2017 was a nice rebound from the incredibly (almost historically) weak year that was 2016, and was full of great films. Unlike last year, I struggled to get this list down to just ten and was torn how to get everything in order. Here are my top 10 films of 2017 (I saw 94, a personal in-year record for me). I didn’t get to every movie and there are some I have yet to be able to see like “Phantom Thread” and “Molly’s Game” (limited-until-January releases are a problem in the film industry), so this is a subjective list of what I did see and how I thought they ranked.
*You can read my reviews of the films by clicking on the title and see my Top 10 Worst Films list here.
Honorable Mention: The Boss Baby
If you know me, you know this was my guilty pleasure film of the year; except it’s not really a guilty pleasure since I genuinely think it is a good film. Sure it has its lazy moments where it relies on fart jokes but there are some actual bits of creativity and clever writing. I have told many people to see this film over the past nine months–including taking two additional trips to the theater and forcing my mom to sit down and watch it on Netflix–and think the ironic cult following it is developing is well-earned.
10. Wind River
A great mystery thriller, this features one of the better shootout sequences in recent memory. Great performances from Jeremy Renner and Elizabeth Olsen (both taking a break from Avenging) and a nice script from rookie director Taylor Sheridan make this one of the underappreciated gems of 2017.
It is fun, it is dramatic and it is intense. Great performances, a tear-jerking ending and some engaging dynamics among a game cast make this one of the criminally underrated films of the year.
8. Wonder Woman
It is disappointing that this film doesn’t stick the landing and opts for the CGI destruction finale because the first two acts of this honestly have some of the best moments in the history of superhero films. The No Man’s Land sequence will probably be remembered for years to come and what Patty Jenkins did with a “small” budget of $149 million is nothing short of incredible.
7. Girls Trip
Every year I try to get a comedy on my Top 10 however usually it is just a film I thought was the funniest of the year (like “Popstar” or “22 Jump Street”). But “Girls Trip” is a genuinely great film and an incredible good time. My friend and I sat in the theater in literal tears on more than one occasion and there are a few nice messages about friendship and staying true to yourself.
6. Get Out
I thought this film was solid the first time I watched it, but I wasn’t blown away (I called the twist about halfway through). However upon a second, third and fourth viewing I have come to appreciate the brilliant little moments in Jordan Peele’s nuanced screenplay. Once you have seen the film a repeat watch gives you an entirely new perspective and the performances of the actors, especially Daniel Kaluuya, become even greater.
Can’t think of the last time a film has marinated this well with me. While watching this 132 minute slow burn, you realize it has good moments but there are points where you feel the film could pick up the pacing. However a gut-punch of a finale and continued thinking about it makes it clear the slow-building relationship between Armie Hammer and a heart-breaking Timothée Chalamet is more than worth any amount of waiting. Love hurts and this film may hurt more, but in all the best of ways.
4. The Post
Timely, thrilling and well-acted by some of the biggest names in Hollywood’s history, this is a film that has a lot to say and even if it doesn’t break any new ground it is a fun, engaging ride.
3. The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
One of Netflix’s first true attempts to combat the studio system, this film features a great return to form for Dustin Hoffman, an arguably career-best turn from Adam Sandler (whatever that is worth to you) and a sharp, witty, almost Sorkin-like script from writer/director Noah Baumbach. Check this one out if you get the time because while we have seen the dysfunctional family dynamic a hundred times over in film, like “Lady Bird” this is elevated by a cast and script that makes you forgive most all the familiar flaws.
I was torn on this for a while. For almost all the year, “Detroit” was my number one film. It is riveting, it is heart-breaking and it is devastatingly topical to modern times. It can be argued that it runs a bit too long (which I’m sure contributed to it underperforming at the box office) but an ensemble cast featuring John Boyega, Will Poulter, Algee Smith, Jason Mitchell, John Krasinski, Jack Reynor and Anthony Mackie and expected powerhouse work from director/writer team Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal make this a film that can’t be overlooked.
And the number one film of 2017 was…
Like I said, I was torn on the order of my 1-2 for the past month. I have never been a huge Guillermo del Toro fan so I didn’t go into this expecting to love it like I did. But whether it is the performances from an all-star cast (namely Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Richard Jenkins, Michael Stuhlbarg and Octavia Spencer) or an engrossing production value and score, “The Shape of Water” mesmerizes you and rarely lets go. Check this one out, even if you don’t think the trailers or premise appeal to you, because I promise you will get lost in del Toro’s world.
Thanks for reading Top 10 films of 2017! Here’s to another great year at the movies!
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