Roger Ebert once wrote that “the great movies enlarge us, they civilize us, they make us more decent people.” I’d like everyone reading this to stop what they’re doing for ten seconds, take a breath and ask themselves the following two questions: (a) “Has there ever been a Marvel or a D.C. Comics film that made you feel enlarged, more civilized and more decent after it was over?” and (b) “what 2017 films truly made you feel as Ebert described?”
As much as I adored Lady Bird and have often showered praise, I can’t honestly say that I felt enlarged by it. I didn’t feel the least bit more decent or civilized after seeing Get Out, I can tell you that. Ditto Sean Baker‘s The Florida Project, which affected me in a neighborhoody, human-friendly way but didn’t exactly gobsmack me. Ditto the commendable Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri — a well written, well performed thing that didn’t quite knock me down — and Michael Showalter’s The Big Sick, which I loved from the get-go and is easily among the year’s best.
But I did feel enlarged and civilized by Luca Guadagnino‘s Call Me My Your Name, Darren Aronofsky‘s mother!, Chris Nolan‘s Dunkirk, Olivier Assayas‘ Personal Shopper, Cristian Mungiu‘s Graduation, Matt Reeves‘ War For The Planet of the Apes, Andrey Zvyagintsev‘s Loveless, David Lowery‘s A Ghost Story and by Jake Gyllenhaal‘s performance in David Gordon Green‘s Stronger.