Icelandic film journalist and screenwriter Sigridur Petursdottir picks her favourite films of 2017.
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Martin McDonagh
Frances McDormand has been one of my favourite actresses for a long time. In this movie, she gives it her all. Mildred is funny, tragic, dangerous, sensitive, clever, hurt, but also crazy. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is a brilliant film. It’s well written, it makes you laugh, and it makes you cry and everything else in between.
The Disaster Artist – James Franco
Who would have thought that a movie about The Room, apparently the worst film ever made, would be so beautifully complex? It makes you squirm in your seat as it’s so uncomfortable to watch someone’s dream being ruined by his own lack of judgement, but at the same time, you have to admire him for his determination. James Franco is magnificent in the role of Tommy Wiseau, a character larger than life and stranger than fiction.
Loveless – Andrey Zvyagintsev
An extremely well told, but devastating story from modern Russia. The film portrays the grim existence of a boy living with parents that detest each other. When he disappears the police is bureaucratic and tells the parents to contact a volunteer group specialising in looking for lost children. The acting is superb, and visually the movie is as bleak as its content, which makes the hopelessness and sorrow even more visceral.
Call Me By Your Name – Luca Guadagnino
Beautiful Italy, gorgeous people, and forbidden love. This bittersweet and well made film is the love story of the year. The dance scene in front of the church is my favourite. In a world filled with fake eighties nostalgia, this one actually took me back to the eighties in a heartbeat.
Winter Brothers – Hlynur Pálmason
While it’s made in Denmark, and most of its excellent cast and crew come from there, this is a debut from an Icelandic director. It’s surreal, unique, and an unusually mature work of art. Its world and mood is unlike anything I’ve experienced before, so I look forward to seeing more from this up-and-coming filmmaker.
A Fantastic Woman – Sebastián Lelio
The best portrayal I’ve seen in ages of how prejudice can colour every single aspect of a person’s everyday life, as it can be very subtle and sly. Daniela Vega is absolutely magnificent as the trans woman Marina, who desperately tries to keep her dignity intact while grieving her lover who has suddenly passed away.
Blade Runner 2049 – Denis Villeneuve
I’ve admired Blade Runner ever since it came out in the eighties, and I’m so relieved the sequel is also a visually stunning and well made film. The vision for this world’s future is realistically bleak, and the philosophical themes obviously provide plenty of food for thought: What does it mean to be alive and what does it mean to experience life the way humans do? Are our experiences only worth something when we’re able to remember them? Is there a purpose to all this, and if so, what is it?
Get Out – Jordan Peele
It’s rare to see a film mix many genres perfectly. Get Out sort of transcends genre, like Jordan Peele himself has pointed out, and manages to be many different things at the same time. It’s obviously a horror film and a social satire, but the mystery arouses our curiosity, the suspense keeps us on the edge of our seats, and the truth hurts. It’s surprising, shocking, and intelligent. The screenplay is great, and so is everything else; acting, editing, set design, sound, and the rest of it. Get Out is Jordan Peele’s directorial debut and I can’t wait for his next film.
You Were Never Really Here – Lynne Ramsay
A traumatised and violent contract killer goes on a mission to a save a teenager from sex slavery. It’s a brutal and uncomfortable film to watch, but at the same time a thought provoking and eye opening tale about the corruption and ugliness of powerful people. Ramsay plunges deep into the psychology of the film’s protagonist. Her stylishness, aggressive visuals, and use of symbolism, among many other things, are most impressive.
Happy End – Michael Haneke
Haneke’s storytelling is always original. Even when he isn’t at his absolute best, his films are still better than most movies these days. Happy End is a terrific film about modern day society. I’m surprised I haven’t seen more praise for the young actress Fantine Harduin. It’s rare to see acting as layered and subtle as this from a child. The scenes between her and Georges, played by the fantastic Jean-Louis Trintignant, are a delight to watch.
At the time of writing this, I’ve yet to watch a lot of films I’m pretty sure could have ended up on the list… movies like Sally Potter’s The Party, Star Wars: The Last Jedi by Rian Johnson, and The Shape of Water from Guillermo del Toro, to name but a few.
Sigridur Petursdottir is a freelance correspondent for RUV (The Icelandic National Broadcasting Service) specialising in culture. She has written about film over the last two decades and has just finished her first screenplay.