My favorite movies from 2017

Here are some top movies I saw in 2017 and my quick thoughts about them.

Sand Storm (“Sufat Chol”) is a fantastic Israeli film about family-society dynamics around a young couple in love. The story is not new especially for an Indian audience, but the treatment and authenticity made it special for me. It was interesting to see how societies so far apart have similar themes of patriarchy, and how the power plays between men and women. Signs of a good film lie in the subtle undertones that are not difficult to understand - there’s so much that goes on here beneath the surface. The toughness of the decision taken by a lead character during climax *stays* with you. Do watch if you can watch films with subtitles. 

Trapped, this aptly titled film is a survival story of a man 'trapped' in an apartment in a busy Mumbai area. The secret sauce here is the execution - Vikramaditya Motwane gives excellent direction to an otherwise simple story, add to that a razor-sharp editing and intense background score. When it comes to ending: I haven't seen a better-executed climax in recent times. Great films make you think, I wondered, is Trapped a metaphor for being trapped not in the apartment but in the chaotic metro or rather in the robotic lives we lead? It is not an easy watch but a good one nonetheless especially for students and connoisseurs of cinema. 

Newton is to 2017 what Peepli Live was to 2010 - a political satire. The problem with these movies (and the message they portray) is that we forget them easily. Brilliantly acted and directed, Newton’s main character irritates you as much as he irritates other characters in the film - that’s the triumph of the director (Amit V Masurkar) who has also directed the remarkable Sulemani Keeda and actor (Rajkumar Rao). Newton has its doses of humor with great actors like Raghubir Yadav and Pankaj Tripathi giving plenty of funny moments. One of the most authentic films of the year!

Dunkirk has simplest of stories but most interesting of treatments by the director Christopher Nolan. I am a history nerd, so a history movie from Christopher Nolan was bound to be high on my anticipated movie list. Dunkirk is a World War II film about the evacuation of British Troops from the shores of Dunkirk in northern France to back home in Great Britain. There are two heroes in this film: music and direction. The film shows the story from the perspective of Land, Sea, and Air which could be a little confusing in the beginning but gradually the storylines merge together. Intriguing watch for sure! (Here’s an interesting take on the film where a fan re-edited the film as an 8-minute silent movie.

Shubh Mangal Saavdhan doesn't have best of movie titles but has a lot going for it when it comes to movie elements. This is a funny movie about a couple about to get married where the guy discovers he has a “guy problem”, things go haywire in the wedding process as a result. The only weak writing bit is in the climax (pun intended) when the plot conveniently resolves to a happy ending - almost as if the writers got to know at the 75% mark that they won’t be getting paid for the last 25%. It is still the triumph of writing when a whole movie about erectile dysfunction doesn’t mention the word even once and keeps the tone light throughout.  Highly recommended to watch if you like desi romcoms. 

Special mentions - Secret Superstar, Fukrey Returns, Coco, The Big Sick, Baby Driver, Arrival.

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