This was a good year for movies. The year before had some gems—no doubt—but on the whole, I can’t say I was terribly impressed. But in 2017, we had some of the best installments in the DC and Marvel franchises; we had a Wright film, a Soderbergh film, an Aronofsky film, and a Nolan film; we also saw some break-out directors and a few stellar indie hits. This year, I was impressed.
In typical new year fashion, I wanted to share my favorite movies of the year—my top 10 that came out in 2017 and my top 10 that didn’t. Of course I recommend all of them, and I hope if you get a chance, you’ll try to see some of them. Like I said, it was a good year for movies:
Top 10 Movies (2017)
10. Get Out – I’m a sucker for genre blending, and Peele’s first effort as director does not disappoint. This topical thriller delivers with both laughs and scares and is hopefully only the beginning of a long career.
9. The Last Jedi – Lovely and narratively strong, The Last Jedi is certainly flawed but makes for a more interesting installment than its predecessor. It’s weight and merit stems from its place in pop-culture, so we may need to talk more about this in a different post…
8. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 – This sequel has all the action, visuals, and humor of its predecessor, and while it may not be as emotionally resonant, it sneaks in some true inventiveness.
7. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Three Billboards boasts the elements of a dark comedy, but at its core, it is a drama with near-perfect staging. It’s picturesque Missouri backgrounds help a lot too.
6. War for the Planet of the Apes – Though the film drags at times, it has the most beautiful scenes in either list and some of the most potent character interactions put to film.
5. Baby Driver – Baby Driver is a fun, slick movie, demonstrating how to make a movie with style.
4. Logan – Logan is a heartfelt entry into comicbook movies, containing an excellent performance by Jackman and a melancholy sendoff to some beloved heroes. It’s crafted aesthetics and themes on violence are welcome during this glut of superhero blockbusters.
3. Lady Bird – Surprisingly humorous, Lady Bird is one of the most poignant and relatable coming-of-age stories in film history. It far exceeds its closest competitor, Boyhood.
2. mother! – Though flawed, mother! offers an allegorical, dream-like film to mass audiences, for which I wish them the best of luck.
1. Logan Lucky – Though clearly reminiscent of Soderbergh’s Oceans Trilogy, my top pick could be copied from lesser movies. This heist comedy is heartfelt, warming, thrilling, and hilarious all in one. And as with many of my #1 picks over the last few years, your ethics may not be challenged nor your mind stretched, but the skill at work in Logan Lucky and the sincerity demonstrated is more than enough to claim the pinnacle of my list this year.
We’ll give an honorable mention to Thor: Ragnarok and Dunkirk. Way to go, guys. My least favorite movie of 2017 was Trolls, but even it wasn’t too bad. The movie I was most disappointed with, however, was The Lost City of Z. You looked so mystical and interesting, LCZ; shame on you for being so boring.
Top 10 Movies (Not 2017)
10. Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) – Uncharacteristic of Spielberg, this movie doesn’t work on a timeless level so that it will appeal to modern audiences just as it did to its original audience. But if you take yourself back, Close Encounters offers a suspenseful, emotional, and awe-inspiring journey caught nowhere else on film.
9. Heat (1995) – Though a little melodramatic, Heat is polished, well-acted, and thrilling.
8. Sicario (2015) – Unlike our winner above, Sicario, in addition to its thrilling set-pieces, does begin to stretch your ideas on right and wrong.
7. Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989) – While the characters and dialogue for this movie are superb, I think the most notable achievement of SLV is that it manages to both tackle an indie-intimate-drama scope while not venturing into film-student territory.
6. Dead Man Walking (1995) – The politics of this crime drama are lackluster, but its performances and heart are not to be outdone.
5. Barton Fink (1991) – Complex and intriguing as all Coen films are, I am destined to come back to this film and continue trying to pry open its mysteries and layers.
4. Hoop Dreams (1994) – Following the lives of two Chicago boys with basketball promise, Hoop Dreams is one of the most intimate, eye-opening, and sobering documentaries I’ve seen.
3. High Noon (1952) – I knew it was supposed to be good, but I was shocked by the craftsmanship and narrative propulsion of this black and white, 50s Western. There’s a reason it stands as one of the best.
2. Munich (2005) – People have a hard time with this movie because they have a hard time understanding it as a Spielberg film—or maybe that’s not it, maybe they have a hard time with it because it seems too on the nose. And as far as its top layer goes, that may be fair—it’s pretty overt about its Shakespearean claim that blood begets blood. But as you might expect from one of the smartest directors working today (and of all time), Munich has more than that. Munich is a film about sympathy with visceral hatred and overwhelming passion—understanding how not everyone is wrong but rather, as Ebert points out, everyone is right.
1. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014) – Riveting and beautiful, the second Planet of the Apes film ups its already good predecessor with intelligence and intimacy. This movie seems to have everything going for it (besides Lauren refusing to see it)—it is a technological achievement, gorgeous in every frame, smart, narratively complex (at least for a summer flick), and human. I can’t believe I missed out on this franchise for so long, but I’m glad I’ve seen it now—and I won’t soon forget it.
Runners-Up: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and In the Heat of the Night. Not too shabby, you two. The worst movie I saw this year was the acclaimed classic, Easy Rider! Ridiculous, right?
Well there were plenty of movies I haven’t seen from 2017 that I still need to—Coco, Shape of Water, are just a couple. But, like I said, it was a good year for movies, and I’m already excited for what’s coming up in 2018.