Best Films of 2017
It's way past that time of the year again, and part of an annual TMD tradition going back nearly a decade now. Our "best films of the year thread."
Last year's: http://themanadrain.com/topic/927/best-films-of-2016
I'm starting so darn late this year on account of the fact that there were so many more films I needed to see in January from '17.
Here's how this goes. First I list out all of the films released in the year that I've seen, then I list my Top films list. Then you join in and we debate our lists.
Reference for '17 releases: http://www.firstshowing.net/schedule2017/
In chronological order, I saw:
I am Not Your Negro
Lego Batman Movie
Beauty and the Beast (live action)
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
The Big Sick
Despicable Me 3
War for the Planet of the Apes
Blade Runner 2049
The Florida Project
Murder on the Orient Express
Three Billboards Outside Ebbing
The Shape of the Water
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
All the Money in the World
The Phantom Thread
Not a bad list. I made it to quite a few films this year, especially during the holidays. I probably missed listing a few as well.
Yet to see, but planning on it:
There were very few weak or even bad films I saw in 2017.
Last year I really struggled to select my best film of the year. It was basically a tie with three films: Captain Fantastic, Hell or High Water, and Loving, and Arrival not far behind. This year, my top film was a cut above the rest. After that, it's more of a free-for-all.
Based upon what I've seen, here's my top films of the year:
- Three Billboards
Utterly compelling from the first scene. Emotionally riveting. Unforgettable film, and brilliant throughout. There are a number of cultural critics of this film, but I don't share their share their concerns. I believe this should win - and deserves - best picture Oscar.
- The Florida Project
This is was a compelling drama that really captured the deep problems - and resilience - in our society.
- The Last Jedi.
You already know how I feel about this, if you listened to the SMIP Podcast last month. I loved it, and it's in my top 3 Star Wars films.
- Get Out
The Zeitgeist film of the year. Brilliant, funny, dramatic, and heartening all at once.
- Blade Runner 2049
This was a true cinematic experience. Reminded me of when I saw Lord of the Rings in the theater for the first time - the sense of awe and wonder and mystic experience of being in a theater when the film - the sound, the lights, and colors just wash over you. I can't imagine trying to enjoy this the same at home, even if you have a very high quality home system. Wouldn't be the same.
- Spiderman: Homecoming
I'm not a big Spider-man fan (and I generally hate films set in high school), but this was truly amazing. I think it was the best Superhero film of the year, although I realize most don't agree. Michael Keaton is still amazing. He was insanely good in the Founder, Spotlight, etc. But his career renaissance really shined here. The entire cast was fantastic.
- Baby Driver
Great premise, incredibly well executed, and riveting from go. Great film. Really entertaining and good.
- War for the Planet of the Apes
Probably the weakest link in the trilogy, but that only goes to show how amazing these films were. Outstanding closing entry.
I'm not sure that any of the films I saw really merit rounding out the top 10, but if required to do so, I'd probably say:
- Lady Bird
Another fantastic coming-of-age story.
- The Big Sick
The Promise was an epic in the mode of David Lean cinema. I also enjoyed Murder on the Orient Express quite a bit. That cast was insane. Logan was also really good. It also deserves an honorable mention.
The Post, Dunkirk, and Marshall were good films, but a bit to formulaic for me to really get behind. The Shape of the Water and the Phantom Thread were weird in the right ways, but not quite compelling enough to make my top 10 list.
So I've still not seen quite as much as I'd have liked to see - in particular I've not yet managed to see any of the prominent foreign language films from last year - but I'm still happy with my overall list.
Darren Aronofsky's film tops my list with its brilliant intensity. Following a fantastically desperate performance from Jennifer Lawrence almost entirely with medium close-ups, this film paints a compelling and crystal-clear allegory - if only any two people could agree which of the many possible allegories it is. This is a film that people will still be talking about decades down the line.
Blade Runner 2049
Denis Villeneuve is a director it has been a pleasure to watch mature over the past few years, and he turns in another spectacular film this year. Exquisitely shot and scored, Blade Runner 2049 delves back into the world Ridley Scott created for a compelling exploration of what it means to be alive and what it means to have consciousness.
The Shape of Water
Guillermo del Toro turns in another fantastical masterpiece, this time about the barriers that love transcends. A fable about a great love and a monster that seeks to destroy it, The Shape of Water demonstrates the love del Toro has for life and the boundless enthusiasm he has for his monsters and for cinema.
An unconventional love story, Phantom Thread is crafted with the care and precision we've come to expect from Paul Thomas Anderson. It's exquisite in its performances, and in its depth exploring the difficulties of being in a relationship with someone of strong will and what it takes to break into their routine. This negotiation between its leads over how much each will bend the other to their will is an extreme version of what happens in every relationship, and it's a brilliant last note for Daniel Day-Lewis to retire on.
Greta Gerwig's first time solo in the director's chair gives us one of the finest films of the year in this coming-of-age tale of a young girl looking to go beyond the mundane life she's always known. If this is where Gerwig starts, I can't wait to see where she'll go from here.
Call Me By Your Name
Summer romances seem so eternal, yet so ephemeral. Those idyllic days and nights passed with a lover are the sweetest treasure, and Luca Guadagnino's adaptation captures that beauty and that feeling.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Last Jedi
If Rian Johnson's film is not the finest entry in the franchise, then it's very close indeed. Where JJ Abrams paid homage to the past and brought our nostalgia for the original trilogy to the surface, Johnson reminds us that the past is past and we must make our peace with it and put it to rest if we are truly to move into the future.
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The first Guardians took a bunch of broken, abandoned, and lost people and showed them how to put together a family. James Gunn's followup tears them back apart and asks what being a family truly means.
I keep thinking I should bump this up the list (and I already have once), but this is where it is for now. Get Out is another debut on this list - from Jordan Peele - and exquisitely shatters the myth many well-meaning white liberals have created for themselves about their own social consciousness.
The Florida Project
Filtering the plight of poverty through the boundless excitement and wonder of a small child, Sean Baker's film is a powerful call for empathy for the most vulnerable among us. This is another one that should maybe be higher on my list; I only just recently saw it and I keep finding myself thinking about it.
Personal Shopper is Kristen Stewart's second work with Olivier Assayas, and demonstrates just what a great actress she is when given good material to work with.
The Lost City of Z came out too early in the year to get much awards attention but should not be overlooked, particularly for its great cinematography.
Atomic Blonde pairs the high-octane action we're accustomed to in modern spy films with the le Carré-esque ideas about how much it sucks to be a spy, giving us one of the best and most brutal one-take action sequences in film history.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is a bit of a mess with a screenplay that could have used a couple more passes, but still delivers a magnificent spectacle. Its Big Market sequence in particular shows us something we have never seen before.
Logan Lucky, in addition to its deep compassion for subjects other films would mock ruthlessly, has the best Game of Thrones joke I've seen yet.
Downsizing takes a great, truly intriguing concept and throws it out the window to ask if Matt Damon can learn to love.
Life.... don't talk to me about Life
Thanks for sharing the big list. Actually I am not much interested to watch movies.