes new life into a stodgy mega-budget franchise and go, "meh." That film sets fire to everything that defined Star Wars--particularly its condescending, male-dominated fandom--and says, "No, the future is about women and people of color coming together to insist on their own importance in writing history. Everyone gets a seat at the table, not just the hardcore devotees. And also fuck Space Nazis." It is an indictment of patriarchy and toxic masculinity nestled in Hollywood's biggest franchise and it's bonkers that anyone is dismissing it just because the pacing is uneven or the CGI is bad in the Leia force scene or because turning Luke into a disillusioned old man makes people challenge their ideas of heroism. If the vote weren't going to be so close, I'd honestly be voting for that instead.

One last thing even though this post is already really long, it was very nice to hear Devin again. His combativeness and condescension toward Amy was, frankly, the reason I quit the show for a time, but he seems to have grown quite a bit in his forced exile. He sounds happier and regardless of his past mistakes, it was nice to hear that he's done a lot of self-reflection and his insights into the films seemed more profound than ever.

#7 MegadethOfSuperman

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 02:16 PM

This vote was so difficult and almost heartbreaking. Get Out is one of the rare movies that is as entertaining as it is is insightful. It operates at such a high level of thriller/horror fun while also being the most important cultural touchstone of the year. I think people will look back years from now and see it as emblematic of the current sociopolitical climate and of the Blumhouse takeover of modern horror. While mother! is also metaphorical and is very effective, I think it speaks to a much more universal experience of just general outrage (almost feeling entitled in certain aspects), as opposed to the way Get Out is such an important viewpoint from a black man. I know so many people that identified with the horror of mother!, but were exposed to something new with Get Out. I will be watching this movie for years to come and while I loved the other options - I can't say that they make me as excited to both re-watch and talk about in equal measure. Florida Project is such a close second and I think it's a film that is so special and alive, but not as culturally significant.

#8 SilverShade

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 03:46 PM

Well my favourite movie of the year was Dunkirk and my second favourite was mother! so that is where my vote is going.

Even if you get the biblical allegory, there is so much going on in this movie thematically that everyone will get something different from it. It's about how behind every artist who suffers for their work there is a woman suffering even more. It's about living with social anxiety, feeling like everything is off while everyone around you seems to go about their business as usual.
And it's one thing to have a lot to say but another thing entirely to say it, and boy does Darrenofsky say it. This is what I think of when I think of auteur filmmaking, where everything in the frame is carefully composed to support the themes of the work itself. From the lighting, to the framing, to the editing and music, every part of the film is placed for a purpose. Even the punctuation and capitalization of the title, which I did not get until I read how the characters were billed in the credits.
Most importantly, it's entertaining and it's a movie I want to return to again and look forward to do so. I don't know if this is his best film but it's clear that Darrenofsky put so much of himself and his influences into the movie. From the Bible, to Rosemary's Baby to Evangelion, and I think there's even an Evil Dead reference or two. It all comes together in the last 20 or so minutes which left my jaw on the floor when I saw them play out.

So while Get Out will be remembered as the defining movie of the year, mother! is my personal favourite.

#9 Film Explorer

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 04:52 PM

The Florida Project- This is by far my least favorite out of all the films on here. It’s not a bad movie by no means but has tons of problems to it’s repetitive story telling, frankly bad editing at times, and that damn ending.
Lady Bird- Even though I didn’t go crazy for this film, I do understand why people love it. Almost all the performances are great and the script by Greta Gerwig was very good. My one major problem is I felt the pacing was off.
Get Out- Now this is a film that just grows on me. I’ve seen it twice now and it gets better and better. Even if you don’t pick up on the films metaphors, it’s still just a great thriller. If Get Out wins I’ll be fine.
The Last Jedi- I was shocked by how much I loved The Last Jedi. This is a blockbuster that deconstructs the Star Wars fandom while giving us the Star Wars moments we all want.
mother!- This is my vote for the poll. I went into this film completely blind and I never would have guessed where the film goes. At one point I felt like Aronofsky could do anything and he does. You couldn’t tell this story in any other format besides cinema. The experience would never cross over onto the stage or page. mother! is an explosion of anger and ideas and God bless Paramount for letting Aronofsky make his crazy vision come to life.

#10 Threshold

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 05:50 PM

I was a bit disappointed by Get Out, but I need to vote tactically to prevent Mother! from getting in.
Get Out it is then.

#11 Buffyfan1992

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 05:51 PM

I'm feeling pretty split between Get Out and The Flordia Project because I think their both brilliant. Though I have to go to Get Out because it echoes the constant tension that the whole country has felt throughout 2017 (I have to give credit to my Mom for this idea). Along with the fact it's a brilliant first film that makes me laugh, think, cringe, and cry. I could see both films multiple times and get different things out of them every time, so I still feel very conflicted.

#12 HoldenMartinson

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Posted 08 January 2018 - 11:46 PM

STILL THE FLORIDA PROJECT.

#13 Nathan Roberson

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 10:57 AM

This is a tough slate to choose from, but I'm going with The Florida Project.

The Florida Project is very personal to me. I spent the first 25 years of my life living somewhere in the Orlando area. This film captures one of its ugliest and soulless areas with such grace and vitality. The International Drive/US-192 area was always a place you avoided. Nothing but tourist traps, budget motels, and bootleg Disney merchandise stores. A cancer growing out of the Magic Kingdom. Sure, sometimes there was nothing better to do as a teenager with a car than wade through the endless traffic to go play mini-golf with your friends. You could gawk at fanny-packed Midwesterners or beet red Britons in need of sunscreen.

After 2008, the vista changed. You saw people who weren't on vacation in this area built solely for vacationing. The person handing you your putter at Pirates Cove wasn't a high schooler looking to make some extra scratch, but someone in their mid-20s, maybe their 30s. Outside the walled confines of gaudy entertainment along these roads were people visibly struggling to survive.

Orlando is a place that requires a car for survival. The area surrounding the theme parks, the location of The Florida Project, is one of the few places in the city that could accommodate life without an automobile. Not that such a life is easy, as we see in the film. One thing Baker missed in his depiction is the insufferable heat. Seeing mom and daughter have to hoof it around felt extra painful to me, knowing that this is a world that exists only due to the advent of the air conditioner. You move from your car's A/C to your job's to your home's in the summer. He tried to convey this with the melting ice cream, but we could have used his characters drenched in sweat. That's the reality.

Clearly from what I have mentioned above, I did not grow up living out of a kitschy Disney-adjacent motel. Yet, I did have to see my sister and her daughter living out of a place like the Magic Castle for a stretch. (No purple paint, but the lobby did have all those brochures.) This film dug into that wound, reminding me of the hardship and futility I left behind in the Sunshine State. Sean Baker reminded me of a terrible phenomenon I was doing my best to forget. This is a film about class, at a time when we need to be talking about class more than ever. 2008 devastated so much of the world around me that it made me vow to escape it. I'm now sitting in an office in Manhattan, wondering if my rent will go up, wondering how much more I'm going to pay in taxes now thanks to the new legislation. I did not grow up in the Magic Castle, but questions of class and maintaining my class in a volatile environment continue. The Florida Project forces me to confront current anxieties as well as ghosts of a very specific past. It's the best of 2017.

(Also, Amy, that wasn't a giant cupcake. It's an ice cream cone! Twistee Treat is a Central Florida chain of ice creameries, all in the shape of giant ice cream cones--of various flavors. The one on 192 is strawberry. My local one was vanilla/chocolate swirl, and is forever linked to movies in my mind. It was across from the local theater, and was often a treat after the movies for me as a kid.)

#14 kbaileyjava

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 01:28 PM

I voted for The Florida Project! It was my 3rd favorite movie of the year (behind Spiderman: Homecoming and Lady Macbeth) and it really hit me hard in the end on an emotional level. I live a few years very close to where this movie takes place when I went to college down there and I do not drive so walked/took buses everywhere and walked past these types of lower class people all the time. I think this movie is not mockish or poverty porn like some dismiss it but more of a wake up call to the poverty issue is our country that effects all ages in all locations. The amount of homeless people on the streets of the Orlando/Winter Park area is really outrageous and the citizens have very gross thoughts towards them. I walked past many that sleep on the bench outside the library or use bus stop benches as beds and the local government were starting to put statues and things to block people from sleeping on them. They would rather pay for things to make the homeless lives more miserable than actually help them? Of course, the characters in this film are just a level up with a roof over their head but struggle to keep that roof there. I think this movie is a perfect companion piece to 2015's 99 Homes which comes from the other side with the government's side of eviction but giving us a character with similar struggles the chance to be in their shoes to see where they come from things. I don't know if any of this is cohesive but Florida Project just spoke to me the loudest out of these contenders and hit a place close to home. Sean Baker is such a great humanist director that captures corners of our day to day life that we just stroll past and gives them a voice. All the performances are just so real and natural as if he is making a documentary. It's a movie that hasn't left me since I saw it 3 months ago just as 99 Homes still is about similar issues.

#15 jonesjxd

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 04:12 PM

Wow, this one is tough. All of these movies would make my top ten of the year list. The only two 2017 movies I liked more than these five were Last Flag Flying and The Shape of Water. I'm going to attempt to work my way through this decision here.

mother! - I'd call this the most original movie of the year by far, aside from being vaguely Rosemary's Baby-ish and being a direct adaptation of the bible. It's so visceral and mean, and I've never been more uncomfortable watching a movie before. I've never felt an audience so tense before. I live in the midwest and we didn't even get any walk outs. They were either as into it as I was, or were too horrified to leave, I guess. There were no "that was bullshit" comments on the way out either. We all just left as if we had just been scolded by a mean old school teacher. I might rate this higher than some of the rest, but I feel weird nominating such a mad, nihilist movie to the canon to live on forever and ever to represent such an amazing year for cinema.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi - Yeah, full disclosure, I like this one slightly more than the rest. It's the perfect Star Wars movie for me, it's everything I actually wanted out of the new trilogy and it still left me shocked how much I loved it. Rian Johnson is the man and he did it, BUT is it the movie that represents 2017 the best? I don't know, Rogue One was great too, and there will likely be more great Star Wars movies. If there's ever a Canon Star Wars do-over episode I'll vote for it over even the original Star Wars, but I just can't nominate it as the best of 2017.

Get Out - Maybe the crowd pleaser of 2017, I saw it three times in theaters and every time the audience was so great. Jordan Peele orchestrated a perfect horror movie, and it definitely screams 2017, but it's not the best movie to represent 2017 in the canon, imo.

Ladybird - It's universal, I'm a guy and I saw myself and my relationship to my mom, friends, schoolmates in it. I didn't skip out on prom to listen to DMB though, me and my doofus buddy were probably listening to Pantera, and drove around our high school flicking it off thinking prom was happening inside, even though it was actually at a party center a few miles away. We weren't all that smart either. I suppose its the most likely of this bunch to be nominated for Best Picture at the oscars and I hope it wins, but I've decided my vote for the canon goes to--

The Florida Project - Of these five movies, I feel this one best represents 2017. Most of us are Willem Dafoe's character. We're watching this once beautiful thing we had crumble, we're trying our best to fix it, we're trying our best to keep it looking nice, we're trying our best to look out for our people, and we're trying so hard to be mature about all of this. There are pedophiles and other bad guys lurking around that we're trying to keep at bay, then there are these damn kids and their irresponsible parents running around fucking everything up that we just fixed and they just won't listen-- but they're just so funny, innocent and full of hope.

Welcome to the Canon, The Florida Project, hopefully.

#16 Susan*

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 07:11 PM

It was great to hear from Devin. And Creed was my favorite film that year (even if it wasn't the most important film).

I voted for Lady Bird. I probably shouldn't, because I have the feeling that it won't be so memorable in a few years, but it feels right for me right now. :mellow:

#17 andyradicalpossumtackler

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 08:18 PM

Tough, tough call. I think "Lady Bird" is my personal favorite, but I would concede that it's less original than "Florida" or "get Out".

I think we can all agree on one thing, though: "mother!" is just plain awful. It's a freshman year writing project with the caps lock left on.

#18 FictionIsntReal

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 08:47 PM

View Postijustliketowatch, on 08 January 2018 - 12:52 PM, said:

For me, the film felt like an exciting if anxiety-inducing expression of the pressures of womanhood (the way Lawrence's character constantly subordinates her own desires in order to seem accommodating, her husband's constant dismissal of the things that matter to her so he can following his every whim, the world-weary rage and bitterness of Pfeiffer's character) that doubled as an indictment of human selfishness.

Interesting you say that, since shortly after watching it I came across an interpretation of Lawrence's character as actually representing selfishness, indicting Javier Bardem's character for the inhuman degree of generosity & forgiveness associated with Christ. A very unusual perspective for most didactic entertainment, but that's part of what makes the film so delightfully atypical! The notion that it was Aronofsky blaming himself for his breakup with Weisz (with his next girlfriend standing in for her) didn't even occur to me, I had previously thought he'd just be sore he lost out to Daniel Craig.

Not having seen Lady Bird (but having heard it's like Margaret but not quite as good), for me it comes down to mother! vs The Florida Project. And as much as I appreciated the former, the latter was my favorite film of the year. The former is a film I'd challenge people who like out there passion projects & the unusual to see, the latter is something I think everyone should see. Perhaps there could be a separate cult canon, but for the regular canon it's The Florida Project. I thought it managed to look at this strata of society without devolving into poverty porn, show things through the eyes of a child without getting mawkish, and get great naturalistic performances from its new leads together with an underplayed Willem Defoe as we rarely see him.

I'm actually surprised The Last Jedi has strong detractors OR proponents. It's another Disney Star Wars which isn't going to rock the boat much either way (despite all the talk about letting the past die). Better than Force Awakens, but that's a very low bar. It really doesn't belong in contention here. I can understand that reaction to Get Out, which was both a hell of a lot of fun and had something on its mind. After that, I wouldn't be surprised if a later film from Peele makes it into the canon.

#19 sycasey 2.0

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 11:05 PM

View Postandyradicalpossumtackler, on 09 January 2018 - 08:18 PM, said:

I think we can all agree on one thing, though: "mother!" is just plain awful. It's a freshman year writing project with the caps lock left on.


The voting thus far would indicate that we can, in fact, NOT all agree on that. :)

#20 hippogriffrider

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 04:58 AM

if I never have to hear Devin's voice again I'll be happy. I love this show and I have so much respect for Amy as a critic and podcast host. But I'm not sure I could follow the show if he's staging a comeback.

That being said, GET OUT is my vote. One of the most important movies of the year. Striking, unforgettable, iconic. This movie became a phenomenon in multiple ways--box office, cultural relevance, and critical acclaim.