The Top 10 Best Films of 2017!
2017 was a year full of yet another highly-ambitious collection of both box-office-breaking blockbusters and engrossing independent features. As our superhero fatigue was sustained with bold outings like Logan and Wonder Woman, horror reigned supreme with imaginative projects from the wickedly satirical Get Out to a dynamic and highly-entertaining update of Stephen King's It. While there were a number of films I surely missed this year, including some of the heavy hitters set to rule this awards season, I've compiled here a list of some of the best offerings from the past year. From stirring period dramas to stomach-churning psycho-thrillers, here are my picks for the best films of 2017.
Here are the films that nearly made the top ten, from polarizing epics to ambitious jail-bird thrillers:
Star Wars: The Last Jedi - While the latest installment in the billion-dollar science fiction franchise might still have many fans in uproar, its direction making for one of the series' boldest and most divisive chapters yet, Rian Johnson's Star Wars: The Last Jedi was easily one of my favorite experiences at the theater this year. With a riveting opener that kicked off an epic, pivotal turning point for the forty-year-old franchise, Johnson's iteration brought the series to new heights in shattering fan expectations.
Good Time - From up-and-coming directing duo Josh and Benny Safdie, the crime thriller of Good Time was one of the top independent films I was eager to see this past summer. With a sensational leading performance for actor Robert Pattinson, and a plot of sex, violence, and drugs with a glint of humanity, Good Time ended up being a worthy rush of adrenaline, one that painted a superb portrait of the Safdie brothers' gritty, unflinching filmography.
War for the Planet of the Apes - While I might not have grappled onto the third chapter in the rebooted Planet of the Apes series until long after its July release, my excitement to see where director Matt Reeves planned to take the franchise next never wavered. With Andy Serkis' intense portrayal of ape leader Caesar sending up yet another emotional motion-capture performance, War for the Planet of the Apes found the series at its most volatile. Pitting its primate protagonists against an inevitable war for the survival of the planet, the trilogy closer brought its characters to their darkest and most human levels.
Lady Macbeth - Acting as director William Oldroyd's first major leap into filmmaking, his immense adaptation of Nikolai Leskov's short story offered the perfect source material to explore not only an engrossing plot of murder and marital deceit, but the phenomenal potential of leading lady Florence Pugh as well. With Oldroyd and Pugh taking us through the psyche of a young woman trapped in a loveless marriage, who eventually turns to murder when she gets entangled with another man, Lady Macbeth revamped Leskov's gripping narrative with subtle Victorian atmospherics.
Now to the list...
10. Baby Driver - While Edgar Wright's latest in the fast-paced crime caper Baby Driver could have easily been a miss for me during the busy summer season, with plenty of superhero stunners out to take the cake, the full-throttle action-comedy managed to make for another fulfilling addition to the director's thoroughly addictive filmography. With past features like Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy sustaining Wright as one of the most ambitious directors in Hollywood, Baby Driver only furthered the filmmaker's talents in not only rallying a stellar cast of deadly gangsters and charismatic getaway drivers, but also pushing out a no-holds-barred adventure set to one killer soundtrack.
9. Wind River - Spawning from the writer of Sicario and Hell or High Water, Taylor Sheridan's neo-Western concoction in Wind River seemed to evade me until long after its August release. While the widespread scandal surrounding the Weinstein Company might have slightly affected the release of the movie, I finally saw the film as the year quickly closed out. Unveiling a white-knuckle crime thriller tilted around a wildlife tracker (Jeremy Renner) and an FBI agent (Elizabeth Olsen) investigating a cryptic murder in the icy landscape of rural Wyoming, Sheridan's unflinching dialogue and direction managed to shine through the grim but enthralling premise at the heart of the film.
8. The Big Sick - While I'm usually pretty skeptical when it comes to most modern romantic comedies, most never propelling themselves beyond simple stories of boy-meets-girl and such, something about The Big Sick stuck with me. Taking a peek at the true story behind how Pakistani comedian Kumail Nanjiani met his wife Emily Gordon, Michael Showalter's poignant rom-com managed to elevate itself beyond past novelties of the genre, primarily through not shying away from showing us its darker side. Taking an emotional turn halfway through, even at the risk of becoming too long, The Big Sick held a unique heart and humor to it that made it one to remember in 2017.
7. Logan - While my 9-year-old self would have surely put March's phenomenal send-off to Hugh Jackman's Wolverine at number one (if I even could see R-rated films at that age), the gripping solo film in the X-Men franchise still managed to come in at a promising number seven. With the third solo chapter to feature the clawed mutant that Jackman made famous delivering a character-driven plot full of violence, drama, and plenty more heart than expected, James Mangold's Logan was one of the most emotional superhero films of the year -- and perhaps even the decade.
6. mother! - Even as The Last Jedi still divides fans over its premise, nothing compares to the impact that Darren Aronofsky's mother! had on moviegoers and critics across the board. With the psychological drama-meets-horror painting a dark imagining of biblical allegories and marital anxieties, mother! was one of the films I was most eager to see last year, especially as it tore through theaters with a mixed but intriguing reception. With many hesitant to settle in for its feverish nightmare of a story, which finds a young couple threatened by charming yet mysterious visitors to their secluded home, the film ended up being a cringe-worthy yet highly-engrossing thriller hell bent on making your worst anxieties run wild.
5. The Disaster Artist - As 2017 introduced me to a number of things, one of the most delightful things I finally witnessed last year was Tommy Wiseau's unique disaster-piece The Room. To no surprise, the thing that prompted me to finally see The Room in the first place was the upcoming release of December's The Disaster Artist. With actor/director James Franco's newest film depicting the heavily-secretive making of Wiseau's iconic cult film, The Disaster Artist easily became one of my favorite films of the year. With its wit fueled not only by its many callbacks to Wiseau's flick, but also by a sensational performance by Franco as Tommy Wiseau himself, The Disaster Artist was a heartfelt tribute to one of the best bad movies ever made.
4. Dunkirk - If you're a long-time reader of the blog, you probably know at least one thing by now, that I'm as big a fan of director Christopher Nolan as I am of film composer Hans Zimmer. With the duo working on a number of some of my favorite films of all-time, from The Dark Knight to Inception, I was overjoyed when I heard that the two were collaborating yet again on the World War II film Dunkirk. With Nolan's latest pitching moviegoers one of his most daring pieces yet, the solemn and silent war flick worked to convey the perils of battle through the nameless souls at the heart of it. With Zimmer's frantic score ticking away as the characters' stories quickly intertwine, Dunkirk was a riveting look at war beyond its grim bloodshed.
3. The Shape of Water - After seeing Guillermo del Toro's dark fantasy The Shape of Water play out on-screen, it was hard not to put it high on the list of the best films of the year. While its premise might be somewhat simple, telling of a mute woman who falls for a mysterious amphibian humanoid, the emotional complexity at the center of the film, mixed with the allure of del Toro's brilliant filmmaking, managed to elevate The Shape of Water to one of enjoyable whimsicalness. With lovable characters, a disturbing yet inviting world cast in the shadows, and a lead performance by Sally Hawkins that captivates you in the first seconds of the film, del Toro's supernatural love story ended up being a visually-enthralling adventure I'm eager to embark on a second time.
2. Mudbound - While Netflix might have captured much of my attention in 2017 primarily through its dark mystery series like Mindhunter and Dark, the streaming service also produced a number of quality original films worthy of recognition. One of those films found itself in Dee Rees' compelling American epic Mudbound. With the film boasting a promising cast, including Carey Mulligan, Mary J. Blige, and Garrett Hedlund, set against the backdrop of post World War II Mississippi, Mudbound sent up not only a plethora of fantastic performances, but also a tale dripping with human spirit. Through a distinctly fresh eye courtesy of its director, that tale resonated with me beyond the racial issues at its story's core.
1. Get Out - Even as racial discrimination and injustice remain evident in our society, my top film of the year in Jordan Peele's modern horror classic Get Out sought to ease the racial tensions of the world by simply turning conventions on its head. While marked up as both horror and comedy, at the heart of Get Out is a seething commentary on how the wrongdoings of our past can make their way into the present. With a sharp wit that could only come from the Key & Peele star, Get Out made for a hilarious, and highly thought-provoking, debut feature that will stand as a dynamic kick-starter for a year full of phenomenal films.
What was your favorite film of 2017? How would you rank my top ten choices? Let me know in the comments below, and stay tuned for more reviews and posts like these as the new year kicks off!