Emilie Black’s Top 10 Indie/Foreign Films of 2017

2017 is was a crazy year for films with so many good titles that picking only 10 was difficult and took much too long.  That being said, here are my top 10 independent and foreign films which was gathered with much thinking and trying to figure out which films to keep, which not too.  The list could easily have been a top 25 and it has been evolving everything it’s being worked on.  The order is constantly changing, the titles that keep coming back are the ones found below.

10. Le Serpent aux Mille Coupures (Thousand Cuts)
A stellar French polar that warrants more than one watch.  In the film, director Valette creates suspense, tension, and a touch of dread that stay the course and work in taking the audience along for the ride as they try to figure out the twists and turns of the film.  The ambiance is reminiscent of film adaptations and novels of Jean-Christophe Grangé in tone and how the story by DOA is adapted.  Le Serpent aux mille coupures is a worthy addition to the French polar genre.

Director Eric Valette gave Cinema Crazed an interview during Fantasia.

Watch with: Les Rivieres Pourpres (Crimson Rivers)

9. Tom of Finland
Tom of Finland is a carefully-crafted film that shows how to approach a subject such as this and how to treat any biography subject with respect and reverence while still showing all the angles of the man’s life. The acting is talented, nuanced, and layered, showing that Pekka Strang is a great actor. The whole cast is deserving of kudos, showing the strength of the script, directing, and casting decisions. Details in the film, such as costumes and décors, show that everything was carefully calculated and planned before being put onto film by a talented crew. Tom of Finland, aka Touko Laaksonen, is an important figure in the art and lgbt worlds. He did more than just draw muscular, skimpily-clad men, he had a reason to do so and his art opened up doors for a slew of people. The film has a quality that should get many people not familiar with his works interested.

Watch with: Camille Claudel

Pilgrimage is a Catholic story but it’s also a story of brotherhood and convictions.  Through strong performances and story, the film builds more than a simple mission across a land type of story, but one about the people involved and why they are involved.  The way the story is developed and the use of many languages pulls the viewer in and the action keeps them involved.  It’s a beautiful film with mystery and suspense, supported by a strong cast and great attention to details.

Watch with: Arn – The Knight Templar

7. Prom King, 2010
Prom King, 2010 is a sweet coming of age (kinda) and romantic comedy that just happens to star a gay lead.  The film creates characters who feel human and real who are trying to live their lives and find love or at least figure out what they want from life and love.  The performances are good, the direction and writing feeling personal and ringing true.  It’s a film with ups and downs that will end up making the viewer feel good through having a complicated yet hopeful lead character.

Watch with: The Broken Hearts Club: A Romantic Comedy

6. The Endless
The Endless is a film that takes its time to get to the point, but makes sense the more it advances while also adding layers to its story.  It’s one of those films that can be considered a bit of a mindfuck and something that is more cerebral than most genre films have been of late.  It’s a film the audience needs to pay attention to and think while watching it for it to make sense.  Yes, things are fairly wrapped up by the end but it still has a bit of mystery left.  This film is one of those where knowing very little going in is most likely best, causing a bit of an issue for reviewing as spoilers or deep discussion of the film’s content would be detrimental to viewers.

Watch with: Resolution

5. Bushwick
Bushwick is an amazing film that works with its violence in a visual ballet of sorts while the performers within give strong, powerful performances that are perfect for the story.  The way the film moves through its sequences, the way it’s edited, and how it’s directed create, with the performance, a sort of lulling sense of dread and stress, something that may not make sense on paper, but that leaves the audience speechless by its crescendo-ing ending.  Bushwick is a beautiful, gut-punch of emotions that tells a worthwhile story that many will want to ignore but all should see.  It’s a sort of violent fairytale too close to a potential reality for comfort, but also so well-made that it feels like actual reality.  It’s a necessary watch and one that hits just right.

Watch with: Quiet City

4. La pazza gioia (Like Crazy)
La pazza gioia is one of those films that makes the viewer happy. It’s a film full of real people just wanting to be happy. From the leads’ search for happiness to the two ladies running naked in the background of one scene, the film takes what makes one happy and makes it a goal for them to have. It’s a film full of emotions and beautiful, strong performance. The two leads are so talented and used to the best of their capacities giving the film a quality that is only matched by its beautiful images and great score. This one is a film that should be sought out and seen. It will make even grumps happy.

Watch with: Girl, Interrupted

3. Dalida
Dalida is one of those biographies that transcends the artist on screen and gives the viewer much more than a peep into her life; it gives them a full view of how she was, who she was, of her feelings, and what led to her becoming such and icon as well as what led to her untimely death. It’s a big production like Dalida would have surely liked, but it does not skip on the darker moments of her life. It does fill in the information that could not have been known, but it does so with class and a respect for the artist and woman that she was.

Watch with: La Vie en Rose

2. This Is Not What I Expected
This is Not What I Expected is a fantastic film that makes quirky work in its favor with strong performances all around, especially from the two leads.  It looks amazing and has some scenes that are flat out of a fairy tale.  It’s one of those films that will make people happy and have them wanting to watch it a few times at least.

Watch with: Amelie

1.Ma Vie de Courgette
Ma Vie de Courgette is one of those films that grabs you and doesn’t let you go.  It gives an inside view of a child’s life in a group home after a traumatic event, giving children in this situation everywhere a voice, a way to make people know how much they need good adults to be there for them and to be their source of stability.  The film has a ton of emotions crammed into it and brings them across in the best way possible as it does not shove them down the public’s throat but lets them feel these emotions with the kids figuring out their way through life, through what they lived through while also learning to trust and love again after being thoroughly broken by adults who should have known better.  Ma Vie de Courgette is emotional in just the right way and gets its message across without over doing it.  It’s one of those films that deserved its Oscar nomination wholeheartedly and should be winning a bunch of awards.  It’s beautiful visually, musically, and emotionally.

Watch with: Ponyo