Writer’s Note: This list is not my ranking of the year’s best movies. What it is, for me, is my list of my favorite movies of 2017. Meaning many of the movies listed in my honorable mentions could be argued as better made movies or better quality film, but these are the movies that surprised me, enraptured me, and thrilled me.
As of today, I have not seen many of the year’s prestige, end of the year, limited run films like “The Post”, “Call Me By Your Name”, or “Phantom Thread”, so you will not be seeing this titles on my list or honorable mentions.
Honorable Mentions: “It”, “Lady Bird”, “The Shape of Water”, “Wind River”, “The Florida Project”, “Logan”, “Okja”, “Raw”, “Gerald’s Game”, “Coco”, “War for the Planet of the Apes”, “It Comes at Night”, “Wonder Woman”, “Dunkirk”, “Oh Hello: Live on Broadway”
10.) “Ingrid Goes West”
This movie, as mentioned previously in my ‘Surprises’ list, took me completely off-guard. It is a painfully honest look into the mechanics of 21st-century problems. Led by two stellar performances in Aubrey Plaza and Elizabeth Olsen and featuring many memorable supporting characters with Billy Magnussen as the obnoxious Nicky and O’Shea Jackson as the Batman-obsessed Dan. Just when you think the film will go one way, it goes the other. By the end, even though it feels rather circular, you end in a place you couldn’t have seen coming. An excellent examination and a damn entertaining movie as well.
9.) “Last Flag Flying”
Very, and I mean very, few movies make me weep like a baby. Two of them are on this list, starting with Richard Linklater’s “Last Flag Flying”. Anchored by three of the best performances in film this year, this adaptation and semi-sequel is beautiful, engaging, and simple. The last scene alone made me cry in a way I hadn’t in a long time. The character work is phenomenal, and the simplicity of the truth of the situation allows the audience a view into these character’s lives and their past. It is also a great commentary on war and the use of history and the effects it has on those who serve in it. Overall, “Last Flag Flying” is an essential movie for 2017.
Few movies left me so shaken and upset this year, with Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!” topping the list. A metaphorical mystery right up until the last frame, this movie had me so unsure of what would happen next. The last half hour of this film will go down in cinematic history as one of the most visceral and upsetting endings of all time. While the director has been keen on explaining the film’s metaphors, seeing it blind allowed me to create my own meaning, one that I still stick to because it’s all the more personal. And that’s what great cinema should do.
7.) “Get Out”
Jordan Peele’s “Get Out” is probably the best movie of 2017, and certainly one of the best of the last 20 years. It is a terrifying examination of racism and micro-aggressions against the black community and an absolutely effective horror film. It is also funny, wickedly smart, and a film that will go on to define an era in popular culture. It also boasts one of 2017’s best ensemble casts, with everyone from Catherine Keener to Lil Rel Howery putting in top-notch work. “Get Out” is a staggering achievement and one of the most impressive debuts of all time.
6.) “Blade Runner 2049”
Boy, do I love me my sci-fi. How do I love it done? 3 hours long, methodical, intellectual, visually inventive and stunning, and epic as fuck. That’s right folks, the masterwork that is Denis Villeneuve’s “Blade Runner 2049”. The balls it takes to create a sequel to one of cinema’s greatest sci-fi works and somehow make it so intensely great that it blows the original out of the water. Everything, from the intense score, the surprising plot, the look of the movie, the action beats, and the characters are planned to the T. Harrison Ford’s Decker is back and grumpier than ever, and as mentioned before this movie features what I consider to be the best character of 2017 in Ana de Armas’ JOI. Yet another movie that will be watched and discussed for years to come.
5.) “A Ghost Story”
So, David Lowery: how do you plan on following up your wonderful remake of “Pete’s Dragon”? Oh, you’re going to make a film that is somehow a meditation on time and love and features Casey Affleck under a bed sheet? Gotcha. Wow, “A Ghost Story” is a gut-punch of a movie. Several scenes in this film made me question other films I’d seen before, and everything that had happened earlier in the movie. While a lot is written about the pie scene (which is glorious) not enough is written about how damn good this movie is. The performances of the 2 leads are subtle and lovely, and the movie maintains small while regaining a sense of epicness through its time-hopping narrative. This is the other movie that had me weeping like a baby in the cinema. If only I’d had a sheet to hide under.
4.) “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”
“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” manages to do so many things right, it’s a wonder that it could even be made at all. The story is surprising and small, the characters are the main focus, and the practical effects are on full display. This movie provides wonderful evidence that Mark Hamill is a wildly underrated actor, that Daisy Ridley is a shining star, and that director Rian Johnson is someone to be trusted. Why it was so divisive is still a mystery to me. I believe it to be the most sophisticated Star Wars movie to date, asking questions about the morality of war and the force. But when it comes down to it, “The Last Jedi” always feels like a Star Wars movie, and that’s all that matters.
3.) “The Big Sick”
“The Big Sick” is a love story, but not the kind we’re used to seeing. It doesn’t hide behind any falsities or clichés. It shows a relationship blossoming and the trials they go through during. Kumail and Zoe shine, and as mentioned in my top performances list, their chemistry is matched by the charm of Holly Hunter and Ray Romano. Overall, “The Big Sick” is the best romantic comedy in years.
2.) “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”
As a former theatre major and lover of all things Colin Farrell I have to admit to a bit of a Martin McDonagh bias. “In Bruges” might be my favorite movie depending on the day and his follow-up “Seven Psychopaths” is endlessly entertaining and utilizes Christopher Walken to his fullest. This year, McDonagh brought the world “Three Billboards” and all is right. From a heartbreaking performance by Frances McDormand and the rest of the insane ensemble cast to the dark premise and even darker themes, this movie is a masterpiece.
1.) “Baby Driver”
I do love Edgar Wrights previous films, “The World’s End” being my favorite of the Cornetto Trilogy, but he has never spoken to me in the same way he has to other cinephiles. All of that changed with the ridiculously entertaining and fun “Baby Driver”. This film features some of the most exciting action sequences of all-time; the opening car chase, the Mike Myers-masked heist, the foot chase, and the excellent final showdown in the parking garage. It also utilizes its cast to the fullest, with Ansel Egort crushing it as the titular Baby, oozing cool with just a touch of irony and awkwardness. Lily James shines as the dream girl, Debra. The cast of criminals, including Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx, and Kevin Spacey all chew scenery and spit out bullets. It’s also the year’s best-edited film and features a great handpicked soundtrack. “Baby Driver” was the most fun I had in cinemas this year, making it my No. 1 film of the year.
What was your favorite movie in 2017? Comment below with your thoughts.