Top 10 Films of 2017
This is a first for this blog! I actually have put together a "Best Films of the Year" list for the first time!
2017 was a great year for filmmaking. We had some epic war dramas, some great, almost surreal romance dramas, and some tender mother-daughter stories. A true grab bag of movies makes for a fine cinematic soup.
Today, we're counting down the top 10 films of 2017.
Now, just to clarify, because all the movies ever come out between Christmas and New Year's, and I spent that time writing these articles, there are some movies that I have not seen that I'm sure would be in consideration for this list if I had seen them. They are: Phantom Thread, The Florida Project, and The Greatest Showman.
Without further ado, away we go.
Dee Rees’ underrated Netflix drama surrounds two WWII vets, one white, one black, who return home to Mississippi, only to confront PTSD and racism, respectively. There’s talk of an Oscar nomination for Mary J. Blige for Mudbound, but I’m not 100% sure of that happening. What you should really look out for is the relationship between Jamie and Ronsel, played by Garrett Hedlund and Jason Mitchell, respectively.
When in comparison to Alexander Payne’s precious films Nebraska and The Descendants, this one might be a bit of a miss. Downsizing brings up some interesting points about the sustainability of human life, advances in science,wealth distribution, and our place in this world, to name a few. It may not delve into those points as much as we’d like, but it does provide a good adventure about what life might be like in a not-so-distant future.
The Disaster Artist
You go to this film for James Franco’s impression of Tommy Wiseau. It’s just that simple. The work done to replicate The Room is fantastic, and overall, it’s a film about just how far a dream can take you- and how far you might be to go just by failing. This movie was tearing my sides apart at some points, like the multiple takes, or the Josh Hutcherson cameo, or the scene at the very very end.
Just when you thought M. Night Shyamalan was out, he pulled you back in with this apparent sequel to Unbreakable. With a stellar James Marsden leading the way as the mentally unstable Kevin, the film meticulously builds suspense for our main character Casey (played by Anya Taylor-Joy), keeping us on the edge of our seats until the finale of the film. The twist at the end provides some interesting social commentary (generally, it’s about child abuse), and the appearance of a familiar face at the very end of the film makes us yearn for the meeting of Kevin Crumb and Mr. Glass some time in 2019.
The Top 10:
Disney-Pixar’s gorgeous new film takes place in Mexico, revolving around the Day of the Dead ceremony. As we join Miguel on his adventure to visit his ancestors and find his great-grandfather, with a hope that it may be the great musician Ernesto de la Cruz, despite his grandmother’s ban of music within the family. This film, with its beautiful animation, cast of colorful characters, and gorgeous songs written by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, will make you laugh, make you hope, rip your heart out, and make you want to call your parents afterwards. Damn you, Pixar! Who’s chopping the onions?
9. Call Me By Your Name
Luca Guadagnino’s romance drama is beautiful- the whole film looks like something taking straight out of an 80s high school foreign language textbook. As far as story- this one will hit all the right heartstrings- the chemistry between Timotheé Chalamet and Armie Hammer is palpable- their love is honest and real, and has this heir of playful maturity to it. Every part of this film is stunning. Just be careful which peach you pick up next.
8. The Post
Steven Spielberg is at it again, this time bringing in Meryl Streep along with long-time collaborator Tom Hanks to help tell the story of Kay Graham and Ben Bradlee, who helped publish the Pentagon Papers, one of the greatest cover-ups in government history. This is a solid notch in Spielberg’s body of work. Streep and Hanks play off each other beautifully, with other actors like Sarah Paulson’s Tony Bradlee and Bob Odenkirk’s Ben Bagdikian fitting in nicely as well.
7. The Shape of Water
If you’ve ever seen a Guillermo del Toro film, you know you’re in for a highly stylized work that, while a bit strange, is ultimately endearing and mystifying altogether. The Shape of Water is no different, as we find Elisa (Sally Hawkins), a mute janitors at a government lab in 1960s Baltimore, who befriends a captured aquatic creature. Utilizing the help of her neighbor Giles (Richard Jenkins) and he coworker Zelda (Octavia Spencer), Elisa launches a plot to set the creature free, all while under the shroud of a ruthless security officer (Michael Shannon). This is probably del Toro’s best work since Pan’s Labyrinth- both in design and storyline- as it shows that love can be true (and even cross species) without so much as a shared word.
6. The Big Sick
Kumail Nanjiani’s autobiographical film is slowly losing ground in the Oscar race. That’s a shame, because it’s one of the better films I saw this year. It tells the love story of Nanjiani and his future wife Emily V. Gordon (who also co-wrote the screenplay), the former of whom must fight cultural differences after the latter falls ill with a strange sickness. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano give the standout performances in this film as Emily’s mother and father, and even Nanjiani delivers a fantastic turn (yes, even while playing himself). It’s a shame this film won’t get more recognition, because it truly deserves it.
5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Martin McDonagh is at it again. Back to the big screen for the first time since Seven Psychopaths, Three Billboards finds us in Ebbing, Missouri, as a mother seeks to urge the seemingly apathetic police force to find the man who murdered her daughter, using the billboards in question. It’s got all your McDonagh-isms: from the profanity, to the randomly absurd actions by some of the main characters, to utilizing a little person (Peter Dinklage), to a hatred of people touching or killing little kids. It’s all there. It’s also the first time we’ve seen a strong female character, as Frances McDormand is fierce and gritty, all at the same time.
4. Get Out
Jordan Peele directed a horror film this year. So that happened. And that horror film is one of the more biting satires to come out in the last 15 years or so. Get Out sets up the racial strains that have made themselves present in an Obama-era America, and how white people, even though they’re trying hard not to be patronizing or condescending- or even racist, end up doing all of that. Chris, the protagonist in question, goes to visit his girlfriend’s parents: a brain surgeon and a psychiatrist- and then shit hits the fan. Almost a little too late, Chris discovers the family is harvesting bodies of black people for white people to put their brains inside of in order to live longer. It’s messed up, but it is a genius film altogether. I’m glad the film has had the crossover appeal that it has.
3. Lady Bird
This film is a joy. It made me feel all the awkward feels I felt in high school- it made me feel young again. Saoirse Ronan is a joy as well. Lady Bird (the girl in question) brings us all back to a time when we were trying to find out who we were. And then there’s her parents. There’s the good parent (the tender and loving Tracy Letts), and the “bad” parent (the strict and caring Laurie Metcalf). We can all relate to Lady Bird. I think, in a way, we have all been Lady Bird at one time or another in our lives. We just want to be ourselves- there comes a time where we just want to be our own person in this world- to fly free.
2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
A bit of personal preference here. Since The Empire Strikes Back, The Last Jedi is the most important film in the Star Wars canon. Here, we are focusing in on the relationship between the Jedi and the Force in a way we’ve never seen before. Director Rian Johnson takes many risks in this film, and we see many, if not all of them pay off. The film also has major social themes, as we examine both Luke and Kylo Ren, and their fears of both the past and the future, much like a generation who might be too afraid to let go of past Star Wars films and look into the future, and how your alignment with the Force means much more than the color of your lightsaber blade. The relationship between Rey and Kylo sets us up for an epic showdown in Episode IX. If the last hour of Last Jedi had my jaw on the floor, I can only imagine where the story goes next.
Dunkirk took me two tries. I saw it twice in like three days. But I finally got it. This film is the best pieces of filmmaking and storytelling to come out this year. Christopher Nolan’s war epic about the Dunkirk evacuation shows all kinds of suspense with just the factors at hand: The thinning of time, the enemy approaching from all fronts, and the thin odds of escaping. It is truly amazing what one can accomplish without much dialogue. The non-linear storytelling is a fantastic device as well, telling each story (a week for our land soldiers, a day for our rescuers on the water, and an hour for the pilots in the air) in a genius overlapping fashion. There are the familiar faces like Tom Hardy and Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh and even Harry Styles, all of them showing urgency to even further add to the pulse-pounding thriller. Dunkirk is one of those films you’ll remember for a while. I think Christopher Nolan has really hit it big with this one.
What were some of your favorite films from this past year? Leave a comment down below.
Also, be sure to check out According to Andrew's Best of 2017 spread HERE.