Cannibalism, bad appointments and sparkler skating: the best movie instants of 2017

Guardian commentators pick their favorite cinematic chips from the year, taking in vistums from cinemas including Steven Soderberghs heist comedy Logan Lucky and ribald hit slapstick Girls Trip

The paint accident- The Florida Project

Willem
Willem Dafoe in The Florida Project: no time to lose. Photo: Freestyle/ Kobal/ Rex/ Shutterstock

There is a moment in Sean Baker’s The Florida Project as sharp-worded and unsettling as a gunshot. Kids are running innocently around a budget motel in Florida called Magic Kingdom, designed for long-stay welfare claimants and their families. The manager and odd-job gentleman Bobby( Willem Dafoe) is coating the exterior a lurid but cheerful violet. One afternoon Bobby’s up a ladder and falls the container- it crashes down, virtually affecting someone and creating a spectacular impact-splat of violet colour on the asphalt.

This heart-stoppingly serious accident( near-injury or death, particular loss of expensive coat) was caused by a few moments of carelessnes due to Bobby noticing from his high vantage point a strange old guy hanging around the teenagers playing on the wasteground. A paedophile? The paint-splash is a difficult various kinds of figurative catastrophe omen. It does appear to denote health professionals carelessness, but likewise a more important kind of caring. Bobby didn’t hurt anybody with his drop can. But now he has the chance, and the responsibility, to thwart those boys being hurt- and there is no time to lose. He sinks the ladder and prepares to confront the stranger. PB

The firstly competitive skate- I, Tonya

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Margot Robbie in I, Tonya: poetry on ice. Photograph: AP

The first routine of I, Tonya is a aggressively edited info-dump carried with tart invective, teasing the juicy incident we’ve all come to see.( Cue Nancy Kerrigan ” whyyyyyy ?”)

But I, Tonya goes beyond the headlines, stimulating us to reflect on our fanaticism for tabloid clique. These are, after all, real beings, and Tonya Harding, American’s excellent Bad Girl Olympian, has her own fib to tell. And what’s often lost is that she was abundantly talented, which raises us to her first competitive skate. When we get there, I, Tonya’s frame opens up from documentary-style dialogue, letting the camera to soar with goodnes and athleticism.

There is, nonetheless, a great punchline. Harding, subject to discrimination for her low-toned financial upbringing, moves her first major presentation to ZZ Top’s Sleeping Bag, arguably the most dirtbag chant ever recorded. Its synth drums, cheesy Fairlight samples and prurient texts set against Margot Robbie’s enthusiastic choreography is some kind of poetry on ice. JH

The party- The Square

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Terry Notary’s ape-man moment: straight-up, grip-your-arm-rest horror. Image: MIFF

It’s debatable whether Ruben Ostlund’s Palme d’Or-winning art-world irony The Square is itself an outstanding movie – it’s a shadow more baggy at over two hours, and there’s a callousness to its style that develops a bit wearing- but it surely boasts one of the year’s memorable moments.

I’m talking, of course, about the gaspworthy eight-minute string where shirtless concert artist Oleg( played by the remarkable motion-capture actor Terry Notary, of Planet of the Apes series fame) terrifies patrons at a swanky donor dinner by pretending to be a ape. What starts off as a little bit of a lark, with Oleg hop-skip on to tables and hooting, soon becomes unbearably unpleasant as he ripens more violent and unpredictable towards the guests. It was great, objected satire, of course, but it also operated as a few moments of straight-up, grip-your-arm-rest repugnance. Next time I’m at dinner I’ll clearly be checking over my shoulder for the topless ape-man. GM

The second fornication stage- God’s Own Country

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Alec Secareanu and Josh O’Connor in God’s Own Country: the sexiest cinema of its first year. Picture: Picturehouse Entertainment

Francis Lee’s God’s Own Country tells the story of a closeted young farmer appointed Johnny( Josh O’Connor) and the awakening that happens when he fills handsome Romanian farmhand Gheorghe( Alec Secareanu ). It’s also, by a country mile, the sexiest movie I’ve seen this year.

The first sexuality stage between Johnny and Gheorge is a libidinous, comprehending, early morning fumble; a pale duet of buttocks is lustily smeared with dirt, a post-coital toilet noodle is ingested. The second copulation background between the couple is the film’s “a-ha!” moment. Johnny is lying inside a barn, nuzzled among the forage like the most vulnerable sectors, quivering lambs they’ve expended the outpouring deliver. Gheorghe harbours Johnny’s gaze, gives his fingertips pasture Johnny’s cheekbones, remainders his hand on Johnny’s throat, caresses him. O’Connor nails Johnny’s flickering actions; sees wild and altogether susceptible, he’s both bewildered by Gheorghe’s tenderness, and turned on by it more. SH

The zip line- Girls Trip

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Jada Pinkett-Smith in Girls Trip: no dishonor , no decision, merely japes. Image: Universal

A few floorings above Bourbon Street in New Orleans, jumpy Lisa( Jada Pinkett-Smith) is being influenced by her friends to take a zipline across.” This is not a good theory ,” she does as her chums egg her on and dozens of strangers sing her call,” I really have to pee .” But she goes for it. Except that she doesn’t have the required momentum, and despite mentioning Baby Jesus, the inevitable happens- an outstanding spraying over the crowd of revellers.

It’s the kind of gross-out comedy that’s familiar from cinemas in, for example, the Hangover franchise, but this is a uncommon pearl: a gross-out big blow in a big-studio movie about four black maidens having a shamelessly good time celebrating their friendship.’ Damn! How much did she booze ?’ Ryan( Regina Hall) statements as they watch the golden rain: unlike so many movies about girls, this is a gem of a few moments in a cinema that’s not about men as well as shaming or arbitration. Just japes. And the highest-grossing comedy of 2017. JHE

The baby- baby!

Javier
Javier Bardem and Jennifer Lawrence in mom!- ecstatically grotesque. Image: Paramount Pictures

It certainly wasn’t the prettiest time of its first year at the movies, but it’s the one embedded most vividly in my psyche. The fate of Jennifer Lawrence and Javier Bardem’s newborn, formerly handed to a craven, hysterical mob of poet worshippers, pretty much brands the precise detail at which gatherings for Darren Aronofsky’s already thrillingly demented vivisection of the male creative self-esteem fractioned irreparably into two camps: the exhilarated and the appalled.

I count myself in the former group, but either way, it was a jaw-dropper. As I watched the newborn enclose by the mob, feeling where the scene seemed new and hurtling, I retained taking myself out the film with manufacture reasoning:” Aronofsky’s not going to go there , not in a major Hollywood studio film with Jennifer Lawrence, they won’t let him … wait … surely not … is he ?” He proceeded there all right: the results of this was brazenly, even ecstatically, grotesque, and a milestone of multiplex provocation. GL

The chase- Okja

Okja:
Okja: Bong makes degrees for sheer technological rudenes. Photo: Jae Hyuk Lee/ PR

South Korean film-maker Bong Joon-ho aimed his latest feature Okja as a principally ideological assault, and he rubs his commentary of capitalist manufacture into the grace memoes of the film’s finest sequence.

The nefarious Mirando Corporation has scattered our daughter Mija from her beloved domesticated super-pig, and when the youngster infiltrates their headquarters on a save assignment, the movie leaps into a exhilarating 10 -minute chase stage. Bong’s camera continues tempo with her through the bureau building, out on to the street, across various blocks, during a showdown in a passageway, and finally into an underground shopping mall. The administrator earns extents for sheer technical audacity and his antic colour( the sprightly klezmer score is worthy of an independent listen ), but most please of all is a high-ranking executive going smack-dab in the are dealing with a automobile entrance after swearing” This is something that busines patriotism looks like !” CB

The surprise dinner- Phantom Thread

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Vicky Krieps in Phantom Thread. This background wields so beautifully against the film’s finely manicured smothers. Photo: YouTube

The surface of Paul Thomas Anderson’s insurgent intrigue Phantom Thread is all deceptively pristine grandeur. The lovingly tailored garments, the boujee London locations, the carefully styled life of Daniel Day-Lewis’s dressmaker and the constant, exhausting precision that surrounds him all superficially preparing the movie seem like a recognizably sumptuous, perhaps a little stiff, interval drama. But behind the facade lies a viciously astute consider of not only a relationship but any affair; horribly familiar, fantastically petty and darkly amusing.

The scene that works so beautifully against the film’s finely manicured smothers is a show-stopping dinner that arrives just as Vicky Krieps’ waitress/ muse has settled into her new residence with Day-Lewis’s control freak designer. She astonishes him with a home-cooked dinner, interrupting his strict procedure, and after he finds out that she’s cooked asparagus with butter, a knowing resistance against his preferred accompaniment, the two spar. It’s a brilliantly played duel, at times feeling nearly improvised, nailing the specific rigor of compromising with a new partner with the two descending into childish rejoinders and insisting without fully recognizing what got them there. It’s hilarious, pathetic and wince-inducing all at once. BL

The money pit explosion- Logan Lucky

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Daniel Craig in Logan Lucky: disturbingly humorous. Photograph: Allstar/ Trans-Radical Pictures

Steven Soderbergh’s unretirement heist cinema has been a bit unlucky in the movies-of-the-year ballots; perhaps the humor was just too deadpan for the reviewers, or maybe it seemed like Soderbergh was sufficing up a lo-cal form of his blockbuster Ocean’s Eleven series( which get a cheeky name-check in Logan Lucky sometime on ). But for me, it was one of the best: funny, ingeniou, and stuffed with great performances: a monosyllabic Adam Driver, kitted out with a prosthetic forearm; speed-merchant Riley Keough with a chewy tough-babe persona, and Channing Tatum as the dopey-seeming mastermind of the centrepiece robbery, of a Nascar racetrack in North Carolina. But participate in the honours is Daniel Craig, who from the moment he gallops on screen in a dyed-blond buzzcut and hillbilly accent, is disturbingly amusing from start to finish. Not least because of his character’s figure: Joe Bang.

You wouldn’t guess he’s an explosives expert, would you? There’s so many enormous “moments” in the movie- from Joe Bang’s demand for pickled eggs when Channing and Driver visit him in prison, to Bang’s younger brethren, Sam and Fish, challenging a justice clause as a condition for their help in the burglary- but the fleck where everything comes together is the awesome incident late in the bowels of the racetrack’s money quarry, when Bang blows it open applying a small plastic pocket, two bleach pencils and low-sodium salt. AP

The prom night- Lady Bird

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Beanie Feldstein and Saoirse Ronan in Lady Bird: a joyful, insurgent affection. Image: Allstar/ A24

Lady Bird is a spiky movie about relationships with bumpy rims and soft cores. I squirmed in approval during every excruciating second of Lady Bird’s combats and reconciliations with her father, but the film’s most joyous moment is the culmination of its center love story. Not aim Lady Bird’s dalliances with the opposite copulation, but her enthusiastic, dippy ardour for her schoolfriend Julie. Their upside-down masturbation chat while chuckling and scarfing down intercourse wafers mounts the ambiance for a joyous, subversive, intimate girl love. We don’t see enough of that at the movies.

So the cinema instant of 2017 I most enjoyed was watching Lady Bird trench her squalid brand-new copulates on prom night to ingest cheese and sob cathartically with her one true-blue bestie. It gets better: although the spectre of estrangement warns their happy intention, like all the best fairytale duets, of course they went to the dance. PH

The club scene- BPM

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Arnaud Valois in BPM: lurk and vindictive. Image: Allstar/ Memento Films

It starts with a few moments of hedonism in a squad. The climbing musical ornament which repetition in all regions of the movie temporarily molts its shadow of caution and takes on a joyous, joyous breeze. Away from the frontline, the Aids activists of the Paris branch of Act up are carefree; flirting and forgetting for a moment the life sentence that some of them face. The blissed-out camera strays up, altering focus until it fastens on to a few motes of dust, capture, suspended in the strobing suns of the association.

As we watch these chips, they gradually take on an abstract form, before mutating gradually into something else: enlarged personas of white blood cells. It’s both an elegantly brash edit and a subtle remember that, even at a few moments of exultation and abandon, the HIV diagnosis is inescapable, lurking, vindictive, on a molecular level. WI

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