Top Ten Films of 2017
The Florida Project (dir. Sean Baker) – Compassionately told through the eyes of a child, like in recent films “Where the Wild Things Are” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” the story of 6-year-old Moonee (a breakout performance by Brooklyn Prince) and her irresponsible mother (Bria Vinaite) living in an off-the-highway Orlando motel in the shadows of Disney World, is a captivating observational drama filled with moments of incredible sadness, wide-eyed innocence and pure joy. The insular environment director Sean Baker (“Tangerine”) has created for these marginalized characters to live in is extremely convincing and actor Willem Dafoe, who plays the motel’s kindhearted manager, gives the film its authentic core. Knowing the “Happiest Place on Earth” is a destination far from reality, despite its close proximity, makes the narrative all the more emotionally resonant, regardless of how one interprets the film’s final hopeful/heartbreaking moments.