Another year has come and gone, so for the first time on this blog, I thought I’d share with you my top 10 favorite films that came out last year! Keep in mind that this list is only compiled of movies that I actually saw in 2017, so even though I’m dying to see the Oscar-hopefuls with limited releases like Phantom Thread and The Post, they will not be making any appearances on this list.
It should also be noted that 2017 was a tremendous year for good films, so there are quite a few that just barely missed top spots on this list. A few of those honorable mentions include Darkest Hour, The Disaster Artist, The LEGO Batman Movie, It, Thor Ragnarok, and Detroit.
- Brigsby Bear – Directed by Dave McCary
Of all the films on this list, this Number 10 spot was one of the most contested. There’s no two ways about it: This is a weird film. Starring Kyle Mooney, Mark Hamill, and Greg Kinnear, this brilliantly cast film takes a surprisingly original (and a little messed up) story idea and makes it something so much deeper than it has any right to be. It’s an ode to those who create with a masterful tale of overcoming trauma hidden beneath the surface, and I truly loved its heart-warming quirkiness.
- Good Time – Directed by Josh and Benny Safdie
“After a botched bank robbery lands his younger brother in prison, Connie Nikas embarks on a twisted odyssey through New York City’s underworld in an increasingly desperate and dangerous attempt to get his brother out of jail.”
Good Time is one of those films that just feels like a crazy runaround adventure on the surface, but the further you dig, you see just how much the movie has to say about a whole host of issues. None of it would work so well without some excellent directing by the Safdie brothers and brilliant performances by Robert Pattinson as an all-around horrible human being with a supposedly noble quest and Benny Safdie as a man with special needs dragged into a tough situation. This is one crazy trip of a movie with some serious heart at its core.
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Directed by Rian Johnson
I loved just about everything that this movie had to offer. Yes, some of the subplots dip in quality, but The Last Jedi is a Star Wars movie that’s more focused on being a good movie than a good Star Wars movie, and I loved that. So many of the twists and turns had me sucked into the experience, even after my third watch. Bolstered by fantastic performances from Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, and a true standout in Mark Hamill, The Last Jedi is a thematic powerhouse of a film that subverted all my expectations in the best way possible. It’s truly a feat when a 40-year-old franchise can deliver something that feels this fresh.
- Logan – Directed by James Mangold
“In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X, somewhere on the Mexican border. However, Logan’s attempts to hide from the world are upended when a young girl arrives, pursued by dark forces.”
Logan continues the pattern that 20th Century Fox started with Deadpool of pushing superhero cinema to new limits, and the result is a deeply moving story driven by Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart at their best. I saw the first X-Men movie far earlier than I had any right to, and I’ve spent numerous birthdays at the theater watching these movies. Characters like Wolverine and Professor X have been with me as I’ve grown into adulthood and seeing my childhood heroes broken down and put into a deeper context that I can now understand and appreciate as an adult was such a special thing.
- Blade Runner 2049 – Directed by Denis Villeneuve
I love the original Blade Runner. It’s a tonal and thematic masterpiece that sci-fi fans have ogled over for decades, but its weakest link has always been that as a film about humanity, none of its characters seem very human. Blade Runner 2049 fixes that problem and plenty of the others from the original, making it a superior film on almost every level. The storyline is engaging and genuinely suspenseful, the characters are fleshed out, and the performances are spectacular. Director Denis Villeneuve asks Ryan Gosling to do some real heavy lifting as K, and he freaking brings it. Don’t even get me started on the music, setting, and cinematography.
- Lady Bird – Directed by Greta Gerwig
I’ve never really been a fan of films that simply follow people through their lives, but there’s something incredibly powerful in this directorial debut from Greta Gerwig. Christine’s adventure through her senior year of high school highlights this pervasive feeling that everyone around us is broken. Everyone is struggling with something, and because of that, everyone in our lives will let us down at one point or another. The beauty of Lady Bird is that it doesn’t just leave us to grapple with that alone. It reminds us that there’s a unity in recognizing each other’s faults, and between all the broken parts, there is overwhelming joy and beauty to found in everything.
- Dunkirk – Directed by Christopher Nolan
Dunkirk uses escalating intensity the same way Mad Max: Fury Road uses action – a vehicle in which to tell the story while setting characters to the side. Its “to the point” style of filmmaking is unusual for a Christopher Nolan project, but at the same time, it feels like he was the only person who could have pulled off what Dunkirk did. Can a main protagonist be considered an entire army with the same goals and motivations? I don’t know for sure, but watching Nolan wrestle with this question on-screen was one of the most captivating movie-going experiences of 2017.
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri – Directed by Martin McDonagh
If there are any one of these films we 100% needed in 2017, it’s this one. The characters in Three Billboards are surprisingly understandable, even as they act vengefully towards their neighbors and people who’ve wronged them. The story is such a potent reminder that when anger turns to action, it sparks a wildfire that spreads fast. Personal feuds that start between two characters quickly spill into the lives of others, creating an even bigger fire. Through the events in this movie, we see the all-consuming effects of anger and bitterness, but what makes Three Billboards so great is the underlying theme that points us to the redemptive power of forgiveness.
- Baby Driver – Directed by Edgar Wright
In an ironic twist, Baby Driver is like Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster at Disney World. It’s a high-flying thrill ride driven by music that makes you want to go again immediately after the first ride. Between its theatrical run and its release on home video, I can’t count how many times I’ve seen this film. Baby Driver has this great cinematic beat to it that gets you hooked and an unforgettable cast of characters that reels you in and makes you want to invest in the story. Yeah, I know I might have overdone it on the music comparisons. That was on purpose.
- Get Out – Directed by Jordan Peele
“A young African-American named Chris goes to meet with his white girlfriend’s parents for a weekend in their secluded estate in the woods, but before long, the friendly ambience gives way to a nightmare.”
Jordan Peele knocks it out of the darn park with his directorial debut. I knew this film was something really special back when I saw it in February, and I spent most of 2017 waiting for a film to come along and beat it. It never happened. Get Out excels on so many levels. It’s a shockingly detailed film that’s part-horror, part-comedy, part-social thriller, and all kinds of brilliant. Nothing I could say could accurately describe how fantastic this film is (nor would I want it to), so just believe me when I say that Get Out should be the top of your watchlist if you haven’t seen it already.
Do you see your favorite film of 2017 on this list? If not, comment below and tell me how you’d rank 2017’s finest films!