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Programmer Top 10 Films of 2017: Brenda Lieberman

They select the movies for the Calgary International Film Festival, and now our team of programmers share their Top 10 films of 2017. Still not sure what films you need to catch up on from the past year? Take it from our curators – these are films that you'll want to seek out as we say goodbye to the year that was 2017.  

First up, Programming Manager & Canadian, World and Late Shows Programmer Brenda Lieberman shares her Top 10 films of 2017. 

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My biggest regret heading into 2018 is wishing I got to see more of the films released theatrically, in theatre, that were all the buzz this past year. Normally the popular list circulating doesn't interest me nearly as much as it has in 2017. There were so many great genre films, directors who I love and follow their work, or quirky unique and timely stories. There have been some major budget studio films, all the way to smaller festival independents, foreign films and much more that have come out with polarizing opinions, or nailed it at the box office and festivals (or with audiences on VOD, which is now the new normal). This year there seemed to be many popular indie films that I wish had performed better at the box office than they did, but I hope they have more success digitally if they didn’t theatrically.

I have created a list primarily of festival films I loved, that all stood out for me in different ways, but really stuck with me the most. I love quirky comedies, genre film and absurdist stories.

1. I DON'T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE directed by Macon Blair
This dark comedy/thriller is one of my favourites in a long time, combining subtle dry-humour, and revenge with a unique story, that was perfectly cast and executed. This is a directorial debut once again, but Macon has written and acted alongside some of the best, and each film he’s been a part of has won me over in so many ways.
I DON'T FEEL AT HOME IN THIS WORLD ANYMORE is currently streaming on Netflix. 

2. BABY DRIVER directed by Edgar Wright
This high anxiety-inducing film, has the perfect mix of action, pacing, dialogue and emotional range. I am a big fan of all of Edgar Wright's films, and this one didn’t disappoint in the least, rather it met my high expectations.
BABY DRIVER is available for purchase on iTunes.

3. THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES (NEW AND SELECTED) directed by Noah Baumbach
This film has such an amazing way of feeling so natural, raw, and real to me, that I could watch it over and over. The characters and actors chosen were so well suited to the film, and it’s subtlety, and often quiet nature of the film, was never too much so that you ever felt pulled out. It actually lures you in even more. This could have been my #1.
THE MEYEROWITZ STORIES (NEW AND SELECTED) is currently streaming on Netflix.

4. LADY BIRD directed by Greta Gerwig
Greta Gerwig is one of my favourite actors, and it was great to see her directorial debut. It’s also amazing to see such a lovable, personal story of family, and relationships, with natural dialogue and style, hit so close to so many, and have her win so many new fans.
If you missed LADY BIRD at Calgary Film 2017, it's currently playing at select cinemas in Calgary, including Cineplex Eau Claire.

5. BAND AID directed by Zoe Lister-Jones
This film won me over when I first saw it at Sundance. It’s such a unique approach to a musical and is funny, emotional, honest, the songs are so well written and performed, and the chemistry between the actors is really amazing. I will also love any film with Fred Armisen, as he has a way of making me laugh even when he's just standing there silently. I have a soft spot too for romantic comedies, and this one is probably the best this year in the genre.
BAND AID is currently streaming on Netflix. 

6. THE LITTLE HOURS directed by Jeff Baena
This film has a great mix of absurdity and dry humour that works out so well. The director has a writing style that I love both with his style of comedy, and uniqueness of storytelling. I also found this to be once again perfectly cast with comedic actors you know and trust, but haven’t seen in a film like this before.
THE LITTLE HOURS is currently streaming on Netflix. 

7. MOTHER! directed by Darren Aronofsky
This was not in any way what I expected, but without trying to analyze it, or break it apart, the film left me in awe the entire time I was watching it. I was constantly wondering which way it would go, or how far he would take it. I found excitement in the absurdity, extreme high concept and darkness of what was created.
MOTHER! is available for purchase on iTunes.

8. THE BIG SICK directed by Michael Showalter
This is another great romantic comedy, family relationship film, that is a great light easy watch. At times it's emotional, funny, and feels really honest with the story written by the two characters who the film centres around.
THE BIG SICK is available for purchase on iTunes.

9. TRAGEDY GIRLS directed by Tyler MacIntyre
This film is a fun, horror comedy that is even greater experienced with the audience, as the energy in the room is infectious. This is one of my favourite genres too.
If you missed TRAGEDY GIRLS at Calgary Film 2017, it's available for purchase on iTunes.

10. LOWLIFE directed by Ryan Prows
This film interweaves its story, and characters so well, with a fun balance of comedy, absurdity, crime, violence and pacing throughout. This is a directorial debut once again, and a director to watch for sure. It’s been a fun festival film discovery and won a lot of hearts along the way. Looking forward to seeing what’s next!
LOWLIFE was a 2017 Calgary Film selection.

Honorable Mentions
LOVE AND SAUCERS directed by Brad Abrahams
ADVENTURES IN PUBLIC SCHOOL directed by Kyle Rideout (Calgary Film 2017 selection)
FREE FIRE directed by Ben Wheatley (currently streaming on Netflix)