As we have in the years before, we tasked our writers to choose the movies they thought stood out from the crowd this year. 2017 was a great year for movies, and narrowing down our lists to only five choices was pretty damn difficult. That said, our team toughed it out and made it happen:
It’s been a solid year for movies, ranging from the thought-provoking to the purely entertaining (oftentimes both!). As such, it was REALLY tough to narrow down this list to only five films. It would be easy to go with the blockbusters that had me dropping my jaw throughout, or just the films that stuck with me emotionally/mentally long after the credits rolled. In the end, I think a good mixture of both is making my list this year. Quick note before you check out my list. It’s important to remember that with the newborn this year, I missed out on a great deal of movies that may have made the list (Dunkirk, Shape of Water, Phantom Thread…etc).
War for the Planet of the Apes – Emotionally gripping and visually stunning. Caesar’s conclusion is a genuine one-two punch.
Get Out – Relevant on many levels, beautifully told, and incredibly tense.
Baby Driver – This is a pure adrenaline rush the entire way through, no matter how many times you watch it.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi – It’s a seriously great movie. Not just a great Star Wars movie, but manages to impress on multiple levels. Despite it dividing a lot of fans, it’s one that I simply can’t stop thinking about.
IT – No one is more surprised than I am to find a horror movie sitting on my top list for the year, but that goes to show just how impressively handled the story was in the new film. Between the characters, how the story was delivered, and the great cinematography, IT manages to hit all the right notes.
Honorable Mentions: Split, Logan, Wonder Woman, Kong: Skull Island
Phantom Thread – I didn’t know until June 2016 when news hit Paul Thomas Anderson and Daniel Day Lewis would be reuniting after ten years and having made my favorite film of all time, There Will Be Blood, that it’s a movie I’ve been waiting for for ⅓ my life. Them reuniting never occured to me. They had made one the most well regarded American films in history. While Phantom Thread may not get the legacy, it’s a truly great twisted love story that film fans will talk about for a long time and more than worthy to stand in Anderson’s impressive oeuvre.
A Ghost Story– Speaking of There Will Be Blood, A Ghost Story is the first movie I’ve seen since then that felt like it was made just for me. An epic love story than transcends space and time and all in 90 minutes. It plays with the idea of living space and nostalgia and what four walls can mean to people.
Lady Bird – As I continue to write these blurbs, I’m realizing that all five films are love stories, this film between a mother and daughter. But theirs is complicated. Lady Bird is about home and relationships. It’s a coming of age story you’ve seen one hundred times but never this fresh and with its unique voice that creates joy, sadness, and empathy. Greta Gerwig’s directorial career starts with a winner, and I can’t wait to see what she’s got coming next.
The Florida Project – We all knew Sean Baker was talented, but he’s here to pass one of the tests of a truly great director: can he direct little children as leads for a 90-minute film? Some of whom were hand picked from a trip to Target? Check. Baker not only gets incredible performances from 7-year old Brooklynn Prince, but also new comer Bria Vinaite, whom he found on Instagram. The film tells the story of a low-income community living on the outskirts of Disney World. It’s raw, sad, funny, and puts us in the shoes of a whole world we choose not to see while on our way into the wonderful world of Disney.
The Shape of Water – Guillermo del Toro smashes Amelie, Beauty and the Beast, and tosses in some Area 51 in this beautiful film about finding love and purpose. The visuals are stunning, but the performances hold such humanity, and the tone Toro plays with allowing for levity,and even fantasy dance sequences all works with the lovely French style jazz that carries you through.
Honorable Mentions: Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Dunkirk, The Beguiled, The Big Sick, Colossal, I, Tonya, The Disaster Artist
The Box Office may not suggest it but 2017 was a damn good year for movies. Disney had a huge year with reinventions of old classics, brilliant superhero films, and the 8th Episode of Star Wars. While I would love to put The Last Jedi on this list, at the time I wrote this entry I hadn’t seen it. By now, though, you can probably go ahead and put Star Wars as all 5 entries, but in the spirit of diversity let’s talk about my 5 favorite movies I have seen, leading up to Episode VIII.
Wonder Woman – It’s no secret that WB and DC have had a hard time building the DCEU. Missteps and questionable decisions have caused the universe to draw the ire of many fans and critics, alike. Despite that, most of can agree that Wonder Woman was the beacon of hope that many viewers were searching for. Patty Jenkins, Gal Gadot, and Chris Pine gave us the first female superhero film and they did it justice, giving us many memorable moments.
Thor: Ragnarok – Who knew that all Thor needed to do was be funny to have a good film. While Disney has had much success with their other standalone superhero films, Thor has been a tough nut to crack, until Ragnarok. The 3rd Thor film was hilarious, charming, with exhilarating action shots that had us cheering in theaters. Disney finally solved the Thor puzzle.
Coco – Another film in the Disney vein was Pixar’s Coco. Of all the movies that came out this year, this film struck a cord the most. It was inventive, beautiful, and moving. If the last few moments don’t have you getting misty-eyed, you’re not human.
Beauty and the Beast – I wasn’t kidding when I said that Disney had a big year. None bigger, though, was the production in the live-action Beauty and the Beast film. The updated Disney movie was imaginative and whimsical with gorgeous interpretations of classic tunes. Beauty and the Beast is near and dear to my heart and this Broadway-type film did the animated classic proud.
Split – I didn’t know what to expect going into M. Night Shyamalan’s latest psychological horror movie. All I knew was the James McAvoy played a character with a severe case of multiple personality disorder. However, what we got was a glorious thrill ride that kept audiences guessing right up until the climax. Shyamalan even incorporated his trademark twist not just once, but twice and it delivered in ways that Shyamalan hasn’t seen in YEARS.
Unlike last year, the 2017 films that we were looking forward to the most ended up meeting our expectations (for the most part…Alien: Covenant was a major exception). On the superhero front Logan started things off right, Marvel had three strong releases, and DC’s films were a drastic improvement over previous installations. Smaller films have also been promising thus far, standouts include; Split, The Beguiled, Ladybird, and The Big Sick. In such a competitive year, it really was difficult to pick the “best” ones. Because of this, I decided to simply pick the films that I enjoyed the most.
Blade Runner: 2049 – Blade Runner is one of my favorite films, and so I’ve been waiting eagerly for this sequel since the day it was announced. No, 2049 is not as groundbreaking or monumental as the original film, but it is nonetheless visually stunning and brings up many interesting things to think about. The fact that this is the only film in a long time that I have seen more than once in theaters should say enough about how much I enjoyed it.
Get Out – Coming from Jordan Peele, this one was unexpected, which is what made it so shocking, exciting, and engaging. I love great satires and this one is great in all aspects.
Dunkirk – Nolan is among my favorite filmmakers and I was eager to see his take on a war film. The result is spellbinding, in terms of both visual and constructive storytelling.
IT – We had several Stephen King movies release this year, and this one was by far the standout. I have not seen a horror film in some time that was as fun to watch and exciting as this movie. In my opinion, it perfectly captured the essence of Stephen King’s writings better than any film version prior. I can’t wait for the sequel.
Coco – This movie did something no other Pixar/Disney animated movie could do. It made my face leak.
Split – I was initially on the fence about this movie because M. Night Shyamalan, but it had James McAvoy and I like his acting. Throw in Anya Taylor-Joy who was also magnificent in her role and voila you’ve got a pretty good movie, but M night doesn’t stop there because in the last 10 minutes or so you find out that this is the LONG OVERDUE sequel to his 2000 film Unbreakable and that there will be a third film in the series coming. That quickly bumped this film from pretty good to OMG this is GREAT!
Get Out – this was another movie I thought would be useless to see, because in the first trailer it gave you damn near the whole story in 3 minutes. I mean I literally pieced together the basic plot of this entire film the first time I saw it … or so I thought. Funny man Jordan Peele surprised a lot of people with this move, and he laughed all the way to the bank with box office receipts of $254.1 Million dollars on a movie budgeted at $4.5 Million.
Wonder Woman – If you weren’t moved by the ‘No Man’s Land’ scene in this movie, there’s no hope for you as a human being. Move along, citizen.
Thor: Ragnarok – This was the most fun Thor film to date. Thor was NEVER a character I really liked in the comics, and the few issues I bought were the ones that had the Hulk in it and they’d beat the crap outta each other. Well I got that plus a whole lot more from this film. This movie was a total 180 from the other Thor films. I actually refer to this one as Guardians of The Galaxy 2.5
Honorable Mentions: Ingrid goes west, John Wick 2, Logan
War for the Planet of the Apes