Wow, what a year. My list for 2016 was pretty challenging, or so I thought. 2017 blew the previous year out the water. I intended for this list to be “The 17 Best Movies of 2017” but my list ended up being 25. By my guesstimation, I watched 50-60 this year. Half of them were good enough (in my opinion, of course) to be recognized.
Before I get on with my list, I’d like to state that 25 seems like a huge number but it really isn’t. There are movies like Brawl in Cell Block 99, which was surprisingly good but not list-worthy. The Lost City of Z was good but I honestly don’t think I’d recommend it to most people. On the other hand, we have a movie like Justice League which is my guilty pleasure of the year, but it wasn’t a good movie. You’re also going to notice a few omissions. I don’t live in LA or NY so I didn’t have the pleasure of seeing The Shape of Water, Phantom Thread, or even Disaster Artist. Then, there are my notable omissions. I saw these movies but they didn’t move me enough to include them:
- Lady Bird: This movie didn’t match Greta Gerwig’s ambition. Instead of clinching tightly to moments that would have provided an emotional punch, they quickly zipped aimlessly to the next scene.
- Mudbound: This movie can be reduced to one moment because that’s pretty much all that happens in this movie. I didn’t care for the voiceovers either. Minus my gripes, it was still a decent movie although it didn’t move me.
- War for the Planet of the Apes: This movie snuck onto my list until I reviewed it. It made me stop to ask myself, “Wait, did I really enjoy this movie that much?”. The answer is no. I never really cared for this trilogy and I’m willing to admit this movie took it to another level but still, it wasn’t memorable. Shoutout to Andy Serkis though. Let’s not reduce him to some mo-cap actor, he’s one of the best in the biz.
- Baby Driver: It was a “cool” movie but um, yea…nah.
25. Atomic Blonde
I know, I know, this makes my credibility looks questionable but allow me to explain. Atomic Blonde has A LOT of problems. It outsmarts itself. There is double cross after double cross (does this make the cross cubed?) and it’s sloppily done. This movie would have been much better if it took the John Wick route: Kill a dog, make assassin come out retirement to get revenge. Fin.
For everything Atomic Blonde isn’t, it’s still a very, very, cool movie. It looks sleek with those neon colors, the fight choreography is great and it has a great soundtrack to back it up. There’s a fight scene backed by George Michael’s “Father Figure” for crying out loud. Put “99 Luftbullons” on anything an I’m there. Bring in a staircase/hallway fight scene and I’m the first one there. Atomic Blonde was a fun movie to watch. Simple.
24. Lego Batman
Will Arnett is on Batman Mt. Rushmore and he’s never put on the suit himself. The Lego Movie was funny but Lego Batman was side-splitting, yell-laugh funny. This movie manages to laugh at everything we laugh at when it comes to the Dark Knight.
23. Spider-Man: Homecoming
Five stages of viewing Homecoming:
- Michael Keaton, cool.
- Bank robbers wearing Avengers mask, funny.
- This is a John Hughes movie…
- Ok, when are things going to pick up?
- THE VULTURE IS LIZ’S DAD WHOA!!!!
Homecoming fixes a lot of problems that plague superhero movies by saving the best for the third act. Most superhero movies give the hero an origin, present a conflict and have that superhero save the day. This movie applied real stakes. We knew Spider-Man would save the day but there was a price to pay.
22. Trainspotting 2
Did this movie need a sequel? No. Especially not after 21 years. Could this movie recreate the magic of the “Perfect Day” scene, which is probably one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a movie? Nearly impossible. Why is it on my list? I’m glad to revisit these characters one more time. Much like the characters, this story is more mature this time around. They have to reconcile the mistakes of the past. The ending is satisfactory.
21. Girls Trip
There are fifty million wild night movies starring men. A few million more movies starring white women. It was quite refreshing to get this comedy from black women and also have it so widely accepted. Girls Trip isn’t anything fancy but it’s a good time at the movies. It was incredibly funny and Tiffany Haddish is a gem. I’m infatuated with the way she says “bootyhole” as well, judge ye not.
20. Good Time
Hate away if you’re #TeamJacob because Robert Pattison is having himself a year. He shocked me in his role as Jax Teller’s assistant in Lost City of Z but he blew me away in Good Time. Good Time is an almost real-time movie about a botched robbery that results in his brother getting arrested and the crazy journey to bail him out. This movie in one unexpected turn after another but the title says it all.
19. Sweet Virginia
A disturbance challenges the serenity of a small town. One man must stand in the way of this disturbance. This only ends one way. This movie really simple but it’s book-ended by two great performances by Chris Abbott and Jon Bernthal.
With Mudbound being mentioned in Oscar conversations and Bright being called the worst movie of the year, this little Netflix gem is being ignored. Okja is a fun ride and a good alternative for that What the Health? doc if you were contemplating veganism.
17. Logan Lucky
I avoided this movie when it was released because I wasn’t interested. I checked it out not too long ago and was pleasantly surprised. While it doesn’t have the same sizzle of other Soderberg heist movies, it still manages to be just as sleek.
16. Wonder Woman
Remember when movies used to give you that tingly feeling as soon as the credits rolled? You knew you had to watch this movie again soon? A lot of movies are missing that these days. Wonder Woman capitalized on this. It’s made for the big screen. One of the best movie moments of the year is definitely “That’s no man’s land”. Although this movie is almost derailed by the DC-on-steroids third act, the other parts of this movie are pure joy.
I almost forgot this movie was released in 2017. Ok, it was technically released in 2016 but it didn’t have the nationwide release until 2017. This movie is instantly a triumph for M. Night Shyamalan. I thought he didn’t have it anymore. I’m glad I was wrong. By the time Split is over it totally morphed into something I wasn’t expecting.
14. Brigsby Bear
This movie is your feel-good movie of the year. It’s bigger than the biggest dream you dreamt as a kid. It’s bizarre, odd, and awkward but it’s so damn heartwarming.
13. Wind River
Wind River is slightly problematic by today’s standards but its heart is in the right place. Taylor Sheridan uses this winter crime mystery to deliver a bigger message. It’s not perfect but I respect the risk.
12. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Give me your hate. I need it to survive. You’re lucky 2017 was such a great year because this movie would be higher. I LOVED The Last Jedi. It by far the most visually stunning Star Wars movie.
11. It Comes At Night
I’m not sure it’s accurate to call It Comes At Night a horror movie since it’s so unconventional. As you can guess by the title, one of the biggest monsters of this movie is nightfall. That’s not a spoiler, it’s right there in the title. This movie takes a small-scale premise to make a very tense movie. Great performances by Joel Edgerton and Chris Abbott, who’s also having a good year.
10. Get Out
We can go full-on spoilers for this one. Everyone has seen this by now, I’m sure. Get Out was a pretty interesting movie but it isn’t higher on my list for a very nitpicky reason. With black cinema, the recent debate is how trauma sells. For some reason, only black pain gets recognition. I think there are some valid points to that. With that said, I don’t think the movie we saw in theaters was the best version of this movie. It’s cool that the black guy finally lives at the end but a little bit of the point of this movie was lost by not taking it another direction. Anyway, just my opinion. Whether or not you agree, we can all agree that Daniel Kaluuya delivered one of the best performances of the year. He did more with his eyes and facial expressions than most seasoned actors are capable of.
9. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
I ended up liking this movie way more than I thought I would because it became something I wasn’t expecting. Three Billboards is a true American story set in Smalltown, USA. If Frances McDormand ended up winning all the awards to be won I don’t think I could be mad.
Nolan has a lot of good movies–great movies even, but he didn’t have that masterpiece, until now. Dunkirk is a no-frills war movie that cares nothing about the cliches of a war movie. You barely get to know any of the characters, there’s no background provided, and it’s surprisingly short. It’s because none of this matters; the only thing that matters is what connects these characters: survival. From the moment the movie opens, it immediately drops you into the action. Nolan separates land, air, and sea, which is something I’ve never seen any war movie do before. Like most war movies, you know how it ends, except this time around you have no clue how they’re going to get there. It’s a beautifully thrilling experience that deserves the best resolution and sound system possible.
7. The Big Sick
My favorite rom-com’s are ones that are totally unconventional. The Big Sick is barely even a rom-com considering the love interest is only in the movie for like 20% of the time. This is Kumail Nanjiani’s semi-autobiographical retelling of how he met his wife. It starts with a one night stand, they become a couple, they break up, and immediately after she becomes gravely ill by some rare condition. Kumail spends most of the movie with Ray Romano and Holly Hunter. While this movie is the least flashy of my top ten, it’s one of the most interesting stories.
I went into this movie not knowing what it could possibly be about because trailers gave nothing away. Even the synopsis simply reads “unexpected guests arrive at a house” (paraphrase). mother! ends up being one of the craziest movies I’ve sat through all year. Now, trigger warning, because we have to do these things now, this movie isn’t for everyone. In fact, it’s quite upsetting. Why the hell is it in my top ten, then? Well, sometimes a movie needs to shake you down to your core to get its point across. Indeed it did. Whenever I type the title of this movie, I never leave out the exclamation point. I can’t after seeing this movie.
5. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
Both of my upsetting movies are back to back, eh? The Killing of a Sacred Deer might be harder to watch than mother! which is saying a lot. While mother! will make you want to get up and walk away, this movie cements you to your seat. It forces you to see it through. I’m still not so sure how something so purely evil ended up being so amazing but I’m here for it.
4. I, Tonya
I typically don’t rank biopics high because there’s only so much you can do with them. Relive the best moments, hope for a good performance and get out. I, Tonya smashes the biopic formula. It’s set up as an interview and the scenes are flashbacks from conflicting viewpoints. It’s surprisingly funny and incredibly quirky. Not only that, I think Craig Gillespie should be up for a Best Director nomination.
I never knew the full story behind the Nancy Kerrigan knee-bashing, and honestly, I still don’t know, but I, Tonya provides the most interesting version of it.
3. Call Me By Your Name
Although it’s number three on my list, you’re going to hear many people say Call Me By Your Name is this year’s best movie. They’ll probably even say it’s an instant classic. Those people aren’t wrong. My top two are my top two because they fit the niche of what interests me the most but that has nothing to do with this movie. It’s fantastic. It’s a rare case of a director making all the right decisions, actors really bringing out the best of their characters, and a great score to convey those emotions. The best performance of the movie might not even be Timothee Chalamet or Armie Hammer, although they’re fantastic, it’s Michael Stuhlbarg, who plays the father of Chalamet’s character. His final monologue is one of the most beautiful scenes of the year and the movie closes with one of the most heartbreaking closing credit scenes ever.
The beauty of having a movie that only ends one way is being able to take the journey you want to get to that destination. There’s only one way Logan ends, you know it, I know it, they know it. What this movie was able to do is fully capture the essence of this character and give him a redemption story. A legacy. Logan is holed up with a roommate who was once an enemy of the X-Men while taking care of the man who once saved him. He dreams of sailing away, living the last of his days at sea to escape the world he doesn’t know anymore. X-23 sets this movie into motion. It gives a man who doesn’t believe in this world anymore something to believe in.
When that inevitable end does come, it’s welcomed. Logan has given us a legacy. As you can tell, this would easily be my #1 movie of the year if not for something else…
1. Blade Runner 2049
The original Blade Runner has been a major part of my life. It introduced a lot of themes we see over and over today. It’s the inspiration behind one of my favorite anime shows of all time, Cowboy Bebop. Needless to say, I wasn’t too thrilled about a sequel. Didn’t think we needed it. Didn’t think Denis Villeneuve was that great of a director since I’m getting my bad takes out. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
I haven’t stopped thinking about this movie since I saw it in October. It manages to be entertaining while being thought-provoking, and it’s beautiful while doing so. Blade Runner 2049 shouldn’t be called a sequel, that would be unfair. Rather, it’s the loop of one character’s life overlapping with the loop of another’s.
This movie is my instant classic of the year.
As usual, I’m interested in hearing your opinion. Agree? Disagree? What’s on your list of top movies of the year?