The Best of the Decade series looks back over the most popular and beloved films of the past ten years. Each author chooses a film they believe to be the definitive film of the year, along with a wildcard favourite film of their own. For 2017, Daniel Hanlon has chosen Call Me By Your Name as the definitive film of the year, with Spider-man: Homecoming as his personal favourite.
Best of 2017: Call Me By Your Name
Written by Daniel Hanlon
It’s hard to talk about Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name beyond labeling it a masterpiece. Set somewhere in northern Italy in 1983, the film centres on Elio Perlman (Timothée Chalamet in the role that set him on his Hollywood trajectory) and his summer discovering his sexuality alongside his father’s research assistant, Oliver (played by Armie Hammer). James Ivory’s writing creates a film that, in true Merchant-Ivory spirit, is better than the novel could ever hope to be. This is a coming-of-age film that encompasses the feverish, manic highs of paradise found and the sobering blows of paradise lost.
Originally released in November, Call Me By Your Name doesn’t seem like the usual film for the winter release window. But this is testimony to Guadagnino, who creates a paradise within in his film and invites the audience to join him. Regardless of the winter weather, it was impossible to escape the sunshine in this Italian paradise. This world is the best summer you could ever hope to dream of: the heat of the sun while Elio and his friends lounge in the gardens or relax in nearby lake; cycling through neighboring towns and pristine villages and at night they return home to banquets with their families and guests.
Both sides of the soundtrack are married together by the contribution Sufjan Stevens makes. These three songs are the backbone of the film: “Mystery of Love” plays over the closing credits for a scene that remains the best cinema moment of the decade.
The soundtrack for this film sets a standard not seen since Pulp Fiction. Eighties Europop offerings from Bandolero and Loredana Bertè and a new wave banger from The Psychedelic Furs combine for a playlist that evokes Elio’s nights in neon-decorated discos and drunkenly chasing Oliver across Bergamo. Piano arrangements litter between pop songs, complimenting the Italian landscape and represent the other side of Elio who sits by his piano, writing music while achingly overthinking his relationship. Both sides of the soundtrack are married together by the contribution Sufjan Stevens makes. These three songs are the backbone of the film: “Mystery of Love” plays over the closing credits for a scene that remains the best cinema moment of the decade.
If you want to see a film’s impact then look no further. The billowy shirt and tiny Adidas shorts combo that was every lad’s festival look for the past two summers? The never ending supply of printed and striped shirts in Topman? That whole 80’s revival trend that happened recently? That was Call Me By Your Name.
No aspect of this film could be scrapped. Everything from the soundtrack, to the costumes, to the spiraling long shots of the landscape and the final scene’s long take has a necessary place here. Every aspect is so finely tuned but never feels by-the-numbers or manufactured. Guadagnino might have struck gold by sheer luck if his other output is considered: the other two films that encompass the Desire Trilogy alongside CMBYN, I Am Love and A Bigger Splash are fine films but nothing to write home about, and his Suspiria remake is cinematic Marmite. But Call Me By Your Name is a proud display of what cinema can achieve at its very best, sitting amongst the best of works by masters like Fellini.
Call Me By Your Name is currently streaming on Netflix.
Critic’s Choice: Spider-man: Homecoming
Written by Daniel Hanlon
Spider-man: Homecoming made over $800 million at the box office so it might be an odd choice for wildcard of the year. Let me explain: this film is better than any offering Marvel has put out ever. After five other attempts at the story, adaptation fatigue was starting to set in and rightfully so. “With great power comes great responsibility” was a beaten dead horse. But Tom Holland’s turn as Peter Parker is perfect.
Equal parts nerdy, heroic, witty and cringeworthy, this Spider-man is the first to fully feel like the friendly neighbourhood superhero that generations adore. Michael Keaton’s turn as Vulture stands out as one of the most interesting villain in the MCU to date and the plot twist he brings at the halfway mark marries teen comedy tropes with superheroes in the way that was desperately needed to keep the franchise funny and interesting. This is less like the annual MCU superhero outing and more like a coming-of-age film with superpowers, and I’m all the happier for it.
Spider-man: Homecoming is currently streaming on Netflix.