10 Best Films of the Year
- The Shape of Water
It’s no contest. It’s not even a debate that Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water is the best film of 2017. It represents, top to bottom, the very best of cinema. Guillermo’s vision is a technical and visual marvel that fully pulls you into this world he’s created, the lives of these characters. To the characters, The Shape of Water boasts a supremely impressive cast who make the world pop. Michael Shannon’s Strickland becomes one of cinema’s all time great villains, Doug Jones is at his monster best, and the true star Sally Hawkins effortlessly carries so much of the film with so little done. A silent performance, she pours every thought, every emotion, into every nod, every gesture, every look. Hawkins is perfect.
- Blade Runner 2049
Not to dismiss the rest of the film, because it’s all definitely top 10 material, but the spectacle of Blade Runner 2049 is the headline of the film. The spectacle wouldn’t be near as impressive without the great script and subdued performances, to be fair. But Denis Villeneuve builds upon this world created by Phillip K. Dick and Ridley Scott, and really picks at the over arcing narrative of humanity and what it means to be human, and a lot of that relies on the stunning visual cues, both obvious and subtle. And it’s all built around this really tight mystery the enhanced by the less showy performances from Ryan Gosling, Dave Bautista, Robin Wright, Sylvia Hoeks, Ana de Armas and Harrison Ford, turning in probably his finest performance of his long storied career.
- Get Out
There’s a lot to unpack with this film, but all credit where it’s due, this film would have failed in lesser hands. I don’t think anyone other than Jordan Peele could have made Get Out. It’s a sharp, biting film that will be lost on a lot of audiences. And to be honest, as a white male, a lot of it was lost on me, on my first viewing. Peele’s film speaks to issues and experiences, both large and small scale, that I don’t experience, that I don’t see. It was only after hearing interviews with him where he talks about the deeper meanings behind what he was saying, that the real fear behind the film starts to take shape. Normally a film that requires a study guide doesn’t really do it’s job, but this is a case of it doing its job to an exceedingly high level. It works because it makes us take a long look at what it’s saying. It would have failed without Peele. It would have failed without Daniel Kaluuya’s knowing performance.
- Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Martin McDonagh’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is perhaps the most un-Coen Coen Brothers film that exists. It keeps the big characters and dark humour, but strips away that very particular Coen cadance. All of this is of course very high praise. It doesn’t come off as a knock-off Coen film, that’s just an easy analogy for people who are unfamiliar with McDonagh’s work, and considering the blank stares I get when I reference In Bruges or Seven Psychopaths, that’s still a lot of people. But for Three Billboards, it’s sold on the power of the two leads, of Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell. They just crush it every step of the way.
- The Big Sick
I don’t want to pin an entire movie on one scene… but there’s a scene in The Big Sick with Kumail Nanjiani, playing himself essentially, that just brings it all down. If you’ve seen the film, you know it, if you haven’t, you’ll know it when you see it. But it really brought the whole thing home for me. That’s what makes this romantic comedy work in all the ways most others don’t. That human element from Kumail and Zoe Kazan and Holly Hunter. You can relate to their story, whether it directly applies wholesale or not, there are elements that pluck the right strings. It’s perfectly written and very well acted.
In Dunkirk, we get Christopher Nolan’s most minimalist film, but certainly one of his more intense.
Logan gives us a double rarity in the world of superhero movies: a mature and frank look at them aging, and a character finale. And it does so beautifully.
- Wonder Woman
What sets Wonder Woman (and also Spider-Man: Homecoming) apart from the rest of the superhero pack, is that they celebrate the joy of being hero experienced by people who want to be heroes. She doesn’t see her duty as a burden. She wants to be a hero. And that’s a refreshing take on heroes.
- Baby Driver
Edgar Wright’s action/music/comedy Baby Driver is just pure, unadulterated cinematic fun. Is it a popcorn flick trying to be prestige? Is it a prestige flick trying to be popcorn? It’s both. It’s popcorn and prestige.
The fantasy of Okja was wildly fun, with bordering on the cusp of a post-apocalypse. It almost feels like Joon-ho Bong wrote this as a sort of prequel to his 2013 hit Snowpiercer
5 Worst Films
The Jurassic World Award for Most Disappointing Film
- Dark Tower
- Murder on the Orient Express
Most Surprisingly Good Film of the Year
The following contains films that haven’t been mentioned before. For instance, two of my top five are horror, but it would be pretty boring to list them again. So this serves as more of a “Best of the Rest” list.