This is my running tally of the best movies of 2017, plus the movies I’m most looking forward to seeing. I’ve also included my favorite of all time (and their Rotten Tomatoes ranking for reference) and the best from last year.
I decided to switch to the star rating system for movies this year. Don’t ask me why. The movies listed under each star rating are listed in alphabetical order.
The best of all time:
1. ET (98%)
2. Children of Men (92%)
3. The Green Mile (80%)
4. Man on Fire (39%)
5. Wall-E (96%)
6. Saving Private Ryan (92%)
7. Forrest Gump (72%)
8. District 9 (90%)
9. The Hurt Locker (98%)
10. Interstellar (71%)
The best from 2016:
1. Arrival (9.5/10)
2. Moonlight (9.5/10)
3. La La Land (9/10)
4. Rogue One (8.5/10)
5. 10 Cloverfield Lane (8.5/10)
6. Captain America: Civil War (8.5/10)
7. Warcraft (8/10)
8. The Jungle Book (8/10)
9. Hell or High Water (7/10)
10. Weiner (7/10)
Now, I’m not a movie critic. I’ll admit that there are some movies I avoided on purpose this year – but for the most part, I’ve probably seen more movies in the theater this year than any other year.
Even though people complain about going to the movies, and I hate AMC with a passion, I still try to find time to appreciate cinema any chance I get.
There were a lot of great movies this year across all genres – drama, comedy, superhero, action, etc. Here are the top 10 movies according to me.
10. Thor: Ragnarok
It’s nice to see a Thor movie that we like, although all of the movies these days have more than just one hero in it. Still, the direction this took, which was much more in the direction of Guardians, was extremely pleasing to watch. The action was great, the effects were great, the colors were out of this world, and it was just a really solid movie that helped continue the Avengers story line and get set up for Infinity War in 2018. It also had one of the better one-off villains in Hela. Many times the villains are awful and unforgettable in these movies, but this was better done than most. Of course, you also have the #1 villain (so far) in all of the Thor movies with Loki, so that helps.
9. Lady Bird
Because Birmingham is such a wasteland for movies, Lady Bird snuck in for a week and I was able to go see it. I actually went to the movie with my mom, and this is a tale all about a mother and child relationship. It was extremely well done, with outstanding acting from Saoirse Ronan and Laurie Metcalf. It was the highest rated movie ever on Rotten Tomatoes until that one person just had to be different and give it a rotten rating (even though it was a C+, which is not rotten, but RT’s broken system is another post for another day).
Bottom line, this movie felt real. Rarely do movies take you through the entire story and you can believe that everything that happens on screen could actually happen in real life. That goes to not only the writing, but the acting, directing, and every aspect of the movie. With that said, you might wonder why it’s not #1, and that’s more because the whole coming of age story isn’t typically the top of the list for a 30-year old single guy like me. I feel like it impacted my mom way more than it did me. While everything about the production of the movie was great, it just wasn’t my type of movie. So I have to give it props, but it isn’t the top movie of the year for me. (if that makes sense)
8. The Big Sick
I said it in another post, but this movie is what a movie like Funny People was supposed to be. I hated Funny People, but this was an outstanding romantic comedy that utilizes multiple cultural themes perfectly, and revitalizes the romantic comedy genre, showing that it doesn’t have to be just full of the same old nonsense. Kumail Nanjiani is hysterical, and I’ve loved his work on Silicon Valley, so it was nice to see him turn that humor into a touching film.
Romantic comedies have always been kinda “eh” for me, but this was different. I highly recommend it, and I hope it gets some kind of Oscar buzz. At least in the screenplay department, even if nothing else. Maybe Holly Hunter as supporting actress too.
Netflix struck gold with Mudbound. After a series of movies on the streaming service that were just good, not great, Mudbound hit a home run. It actually almost wasn’t on Netflix. A24 was in talks to acquire the distribution rights, but Netflix ended up offering the most for it, making it the largest deal at this past year’s Sundance Film Festival. It’s gotten multiple Oscar nominations, including Mary J. Blige for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Song. However, what really made the movie for me was Jason Mitchell and Garrett Hedlund.
I’ve always thought Garrett Hedlund was a bit of an underrated actor. He’s done a lot of good work that I’ve enjoyed including Friday Night Lights, Four Brothers, Tron: Legacy, Inside Llewyn Davis and more. Jason Mitchell has exploded on the scene after playing Eazy-E in Straight Outta Compton a couple of years ago. He’s been in four good ones this year with Mudbound, Kong: Skull Island, The Disaster Artist and Detroit. Both of them gave a great performance as they deal with PTSD following serving in the military in World War II, and do so in a society that really doesn’t want either one of them, but especially Jason Mitchell’s character. The movie does a wonderful job of showing off how black soldiers were treated better in Nazi Germany (Mitchell’s character starts a relationship with a white German girl) than how they are treated in the South after the war, despite the fact that they should be praised as heroes (where they are back to second class citizens that can’t even use the front door of a store).
I definitely recommend this since it’s on Netflix from the start. It gets a little rough at the end, but it’s still worth the watch.
Logan is without a doubt the best superhero movie this year, and perhaps one of the greatest of all time. While the X-Men franchise may not be looked at as perfect, it did have to build Wolverine (and Hugh Jackman in that role) in to what he was in this movie, so that needs to be remembered when comparing this movie to the rest of the franchise. This movie continued the trend that Deadpool started in showing that R-rated superhero movies work, but this time in more of a serious fashion. Still, both movies refuse to play by traditional superhero movie rules and I hope we see more of this moving forward.
Rarely do we go into a superhero movie and feel the emotion that we felt in this one. The three main actors all played their part to make this phenomenal in Hugh Jackman, Patrick Stewart and Dafne Keen. I hope Patrick Stewart gets a nod for best supporting actor, and I wouldn’t complain if all three got nominated in their respective categories. This movie changed the superhero game forever, and will always be looked at much in the same way The Dark Knight was looked at for a long time.
If you know me, you know the one thing I love about movies is how the movie is shot and edited, and Dunkirk nailed the cinematography. This is probably the second greatest war film in my mind, behind Saving Private Ryan, but it was phenomenal. The score was great, the acting was great, but above all, the intensity of how it was shot put it over the top for me. There didn’t need to be a single word said in the film to still get the story across, that’s how well it was shot and portrayed.
My only regret is not being able to see this in theaters.
4. Baby Driver
This is one of only three movies I gave a perfect score to this year of 5 out of 5 stars. This movie may be listed as an action crime film, or a heist film, but at it’s core – this movie is a musical. Rarely have I been so enamored with the choreography of a movie as it flowed from scene to scene and was an amazing ride from start to finish. It takes the best parts of heist and crime movies and puts them together in a beautiful symphony.
I can’t explain in words what this movie was like, so I’ll let Guillermo del Toro, who is much better at this than me, explain why it was a perfect movie:
“The key to understanding it fully, at least for me, is in the fact that it is a fable, complete with it’s very own Disney prince and princess, but it is also rock n’ roll. Meaning – the magic exists in a dirty, genre-tainted world. The film is incredibly precise, flawlessly executed to it’s smallest detail: breathtaking Russian arm shots, real-world car mount and foot chases executed with the vigor and bravado of a Gene Kelly musical. This is An American in Paris on wheels and crack smoke. It’s a movie in love with cinema – the high of cinema and motion – in love with color and light and lenses and film.”
3. A Ghost Story
This is a movie that I can’t recommend to almost anyone. It’s a beautiful movie, and it’s inventive, artful and explores love and loss in a beautiful way. It’s not scary at all (despite being called A Ghost Story), but the movie will haunt you in a different way if you let the movie speak to you. You have to commit to watching this movie and you have to work a little to enjoy it. Most people don’t like working when they go to the movies, they want to be entertained. If you are looking for a popcorn movie, this is not your film.
This movie is like a poem about time and about the connection we have to those that we truly love. The best movies are those that make us question everything about life and the universe we live in. Last year, both Arrival and Moonlight did that for me. This year, the only movie to truly do that for me was A Ghost Story. I think Felix Vasquez Jr. of Cinema Crazed summed it up best when he called it “A gut wrenching and hypnotic meditation of being and love.”
2. Blade Runner 2049
As I said about Dunkirk and about A Ghost Story, two of the things I love most are movies that are beautiful to witness on the screen and movies that make you question everything know about life and the universe we live in. Blade Runner 2049 did both.
It was easily the greatest cinematic experience I have ever had in my entire life. It was visually stunning and easily deserving of some technical Oscars. People may complain that the near three hour run time was too long, but I never once felt like the movie was dragging, and it didn’t seem like nearly three hours. This is arguably the greatest sequel ever in my mind.
It didn’t do well at the box office, because it wasn’t a popcorn film, despite it looking like it should be that. It has plenty of action in it, but it tells a great story with great actors and it continues to grow a universe that can be expanded upon in multiple ways. While I do think that Christopher Nolan is overall the best director out there right now, I believe Denis Villeneuve is working his way to the top, and is probably second right now. He directed my #1 movies in both 2016 (Arrival) and now 2017. We’ll see what he does next, I know he is working on a Dune film for the future.
1. Call Me By Your Name
I don’t know if I can truly put into words how this movie made me feel. When this aired at the New York Film Festival, it received a ten-minute standing ovation. In retrospect, I wanted to give it a ten-minute standing ovation in the theater, but when the final scene hit, I could do nothing but sit and admire I had just witnessed. This was a limited release movie that only just now is making it’s appearance in Birmingham and it probably won’t last long. However, I saw this at 1:20 on a Saturday afternoon and my theater was completely sold out, not a single empty seat. When the final scene hit, every single person in the auditorium was in tears, myself included.
I’ve made it known why I loved A Ghost Story, and there are some similar elements to this film when it comes to pacing and how it’s shot. The negative reviews I’ve read (which are very few and far between) gave some of the same negative thoughts it gave about A Ghost Story. I can’t say I’d recommend this for everyone, although it is a movie that is 100% worth seeing. If you enjoyed Moonlight last year, you will enjoy this. If you didn’t enjoy last year’s Best Picture winner, then you may find this one to not live up to the hype either.
While I get why people wouldn’t enjoy this, I did. Rarely have I ever seen a movie with such raw emotion – love, hate, anger and ultimately heartbreak. It was…devastatingly beautiful. Timothee Chalamet was exquisite and worthy of a Best Actor award from whoever will give it to him. I never felt like he was acting, I felt like I was watching an actual teenager going through what a teenager in his situation goes through. Outside of The Social Network, I haven’t really enjoyed Armie Hammer much, but he kills it in this. But perhaps the unsung hero of this movie (and really all of 2017) is Michael Stuhlbarg, who plays Chalamet’s character’s father. He gives a monologue near the end of the movie that is arguably one of the greatest scenes of the year. Not only does he deserve some sort of award for this movie, but he has been in three of the top movies this year with this, The Post and The Shape of Water.
This is a movie that will stick with me for a long time. The atmosphere of the film was great, the music was outstanding, the acting was phenomenal, the pacing was terrific – it was just…perfect. The monologue from Stulhbarg and the final shot of the entire movie (which I won’t give away) will stay with me for a long time. As I mentioned above, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house, and no one moved until the credits were done rolling – partially because everyone was crying, and partially because we were all in awe of a cinematic masterpiece.
Most Overrated: Wonder Woman
People might see “overrated” and think that means I didn’t like Wonder Woman, but all of the hype surrounding it made it sound like it was an epic film. I gave it a C and I think that’s what it deserves. If you actually look at the Rotten Tomatoes average rating, it’s a 7.6/10…which is a C. A C-rating in my mind means it gets a thumbs up, but it wasn’t amazing and the villain didn’t do anything for me. It was better than the rest of the DC Universe films to date, but that’s not saying much. Comparing it to the Dark Knight trilogy or almost any Marvel movie lately, it would be ranked behind them.
Honorable Mention: Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Most Underrated: Bright
Critics hated Bright, and I don’t know why unless they are trying to destroy the model of Netflix producing high budget movies. I get it – orcs and elves taking their place in normal society is strange, and that stuff needs to stay in Lord of the Rings – but just let yourself open up and accept the movie for what it is, and the movie is fine. It’s not winning any awards anytime soon, but it was a solid film.
Honorable Mention: Ghost in the Shell
Biggest Disappointment: War for the Planet of the Apes
This movie was not a war. If you want to see a prime example of false advertising from the name of the movie to the trailers and everything else – this is it. It was basically a movie made to make you feel uncomfortable about slavery…and we should all already feel uncomfortable about slavery.
Honorable Mention: Logan Lucky
Most Welcomed Surprise: The Big Sick
This re-invented romantic comedies as I mentioned above and did an outstanding job making a funny movie about a sad story.
Honorable Mention: The Meyerowitz Stories
A Ghost Story
Blade Runner 2049
Call Me By Your Name
The Big Sick
The Disaster Artist
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
The Shape of Water
Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri
Fate of the Furious
The Greatest Showman
Star Wars: The Last Jedi
The Dark Tower
Ghost in the Shell
Going in Style
Icarus (Netflix Documentary)
Ingrid Goes West
Kong: Skull Island
The Lego Batman Movie
The Meyerowitz Stories (Netflix)
Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press (Netflix Documentary)
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
What Happened to Monday (Netflix)
Beauty and the Beast
War for the Planet of the Apes
xXx: Return of Xander Cage
War Machine (Netflix)
Win It All (Netflix)
Transformers: The Last Knight
Sandy Wexler (Netflix)
Updated: January 21, 2018
I’m behind on some movies thanks to Birmingham never getting anything good. Here is what I still need to/really want to see (in no order):
The Florida Project
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
Last Flag Flying