Picture this. It’s the end of 2007. The mortgage crisis is beginning. Barry Bonds breaks Hank Aaron’s home run record (he still won't go to the HOF though). The iPhone begins its inevitable world domination. I’m half way through Grade 8. New Years comes and passes, and I move on with my life with what seems to be ‘just another year’. What I hadn’t realized was that I had just experienced one of the greatest movie years in existence.
Zodiac, No Country for Old Men, There Will be Blood, Superbad, Knocked Up, Into the Wild, Hot Fuzz, Transformers (come on the first one was a cultural phenomena), Juno, Gone Baby Gone, Michael Clayton, and The Bourne Ultimatum are just a few of the contenders to brazen 2007's best. Things were looking up, until they weren’t.
The years that followed contained, well, ultimately cinematic sadness. The Artist won Best Picture in 2012. Leo was robbed of Oscar’s year in and year out. Hollywood released so many superhero movies, it probably wasn’t good for our health. We’ve had great films come out, don’t get me wrong, but we never seemed to hit our mid-season stride. Until now. 2017, what a breath of fresh air (cinematically). We reconnected with our pasts, we reinvented the heist film, we explored oppression, and examined relationships with one another. There were so many great films, I actually can’t fit them all into my top 10! So, without further ado, here are my 10 favourite films from 2017, along with some honourable mentions (NO SPOILERS!).
THE TOP 10
This movie excited me so much I watched it a second time the day after I first watched it. I think for a film to be great, it should work on multiple levels. Get Out appeals to the everyday viewer with its great writing and amazing performances, and works for critics on another level with its clever subtext, social commentary on race in America, and original score. This, in combination with the fact that Jordan Peele (from Key and Peele) wrote and directed this movie on his FIRST TRY as a director, is just mind-blowing. This Blumhouse production is a must see of 2017. For those who can’t watch horror, I would classify this as a thriller, so you’ll be fine. It’s scary, but more in An Inconvenient Truth kind of way.
Rating: 9 Tea Cups /10
Ladybird was a beautiful surprise. Similar to Boyhood, it provides a nuanced perspective of adolescence and coming of age. The quick pacing adds flavour to the humour and emotion of the film, and although the story is extremely unique, it evokes nostalgic and common emotions that every kid feels at some point growing up. It gives pause to reflect on the decisions you made as a youth. It’s a thoughtful communication on the many significant and seemingly insignificant moments that inevitably shape you, whatever your situation. For those people that say things like “nothing even happened in that movie,” this a film about relationships and human experience, not necessarily plot. You’ve been warned.
Rating: 8.8 Awkward Conversations with your Mom /10
3. Bladerunner 2049
This mega-budget sci-fi sequel is aesthetically and audibly the most beautiful film I have ever seen. On the front end, you have strong performances from Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford, but more importantly, you have the best of the best on the production side.
Denis Villeneuve, an amazing director, best known for directing Arrival, Sicario, and Prisoners
Roger Deakins, arguably one of the greatest DOP’s of all-time
Hanz Zimmer, a composer known for his works on Inception, Interstellar, the Dark Knight, the list goes on and on
It would be one thing if these were the only strong points of this film, but the writing is actually really good. It pays homage to the original Bladerunner in a tasteful way and leaves the franchise in a better place than it began, a tough thing to do with a sequel. A run-time of 2 hours and 45 minutes flew by even though the movies pacing is relatively slow. It dares to be more imaginative than its predecessor and although it may have not been rewarded for it in the box office, it made a difference. My eyes and ears were just too happy to not include this film on my list.
It has Harry Styles in it, what could go wrong! Dunkirk is another film that may lack a little more substance than I would like, but overall is a beautifully produced movie. Christopher Nolan is one of the most reliable directors in Hollywood and he doesn’t disappoint with Dunkirk. This movie follows many other films direction this year in not conforming to a structured story of events as the films crutch, but instead chooses to follow characters, their emotions, and their interactions with one another, intertwining history into it's narrative.
Similar to Bladerunner, it lifts you out of reality and places you within the sanguine nature of this world using synergistic cinematography, directing, and scoring. I learned two things when watching Dunkirk:
- Tom Hardy can act better with half his face than most can with their bodies
- Nolan was somehow able to make a drama out of a war film in a positive way
Rating: 8.6 Terrifying situations I don’t want to be in /10
5. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Watch the trailer for this movie. First thing I thought was, “Damn. That woman looks like a badass.” When I finished the movie, the first thing I thought was “Holy shit. That woman IS a badass.” Frances McDormand kills this movie from front to back and scares me at the same time. Three Billboards is such an intricate look at people and the grey area in labeling someone as outwardly a benevolent or bad person. The witty writing combined with strong supporting performances from Woody Harrelson and Sam Rockwell take this movie farther than I think it even thought it would go.
Rating: 8.5 Molotov Cocktails /10
6. The Defiant Ones (Documentary Mini-Series)
If you love music, this HBO documentary is fantastic. It’s a four-part series that follows the lives and careers of Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. It follows Dr. Dre’s inevitable rise to fame, Jimmy’s journey from sound engineer to business mogul, and their intersection as founders of Beats by Dre; intertwining their adventures with U2, NWA, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, Eminem, Snoop Dog, etc. along the way. This is my favourite documentary of all time.
Rating: 8.4 East vs. West Beefs /10
Yes, Logan is a superhero movie. No, it is not on my list by accident. Normally, I strongly resent the fact that Marvel has chemically found the formula for printing money. The formula is as follows:
A boatload of megastars + an epically passable story + a cookie cutter format +high production value + a lot of cheese = $13,100,000,000 since 2008.
That’s only the money from 17 movies. Sheesh.
Logan is different. Logan marks the response to the standard movie viewers exhaustion with the genre. Following in the footsteps of Deadpool, this R rated film challenges the genres stereotypes, and its hyper-violent nature contrasts the existence of previous X-men films. Look for future films to follow the direction Logan has taken. Yay, a good superhero movie.
Rating: 8.2 Passive aggressive one liners /10
8. Logan Lucky
There will be haters. Some will say Channing Tatum’s southern accent is bad. Some will say Daniel Craig’s southern accent is even worse. I don’t care. This movie was just way too much fun. Logan Lucky takes a standard heist movie and flips it on its head and doesn’t take itself too seriously. This movie for me was like ordering something for dinner without any expectations and then, when you take your first bite, you go “Dayum! This is pretty good!” The humor is great, and any reason to listen to Take Me Home Country Roads by John Denver multiple times is good enough for me.
Rating: 8.0 Prosthetic arms /10
9. John Wick 2
Like the film before it, John Wick 2 doesn’t try to masquerade itself as somethings it’s not. It doesn’t try to blur the lines between realism and script action. It takes a simple idea, and encloses it within a world which we don’t exist, and that makes it all the more fun to watch. We can accept its flaws and holes for what it is and just enjoy some good ol’ assassin killing. It’s peak action movie film making, and I hope this franchise can find a way forward while continuing to influence people in this genre. It’s also not 3 hours long, so that’s a plus.
Rating: 7.8 Blood Oaths /10
10. Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond
You’ve probably seen memes of Jim Carrey saying absurdly crazy shit. Well that’s from this movie. This Netflix documentary explores this burning comet of a man at the plateau of his career. This philosophical deep dive into what makes Jim Carrey tick was extremely fascinating, insightful, and frankly, frightening. It follows Jim during the filming of Man on the Moon, a movie about the life of Andy Kaufman, and Jim’s refusal to exit his character over the course of months. Between the moments of oddness, Jim speaks some truths that surprised me and provides and interesting commentary on fame. It blows my mind that this even happened. Give it a watch.
Rating: 7.6 "Woah Dude"'s /10
This movie had one of the funniest scenes of the year in it. This movie is also incredibly weird at times. It's peaks tend to offset the valleys that you must get through to appreciate those highs, so overall, worth giving a watch.
The soundtrack and directing is fantastic. It pays homage to heist films in a fun way, but in it’s alliteration, it almost reverts back to what it’s trying to respect, a film full of tropes, stereotypes, and storytelling with holes. Best opening scene of 2017.
The Big Sick
Funny, brash, and oddly realistic. The Big Sick chronicles the story of the actual actor who plays his former self and his search for companionship with the restrictions that come along with immigrant parents (Kumail Nanijani). Maybe this is what brings this story down to earth and humanizes the script in such a cathartic way. Either way, viewers connect with the characters on much more of a personal level than many films, which is more than I can say for most.