2017 has come to a close and there’s been a ton of outstanding films throughout the year. The films have been so outstanding that it was tough to compile a best of the year list that didn’t include films like “A Fantastic Woman,” “The Incredible Jessica James,” “Logan Lucky,” “Split,” “Win It All,” “Wind River,” and “Wonder Woman.” That being said, this list of 24 films that did make the cut are all exciting, fresh, and truly special. So without further ado, here it is – my picks for the top 24 best films of 2017.
24. “Molly’s Game,” dir. Aaron Sorkin
“I’m getting that you don’t think much of me, but what if every single one of your ill-informed, unsophisticated opinions about me were wrong?”
Aaron Sorkin has proven time and time again to be one of the best writers in the business thanks to films like “The Social Network,” “A Few Good Men,” and “Steve Jobs.” Now he’s proven that his remarkable talent as a writer translates just as beautifully when he’s in the director’s chair. Anchored by a captivating performance by Jessica Chastain, “Molly’s Game” manages to be consistently energetic and compelling at nearly every turn.
23. “I, Tonya,” dir. Craig Gillespie
“I don’t know a Tony Harding.”
Margot Robbie’s clear admiration for Tonya Harding’s story shines in this wonderful surprise. Thanks to a relentlessly entertaining pace and a great ensemble cast, “I, Tonya” is a relentlessly entertaining dark comedy that never sacrifices the emotional weight of the narrative for laughs. Allison Janney is absolutely delightful here as well.
22. “Girls Trip,” dir. Malcom D. Lee
“Girl, you can’t get no infection in your bootyhole! It’s a bootyhole!”
Studio comedies struggled over the summer to impress until the release of “Girls Trip.” Not since “The Hangover” has a major studio comedy had a group of friends at the center with such infectious chemistry and nonstop laughs. Tiffany Haddish has also shown that she’s one of the funniest people working in comedy today.
21. “Ingrid Goes West,” dir. Matt Spicer
“Tupac said there’d be days like this.”
Dark, twisted, hilarious, and surprisingly moving, “Ingrid Goes West” tackles obsession, depression, and insecurity with a lot of care and attention. Aubrey Plaza gives the best performance of her career in a role that challenges her to go deeper with the type of character that she plays fairly often.
20. “The Lego Batman Movie,” dir. Chris McKay
“Black. All important movies start with a black screen.”
After “The Lego Movie” became one of the most creative and imaginative animated films in the past several years, the bar was set very high for this solo entry for Lego Batman. While it’s certainly not as fresh this time around, “The Lego Batman Movie” does a terrific job parodying the long history of the Batman character as well as deliver a story that fits perfectly for Batman regardless of the Lego format.
19. “IT,” dir. Andy Muschietti
“This isn’t real enough for you, Billy?”
Films centered around a group of kids going on an adventure set in the 80’s are my bead and butter, whether it be “Stand By Me,” “The Goonies,” “Super 8,” or “Stranger Things.” This version of Stephen King’s “IT” is a thrilling ride that earns nearly every scare it throws at the audience thanks in large part to Bill Skarsgård’s wonderfully chaotic performance and the terrific chemistry between all of the child actors.
18. “Baby Driver,” dir. Edgar Wright
“Your name’s Baby? . . . B-A-B-Y, Baby?”
Edgar Wright takes what could have easily been just another cliche action crime thriller and elevates it with a gorgeous color palate, a lively set of characters, his always incredible wit and humor, and a genuine heart at the center. The action sequences are beautifully orchestrated to the knockout soundtrack of the year. Now if we can get a version of this film without a certain controversial cast member, that would be just splendid.
17. “Brigsby Bear,” dir. Dave McCary
“And may our minds be stronger tomorrow.”
The less known about “Brigsby Bear” going in, the better. It’s a film that strikes a perfect balance between tragedy and comedy making for an extremely compelling character study. Trust me, if you haven’t seen this movie yet, don’t read up on it. Just watch it and enjoy. It’s a pure treat.
16. “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” dir. Rian Johnson
“The greatest teacher, failure is.”
“The Last Jedi” is not a perfect movie by any means. the flaws can be glaring at times. However, the high marks are plentiful and glorious. Rian Johnson takes the single most popular franchise in film history and does something bold and fresh with it. The vast majority of the risks taken here work beautifully, making for a much stronger and emotionally satisfying film in the end. Here’s hoping the backlash doesn’t detour LucasFilm from letting Johnson do more with this galaxy far, far away.
15. “War for the Planet of the Apes,” dir. Matt Reeves
“Apes. Together. Strong.”
This current set of “Planet of the Apes” films are an odd bunch. They frequently become quickly forgotten with each subsequent entry despite being challenging, thought-provoking cinema. Andy Serkis once again gives an Oscar-worthy performance in the role of Caesar and it’s a crime that he once again isn’t even being considered for a Best Actor nomination. “War for the Planet of the Apes” solidifies this trilogy as the most consistently brilliant blockbuster trilogy since “The Lord of the Rings.”
14. “Logan,” dir. James Mangold
“This is what life looks like. A home, people who love each other. You should take a moment and feel it.”
The superhero genre had a lot of entertaining entries this year with films like “Wonder Woman,” “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2,” and “Thor: Ragnarok,” but nothing as mature and narratively compelling as “Logan.” Yes, the R-rating helps in making a grittier, more hyper-violent “Wolverine” film, but it’s the themes that make this truly special. Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart are both heartbreaking in their final performances of their iconic roles.
13. “Good Time,” dir. Josh and Benny Safdie
“I think something very important is happening and it’s deeply connected to my purpose.”
Reminiscent of films like “Collateral” and “Training Day,” “Good Time” is a pulse-pounding, stressful watch that never once loses its energetic, fast pace. Robert Pattinson has never been better, leading this thrilling story that consistently escalates. The editing in particular here is absolutely astonishing.
12. “Raw,” dir. Julia Ducournau
“I’m sure you’ll find a solution, honey.”
Seeing “Raw” at the TIFF Midnight Madness premiere back in 2016 was one of the most memorable movie-going experiences I’ve had in a long time. What at first was a striking, atmospheric coming-of-age story turns quickly into a disturbing, deeply unsettling horror. Julia Ducournau crafted something truly unforgettable with her directorial debut. Certainly not for the faint of heart, but no question a must see for anyone of the horror genre.
11. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” dir. Martin McDonagh
“You ain’t trying to make me believe in reincarnation, are ya? Because you’re pretty, but you ain’t her.”
After the criminally overlooked gems that are “In Bruges” and “Seven Psychopaths,” Martin McDonagh finally broke out into the mainstream with “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.” Featuring the best ensemble cast of any film this year, this is a dark comedy with a powerful emotional core. Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell are both sensational.
You can read my full review of “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” HERE.
10. “The Big Sick,” dir. Michael Showalter
“Love isn’t easy. That’s why they call it love.”
Kumail Nanjiani brings his real-life love story between him and his wife, Emily, to the big screen and it’s one of the most genuine films of the year. “The Big Sick” is heartfelt, funny as hell, and an emotional roller coaster. This has become the new gold standard for the modern romantic comedy.
9. “Dunkirk,” dir. Christopher Nolan
“Men my age dictate this war. Why should we be allowed to send our children to fight it?”
Very few directors making blockbusters have been as consistently strong as Christopher Nolan. Thanks to his success with “The Dark Knight” trilogy, he’s been able to let his creative juices run free with a large budget and “Dunkirk” is one of his crowning achievements. His gifts as a visual storyteller are brilliantly matched with this fascinating story making for a war movie unlike any that has ever been made.
8. “Blade Runner 2049,” dir. Denis Villeneuve
“All the best memories are hers.”
The idea of making a sequel to “Blade Runner,” one of the most revered sci-fi films of all-time, seemed like an impossible task. Leave it to Denis Villeneuve, the most exciting and challenging director working today, to take on that challenge and create a mesmerizing masterpiece that surpasses the original classic. Taking the complex themes of the original and expanding upon them, “Blade Runner 2049” is the most visually stunning achievement of the year with compelling characters and a complex narrative to match in quality. Give Roger Deakins an Oscar already!
7. “Phantom Thread,” dir. Paul Thomas Anderson
“Whatever you do, do it carefully.”
After seeing it a second time on a stunning 70mm film print, “Phantom Thread” was even more amazing than I initially remembered. In his supposedly final performance, Daniel Day-Lewis is a revelation, but it is Vicky Krieps who emerges as the scene-stealer of the piece. In the already remarkable filmography Paul Thomas Anderson has, this has become one of his best.
You can read my full review of “Phantom Thread” HERE.
6. “Coco,” dir. Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina
“I have to sing. I have to play. It’s not just *in* me . . . it *is* me.”
The best animated film of the year is also one of the year’s most emotionally impactful pictures. Pixar once again deliver an A+ effort with “Coco,” a film as awe-inspiring and alive as their early masterworks. The songs are wonderful and the animation is as vibrant as the characters themselves. I dare you not to cry at the end of this movie.
You can read my full review of “Coco” HERE.
5. “The Shape of Water,” dir. Guillermo del Toro
“If I told you about her, the princess without voice, what would I say?”
Guillermo del Toro pours his heart and soul into “The Shape of Water.” The charm of this story is nothing short of magical. Sally Hawkins, Richard Jenkins, Doug Jones, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Shannon, and Octavia Spencer are all terrific in this tale of outsiders overcoming the obstacles ahead of them. It’s hard to argue against the pure passion present here.
You can read my full review of “The Shape of Water” HERE.
4. “Call Me By Your Name,” dir. Luca Guadagnino
“But to make yourself feel nothing so as not to feel anything – what a waste!”
A gorgeous, honest portrayal of young love, “Call Me By Your Name” is a triumph on every level. Timothée Chalamet shines in the best performance any actor has given in 2017 only to be complimented by two stellar performances from Armie Hammer and Michael Stuhlbarg. Luca Guadagnino does a sublime job bringing such a moving, beautiful romance unlike any other. The ending of this film will make you cry.
You can read my full review of “Call Me By Your Name” HERE.
3. “Lady Bird,” dir. Greta Gerwig
“I want you to be the very best version of yourself that you can be.”
No other film this year was more joyous to watch than this. Greta Gerwig brings her amazing, hilarious charm as an actress and writer and transitions that talent beautifully into her solo directorial debut. Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf are both worthy of Oscar wins for their perfect performances as daughter and mother respectively. “Lady Bird” is the definition of irresistible.
2. “Get Out,” dir. Jordan Peele
“Now you’re in the Sunken Place.”
It can often be seen as easy for filmmakers to tackle racism through the extremes such as slavery, the civil rights movement, and modern day police brutality. Jordan Peele bravely portrays the African-American experience when dealing with the casual, passive racists of today, the ones that “mean well” but still see people for their color first. He puts a mirror to the faces of the common person to convey the emotions, fears, and adversity that a person of color faces on a daily basis. For a minority movie-goer, they watch and immediately gravitate to knowing exactly how Chris feels. “Get Out” is the defining film of 2017.
1. “The Florida Project,” dir. Sean Baker
“She’s about to cry. I can always tell when adults are about to cry.”
While technically “Get Out” should be considered the best movie of the year, the emotional reaction I had watching “The Florida Project” is unparalleled. It’s hard to think of another film in recent memory that beautifully portrays the innocence of childhood like this film does. Brooklynn Prince gives one of the best child performances I’ve ever seen and Willem Dafoe brings so much heart with his warm performance. In times like these where people are more divided than ever, a film like this means the world. Please seek this out if you haven’t already. You won’t be disappointed.
So that’s it – my top 24 favorite films of 2017! I’m excited to see what’s to come in the new year. If I can get a top 24 next year anywhere near as good as this, I’d be thrilled. What were some of your favorite films of the year? Any films you’re surprised missed the cut on my list? Anything you think didn’t deserve a spot? Comment below your favorite films of the year and let me know what you think.
If you wanna see my whole list of all 130 new release films I saw in 2017, click HERE.
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Thanks for reading!