Before I kickoff this list, I should make something clear: this is NOT about ranking the best films of 2017. If that were the case I’d consider waaaaaaay more Oscar bait here. No, this is about the films that made the biggest impact on me over this past year; the films that I felt compelled to watch again and again or lingered in my brain the way a scar sticks to the skin.
Now that I’ve got THAT out of the way… here were my favorite films of 2017.
#17 – mother!
If I’m being completely honest, calling this one a “favorite” seems like a stretch. At the time I saw this in the theaters, it left me absolutely baffled, the kind of reaction I’d expect to have only after leaving a midnight showing of an experimental indie film. I didn’t “love” it, but mother!was unlike anything I’d ever seen. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I wasn’t upset I watched it. I probably would never watch it again. Then the audience criticisms started to roll out… The next thing I knew, I found myself leaping to the defense of a movie I wasn’t even sure I liked.
I’ve since come around to the side of pro-mother! simply because I welcome a movie that takes big, bold risks (you don’t get much bolder than that third act). mother! also helped incite some of the most thought provoking discussions around not just film, but film theory, all year.
#16 – Saban’s Power Rangers
Saban’s Power Rangers works despite itself. At first glance, you’d think this film was the dictionary definition of a “dark and gritty reboot”. In some ways, it is, but it’s actually so much more than that. Much like Spider-Man: Homecoming pointed to John Hughes as its inspiration, Power Rangers owes Mr. Hughes a debt of gratitude also. It’s clearly inspired by The Breakfast Club and benefits greatly because of that. We actually learn something about this generation’s “teenagers with attitude” before they go off to save Angel Grove from a mad villainess with an unhealthy obsession for gold.
And speaking of crazy villains, ALL HAIL ELIZABETH BANKS! Who knew she had that kind of performance in her?!? She’s easily the best part of the movie, with Bryan Cranston’s Zordon a close second. The only negative mark I’d give against Power Rangers is that it could have stood to be just a smidge campier.
P.S. An orchestral rendition of “Go, Go Power Rangers?” Literally ALL OF THE CHEF kisses.
#15 – IT
I’m not usually a fan of the horror genre, but IT was a huge surprise for me insofar as a studio finally managed to make a quality adaptation of a Stephen King book for the first time since 1999’s The Green Mile. IT clearly owes a lot of inspiration to the success of Netflix’s Stranger Things, but who cares. It’s funny, stylish, creepy and smartly tackles the book in two installments rather than trying to cram everything into one film (a decision a lesser filmmaker probably would have made). I’m actually looking forward to Part 2 just as much as everyone else. Here’s hoping they can land Jessica Chastain as adult Bev….
#14 – Split
M. Night Shayamalan did it. He finally made the movie that reminded us all why Hollywood dubbed him as the next Spielberg all those years ago. I can still clearly remember watching Split in the theater and somewhere around the middle thinking, “This concept is so interesting… I almost wish this movie could crossover with Unbreakable. It’s seems like a good grounded approach that would work pretty believably in that universe.” And then that ending happened!
McAvoy’s also a wonder to watch here. The man chews every scene he’s in as the fractured Kevin. Another big surprise movie-going experience I never expected.
#13 – The Big Sick
For the last few years, it felt like if you wanted to find a good romantic comedy, you had to look to TV, usually the likes of FXX, Hulu, or Amazon. I’m thinking of shows like Catastrophe, You’re the Worst, and The Mindy Project, to name a few. As far as movie studios were concerned, wide release romcoms had gone the way of the dodo. Maybe they had run out of ideas; maybe movie-goers were just tired of the genre. But the moment The Big Sick hit theaters this June, it felt like a finding an oasis in the desert. As someone who’s followed Kumail and Emily since their podcast, The Indoor Kids, this film was simply a joy to watch, top to bottom. It’s richly realized and authentic in the way few romcoms are.
#12 – War for the Planet of the Apes
Since the 2010s began, has there been any franchise more underrated than this new iteration of Planet of the Apes? I genuinely adore every one of these films for their breathtaking motion capture and visual effects work. Andy Serkis is once again sure to get overlooked for what is one of the best onscreen performances of the year. So few people can pull off what he can and it’s a darn shame it won’t be recognized the way it deserves. That said, I can’t in good conscience rate this higher, though, for one simple reason: As gorgeous and thought provoking as these movies are, they always vacate my brain within a week of seeing them.
#11 – Girls Trip
No other movie made me laugh harder or more consistently this year than Girls Trip. Seriously, there are still scenes where I have no clue what was said because the entire audience was laughing over the dialogue. It’s been said a dozens of times now, but this is the film that truly sets up Tiffany Haddish to be the next big thing in comedy. Please Hollywood, don’t muck this up for her.
#10 – Blade Runner 2049
It’s been over two months since this film came out, and I’m still irate Blade Runner 2049 was such a massive flop. Some people just don’t deserve nice things. If Roger Deakins doesn’t win—let alone earn a nomination—for Best Cinematography come next year, then something’s SERIOUSLY amiss.
#9 – Ingrid Goes West
Another in a string of films this year that left me haunted the moment I left the theater. Ingrid Goes West unsettles the viewer the moment the NEON short plays just before the main film. I won’t describe it, suffice to say, it will be one of those things you can’t get out of your head after you see it. And then the actual film you came there to see plays!
The most effective way I can think to describe this film’s effect on me is to compare it to Jaws. In the same way that film made audiences afraid to go back in the water, Ingrid makes you afraid to use social media. The second it was over, I wanted to delete every account I have.
#8 – Logan
What’s the recipe for making the best X-Men movie to date? Adapt Old Man Logan from the comics, give the movie an “R” rating so Wolverine can finally be the best in the world at what he does, introduce X-23 (a Wolverine clone packed into the body of vicious tween), and let Patrick Stewart give one of the most captivating supporting performances of the year.
Check. Check. Check. And oh boy — CHECK!
#7 – The LEGO Batman Movie
DARKNESS! NO PARENTS! The breakout star of The LEGO Movie, Will Arnett’s Batman, gets a solo outing this time around and what an outing it is. If you consider yourself to be an aficionado of all things Batman TV, film, and comics, then The LEGO Batman Movie might just be the greatest Batman film ever made. It’s a treasure trove of easter eggs, from obscure villains to the hilarious in-jokes like Doug Benson’s role as Bane.
#6 – Get Out
Get Out was a haunting, instant classic from the moment the movie opens in a quiet suburban setting where an unassuming black man is abducted in the middle of the night. It’s everything you love about Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone with the deft wit of Jordan Peele guiding it.
I’m so happy that this film has been able to stay atop people’s mind’s since releasing in February. So often, films with such early releases are forgotten come award time, but Get Out continues to defy every expectation set before it. It remains one of the year’s most important films given today’s political climate as well.
#5 – Baby Driver
A top-to-bottom masterpiece (problematic Kevin Spacey presence aside) that you can appreciate for its technical excellence or musical taste. There is no one in Hollywood who can do what Edgar Wright does with a camera. Period.
#4 – Patti Cake$
You’ve probably seen the film about the coming-of-age musician chasing his or her dreams of stardom. It’s a concept that’s been done to death. Don’t let that keep you from seeing Patti Cake$. I was lucky enough to see an early screening before it opened in wide release. At the time, I didn’t know much about this film, nor did I expect much from it. By the time the credits rolled, I was blown away: Slick music, a richly diverse cast, and the human gift that keeps on giving in Bridget Everett. If you can walk away from this movie without wanting to blast PBNJ, you don’t belong in this posse.
#3 – Wonder Woman
To this day, Wonder Woman is only film I have EVER paid to see in theaters not once, not twice … but SEVEN times. Third act problems aside, this is the DC film I’d always hoped Warner Bros would figure out how to make. Patty Jenkins proved to be the best thing to ever happen to the DC films and Warner Bros, along with Gal Gadot who commands the screen as a perpetual walking inspiration as Diana, Chris Pine who effuses charm, and the other supporting players who shine as bright as the wonderous woman herself. The No Man’s Land scene is still one of the best moments of the year.
#2 – The Disaster Artist
See the glorious mess that is The Room or don’t; it’s up to you. Just don’t make the mistake of skipping the film that tells the story of how that bonkers project came together. James “Da Vinci of our time” Franco delivers one of his all-time greatest performances as the enigmatic Tommy Wiseau in a film that’s equal parts hilarious and dark. As an added bonus, it comes stacked to the brim with Grade-A comedy talent. I guess what I’m trying to say is: IT GREAT HOLLYWOOD MOVIE. YOU GO WATCH IT. OH HAI MARK.
#1 – The Greatest Showman
What else can I say about this film that I haven’t already waxed quixotically about? It’s magnificent, the best movie musical in over a decade, and my early pick as one of the top films to beat come Oscar season.
I’ve got my list. What films made your “Best of” for 2017?
Chime in with your favorites, or share your thoughts on this list below.