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Mike’s Top Ten Films of 2017

This is it, folks, the moment nobody has been waiting for. Here I am to do what absolutely nobody else on the entire internet has ever thought to do — tell you my ten favorite films of the year.

Every time I begin one of these lists I feel compelled to mention how strong or weak the year felt as a whole. This one felt pretty weak from the start. A month ago, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to finish a top ten list. I barely had ten films I felt comfortable labeling as my ten favorite. As it stands, I barely got to that finish line. But I probably say that every year.

What has happened in the previous few years is that, in trying to work my way into a list that works for the future, rather than how I feel this year, I overthink it and put on stuff that ends up coming off within a year. So this year, instead of trying to do that, I just listed the ten films I liked best. If all works out, they’ll continue being my ten favorites of the year. If not, oh well.

I’m feeling pretty good about my choices this year. Unlike other years, I got most of the important stuff out of the way long before I needed to, giving me time to ruminate on everything and truly figure out my thoughts.

I also don’t have much more in the way of prologue, so let’s just get into the list.

Here are my top ten films of 2017:

10. The Shape of Water

There’s something utterly magical about this film. I’m not sure why I love it, but I’ve seen it twice now, and it’s impossible for me to explain almost anything about this movie. But it’s such a delight. By the time the musical number happened, I was already sold. That was just the icing on the cake.

A Cold War, fantasy, romance, heist movie. What more could I have asked for? Guillermo Del Toro is a master. Somehow he made a human/fish love story work. The film looks gorgeous. Guillermo’s movies always have gorgeous cinematography and production design, and great music. Alexandre Desplat’s score is one of the best of the year.

This movie has way more human on fish fucking than I thought possible. And the fact that I can even type this sentence is wonderful. I love everything about this movie, down to the song and dance number with the fish man. This is Guillermo’s best movie since Pan’s Labyrinth, and I hope he’s got some more small, weird movies to come in the near future, because these are definitely his best ones.

9. Blade Runner 2049

I didn’t see this one coming at all. I had no real response to this when I saw it. But it’s grown on me over the past three months.

I have no real affinity for the original Blade Runner. Therefore I had no expectations for this movie. So it wasn’t the property that I responded to, it was Denis Villeneuve’s direction and Roger Deakins’ cinematography. I think it’s important to state my position on the original film, so you know that I’m not for this one because of my affinity fro the property. It’s only on the merits of the movie.

Denis Villeneuve makes movies that are so engrossing. I don’t know how he does it, but this is his fourth movie in a row (essentially) that’s made my top ten. Ryan Gosling gives a really terrific performance, and I think they incorporated Harrison Ford (meaning the character and the actor) really well. They expanded the universe in a really smart way, keeping it grounded to the reality of the original and opening up lots of possibilities for future movies. I love that this is the story of a single character, and that in so doing it manages to bring back the original story and complete that in a really satisfying way.

This was originally going to be on the bottom half of my top 20. But after two (and a half) watches, I found myself growing more and more enamored with this movie. Each of the little ideas this introduced was endlessly fascinating, and I love that it never tried to do anything more than its story, building toward the conclusion that felt both revelatory and inevitable. This is great filmmaking.

Also, if there’s anyone I’d want to be in this future, it’s Barkhad Abdi. You want a goat? I’ll get you a goat.

8. The Big Sick

I think this is the earliest film on the entire top ten list. This came out in June. This was buzzed about for months until I saw it, and I had concerns, simply because I didn’t want peoples’ reaction to it to diminish my own (because if there’s anything that can make me prejudiced against a movie, it’s people overrating it before the fact). Fortunately I avoided everything before I saw it, which kept my reaction pure. And man, did I love this.

I’ve seen it a few times now, and it’s held up for me. It’s so charming. The fact that I know it really happened helps me love this as much as I do. There’s so much to love about this movie. The family storyline is so powerful, and this movie gets great performances out of people like Ray Romano, who I wouldn’t think would be a solid dramatic actor. Which speaks to the quality of the writing of this movie.

I feel like this has been somewhat forgotten in the past few months, and this hasn’t gotten the audience it deserves. But this should be widely available, which is nice. People will get to stumble on this in the future, which is nice, because it’s one of the most satisfying films of 2017.

7. Molly’s Game

My love for Aaron Sorkin is well documented. I had my concerns about this one because this was his first time directing a movie. But those were overcome by the time the title card came up on the screen.

We all know Sorkin is an A+ writer. But he’s actually a really competent director too. This is a very sure-handed effort, and he really manages to handle the job really well. He also (unsurprisingly, given how specific he is on the page) gets great performances out of his cast.

Jessica Chastain is, not surprisingly, great. (She also understudied for Sorkin in Miss Sloane, which was basically a Sorkin-lite movie.) Idris Elba is really incredible, in a role that is not designed to get a lot of kudos. Michael Cera is actually quite good. This is the first time I’ve seen him in a dramatic role and not thought, “What the hell is he doing here?” Kevin Costner is great. He’s always been quietly solid throughout his career and gives a really fantastic performance here, specifically in that third act. Which, I get is a bit too Sorkin-esque (in the bad way), but I love how he played it.

This is not a poker movie, for those who don’t know a lot about it. It’s a movie about a woman who was dealt a strange hand in life and made the most of it. It’s her story. It takes a lot of weird twists and turns, and poker is involved, but it’s not a poker movie. It’s also not the kind of movie about poker that handles poker badly. While there are a few moments of “he had the nuts. The best hand. A full house always beats three of a kind,” I can mostly forgive those as they seemed to be the product of someone who just learned how the game works, or was explaining it in very specific circumstances to people who probably have no idea how it works. So it’s not like the Rounders thing of, “Straight flush beats four of a kind” on every hand.

This is one of those movies that’s really solid, but because of Sorkin’s writing, it’ll get better every time because it’s just so watchable. I hope he keeps churning these out, because he’s one of the best voices we have in movies.

6. Coco

How the hell does Pixar do it?

Every time they have an original animated film (well… The Good Dinosaur… and Brave…), Pixar manages to craft a film that’s just so good, and so emotional. They’ve found a way to make everyone cry during their movies. I really can’t explain it.

This was a movie that I did not think I was gonna get into. Even fifteen minutes in — I liked it, but I was like, “Yeah, it’s just good.” But by the midway point, I was so all in on this movie, and by the end, I was getting misty-eyed. The visuals are amazing, and the music is so good. And it’s a simple story of a boy who wants to follow his dreams. It’s about family, and the past, and being who you are. And someone gets crushed by a giant bell, which is pretty awesome. Even from the opening scene, where the prologue is told through the paper cutouts, you can tell the artistry that was put into this.

As much as I want to give empirical reasons as to why this movie is great, but the true way you can tell that this movie worked is that we were all subjected to that terrible, never-ending Olaf cartoon beforehand and still managed to get emotional during this.

5. Dunkirk

This was the one entry on the list I was the most sure about and the most unsure about at the same time. The minute I saw this movie (in 70mm, which — oh yeah), I knew it would end up on my top ten list. The only question was, I didn’t know just how much I liked it.

I knew it was a hell of an experience, and well-directed movie that was gorgeous to behold (there’s no way Hoyte van Hoytema doesn’t win Cinematography, right?), but I wasn’t sure if I actually loved it as an achievement or as a film. But I watched it a second time (as late as I could), and I definitely love it as a film. It’s really well made. The three timelines fit together seamlessly, and it mostly avoids sentimentality (the moment on the boat is… questionable, but the rest works).

This is definitely one of those movies of directorial achievement over anything else. Kind of like Gravity, in a way. I’m more impressed at how he pulled this off than anything else. But I still think it’s a really great film, and in terms of 2017 as a whole, this was definitely one of my favorite films.

4. The Florida Project

Let’s begin by saying — Sean Baker had a hell of a coming out party with Tangerine. That was an incredible effort and one of the most vibrant movies of its year. And when I heard he had made this (which was surprisingly late, all things considered), I was very excited about this. Plus, that trailer — you saw that it was gonna be told from the point of view of the kids, which, I think we know is a huge thing for me. I love when films do that. So I was predisposed to liking this.

But man, was this a beautiful experience. I saw this in a screening with mostly 50-60 year-olds. And by the time the ending happened (which was brilliantly conceived, especially for people who saw Tangerine), an older guy behind me in the theater actually said, “Oh, wow.” That’s how I knew this one worked. It got an audible reaction out of someone who was not predisposed to like it.

Baker takes a movie of non-actors (pretty much only Willem Dafoe and Caleb Landry Jones, who is admittedly only in like two scenes) and makes it endlessly watchable. Brooklynn Prince is astounding here, as is Bria Vinaite as her mother. Everything about this felt real, and even though (which seems to be the running theme so far) the story feels very specific to a particular type of situation in a very specific location, it felt like a movie that deals with all of childhood.

I cannot recommend this movie highly enough. It’s really good, and truly one of the great films of 2017.

3. Lady Bird

Another movie I couldn’t have seen coming even in June, let alone January. This is an unassuming little indie that was the highest rated movie on Rotten Tomatoes for a little while. This might be the most critically-acclaimed movie of the year. Which is nuts.

This is also one of those movies that everyone loves. Because it’s just so pure, and so universal. I love movies that are really specific. This is basically (loosely, but still) Greta Gerwig’s childhood. But there’s something about the specificity of one person’s experience that can become the most universal when people see it.

Saoirse Ronan is cementing herself as the greatest actress of her generation. Laurie Metcalf gives probably her greatest screen performance. Tracy Letts continues to be the greatest secret weapon a film can have. Timothée Chalamet adds a third film to his fantastic 2017 resume (along with Call My By Your Name and Hostiles).

The best compliment I can pay this film is that it’s only 94 minutes. And it is one of the most satisfying film experiences you can have.

2. Phantom Thread

Get you a man that can do both. (If you’ve seen the film, you know what that means.)

When I saw the movie, I said, “He did it. Paul Thomas Anderson has become the Stanley Kubrick of his generation.” He’s been trying to get there for a few films now, and I think he finally achieved it.

I should not have cared as much as I did about those dresses, but man was I invested in every stitch. Also, more fussy Daniel Day-Lewis. I could not get enough of him losing his shit because of an errant creak or silverware clank. Also, how much of a revelation is Vicky Krieps? And how underrated is that Lesley Manville performance?

This is a true master at work. I was spellbound through this entire film. Which I will point out — Paul Thomas Anderson shot himself. It’s a shame he can’t win for Best Cinematography, because he deserves it. This might be the most visually beautiful film you see this year.

I can’t claim that this will be for everyone, but I also feel like it’s so engaging in that Kubrick way that most people will get something out of this. I like how it starts off kind of wide, not really having a set story (though hinting at one), and then meanders from both the romance to the dressmaking to that third act. My god. How on the edge of your seat were you for those last few minutes? Who knew a dinner could be that engrossing? Hitchcock would have loved this movie.

I’m very excited to see what kind of secrets this one has in its linings in subsequent rewatches. (Not sorry, that was awesome.)

1. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri

I didn’t think this would end up as #1. But here we are. I saw this at a screening at the end of October and immediately said, “This is my favorite movie of the year.” And this year being what it was, that held up.

Martin McDonagh is one of my favorite writers. In Bruges is one of my favorite movies of the past decade. Seven Psychopaths is gleeful anarchy, and a hilarious movie. This film manages to take the best elements of both those films and somehow introduce a layer of tragedy to the film that never throws the film off keel.

This film balances comedy and tragedy really well. It has great performances by Frances McDormand, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Caleb Landry Jones, John Hawkes. Like the old trope, this movie actually has scenes that get you to laugh and then turns on a dime and gets you emotional.

I thought this movie was gonna be really divisive for people (since McDonagh is a very confrontational filmmaker, and put certain elements in here that seemed destined — and intended — to get a reaction out of people), and I was shocked to find this on so many top ten lists and awards lists. Not that I’m complaining, but I definitely thought this was gonna be a movie that I loved that I was gonna have to be okay with other people not liking. It feels weird to have a Martin McDonagh movie that everyone loves right off the bat.

I can say for certainty, this is a year I’ll be happy to have unranked in a year, because there definitely doesn’t feel like there’s a true #1 at the top of it. But maybe I’m wrong. I usually am.

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11. I, Tonya — Of all the films of the year, this felt like the only other one I’d have been happy to have on the top ten list that didn’t make it. Maybe in a year or two, it does make it. This was so good. It has the right tone, the right casting (Margot Robbie is terrific, Sebastian Stan is really good and underrated, Julianne Nicholson is really good, Paul Walter Hauser is so great. And Alison Janney — holy shit. Great script here, and a really good soundtrack. Some of those choices were inspired.

12. The Post — Spielberg, man. He’s just a pro. He makes ’em great. This wasn’t quite Bridge of Spies for me, but it was terrific. Journalism movies are fantastic. For a minute this was gonna be #10, but in the end, I didn’t  love it, I just really liked it a lot. The ensemble is great, not a weak link in the bunch, and a lot of small roles that really stand out. What I liked most about this wasn’t the scenes of journalism (sitting in the room, reading through the papers and cranking out stories) but rather the quiet feminism angle running throughout the film, which crescendos at the end. (Though seriously, with the multiple endings. At least have the decency to not make the first one perfect before you give us more.)

13. Baby Driver — This is in everyone’s top 20, isn’t it? Who doesn’t love this movie? It’s pure adrenaline. Edgar Wright makes an almost perfect movie. The editing is fantastic, and all the actors are perfect for the film. It’s a real showcase of entertainment that threatens to not work, but he pulls it off. This will hold steady over time as a great film.

14. Roman J. Israel, Esq. — One of two movies in my top 20 that weren’t necessarily beloved. I think this one is hugely underrated. As long as you don’t try comparing it to Nightcrawler, this one is a really good film. Denzel gives what might be his best performance in fifteen years, and it’s a movie that works great as a character piece and as a classical ‘noir’. I’ve said this ad nauseam since it came out, but this could have been a noir made in the 50s. It’s classical storytelling. Don’t listen to the mixed reception, this is one of the better films of 2017.

15. Logan — I’m just gonna say it… this is the best superhero movie since The Dark Knight. Because this isn’t primarily a superhero movie. This is a drama and a character piece. The character just happens to be one from the superhero movies. We had the benefit of 17 years with this character before this movie came out, but that doesn’t diminish its emotional impact one bit. Hugh Jackman has made the most enduring and endearing superhero character of possibly all time, and he goes out in style. This movie never fails to get an emotional reaction out of people. The end of this movie shouldn’t work as well as it does, and the fact that it gets you to weep shows you what an accomplishment this is.

16. Star Wars: The Last Jedi — I really wasn’t a fan of this the first time I saw it. But after the second time, I definitely liked it way more. It’s still too long, and features one of the three worst moments in the history of the franchise (Midichlorians, Jar Jar, and this moment), but there’s a lot of great ideas in this, and it’s really engaging. I feel like this might have more replay value than The Force Awakens. That’s two Star Wars movies where I either over or underrated them after the initial watch. So we’ll leave this here and see what time does to it. Maybe Episode IX I’ll get right the first time.

17. Logan Lucky — ‘Ocean’s 7-11’, as they call it in the film. I saw this again the other day. I’m shocked this didn’t get more of an audience when it came out. This is a delight. If you like Ocean’s Eleven, this is exactly that (even the ending is exactly  the same). It’s awesome. Welcome back, Steven Soderbergh.

18. Murder on the Orient Express — I loved this. This was pure cinema to me. (Seeing it in 70mm helped too.) It looked gorgeous, had a lot of famous actors doing their thing, and it’s just an engaging murder mystery story that does everything you’d want a movie to do. Branagh is fun as Poirot, and aside from some questionable ‘action’ beats, really does things well.

19. The Disaster Artist — Sadly, I did naht like this movie enough to feature it in my top ten. But isn’t it great? I think we’re all pretty amazed that, not only does this movie exist, it turned out to actually be pretty good! This is a very specific entity, which can work on its own, but best works with a working knowledge of a cult movie known as being so bad it’s… well, bad. And probably better if you have an affinity for that movie and its mysterious auteur. But even so, it’s a lovely little movie with great performances and fantastic recreations of already… iconic’s not the word, but… memorable, we’ll say memorable scenes. The side by sides at the end is worth the price of admission alone.

20. Loving Vincent — This is one of the greatest cinematic achievements of the decade. An entire movie that’s hand-painted. 65,000 oil-paintings, on canvas, transferred onto film. What this movie lacks in story, it more than makes up for in sumptuous visuals and artistic achievement. I love this movie.

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Tier Two:

  1. All the Money in the World
  2. Atomic Blonde
  3. Brawl in Cell Block 99
  4. Call Me By Your Name
  5. Darkest Hour
  6. Detroit
  7. Good Time
  8. Hostiles
  9. John Wick: Chapter Two
  10. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
  11. Lady Macbeth
  12. Mother!
  13. Patti Cake$
  14. Spider-Man: Homecoming
  15. Stronger
  16. Thor: Ragnarok
  17. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
  18. War for the Planet of the Apes
  19. Wind River
  20. Wonder Woman

Brawl in Cell Block 99 is another B movie masterpiece from S. Craig Zahler, following up Bone Tomahawk, which is still one of the underrated films of the past couple years. This is a movie that takes an interesting route, starting off as an engaging drama and getting more B movie as it goes along, culminating in a series of scenes that (like Bone Tomahawk) will have you laughing, cringing and screaming all at the same time. One of the true hidden gems of 2017. Darkest Hour is just a joy. Gary Oldman is sublime as Churchill, and the movie is incredibly well-written and directed. One of those movies that will feature around the same on everyone’s list because it’s just good. Speaking of good, Good Time was one of the more fun theatergoing experiences I had this year. A thrill ride from start to finish, and one of the great independent films of the year. Perhaps the performance of Robert Pattinson’s career. A movie that seems to have the right amount of acclaim, but not the right amount of eyeballs.

Call Me By Your Name is an absolutely lovely film. Gorgeous to look at, wonderfully acted and directed, and also (as is always the case with me) one of the movies of the year that everyone else has on their top ten list that I didn’t love as much as they did. Still loved it, just not as much as the rest of you. Either way, it’s one of the best films of the year. Atomic Blonde showcases the flashy fight scenes of John Wick with the neon glow and pulsing soundtrack of the 80s. And it has Charlize Theron kicking the shit out of people in Cold War Berlin. What more could you ask for in a movie? All the Money in the World, despite the whirlwind of press surrounding it, is quite a solid movie. As is typically the case with Ridley Scott, it showcases an old pro at work.

Lady Macbeth is, perhaps, the #1 hidden gem of 2017. It barely missed the top 20. I was not expecting to love this as much as I did. Florence Pugh has a star-making turn in this, and gives one of the best performances I saw all year. The movie is gorgeous to behold, and holds your attention in ways that blockbuster films only wish they could. Jumanji is one of the great surprises of the year for me. I thought it would be fun, but I didn’t imagine it would be good. I had such a blast seeing this in the theater, and I truly didn’t think the studio would be able to pull this off. This movie made me smile. Patti Cake$ is one of the biggest crowdpleasers of 2017, which unfortunately is greatly lacking in the ‘crowd’ portion of that statement. I’m not sure why people didn’t spark to this, but this is one of the movies of 2017 that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face. Great performances by Danielle Macdonald and Bridgett Everett, and a killer (P) soundtrack. The climactic moment of this movie is sure to get you to stand up and clap.

Mother! is probably the most ambitious film of the year, and probably the most divisive as well. It’s not without its problems, but how can you fault an auteur for swinging for the fences? Say what you will about this movie, it’s definitely engaging and thought-provoking. Also features the most insane third act of any film of the year, which is a feat in and of itself. Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is, similarly, a very ambitious film. One that’s also (in its own way) walking in some large footsteps. Many of the criticisms of this movie are completely valid, but I thought it was a fun time at the movies. I like these kinds of ambitious movies, because I liked seeing the giant universe he created for it, and imagining all the different things going on inside it (or that could go on inside it). I’d much rather a creative new ‘failure’ (if, indeed, this counts as one) than a mediocre version of the same stuff I’m used to.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is one of the best films I’ve seen Marvel make. They managed to make a film that is not only contained (a feat, considering how large and interconnected this universe is), but also tells a story that works. This is the first time I’ve seen a reveal (or twist, or whatever you wanna call it) in a Marvel movie that actually made me go, ‘Oh, that’s really smart’. It also maintains an element of fun throughout and never lets the action get too big for the film. And keeping with Marvel, Thor: Ragnarok saved a franchise that was hovering around mediocrity to begin with. Without completely changing up the pace and trying something different, they were really getting to the point of ‘forced retirement’. But they found an offbeat director who injected everything the character needed and turned out a film that is more interesting when it’s not adhering to the tropes of the superhero movie. One of the few truly satisfying Marvel sequels.

Hostiles is yet another solid effort from Scott Cooper. Not gonna be for everyone, but incredibly well-made and very gripping. And the second film to heavily feature the mistreatment of Native Americans as a central theme. The first, of course, is Wind River, which is an incredible directorial debut from Taylor Sheridan. It’s a police procedural with something to say, and a really engaging story that doesn’t have to be loaded with action and set pieces in order to tell a satisfying story. After Sicario and Hell or High Water, Sheridan’s on quite the roll. War for the Planet of the Apes is a satisfying conclusion to what may be the strongest trilogy of blockbuster filmmaking this decade. (Yeah, yeah, I know. Dark Knight.) None of the films in the trilogy are short of ‘very good’, and I really appreciate that the studio took the time to let these films be made right, without giving in to the kinds of pitfalls most big budget films fall victim to. This is a very big deal.

Stronger is a film destined to be overlooked because of Patriots Day, but it’s a far, far better film than that. This is a movie about one man. And, in its way, its more The Fighter than anything else. It has a lot of charm and a lot of character, and great performances by Jake Gyllenhaal and Tatiana Maslany. Detroit is that one movie from the middle of the year everyone loved and then forgot about. It was quite good. The biggest negative I can say about it is that it’s not The Hurt Locker or Zero Dark Thirty, which more speaks to the quality of those films than this one. That Algiers sequence is still one of the most tense and well-directed of the year. Wonder Woman is, in many ways, the film of 2017. The only thing keeping me from saying the D.C. universe should be euthanized. Gal Gadot is charming as hell, and the film features some of the most uplifting moments I saw in cinema this year. It’s not perfect, but how many things are?

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Tier Three:

  1. Battle of the Sexes
  2. Brigsby Bear
  3. Colossal
  4. Dave Made a Maze
  5. Free Fire
  6. Get Out
  7. The Girl Without Hands
  8. The Greatest Showman
  9. The Killing of a Sacred Deer
  10. Kingsman: The Secret Service
  11. Landline
  12. The Lost City of Z
  13. Mary and the Witch’s Flower
  14. Mudbound
  15. Novitiate
  16. Okja
  17. Their Finest
  18. Tramps
  19. Wheelman
  20. Wonder

Dave Made a Maze is one of the movies that made me the most happy this year. There’s something about seeing an entire maze built out of paper and boxes that brought out the child in me. Wheelman and Tramps are two very solid Netflix movies that are among the best they’ve put out so far. Unfortunately buried under the higher profile releases. Mary and the Witch’s Flower is the closest thing to a Studio Ghibli movie you can get without being Ghibli and was a real treat.

The Lost City of Z is yet another underappreciated James Gray film that also might be his best. Pound for pound one of the best of 2017. Their Finest is the third in the ‘Dunkirk’ trilogy of 2017 and yet another in the line of charming British ensemble movies. The Killing of a Sacred Deer is Yorgos Lanthimos being his usual self. If you liked The Lobster but thought it was really fucked up, you have no idea what you’re in for with this one. Perhaps the single darkest funny moment in cinema this year is in this movie.

Colossal is such a wonderful film that keeps surprising you with the places it goes. What sounds like a one-note gimmick from its synopsis turns into a really emotional journey that feels very satisfying by its conclusion. Wonder was one of the great surprises of 2017 for me and was an utter delight. Brigsby Bear was another movie that really surprised me by how much I liked it, and how sweet and charming it was. Okja was just a joy to watch, and a movie that might not have had a proper release/platform in years past.

Get Out is the darling of the year, appearing in nearly everyone’s top ten. I liked, but didn’t love it, and appreciate everything it does. Battle of the Sexes is three movies in one, and while I didn’t love all of the parts equally, I think the movie as a whole is very satisfying. Mudbound was a really solid drama that really wins you over by its end. The Girl Without Hands may be the single most gorgeously animated movie of 2017, and seems destined to never be seen by the audience it deserves.

The Greatest Showman is a throwback musical that is, in many ways, a failure, but in many ways, a very interesting attempt to try something that no one else would. And for that, I am very grateful that it exists. Landline is a wonderful comedy and a great followup to Obvious Child for Gillian Robespierre. Novitiate is a wonderfully acted film and one of the hidden gems of the year. Free Fire is just a badass little movie about people stuck in a warehouse, firing guns at one another. What more do you need?

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Tier Four:

  1. Alien: Covenant
  2. American Made
  3. Beauty and the Beast
  4. The Breadwinner
  5. Carrie Pilby
  6. Chuck
  7. Cinderella the Cat
  8. Ethel & Ernest
  9. Girls Trip
  10. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  11. It
  12. Last Flag Flying
  13. LBJ
  14. Mark Felt: The Man Who Brought Down the White House
  15. Norman
  16. Only the Brave
  17. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
  18. Prevenge
  19. Raw
  20. Split

Norman is one of the most underrated films of the year. Yet another really solid Richard Gere movie that deserves a wider audience, to go along with the half-dozen he has over the past decade (and also features one of the great subtitles of 2017 – The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer). Girls Trip is Bridesmaids but way better, and truly one of the few out-and-out comedies I liked this year. It went from something I had absolutely no interest in to being something I am really pleased about. It managed to make a horror movie that has a great deal of emotion to it, where you’re completely invested in the characters, to the point where all the horror scenes are actually just window dressing for the rest of the movie. I’m very surprised they managed to pull it off as well as they did.

Guardians 2 is one of the few Marvel sequels that doesn’t feel like a huge letdown and is one of the more ambitious and unexpected sequels to a blockbuster movie I’ve seen. Beauty and the Beast is another sumptuous (although otherwise pretty repetitive and empty) Disney live-action remake that accomplishes everything it sets out to accomplish. LBJ and Mark Felt are very solid political dramas that are nice little gems that were overlooked. Carrie Pilby further cements my cinematic crush on Bel Powley, who is one of the great up-and-coming actresses. Chuck is a nice little biopic that manages to win you over without doing anything too fancy. It’s tough to have a movie featuring an actor playing Sylvester Stallone and not have that come off as hokey. This movie pulls it off.

The Breadwinner, Cinderella the Cat and Ethel & Ernest are all really terrific animated films and better than 95% of all the mainstream studio animated fare. Split is the best M. Night Shyamalan movie in 15 years. Raw is a very unique, very underrated film that’s worth a watch. Same goes for Prevenge, which is more dark comedy than horror-drama. If there’s one thing I like finding, it’s ‘unique and fucked up’. Both of these qualify. Last Flag Flying is yet another solid Linklater film. Alien: Covenant does a few really interesting things and also features the sexiest recorder scene in film history.

– – – – – – – – – –

Top Documentaries:

  1. 78/52
  2. American Vandal
  3. Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story
  4. California Typewriter
  5. Dealt
  6. Five Came Back
  7. Gilbert
  8. Harold and Lillian: A Hollywood Love Story
  9. Hired Gun
  10. Icarus
  11. Jane
  12. Jim and Andy: The Great Beyond
  13. LA 92
  14. One Of Us
  15. Score: A Film Music Documentary

– – – – – – – – – –

Adios, 2017.

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2 responses

  1. Great top 10!

    January 1, 2018 at 8:04 am

  2. lacourseauxetoiles

    That’s a pretty good list. I still haven’t gotten the chance to see Coco, The Florida Project, The Big Sick, or Phantom Thread and I like Three Billboards, Dunkirk, and Molly’s Game a bit less than you while liking Logan, All the Money in the World, Baby Driver, and Get Out a bit more, but I like every film on the list until you get to The Last Jedi, so overall I agree with this list.

    January 1, 2018 at 5:45 pm

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