* This piece contains spoilers on the endings of Del Toro’s 2006 work Pan’s Labyrinth, 2015 work Crimson Peak and 2017 work Shape of Water.
My relationship with literature long before I knew how to read, with my mother taking at least half an hour of her night before my bedtime to read me stories. There was never a single night lacking the sound of turning pages and her raspy yet sweet voice; no matter how tired or sad she was, my mother would knock on my door exacly at nine thirthy, and we would spend our little quality time together until I fell asleep in her arms. And if there’s one reason that I became an avid reader, a maybe-future writer, a literature student: it is because of her, and her efforts.
This, of course, also meant that as I grew older and older, our libraries merged into one, too. Of course, there wwere my populist fantasy series — looking at you Harry Potter and Twilight —, which I would read even on my way to home from school while walking, and there were her thick, old looking books from Turkish novelists. Somewhere in the middle, just after I became a highschool student and started one of the hardest periods of my teenage years, I started picking up books from her side of the shelves. Then came Paul Coelho and Isabel Allende, Camus and Christie, Le Guin and Kafka, but most important of them all, Gabriel Garcia Marquez. He was the favorite writer of my mother, and he quickly became mine too. His writing style, even when translated, had the power to carry me from my reality to another one; one that still seemed so close yet so far away, a purgatory between reality and dream. As I learned later later, this was called magical realism, a very popular type of fiction from Latin American literature that was known for its merging of fantasy elements with otherwise “normal” settings.
When my turn came to write for “Films That Made Us Happy” series, I had only one film in my mind: The Shape of Water. It is not only my favourite film of the year (in a tie with Terence Davies’ A Quiet Passion) but it is also the one that made me feel a way that is impossible to explain with words – which is why I wrote five drafts of this piece, each one somehow more inadequate than the other to convey how I felt.
It’s been a great year for movies. From the blockbusters that broke box office records (‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘Wonder Woman’, ‘Star Wars: The Last Jedi’) to the new-found classics with a real social impact (‘Get Out’, ‘Call Me by Your Name’), many films released this year will doubtlessly be well-remembered for decades to come. There’s been controversial releases from much-loved directors (‘mother!’, ‘The Killing of a Sacred Deer’), some fantastic sequels, remakes and franchise continuations (‘Logan’, ‘Blade Runner 2049’, ‘Thor: Ragnarok’) and even a new Rotten Tomatoes record for critical acclaim (‘Lady Bird’). Of course, as per usual, some movies haven’t quite hit the mark, but best not to mention those. Instead, we’ll talk about the movies that we truly loved in 2017, the very best of the best, in a year that’s been very important for film. Without further ado, our top 15 of the year:
15. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Martin McDonagh’s latest is a dark comedy about the ongoing anger in our world and what happens as it explodes into something far worse. But for as much as past mistakes may have driven one’s own soul to where they are headed to in the present, Martin McDonagh’s newest black comedy isn’t so much what would have been expected. What I first entered thinking it would be another vulgar comedy in the veins of In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths wasn’t only that, but to my own surprise it was also a rather stunning portrait of grief – in order to balance the satire present with the way the American morale is perceived by many. In this world that Martin McDonagh has created, there are no heroes, there’s only anger and it explodes into more anger, we laugh along but quickly enough it bites back since we know that in this world we know that there is no greater authority that wants to control the anger. It only feels more fitting in this day and age when you come to consider that America’s driving force is anger. In the most unexpected ways, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is actually rather hopeful amidst the darker surface and it’s also Martin McDonagh’s most optimistic film – driven by a powerhouse performance by Frances McDormand. Right next to her own role in the Coen brothers’ Fargo, it seems like the most fitting counterpart because of their antonymous morals, but it’s that anger it drives from one’s own mind that leaves ourselves to reflect upon what we have in store for the future.
As Much Ado team, we always try our best to bring you reviews from newest films, coverages from festivals we can barely afford to go and well thought essays that take weeks to write. Right now, you’ll see everyone publishing their top films of 2017, which we plan to do after December 25th. But in the meantime, being the professional young adults we are, we decided to bring you a more important list: Kinkiest of 2017! We can assure you that this list took long discussions and as it happens with any group of mostly LGBT 20-somethings, we came up with a lot of them. But we decided, for our readers’ sake, to do just Top 5!
This year has been so busy and hectic for me. I’ve transferred schools, added more hours to my work schedule, and most importantly, I’ve seen 99 newly released films this year. It’s been crazy to say the least, but seeing all of these movies (well, most of them anyway) has been the real highlight of my year, and the majority of my favorite filmgoing experiences came from this year’s AFI Fest.
Guillermo Del Toro’s latest outing, ‘The Shape of Water’, has been a much-anticipated hit in various film circles, and has been described by many as his best since the career-defining ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’. Indeed, both films feature concepts that allow Del Toro to truly flex his aesthetic muscles, and the director has clearly been highly influenced once more by the darker realms of the fairy story. ‘The Shape of Water’ plays with many tropes of children’s fairy-tales, imbuing a well-trodden romantic plot with multiple new forays into the genre: a much more adult vision with regards to sex and violence, a mute female protagonist, wonderfully portrayed by Sally Hawkins, and the fact that the film’s love interest is…a fish. Indeed, much discussion around the film has revolved around this final element. Does Sally Hawkins actually have sex with the fish? How exactly does this work? Is this morally okay? Are we now attracted to fish people? Is social media going to start referring to the fish man as “Daddy”? Are we as a society prepared for this? Regardless of the answers to these questions, ‘The Shape of Water’ portrays a romance so sweet and odd that it’s difficult not to root for the gentle love between Eliza and her fish friend. However, in cultivating this romance, and the colourful, off-kilter world that the film takes place in, Del Toro neglects full development of virtually any other character.