By Scott Pukos
The 2018 Oscar nominees are out there in the world, so it's time for my annual "Favortie Little Movies of the Year" list. As always, these are just my favorites, not a "best of" list. I only included films I watched at The Little in 2017, so recent releases like Call Me by Your Name and Phantom Thread are out.
After you read through my top picks, let me know your favorites!
10. Whose Streets?
Our debut One Take Film Festival in May included multiple films that blew me away. From the literally explosive Brimstone & Glory to Oscar nominee Abacus (and a visit by the mega cool Steve James), the fest included one superb documentary after another. The one that I just couldn't shake in May, and still sticks with me months later is Whose Streets?
Sabaan Folayan and Damon Davis' documentary takes you inside the Ferguson, Missouri riots in 2014 in stunning fashion. Certainly one of the most important films of the year, this is a must-see in every sense of the word.
9. The Little Hours
Every year I advocate for a Best Comedy Oscar. Laughing so hard that an embarrassing amount tears trickle down my face is my jam. This Alison Brie/Aubrey Plaza/Kate Micucci raunchy nun comedy isn't taking home my fictional award (more on that later), but it still provided more pure belly laughs than any other 2017 film.
Using our Kedi cat adoption event to get a picture of my cat, The Great Catsby, up on the big screen may just be my movie highlight of the year. Oscilloscope's cats in Istanbul documentary cranks the charm up as high as it will go. These cats are better than a majority of their character counterparts in other films - they absolutely steal the show. Even if you're not a cat person, you'll enjoy the anecdotes here. And if you are a cat person? This is your cinematic catnip.
7. The Shape of Water
This one is magic. It has elements of numerous fairy tales, Beauty and the Beast, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, but it still manages to dazzle with imagination and originality.
All the acting is top-notch. I mean, you'll want to punch Michael Shannon's character in the face, but that just means he's crushing it. The Shape of Water racked up an impressive 13 Oscar nominations. If this wins Best Picture, I am 100-percent on board with that (though my pick sits at number 1 on this list).
6. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Led by the unstoppable force that is Frances McDormand, Three Billboards is angry, brutal, and absolutely riveting.
I'm also a big fan of writer/director Martin McDonagh's In Bruges, and his script here delivers the same unexpected turns and dark humor. Like its main character, the film is a Molotov cocktail looking to blow things up. It's not for everyone, but I really dug the fiery content.
A monster indie comedy that smashed me with creativity, I loved Colossal. Don't come at me with plot holes for this one, the film sold me on its bizarre concept. Bonus: Writer/director Nacho Vigalondo also created one of the best time travel films with the Spanish indie gem Timecrimes. Sign me up for whatever is next from Vigalondo!
The best journalism movie of the year. I was a newspaper reporter for three years (and still freelance), so this look at the New York Times storied obituary team spoke to me on many levels. But you don't need to be a newspaper person to appreciate the whimsical, clever, and downright brilliant storytelling in Obit. Not only is it great storytelling, but it's a great look behind the process of storytelling. Just writing about this film makes me want to watch it again right this second.
3. Lady Bird
Greta Gerwig makes it look easy. Directing a funny, smart, sad coming of age story certainly is not easy, but Gerwig's award-nominated direction elevates this delightful picture. Saoirse Ronan is my hero, and she gives another stellar performance as Lady Bird (it's the name given to her by herself). Is it possible to be BFFs with a movie? Because Lady Bird and I would be pals for life.
2. The Big Sick
And my fictional Oscar for Best Comedy goes to...The Big Sick (wild applause ensues)! Based on the real-life love story between screenwriters Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani, it's hard not to be smitten with this lovely romantic comedy (it doesn't fit in with your typical rom-com, but that's still an apt description). It's extremely funny in parts, and nails the dramatic parts. As with many films on the list, the acting is superb. This may (but probably won't) win some Oscars, but I will still say it didn't win enough!
1. Get Out
It's difficult for a movie that comes out in January/February to be considered the best of the year. It's just human nature that something new and shiny will come along and make you forget all about that movie you watched earlier in the year. This is why studios release their Oscar favorites at the end of the year -- they know what they're doing.
I saw Get Out in theater 1 a week before its nationwide release. This February screening was with just shy of 300 college students, and the experience was incredible. There were screams, laughs, and an energy that was incredible. We screened Get Out a second time just before Halloween as part of The Black Cinema Series. Again, this was the ultimate Little Experience, complete with a stellar panel discussion.
This film is everything I love about movies. It's unpredictable, suspenseful, scary, hilarious, and super smart. Really, it's brilliant. Everything I love about The Twilight Zone and Black Mirror is packed into Jordan Peele's masterpiece. This is the definitive film of 2017, certainly one of the most important movies considering our current place in history, and to top it off, it's also the most entertaining film. Put an Oscar on it!