Follow our advice and watch all of these before the first round of midterms (just so you have time to come back for more.)

This past year wasn’t a great one in a lot of aspects—but it was definitely rewarding in terms of cinematic novelty. With notable names flooding theater billboards and Netflix accounts almost every month, it can be hard to keep track of what’s worth watching and what’s not. Street asked the F&TV writers for recommendations, so we, as a qualified jury, present you with 2017’s best releases.


Movies


Call Me by Your Name

Picked by: Cat Dragoi, Film & TV Editor

One year after it first premiered at Sundance, I’ve already watched Luca Guadagnino’s coming–of­–age drama twice—and I’ll probably add a couple more times to that. If you, like me, hold the belief that a good movie focuses on aesthetics while appealing to both the intellectual and the visceral, rejoice: the heartbreaking story, set on the picturesque backdrop of 1980s Northern Italy, brought back my hope for the future of cinema. Guadagnino’s portrayal of a young boy exploring his sexuality while also falling in (and out) of love with an older man is sprinkled with witty lines, risky shots, breathtaking performances, and an overall air of freshness. And if that doesn’t convince you, listen to Sufjan Stevens’ two original songs from the soundtrack—you’ll probably watch the movie later.



20th Century Women

Picked by: Avneet Randhawa,  Film & TV Beat

Written and directed by Mike Mills, 20th Century Women tells the story of a divorced mother attempting to raise her teenage son with the help of her boarding house tenants. Set in 1979 Santa Barbara, California, 20th Century Women showcases the rebellious, changing social dynamics of contemporary America. Starring Greta Gerwig, Annette Bening, and Elle Fanning, this film features female characters of vastly different personalities and anxieties that epitomize the struggles and joys of growing emotionally. From Gerwig’s punk artist persona to Fanning’s nonconformist guise, the actors articulate an endearingly human and familiar personality through their roles. Plus, the soundtrack features Black Flag, Talking Heads, and David Bowie, so what’s not to love?



The Shape of Water

Picked by: Ana West, Film & TV Beat

Director Guillermo del Toro has spent his career thus far riding the edge between two extremes. He's shown a capacity for producing both dark, unconventional narratives rich in horror and fantasy—think The Devil's Backbone and Pan's Labyrinth—and bright, mainstream flicks packed with action, such as Pacific Rim. His latest film, The Shape of Water, finds a happy and beautiful medium. This love story between a mute woman with a cleaning job in a government facility and the amphibious godlike creature being kept there makes for a movie strange enough to be memorable, and universal enough to be relatable. del Toro's directorial renown comes from his unique talent for world–building, which is in full force here. The film's first shots are of an underwater world, which feels fitting. Even as the film takes us to the unlikely setting of Cold War Baltimore to tell its story, it's hard not to feel like you're immersed.



The Big Sick

Picked by: Naomi Elegant, Film & TV Beat

Kumail Nanjiani wrote and directed this romantic comedy, which is based on his real–life relationship with his wife. In the movie (and in real life!), Kumail, a Pakistani–American standup comedian, meets and falls in love with Emily (Zoe Kazan), a white grad student. He keeps the relationship secret from his family, who wants him to marry a Pakistani girl, and Emily breaks up with him when she finds out. Here, the story makes a turn from being just about the struggles of interracial dating: Emily falls into a coma. Though the screenplay is hilarious and moving, the majority of the second act—the movie’s strongest, by far—follows the burgeoning relationship between initially reluctant Kumail and Emily’s parents (played with stunning performances by Ray Romano and Holly Hunter).



Get Out

Picked by: Jonnell Burke, Film & TV Beat

Aside from Get Out being the first horror film I know of where the black guy gets to live, I think it does something really special in telling a story that haunts because it’s familiar in that Black Mirror–esque fashion we’ve all come to love. Watching Get Out, you get the overwhelming sense that this terrible thing could happen, will happen, is happening somewhere—even if not exactly like this. It creatively validates feelings many viewers already had and places an uncomfortable discussion in an uncomfortable setting, making it impossible to skirt around. The fact that it deserves a standing ovation for the screenplay, editing, and stellar performances at every screening is just the well–deserved icing on the cake.

Notable mentions:

Lady Bird

Wonder Woman

Logan

Girls Trip

The Square

Marshall

Spider–Man: Homecoming

T2 Trainspotting

Phantom Thread

The Killing of a Sacred Deer



TV Shows



Dear White People

Picked by: Naomi Elegant, Film & TV Beat

I finished this Netflix series adaptation of the movie Dear White People in a single day during finals season. I really liked the movie but I liked this version even more. The series format allowed for more room to flesh out flatter characters like Coco into complex, three–dimensional people, and the recasting of protagonist Sam with the captivating Logan Browning made the cast even stronger. This half satire, half social commentary, comedy–drama follows a group of black students at Winchester University, a mythical ninth Ivy League school, as they struggle with racism and social injustice. Standout Episode: “Chapter V.”



Big Little Lies

Picked by: Jonnell Burke, Film & TV Beat

If there’s anything to say about Big Little Lies it’s that it deserves its HBO home. That the mini–series boasts such a killer cast (from Nicole Kidman to Shailene Woodley) is evidence enough. It’s endearing and distractingly good—enough to make you forget to roll your eyes at this little addition to the Skarsgård plan for world (or at least film) domination. Maybe we’ve seen the "sleepy town turns upside down when a new stranger arrives" storyline before. So what? I promise you, you’ve never seen it like this.



Mozart in the Jungle

Picked by: Avneet Randhawa, Film & TV Beat

Adapted from acclaimed musician Blair Tindall’s book Mozart in the Jungle, this Emmy–Award winning comedy–drama show centers around the life of a young, struggling oboist navigating a budding professional career in the New York Philharmonic. Starring Lola Kirke as the wide–eyed Hailey Ruteledge and Gael Garcia Bernal as the new, eccentric conductor willing to push the symphony orchestra through unorthodox methods, Mozart in the Jungle combines the professional world of classical music with the personal anxieties associated with the longing to succeed. Now on its fourth season, the Amazon Studios show continues to exemplify the quirky, clever dialogue that made thousands (including me) want to watch a story about success, love, and of course, Mozart.



Game of Thrones

Picked by: Cat Dragoi, Film & TV Editor

I struggled a bit with this one—2017 was a great year for TV—but I don’t think there’s any other show out there that will never cease to amaze me. The long–awaited seventh season got a lot of attention in the media for constantly being targeted by hackers, but who wouldn’t want to see what happens as soon as possible? Game of Thrones managed, once again, to keep me, my family, and basically everyone I know at the edge of our seats—quite literally, since it’s the only show I don’t watch in bed. The realism of the highly unrealistic storyline, along with the suspense that the flawless script generates, are worthy of a quasi–ceremonial viewing experience. For that reason, Game of Thrones is timeless—and I think it managed to dominate 2017, too.



The Handmaid’s Tale 

Picked by: Ana West, Film & TV Beat

A lot has been written about the political relevance of The Handmaid’s Tale in 2017. Many writers—including us at Street—have hailed Hulu’s original adaptation of the Reagan–era novel, that imagines the oppressive takeover of America by the Christian right, as particularly salient in the era of Trump. To be clear, it totally is—but it’s also just damn good television. Margaret Atwood’s source text is well–loved and incredibly rich, and the show honors her worldbuilding talent by bringing the Republic of Gilead to life in immersive and terrifying detail. Between torture, executions, sexual assault, mutilation, and families being torn apart, The Handmaid’s Tale tells a number of gritty and bleak stories. Even so, an undercurrent of hope runs through the entire show, and the cast might just be the reason why. Elizabeth Moss gives a heroic performance as Offred, but the entire ensemble is strong. Alexis Bledel and Samira Wiley are likewise at their best here, filling the show with strong performances depicting strong women, and nothing could give us more inspiration to #resist. Nolite te bastardes carborundorum, bitches.

Notable mentions:

Veep

Runaways

Stranger Things

Black Mirror

American Gods

This Is Us

Godless

Rick and Morty


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